US President Donald Trump has hailed the “dawn of a new Middle East”, amid landmark deals between Israel and Gulf states Bahrain and the UAE.
Mr Trump spoke as the UAE and Bahrain signed agreements fully normalising their relations with Israel.
The three countries hailed the deals as historic, as did Mr Trump, whose administration helped broker them.
The Gulf states are just the third and fourth Arab countries to recognise Israel since its founding in 1948.
The agreements are also likely to usher in new security ties in a region where many of the Gulf Arab states share with the Israelis a common adversary in Iran.
This is a big deal for a couple of reasons.
First, the two big powers in the Middle East are Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both are horrible totalitarian regimes, but of the two, Iran is more of a threat to the U.S. than Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally. Both the UAE and Bahrain are aligned with Saudi Arabia and they would not have normalized relations with Israel, another U.S. ally, without a nod from the Kingdom. This is a significant move in the formation of a regional coalition to balance Iran.
Second, although there are not military alliances between the Arab nations and Israel, the establishment of cultural and commercial relationships help to cement a motive for peace. The threat of an Arab attack on Israel as a catalyst for U.S. involvement has been reduced.
Treaties in the Middle East are traditionally unstable. We have gone through these cycles of hope and disappointment for my entire life. Perhaps this is another short-lived success. Perhaps it is a permanent shift in a positive direction. Time will tell.