Israel-UAE deal heralds new order in the region, analyst says

A normalisation agreement signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates suggests that unless Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan changes tack from his hard-line and Islamist approach, Turkey will be viewed as the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East, regional analyst Raman Ghavami said.

Earlier this month, the UAE became the first Gulf Arab country to reach an accord on normalising relations with Israel. The move was denounced by Erdoğan as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.

Israel and the UAE have signed an accord “based on joining forces to shape the future of the region, not border practicalities”, Ghavami, a counterinsurgency consultant based in Britain, wrote in an op-ed published in the Washington Examiner on Thursday.

Turkey is increasingly becoming “the region’s chief sponsor of Islamic extremism”, which both Israel and the UAE agree view as a threat, the Middle East expert said.

Washington’s failed Turkey policy and Ankara’s continued NATO membership have unintentionally helped Erdoğan to “expand his authoritarian policies inside and outside the country” and support the Palestinian Hamas movement and the pan-Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, Ghavami wrote.

Regional allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE agree that the latest attempt at a “grand bargain” peace accord with Israel, an initiative which failed twice in 1981 and 2002, will be undermined by Islamist-backing states, such as Turkey, Qatar and Iran, which all use the Palestinian-Israeli issue to stoke sectarian division and violence, he said.

Ghavami called the Israeli-UAE deal “the next step in a solidifying alliance between the Gulf states and Israel against Turkish and Iranian Islamism”, presenting themselves as the West’s natural security ally against it.