Program on Middle East Peace and Normalization
FDD’s program on Middle East peace and normalization builds on the historic Abraham Accords peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Abraham Accords was the first in a new wave of peace agreements—including now Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco, and Bhutan—whereby Arab countries have elected to de-prioritize historical animosities with Israel and instead emphasize their own national interests.
These new relationships build on previous Israeli accords with Egypt and Jordan. Those agreements were historic but unfortunately lack the warmth of the Abraham Accords. The peace between UAE and Israel now represents the gold standard, and model for the other Arab states now weighing similar steps.
The reason for the wave of normalization stems from four key factors. The first is Israel’s staying power. After decades of unsuccessful attempts to defeat the Jewish state, Arab states have come to the correct conclusion that Israel is a strong regional power than will not be defeated. The second factor is Israel’s close bipartisan relationship with the United States. Arab states do not want to be on the outside looking in. The third factor is the mutual concern about Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State. These are mutual threats that can be more effectively countered if the Arabs and Israel work together. And finally, the mutual concern about Iran looms large. This is unquestionably the most important factor in the decision by Arab states to join forces with Israel — the only country in the region that actively targets Iranian military assets with remarkable accuracy, lethality, and brazenness.
FDD experts track the trajectory of Israel’s ties with the Arab world, new partners and old. Experts also identify the candidates for future agreements, with a focus on ways to encourage such agreements. Arab states stand to benefit from cooperation on critical common challenges such as counterterrorism, water, food security, energy, and technology. Intelligence and military ties with the region’s leader in both fields is also something that has caught the attention of Arab states.
Efforts to derail this progress—including by the Islamic Republic of Iran, Qatar and Turkey — need to be countered by America and Israel, possibly in collaboration with new Arab partners. FDD is exploring ways to do so.
It is FDD’s goal to help shape a new future for the Middle East. This program is led by FDD Chief Executive Mark Dubowitz and Senior Vice President Jonathan Schanzer, who have decades of experience working with Israel and the Arab world. They are supported by FDD research analysts with expertise on the Gulf region.
This program is made possible by a generous grant from Doctor Bob and The Shillman Foundation.