Trump's 'Nobel-worthy' peace deal is a charade

By: Rachel Marsden

 It’s sometimes hard to tell if those fronting for the Trump administration are completely clueless or just hoping that the rest of us are naive and uninformed. Because to claim, as Donald Trump recently did, that his administration is playing a key role in achieving peace in the Middle East by bringing together Israel and the United Arab Emirates is laughable.

And now, all Trump has to do is bring Saudi Arabia into the fold and declare “Peace for our time,” right?

“Just a few moments ago, I hosted a very special call with two friends — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates — where they agreed to finalize a historical peace agreement,” Trump said in announcing the Israel-UAE deal on Aug. 13. “Everybody said this would be impossible.”

What’s next? Can we expect an “October surprise” claiming that Trump brought longtime allies Canada and Mexico together? Of course not. That would be silly, right? Everyone knows that Canada and Mexico are allies. But not nearly as many people know that Israel and the UAE have long been pals.

Just like Canada and Mexico, the UAE and Israel have had their differences, but for years the cooperation between the two Middle Eastern neighbors has been so deep that it even includes cooperation on national security. Either Trump doesn’t know this, or he’s banking on American voters buying into the well-worn cliché that all Arab countries hate Israel and not being any wiser to Trump’s claim of playing a role in bringing Israel and the UAE together.

Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, apparently was going for the gold medal in bootlicking when he gushed that, “Today’s work is an example of why [Trump] would be rightly considered and should be a front-runner for the Nobel Peace Prize.”

O’Brien was either peddling pure propaganda as subtle as anything out of North Korea or displaying what should be disqualifying ignorance for someone in his position.

In geopolitics there are quick and easy ways to make rough estimates of complex situations. One such way is to find out if two given countries have McDonald’s restaurants. If so, then they probably aren’t at war with each other. Another shortcut is to determine whether two nations have the same weapons dealer. Countries that share a dealer usually aren’t in conflict with each other. The UAE and Israel have long been weapons clients of the U.S. There are Wikileaks cables dating from 2007 that outline the UAE’s detailed wish lists for U.S. weapons systems.

On the other hand, Iran isn’t buying any U.S. weapons. An actual Middle East peace agreement would have included U.S. weapons client countries and Iran.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel have long been allies in espionage. Just don’t tell anyone, please. A U.S. diplomatic cable from 2007 published by Wikileaks quoted a representative of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as saying that the UAE does not look on Israel as an enemy.

The New York Times revealed in 2018 that the UAE had been using Israeli spyware to hack into the phones of government opponents, and suggested that such usage would require formal approval from the Israeli Defense Ministry. A lawsuit filed in Israel by a Saudi dissident in Canada accuses the Saudis of using the Israeli spyware against the late Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was lured to the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, where he was killed and dismembered.

In 2017, Israel’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, told a Saudi newspaper of the relationship between the two countries, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

“We are willing to share information if there is a need, Eisenkot said. “We have many shared interests between us.”

The question is: “Why now?” Despite much of the Middle East being in cooperation for years, why has it been kept on the down-low by these countries’ leaders? And why is the world now being made aware of it, as if there had been some kind of tectonic shift?

There is no appetite among these countries for an actual war with Iran in which they end up being targeted. However, there doesn’t seem to be much opposition to the U.S. taking it upon itself to eliminate the biggest competitive threat to these nations. Hopefully Trump is only playing a fool when it comes to the Middle East — and not being played for one.