All Israel
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – PART 2

Biden government should build on Abraham Accords, help Sudan transition toward democracy, Middle East Expert tells ALL ISRAEL NEWS

The agreements should be expanded even wider – to Indonesia – and could also benefit Israeli-Palestinian relations, Robert Satloff says

Sudanese asylum seekers demonstrate in South Tel Aviv in support of their people, June 30, 2019. (Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The best way to strengthen Israel and other American interests and alliances in the Middle East is through the Abraham Accords – the historic normalization agreement between Israel and several Muslim nations and a diplomatic feat that was handed to the Biden administration on a silver platter.

While supportive of the Abraham Accords in words, U.S. President Joe Biden and his administration have done little to advance the treaties in any meaningful way. Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted the administration’s most high-profile event so far on the occasion of the Accords' one-year anniversary. He vowed that this government would “continue to build on the successful efforts of the last administration to keep normalization marching forward.”

I discussed this with Robert Satloff, executive director of The Washington Institute, in a two-part interview. In the first part of the interview, Satloff said that the Biden administration should be looking for a Plan B for Iran which is balking at reviving the nuclear deal.

In the second part of our interview we turned our attention to the Abraham Accords, brokered by former U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration.

Satloff noted the success of the agreements. In fact, he said, the countries involved are largely "off to the races," especially the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

"They’re on their own. They’re doing a wonderful job. Yes, America can applaud and support, but there’s no need for great American engagement," Satloff said. "Similarly, with the Bahrainis, they and the Israelis are on their own. The Moroccans and the Israelis have actually had a substantial relationship for quite some time. They will develop it more or less on their own." 

And while everyone is waiting for Saudi Arabia to join the circle, Satloff said the United States could offer its assistance in strengthening Sudan’s role in the Accords. 

“I do think America can play a very important role with Sudan, helping ensure a successful democratic transition in Sudan… helping that government affirm its position, strengthening it politically, economically,” Satloff said. “So, of the four countries that have made this decision, I would urge the administration to focus, especially on Sudan.”

Satloff noted that the trickle-down effects of these agreements can also fortify progress between Israelis and Palestinians, which is an important priority for the Biden administration. 

“These things build on themselves. If we put them in silos, they will stay in silos, but they will wither in silos. If we actually look for complementarities and look to see where useful connections can be made, this is where the United States… can play a useful value-added role and this is something I would hope the administration would pursue with greater vigor,” he said.

He also took a broad approach saying the agreements should include countries such as Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

"That would be very important for us to help the Israelis make inroads to deepen Israel’s standing in the broader Muslim world," he said. 

Here is the transcript of part two of our fascinating interview:

ROSENBERG: One great way to strengthen Israel, and the U.S.-Israel relationship strategically is the Abraham Accords. I point out in my book, that it’s the only area of agreement between former President Donald Trump and Biden – the Abraham Accords and their importance. Biden had publicly spoken about it during the campaign, to his credit. But he certainly has not been rushing to figure out a way to build on it. What’s your sense of what is the importance of the Abraham Accords and what should the Biden administration be doing to go forward?

SATLOFF: So yes, I think you’re right. Joe Biden publicly endorsed this and applauded the achievement of the Accords when he was a candidate. I think there was a bit of a misstep when the administration first came to office, with some of the lower-level officials not injecting their statements with the requisite enthusiasm on this issue, I’ll leave it at that…

ROSENBERG: Not even wanting to use the term “Abraham Accords…”

SATLOFF: Thankfully, that has been overcome. And now there is a commitment from the administration to pursue A. the Abraham Accords themselves; B. expanding the circle of peace. My own view is this: If you look at the four states that have made decisions for full diplomatic relations with Israel over the past year, the Emiratis and the Israelis are off to the races. They’re on their own. They’re doing a wonderful job. Yes, America can applaud and support, but there’s no need for great American engagement.

Similarly, with the Bahrainis, they and the Israelis are on their own. The Moroccans and the Israelis have actually had a substantial relationship for quite some time. They will develop it more or less on their own. 

I do think America can play a very important role with Sudan, helping ensure a successful democratic transition in Sudan, because it is the democratic government – the new post-Islamist democratically-led government that mixes civilian and military leaders that made this decision for peace with Israel – helping that government affirm its position, strengthening it politically, economically. I think it’s a very important role for the United States. So of the four countries that have made this decision, I would urge the administration to focus, especially on Sudan. 

And then there are two other agendas. One, integrating what I’ll call first-generation peacemakers with second-generation peacemakers. So integrating the Egyptians and the Jordanians in with the Emiratis and the Bahrainis and the others and taking this to scale, taking advantage of the complementarities that we have of countries at peace with Israel. That’s a key element of this. 

Then there is expanding the circle of peace, and there are other potential Arab – and even beyond the Arab world, Islamic – nations that one can look to for improving their relations with Israel and perhaps making the full step toward full diplomatic relations. In the Middle East, obviously the biggest enchilada, if you will, is the Saudis. I think that there are incremental steps that one can certainly build on that would lay the basis for the full leap toward full peace. And then outside the Middle East, there’s very important countries such as Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, that would be very important for us to help the Israelis make inroads to deepen Israel’s standing in the broader Muslim world. 

All of this, with some creative policymaking, can actually strengthen the foundations for eventual progress between Israelis and Palestinians, too, which is an important and reasonable priority for the Biden administration. These things build on themselves. If we put them in silos, they will stay in silos, but they will wither in silos. If we actually look for complementarities and look to see where useful connections can be made, this is where the United States, because we have relations with all these powers, can play a useful value-added role and this is something I would hope the administration would pursue with greater vigor.

ROSENBERG: I appreciate it, Rob. Thank you so much. This was fantastic.

A message from All Israel News
Help us educate Christians on a daily basis about what is happening in Israel & the Middle East and why it matters.
For as little as $5, you can support ALL ISRAEL NEWS, a non-profit media organization that is supported by readers like you.
Donate to ALL ISRAEL NEWS

Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.

Popular Articles
Comments
More Recent Articles