Three years of the Abraham Accords
- 22 Sep 2023
- 12 min read
This editorial is based on Three years of the Abraham Accords which was published in The Hindu on 21/09/2023. It talks about the achievements,obstacles and prospective trajectories associated with Abraham Accord while placing a particular emphasis on their relevance in Indian Context.
Three years ago, in September 2020, the United States mediated the Abraham Accord between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel, promising to normalize ties between these Arab Gulf states and Israel.
Abraham Accord heralded greater political, economic and security integration not only in the Middle East but has also brought better opportunities for India.
What are Abraham Accords ?
- The Abraham Accords are a series of agreements signed in 2020 between Israel and several Arab states, marking a historic shift in diplomatic relations in the Middle East.
- The Accords were named ‘Abraham Accords’ in reference to the supposed common ancestor of the Jews and the Arabs, the biblical Abraham, and as an expression of brotherhood.
- The primary countries involved in the Abraham Accords include:
- Israel: As a key party to the Accords, Israel agreed to normalize diplomatic relations with the participating Arab nations, marking a significant departure from the historically hostile relationships it had with many Arab states.
- United Arab Emirates (UAE): The UAE was the first Arab country to formally announce its normalization of relations with Israel under the Abraham Accords. This historic agreement includes the establishment of full diplomatic relations, as well as economic, technological, and cultural exchanges.
- Bahrain: Bahrain followed the UAE's lead by signing a similar agreement with Israel. The Bahrain-Israel Peace Agreement also encompasses diplomatic relations and cooperation in various sectors.
- Sudan: Sudan joined the Abraham Accords by agreeing to normalize relations with Israel. This marked a major shift in Sudan's foreign policy and led to the removal of Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
- Morocco: Morocco, another Arab nation, joined the Accords with a commitment to normalize relations with Israel. This agreement included the United States' recognition of Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara in exchange for Morocco's engagement with Israel.
What is the Significance of the Accord ?
- The agreement shows how the Arab countries are gradually decoupling themselves from the Palestine question.
- Full diplomatic ties will be established between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain which will have a positive impact on the entire region.
- The deal buys UAE a lot of goodwill in the US, where its image has been tarnished by its involvement in the Yemen war.
- In South Asia, it will put Pakistan in a bind, whether to follow UAE’s steps (will be seen as giving up Islamic cause of Palestine) or not to follow the UAE (since it is already in feud with the Saudis over not taking up the Kashmir case, Pakistan cannot afford another hostile Islamic Country).
What are the Advancements since the Abraham Accords?
- The Israeli embassy opened in Abu Dhabi in June 2021, UAE also opened its embassy in Tel Aviv.
- The trade between the UAE and Israel amounted to 900 million USD. There was also an agreement signed for a free trade area concerning government procurement and Intellectual property rights(IPR) endorsed in April 2022
- A three-way trade water accord signed between Israel, UAE and Jordan. Israel would either build a new desalination plant or deliver water to member countries.
- When it comes to tourism, after direct flights were established, UAE hosted more than 67,000 Israeli tourists during the first month after the Accords.
- For many Israelis unhappy with the economic woes of their country, the UAE became a destination for job seekers” .
- Prosperity Green & Blue agreement between Israel, the UAE, and Jordan determined that a solar field to supply 600 megawatts of electricity to Israel.
What are the shortcomings of the Abraham Accord?
- Despite the initial goal of Arab organizers,cooperation among Israel and its Arab partners has failed to produce tangible improvements in the Israeli-Palestine calculus
- Major players in the Middle East are still out of the agreement such as Saudi Arabia has held its firm commitment to the pre-existing Arab Peace Initiative.
- Oman and Qatar declined to formalize their ties within this framework.
How are Abraham Accords linked with Indian Interests?
- Diplomatic Ties:
- The Abraham Accords provides the atmosphere for India to foster stronger ties with Arabs countries as well as Israel.
- Formation of I2U2 observed as an offspring of abraham accords. It was also unofficially described as the “West Asian Quad” and the “Indo-Abrahamic construct.
- Investment opportunities:
- The grouping encourages joint investments in six mutually identified sectors which includes food security, health, transportation, space, water and energy
- Recently, the International Federation of Indo-Israel Chamber of Commerce (IFIICC) was established in Dubai.
- Technological Cooperation:
- India’s technological capabilities, finances from the UAE and Israel’s innovative capabilities could lead to further cooperation among the three nations.
- In the first of these ventures, an Emirati project for a robotic solar panel was endorsed by Eccopia, an Israeli company, which has a manufacturing base in India.
- Diaspora Relations:
- The vibrant Indian diaspora in the Gulf now has the convenience of direct flights between the UAE and Israel, as well as between Israel and Bahrain.
- Indian students are enjoying increased ease of travel, gaining improved access to our universities and the opportunity to explore international study programmes.
What are the Challenges of the Abraham Accords ?
- Palestinian Issue :
- Challenges concerning the Palestinian future and the opposition to these Accords from Iran and Qatar. 86% of Palestinians believe the normalization agreement with the UAE serves only Israel’s interests and not their own
- Lack of regional support:
- Bahrain, a small country that seeks protection and takes political cues from Saudi Arabia, has become a topic of concern for those hoping to normalize relations with Israel
- Cultural Conflicts :
- Shia-Sunni rifts in the region may get wide and violent.Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and Iran (representing Shia) have a long history of enmity. .
- Multilateral Power Struggle:
- The US may be a pre-eminent power in the Middle East, but Russia has made a space for itself, spending a lot less money. In recent years, China has indicated its willingness to play a larger role in this region, and is close to both UAE and Israel and, increasingly, Saudi Arabia
- Funding Constraints:
- Abraham Fund was set up as a part of the Accord and it delegated approximately 3 billion USD to development initiatives in the Middle East.Change in administration in the US which has seemingly diluted the potential of the Accord.
What is the Way Forward ?
- Open Dialogue:
- Addressing the Palestinian issue by open and inclusive dialogue among all signatory parties including Israel and the participating states.
- Encourage diplomatic solutions for regional conflicts in Middle east particularly in Yemen,Syria and Libya
- Counter Extremism:
- Avoid using land and resources for separatist movements and interfering into internal affairs of neighboring countries.
- Share intelligence and cooperate to counter extremist ideologies,
- Multilateral Diplomacy:
- Continue to engage with multilateral diplomacy through United Nations, Arab League and others
- Balancing Regional Relations:
- A balance between Shia and Sunni, between Persian and Arab, is key to sustainable peace.
- Regional cooperation:
- Encourage collaborative efforts on economic development,technology, energy security ,food security, health and cultural exchanges.
While it is clear that a good beginning has been made for closer Israel-Arab ties with the Abraham Accords, their success and extension to other countries will depend on a range of factors that are currently impacting the geopolitical environment, including the US-China rivalry and West Asia politics of alignments and realignment.
Drishti Mains Question
Critically examine the success of Abraham Accords. Discuss the economic,cultural and strategic importance of Abraham Accords for India.