The policies of three of the main Middle Eastern players have been portrayed in a wave of diplomacy, joint statements and budget announcements over the past two weeks.
The United Arab Emirates sent their national security adviser, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed, to Iran while also receiving Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Israel deployed its Defense Minister Benny Gantz to Washington as Iran doubled its military budget.
While the UAE plays down tensions with regional capitals and supports peace, Israel and Iran are engaging in military reinforcements and appear to be beating the drums of war.
Bennett paid a historic visit, the first of its kind for an Israeli prime minister, to the United Arab Emirates, where he met Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed and had one-on-one talks with ministers.
Bilateral trade between the UAE and Israel amounted to nearly 800 million US dollars for the first nine months of 2021. Direct investment from the UAE in Israel has also increased, as cooperation intensifies between the third and the region’s fourth largest economy, with GDPs of around $ 400 billion each.
Such cooperation would ensure substantial economic growth between Israel, a startup-driven nation, and the United Arab Emirates, a country with highly developed sectors in financing, marketing, and other monetization tools.
Despite the breakneck pace at which the UAE and Israel are moving closer, the UAE has signaled that peace with the Jewish state is economic and cultural, rather than one against Iran. In this sense, Bennett did not have a one-on-one with any defense or security official in the UAE, including with Sheikh Tahnoun, the official who had just returned from Tehran.
While nuclear talks between the world and Iran appear to be going nowhere, the UAE seems to be aware that regional war is closer than ever. Yet Abu Dhabi’s message is clear: it intends to avoid military entanglements in the region, including between Iran and Israel. Emirati neutrality doesn’t mean he doesn’t have favorites, but if he does, it wasn’t giving him a helping hand.
Israel, for its part, draws a line in the sand: the Jewish state will not tolerate a nuclear Iran and is prepared to use military force to prevent Tehran from making a bomb. That is why Gantz went to Washington and called for the expedition of delivery of two in-flight refuellers that Israel had previously purchased from the United States. Such technology is needed when fighter jets perform long-range missions, just like when Israel decides to strike Iranian nuclear facilities.
Meanwhile, Iran has announced that for the year 2022, it will double its military budget to $ 30 billion. Despite the increase, Iranian access to superior Western military technology will remain limited, suggesting that Tehran will likely increase the funds it allocates to its regional militias with which it threatens – and often blackmailed – regional powers, in particular. first place Israel.
Former US President Donald Trump’s âmaximum pressureâ policy could not force Iran to return to the negotiating table, but Trump’s policy has certainly suspended Iranian uranium enrichment. Had Trump been elected for a second term, it would have been unlikely that Tehran would have resumed enrichment at full speed.
But with President Joe Biden, diplomacy took an ideological turn, with the foreign policy team appearing more interested in the ambiguous concept of decolonization than in maintaining regional and world peace.
With the United States under Biden withdrawn and limiting its foreign policy to irrelevant diplomacy, regional powers are working to fill the void. Israel and Iran are preparing for war, each strengthening their own strengths. The UAE, however, wants to minimize the effects of any war that may have on its economy and prosperity, a cautious policy that countries with similar profiles might be well advised to follow.
It remains to be seen what will happen in the months and years to come. What is certain is that the main players are preparing for a drastic change and that the superpower that served to stabilize the regional ship is no longer interested in playing its part, leaving the ship to navigate without a leader through much turbulence. .
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