The United Arab Emirates, Israel, and the Strategic Imbalance of Power

The United Arab Emirates, Israel, and the Strategic Imbalance of Power

The Navigator from Centre of Global Policy

August 19, 2020 by Kamran Bokhari

The recent announcement that the United Arab Emirates was seeking to normalize relations with Israel sent shockwaves through the Arab world, particularly with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Abu Dhabi’s actions have much less to do with Israel specifically than they do with the UAE’s efforts to try and manage a precarious regional security vacuum, which require a delicate balancing act to stave off pressures from both Iran and Turkey.

The United Arab Emirates’ agreement with Israel isn’t the big deal that everyone is making it out to be, and it certainly has very little if anything to do with the Palestinian conflict. Abu Dhabi’s announcement that it will establish diplomatic ties with the Jewish state is a complex move driven by its own national security considerations and in response to the hollowing out of the Arab world.

The UAE-Israel deal is a relatively insignificant part of a much wider geopolitical puzzle. It has to do with Emirates’ efforts to assume charge of Arab diplomacy in order to manage regional security interests at a time of uncertain American intentions and when Turkey is pressing ahead with its efforts to become the hegemon in the Middle East. UAE’s actions complicate the U.S. strategy to counter Iran and manage Turkey’s growing footprint in the region.

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