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  • Author: Ksenia Svetlova
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: In the few months that have passed since the signing of the historical Abraham Accords, Israel and the UAE have opened embassies and exchanged ambassadors, launched direct flights between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi, hosted dozens of businesses, cultural and academic delegations (among them a high-ranking Emirati delegation led by the UAE ministers of finance and economy), and facilitated visits of thousands of Israeli tourists to Dubai. Universities and think tanks from both countries have established connections, and news outlets have launched different forms of cooperation. Israel, the UAE, and the US set an investment fund worth 3 billion USD (the fund is not operational yet) and banks on both sides established agreements on financial services. The scope of activity between the two countries is impressive, and it seems that in case of Israel and the UAE, the seeds of peace have fallen on fertile ground, mainly due to high level of economic development and mutual geopolitical interests and concerns, such as the Iranian threat (although both sides evaluate and treat it differently).Today, it is almost impossible to imagine that just a few years ago Israeli athletes were only allowed to compete in the UAE if they agreed to participate without their national flag or national anthem sung at the closing ceremony. Why is it that the peace between Israel and the UAE appears to be such a stark contrast from previous peace agreements that Israel has signed with other Arab countries? Several factors have facilitated the newly established relationship: the positive image of the UAE in Israel; the lack of past hostilities, casualties, and territorial demands between the two countries; the unofficial ties forged long before the official recognition; the many mutual interests that seem to be aligned together; and the right timing that allowed for this bold and important development. Will the parties be able to maintain a similar level of enthusiasm also when the honeymoon stage passes? How will the two countries deal with various regional and international challenges? This paper presents an Israeli perspective on the first months of the relationship between Israel and UAE, and looks at prospects for the near future of these relations.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Economy, Peace, Abraham Accords
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, UAE
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, has proposed the possibility of settling disputes over the nuclear deal by adopting the ‘simultaneous’ approach, meaning that Iran will once again comply to the deal in return for US lifting sanctions imposed on it. On February 2, during his interview with CNN network, Zarif responded to the question by Christian Amanpour, about whether Iran is still demanding that the US act first, saying that the necessary steps can be synchronized. He also suggested the EU mediate to settle the disputes and remove any obstacles against Washington's return to the agreement. This may imply that Iran made early concessions in its position, regarding the adherence to strict conditions, similar to: the US returning to the agreement first, lifting sanctions and providing compensation for the losses incurred. However, these may not be major concessions impacting the general attitudes of the Iranian leadership, nor may they necessarily indicate Iran's intention to make significant changes in its policy regarding the nuclear deal. To be precise, this new approach announced by Zarif may simply be a tactical change in the Iranian policy aiming to enhance the access to understandings and to avoid early problems with the US administration, at a time when Iran appears to be in dire need of lifting US sanctions.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power, Elections, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mervat Zakaria
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Uncovering the limitations of the Chinese Iranian agreement The Economic Cooperation Agreement signed between Iran and China in March 2021 unfolded a development plan that includes China injecting $ 400 billion into various sectors of the Iranian economy. This grants Tehran an opportunity to increase the pressures imposed on the new US administration, regarding resumption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action held with the P5+1 in 2015, as well as confronting the surrounding regional threats and alleviating internal pressures by improving the Iranian standard of living.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Muthana Al-Obeidi
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The New Mashriq Plan, which was announced in the Baghdad tripartite summit (which brought together president Abdel-Fattah El-sisi of Egypt, King Abdullah II of Jordan, and the Iraqi prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi), stimulated a lot of analyses, which reflected two opposing views. Some analysts seemed to be overly optimistic about the outcomes of this Iraqi-Egyptian-Jordanian project. On the other hand, others adopted a more skeptical, even pessimistic, attitude, believing that it will fail to achieve its purpose, on account of the many challenges it has to face. Despite all the analyses available about the project, questions are still being raised, such as: How did the project develop? What is its economic agenda? What about its political dimensions? And, last but not least, what will its future be like?
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Egypt, Jordan
  • Author: Pat Shilo, Todd Rosenblum
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: President Biden has announced plans to re-engage with Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. In this paper, we briefly outline the five most likely pathways ahead, each of which has strengths and challenges: Return to the JCPOA as it was. Return to the JCPOA plus new commitments that address other security concerns with Iran. Restore the JCPOA as it was plus a set of confidence-building measures to address other security concerns. Formally link a requirement for Iran to address our other concerns as a pre-condition for further talks. Return to the pre-JCPOA Middle East, where US and allies work to rollback Iran’s nuclear program and actively deter its regional actions by confrontation, punishment, and isolating measures. Each path carries risk and opportunity for restoring American leadership in the world, and congressional Democrats should remember the perfect deal does not exist. Members of Congress would be wise to measure the next deal against the status quo ante: an unconstrained, belligerent Iran again racing to a bomb.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Military Strategy, Denuclearization, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Tiziana della Ragione
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In December 2020, following the Abraham Accords framework mediated by the United States, Morocco agreed to restore its official diplomatic ties with Israel after a 20-year break, and, in return, the Trump Administration recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the long-disputed territory of Western Sahara. The initial steps to normalize Israeli-Moroccan ties followed quickly on the heels of the official announcements. On January 25, Israel’s liaison office reopened in Rabat while Morocco's diplomatic representation in Tel Aviv is expected to follow later this month, after the arrival to Israel of the Head of Morocco's diplomatic mission Abderrahim Beyyoud in February.[1] While the process for implementing the peace agreement between the two countries continues, with economic, cultural, and social collaborations, the Party for Justice and Development (PJD), the Moroccan Islamist ruling party, has faced criticism for its acquiescence to the Palace’s decision. By aligning itself with King Mohammed VI’s decision to normalize with Israel, the PJD has shown that it is more interested in preserving its good relations with the Palace and winning the King’s support for its domestic agenda of socio-economic reforms, than in taking a hard line on Palestine. During the PJD-led government of Abdelillah Benkirane (2012-2016), successful socio-economic reforms led to its attaining an additional 18 parliamentary seats in the October 2016 elections, reinforcing its position as the largest party in parliament. In muting its criticism of the normalization process, PJD is preserving its position in the political arena and focusing on its socio-economic agenda, which it sees as the key to its success. However, in doing so, the PJD risks alienating a portion of its constituency, which may view its silence in defense of Palestine as a form of ideological betrayal.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North Africa, Morocco
  • Author: Paul Rivlin
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this issue of Iqtisadi, Paul Rivlin discusses the developing economic ties between the United Arab Emirates and Israel with an emphasis on investments in the energy sector. In April 2021, the Israeli firm Delek Drilling announced plans to sell its 22 percent direct stake in the Tamar gas field to investors led by the Abu Dhabi based state-owned Mubadala Petroleum for $1.1 billion. The Tamar field has an estimated 297 billion cubic meters (bcm) of reserves. This would be by far the largest commercial deal yet between Israel and the UAE. Mubadala Petroleum is a wholly owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi state investor, Mubadala Investment Company. Its plans to move into Israel’s upstream gas sector have the backing of the UAE and Israeli governments. In March 2021, the UAE announced the establishment of a $10 billion fund to invest in energy and other strategic sectors of the Israeli economy. According to the official statement, the UAE will invest in and with Israel in sectors including energy, manufacturing, water, space, healthcare, and agro-tech. The investment fund will support development initiatives to promote regional economic cooperation between the two countries. Funding will come from government and private sector institutions and the Delek deal is part of this framework,
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Treaties and Agreements, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Marc Otte
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: The storm raging across the Southern Neighbourhood, as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is also known in European terminology, is not about to subside any time soon. Beyond crisis management, current dysfunctions need a long-term, sustained and transformative approach. That was the spirit of the Barcelona Declaration and the original concept of the European neighbourhood policy. Obviously, it didn’t work as expected. The question is why, and how to put the train back on the tracks.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Turkey, Russia, and Washington have compelling reasons to welcome a new ceasefire agreement, however imperfect, but they still need to address the longer-term dangers posed by the Assad regime’s murderously maximalist strategy. Recent fighting between Turkish and Syrian regime forces in Idlib province has seemingly wiped away the last vestiges of the September 2018 Sochi agreement, brokered by Russian president Vladimir Putin as a way of pausing hostilities and dividing control over the country’s last rebel-held province. Beginning last December, renewed Russian and Syrian attacks against civilians sent a million residents fleeing toward the Turkish border, creating another humanitarian disaster. Then, on February 27, thirty-three Turkish soldiers were killed when their unit was attacked in Idlib—Ankara’s largest single-day loss in Syria thus far. Turkey initially blamed Bashar al-Assad for the deaths, but eyes soon turned to his Russian patron as the more likely culprit, elevating tensions between Ankara and Moscow to a level not seen since Turkish forces shot down a Russian plane in November 2015. Meanwhile, the Turkish military and its local partner forces launched a string of attacks against the Syrian regime and its Iranian-backed militia allies. On March 5, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with Putin in Moscow to discuss these rising tensions. If the two leaders reach another ceasefire deal, will it last any longer than the short-lived Sochi agreement? More important, what effect might it have on the latest refugee crisis threatening to wash over Turkey and Europe?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Syrian War, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, Idlib
  • Author: Charles Thépaut, Elena DeLozier
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: By triggering the nuclear deal’s dispute resolution mechanism, Britain, France, and Germany are opening diplomatic space that could help the United States and Iran return to the negotiating table. In a press conference following the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, President Trump reaffirmed his administration’s “maximum pressure” policy against Iran and asked, once again, for European countries to leave the nuclear deal. Meanwhile, Tehran announced what it called a “fifth and final remedial step” away from its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. In response, the British, French, and German foreign ministers stated on January 14 that they would trigger the JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism (DRM). At the same time, however, the E3 clarified that they are not joining the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign, which has steadily intensified ever since the United States withdrew from the JCPOA and reimposed unilateral sanctions in 2018. Contrary to U.S. claims, the European decision will not immediately provoke “snapback” UN sanctions on Iran (though that scenario could unfold later if the E3 plan fails and Iran’s violations go before the UN Security Council). Instead, Europe is maintaining its evenhanded position somewhere between Washington and Tehran in order to preserve the possibility of new negotiations, on both the nuclear program and other regional issues.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, United States of America