In the middle of a pandemic, the geopolitics of the world‘s most troubled region took a historic turn this week, when the UAE and Israel, under the benevolent gaze of US President Donald Trump, signed an agreement to ―normalise" relations. The deal opens up new opportunities for India to play a much larger role in the regional security and stability in the Gulf, where New Delhi enjoys special relations with both Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem. The barebones of the deal envisages establishing regular diplomatic relations between the UAE, the rising influential power in the Gulf, and Israel, the ―Incredible Hulk" of the region, but a country officially not on speaking terms with most of its Arab neighbours. In his first tweet, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed said: 'During a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories. The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship." In return, Israel agreed to "suspend" its annexation plans for West Bank that would have been deeply destabilising. Benjamin Netanyahu gets a diplomatic victory, which may be short-lived, given the nature of Israeli politics. But Israel gets a diplomatic and economic opening with the big power in the Gulf that could open other doors, give its security interests legitimacy and, perhaps, open the door to Middle East peace.

Many of the other Arab powers, such as Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan, apart from the big global powers, and India, have welcomed the deal. Iran has slammed it, as have Turkey and Syria. Saudi Arabia has been very quiet. Given the close ties between Mohammed bin Zayed and Mohammed bin Salman, it is unthinkable that KSA was not consulted, particularly when the US is the third pole in this agreement. The deal gives UAE pole position as the premier Gulf Arab power, with diplomatic leverage with Israel and the US. ―This deal is about positioning in Washington, DC," said James Dorsey, Gulf and Middle East expert.
Source: Excerpt from the Economic Times, written by Indrani Bagchi. (Dated - 16 th August, 2020)

Question 65

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