Sunday, September 27, 2020

What is behind Bahrain’s normalisation take care of Israel?

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Twenty-six years after Bahrain welcomed an Israeli delegation for the primary time, the small Gulf archipelago final week turned the newest Arab nation to conform to normalise its relationship with Israel.
It didn’t come as a shock. Ever since US President Donald Trump introduced on August 13 that the United Arab Emirates and Israel had agreed to determine diplomatic ties, there had been rife hypothesis that Bahrain could be subsequent.
Despite Bahrain declaring final month that it was dedicated to the creation of a Palestinian state, the island state was at all times more likely to observe the UAE go well with “once the taboo had been broken”, Ian Black, visiting senior fellow on the Middle East Centre on the London School of Economics, instructed Al Jazeera.
Home to the US Navy’s regional headquarters and linked to Saudi Arabia by a 25km (16 miles) causeway, Bahrain lately appeared much less reluctant to publicise its relations with Israel. In February 2017, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa met Jewish leaders within the United States and reportedly expressed opposition to the boycott of Israel by Arab international locations. Later that yr, the government-backed This is Bahrain interfaith group sparked outrage amongst Palestinians when it visited Israel solely days after Trump had introduced his controversial determination to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there.
Friday’s take care of Israel was slammed by the Palestinians as one other betrayal by an Arab state, additional undermining their efforts to achieve self-determination and leaving them remoted underneath a brand new framework to regional “peace” dictated by Trump’s administration that additionally views Iran as malice. “There is no doubt that this represents a grave blow to the Palestinians – and a bleak sense that their cause is no longer a priority for Arab regimes,” Black mentioned.
The Palestinian management desires an impartial state primarily based on the de facto borders earlier than the 1967 warfare, wherein Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem. Arab international locations have lengthy referred to as for Israel’s withdrawal from already illegally occupied land, a simply resolution for Palestinian refugees and a settlement that results in the institution of a viable, impartial Palestinian state in trade for establishing ties with it. ‘Saudi affect’
Even although regional heavyweight and Iran’s archenemy Saudi Arabia has to this point signalled it isn’t able to take the identical step itself, analysts say the latest offers wouldn’t have occurred with out its help.
Bahrain’s political agenda is “pretty much dictated by Saudi Arabia”, in line with Marwa Fatafta, a coverage member with the Palestinian coverage community Al-Shabaka. 
In late 2018, simply months earlier than Manama agreed to host a US-led convention to unveil the financial a part of Trump’s so-called Middle East plan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait pledged $10bn in monetary help for Bahrain to regular its funds.
Besides being “financially dependent on its neighbours”, Bahrain’s new alliance with Israel could assist it entrench its energy and “crush any resistance to authoritarianism or efforts towards freedom and democracy”, Fatafta mentioned.
In 2011, throughout the onset of the Arab Spring uprisings, Saudi Arabia despatched troops to Bahrain to suppress anti-government protests. Many of those that rallied towards the Bahraini monarch have been from the nation’s majority Shia inhabitants who’ve lengthy complained of repression.
So, becoming a member of the bandwagon led by the US might also present the Bahraini monarchy “continued protection against its own people”, mentioned Mouin Rabbani, co-editor of the Jadaliyya publication.
In normalising ties with Israel, Bahrain is guaranteeing it has gained an ally that’s “equally committed to maintaining the status quo and preventing the success of any popular uprisings”, he mentioned.
On Sunday, Bahrain’s prime Shia chief Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, who lives overseas, rejected the latest normalisation offers with Israel and urged folks within the area to withstand.
Bahrain is the Gulf monarchy “most at odds with its own people”, argued Rabbani. ‘Common geopolitical pursuits’
Strengthening the established order additionally means singling out different primary gamers within the area, reminiscent of Shia clerical state Iran, and even Turkey, in line with analysts. “The US and Israel have launched a comprehensive campaign to remove the question of Palestine from not only the international but also regional agenda, and to replace the Arab-Israeli conflict with an Arab-Iranian conflict,” Rabbani mentioned.  At a time of regional upheaval, these Gulf states are pushed by a need to “solidify their relations with Washington”, he added. 
Black mentioned Bahrain cares extra about “pleasing Washington”, but additionally famous that mutual hostility in direction of Iran is a key a part of the rising alliances. 
Fatafta additionally believes that the teaming up comes with “common geopolitical interests”.  “They found in Israel a strong ally against their number one enemy: Iran,” she mentioned.
For a few of these states, the Iranian “threat” has grown lately, maybe too shortly in neighbouring Yemen, in addition to in Syria and Lebanon – which border Israel. 
In Yemen, Saudi Arabia stays deadlocked in a warfare waging since March 2015 towards the Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels, whereas in Syria, the proxies of the Shia Lebanese group Hezbollah struggle in help of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s authorities – a staunch ally of Iran.
Saudi Arabia, which mentioned earlier this month it could enable all flights between the UAE and Israel to cross its airspace, continues to be the important thing in figuring out which international locations might observe within the footsteps of Bahrain and the UAE. “One needs to distinguish between different Gulf states,” Black mentioned. “Qatar and Kuwait are unlikely to follow the Emirati example. The key is Saudi Arabia which has reiterated its commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative” he added, referring to the 2002 plan that laid out Arab international locations’ circumstances for normalising ties with Israel. “But that position may change in the future,” Black mentioned. Reclaiming PLO 
A signing ceremony for the offers between Israel and Bahrain and the UAE, which will normalise diplomatic, industrial, safety and different relations, is predicted to be held in Washington, DC on Tuesday. “Opening direct dialogue and ties between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security, and prosperity in the region,” a joint assertion by the US, Bahrain and Israel mentioned final week.
Now, it appears unlikely that long-stalled negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian management would resume underneath the framework of the US-broked Oslo Accords, signed within the 1990s between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
While Oslo did little to assist Palestinians, Israel has moved to additional entrench its management over the occupied Palestinian territories, with Washington’s backing. Earlier this yr, Trump’s so-called Middle East plan greenlighted the Israeli annexation of enormous swaths of the occupied West Bank together with unlawful settlements and the Jordan Valley, giving Israel a everlasting jap border alongside the Jordan River. “If a viable two-state solution is no longer on the regional and international agenda, then there is no other workable solution for ending the occupation,” Black mentioned. 
Fatafta concurred that the diplomacy monitor taken since Oslo by Palestinian leaders has failed and mentioned Palestinians should “reclaim the PLO” if they want to achieve self-determination.  
Rabbani additionally mentioned no change will come about until there’s a “comprehensive restructuring and rebuilding of the national movement on the basis of a thorough disengagement from the structures and relationships developed on the basis of the Oslo agreements”. “It’s a tall order, not impossible, but will never happen until the current leadership passes or is forced from the scene.”

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