The Geopolitics of Normalisation

The UAE is just the third nation in the Middle East that has normalised relations with Israel in its seven decade existence. The agreement however normalised what had long been informal and out of the public eye
Adnan Khan Adnan Khan30th September 20209 min

This is the first piece in a series exploring the attempts to normalise the Zionist entity in the Middle East. This first piece explores the reasons for the creation of a Zionist entity in the region. Subsequent pieces will explore the key nations in the region and beyond and how their relations have evolved with ‘Israel’ as its attempts to normalise its presence in the region. 

The recent UAE-Israel deal, or the Abraham Accords as it has been termed, has been labelled a success by United States (US) President Donald Trump who orchestrated the talks between the former foes. Joe Biden, Trump’s opponent in the 2020 US presidential election, praised the agreement as it: “builds on the efforts of multiple administrations to foster a broader Arab–Israeli opening, including the efforts of the Obama–Biden administration to build on the Arab Peace Initiative.”  The UAE is just the third nation in the Middle East that has normalised relations with Israel in its seven decade existence. The agreement however normalised what had long been informal and out of the public eye due to the public opinion against the occupation of Palestine by the Zionists. The West has for long, worked to normalise the existence, presence, occupation and expulsion of the indigenous people of Palestine and the accords took place in this context.

Colonial Intentions 

Theodore Herzl’s 1896 pamphlet titled “Der Judenstaat” (The Jewish State), called upon the Jewish people to establish a Jewish state. According to Herzl, the attempts to assimilate in the European societies had not resolved the problem of anti-Semitism. According to Herzl, only emigration to a Jewish state, somewhere in the world, could solve the problems of the European Jewry. Establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine was dealt a blow when Ottoman Caliph Abdul Hamid II, who at the time ruled over the area, refused Herzl an audience.

The Zionists then began approaching the leaders of the countries with animosity towards the Ottoman Caliphate, offering Jewish support for their colonial goals; in return the Zionists would be allowed to establish their state in Palestine. Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild and Chaim Weizmann led this effort in Britain. In the US, two lawyers represented the Zionists, Louis Brandeis and Felix Frankfurter. Chaim Weizmann told British politicians: “England … would have in the Jews the best possible friends, who would be the best national interpreters of ideas in the eastern countries and would serve as a bridge between the two civilizations. That again is not a material argument, but certainly it ought to carry great weight with any politician who likes to look 50 years ahead.” [1] In addition, the Zionists promised the British that in return for their support for the Zionist cause, the Zionists would ensure America entered the war against Germany on the side of Britain in WW1. [2]

Britain was carving up the Middle East and the Zionist cause neatly fitted into its agenda for the region. Britain was already making links with the various tribes and leaders in the Middle East alongside a number of minorities who had lived under Muslim rule for centuries. For Britain, the Zionist cause could be a continuation of the 12th century crusader bases in the Levant region. This helped the European powers to penetrate the Islamic world, but also to gain access to the Mediterranean. These bases in the Levant were heavily supported by Europe and were also maintained by corrupt provinces under the caliphate which were colluding with the foreign powers of that time. During WW1 Britain also needed to maintain the support of influential Zionists and in 1917 British Foreign Secretary, Lord Arthur Balfour, sent Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild a letter confirming: “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”[3]

For Britain, the Zionist cause could be a continuation of the 12th century crusader bases in the Levant region. This helped the European powers to penetrate the Islamic world, but also to gain access to the Mediterranean. These bases in the Levant were heavily supported by Europe and were also maintained by corrupt provinces under the caliphate which were colluding with the foreign powers of that time

After WW1, Britain and France carved up the Middle East utilising mandates under the guise of the League of Nations (LON). Under the British mandate of Palestine, beginning in 1922, Jewish immigration was facilitated from Europe to Palestine. According to British census data of 1922, there were 83,790 Jews in Palestine. By 1931, it was 175,138. And by 1945, the number had jumped to 553,600 people. In 25 years, Jews had gone from 11% of the total population to 31%.[4] Britain declared an end to the Mandate of Palestine and withdrew from the territory on 14th May 1948. That day, the Zionist movement in Palestine declared the establishment of a new country, Israel. The following day, the neighbouring Arab countries declared their rejection of the declaration and invaded Israel.

The Eisenhower Doctrine 

Zionists targeted Christian circles in the US in order to get them behind the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine. Ever since, Zionism has been a domestic policy matter and not just a foreign policy issue for the US public. US policy makers before WW2 were reaching out to the Arab rulers, especially since oil had been discovered in large quantities in the region. US policy makers were not in full support of an increase in violence in the region which was spilling out of control with the mass migration into Palestine. The US wanted a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian issue.

However, when in 1948 Israel declared independence, US President Harry Truman recognised events were moving away from the US and changed the American position and fully recognised Israel. Much to the dislike of the Department of State, the American representatives at the United Nations (UN), who had until then always worked on the basis of the calling for “stability and neutrality,” were so shocked that they resigned en masse. [5]

By the 1950s the regional and global dynamics were changing. Britain was bankrupt and the US and the Soviet Union were the new global powers. America looked at the Middle East as one of the regions in its containment line against the spread of communism. The US also saw itself as the leader of the capitalist world and wanted to take over the influence of the old European powers Britain and France.

Dwight Eisenhower established a doctrine that promised support for any country threatened by communism. Israel came to be seen by America as an important “forward base”, from which the American military and intelligence services could work against communism in the Middle East. In return for providing this platform for anti-communist operations, America promised Israel that she would help her develop her military capability which Israel so desperately needed if she wanted to survive in the region.  From here US-Israeli relations blossomed into what they are today and the US took over from Britain by using Israel as a forward base for her goals in the region.

Vassal Nation 

US Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig’s observed 30 years ago: “Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not carry even one American soldier, and is located in a critical region for American national security.” Speaking to reporters on the Nimitz-class carrier in 2017 Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed:  “We are both peace loving people, while we recognize that sometimes you need to fight those enemies of peace, those that want to chop the head off our common societies… This is what we do together. We are here on a mighty aircraft carrier of the United States and a few miles from here, there is another mighty aircraft carrier of our common civilization – it’s called the State of Israel.” [6] US presidential hopeful Joe Biden went further: “If there were not an Israel, we would have to invent one to make sure our interests were preserved. America’s support for Israel’s security is unshakable, period. Period, period.” [7]

Speaking to reporters on the Nimitz-class carrier in 2017 Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed: “We are both peace loving people, while we recognize that sometimes you need to fight those enemies of peace, those that want to chop the head off our common societies… This is what we do together. We are here on a mighty aircraft carrier of the United States and a few miles from here, there is another mighty aircraft carrier of our common civilization – it’s called the State of Israel.” 

The US is committed to protecting Israel, guaranteeing her security and securing a prosperous standard of living for the Zionists living there. However, this is not out of any moral obligation but due to strategic interests. It is these interests that have resulted in support for Israel. Israel’s location on the eastern Mediterranean littoral, at the nexus of North Africa and Southwest Asia, has enabled the US to use Israel as a forward base in the region. In the Persian Gulf, by contrast, the absence of a vassal state or dependable ally like Israel forces the US to commit hundreds of thousands of troops and trillions of dollars abroad. Israel therefore provides a significant return on investment be it military, economic or political support despite being an artificial creation within a region where over 300 million Arabs see it as an occupying force that needs to be expelled.

For this, the US has imposed a red line in the region upon the rulers. An invasion of Israel is a red line for the US. Israel’s demographic, geographic, economic, energy, strategic and geopolitical reality is so precarious that every war, attack or invasion is existential for her. With Israel being a foreign creation imposed upon the region, normalising her creation and presence was and remains essential. Whilst many of the Arab rulers in the region are also under US influence, the Arab rulers are in chains as they rely upon the US for their thrones but their people see Israel as an occupying force that needs to be fought. The Arab dictators have never presented a real threat to Israel; it was always the people of the region who refused to accept the occupation of Palestine.

Israel therefore provides a significant return on investment be it military, economic or political support despite being an artificial creation

George Friedman, the geopolitical expert, described Israel in the following way: “This is the heart of Israel’s problem. It has always been a pawn in US strategy, but a vital pawn…..with multiple players balancing each other and the United States taking the minimum possible action to maintain the equilibrium, Israel finds itself in a complex relationship.”[8] For Israel this is a less than ideal situation. She knows that for America, she is just a pawn and she knows that as a consequence, her existence is not guaranteed. She knows that America supports her now, because America believes that that helps American interests in the Middle East. She also knows that it is possible that at a certain point in the future, America can become of the opinion that Israel is not helping but hurting the American interests in the Middle East, or that someone else can better support the American interests. For the moment however, Israel has made a good return on investment as a forward base.

 


 

[1] The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem: 1917 – 1988, United Nations, http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/57C45A3DD0D46B09802564740045CC0A

[2] See, https://ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/history.html

[3] See, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balfour_Declaration

[4] Tessler, Mark. A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. 2nd ed. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2009. Print. P.266

[5] The United States and the Recognition of Israel: A Chronology, Truman Library, www.trumanlibrary.org/israel/palestin.htm

[6] Netanyahu on Israel: A ‘mighty aircraft carrier’ of the US, Defence News, 3 July 2017, https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2017/07/03/netanyahu-on-israel-a-mighty-aircraft-carrier-of-the-us/

[7] Biden: Always Israel’s friend, Politico, 30 September 2013, https://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/joe-biden-israel-097586

[8] Netanyahu, Obama and the Geopolitics of Speeches, George Friedmen, Stratfor, 3 March 2015, https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/netanyahu-obama-and-geopolitics-speeches

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