In recent weeks, the Trump administration has made rapid progress on normalization of relations between certain countries that have been hostile to one another for decades.
Firstly, US President Donald Trump signed a deal that normalized relations between Israel and the UAE, which was then followed by a deal that strengthened economic ties between Kosovo and Serbia.
And now, the US President has done it again by announcing a landmark deal to normalize relations between Bahrain and Israel.
This is a Historic Achievement for Trump
For decades, most Arab states have boycotted Israel, insisting that they would only establish ties once the Palestinian dispute had been resolved.
Bahrain has become the fourth country in the Middle East – following Egypt, Jordan and the UAE – to recognize Israel since its founding in 1948.
Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both welcomed the deal, as did the UAE.
However, both Palestine and terrorist group Hezbollah were quick to condemn the agreement.
This is a historic achievement for Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has been instrumental in forging these deals for his father-in-law in his capacity as senior advisor to the US President.
The Bahrain-Israeli Deal Could Affect the US Election
The Bahrain-Israeli deal will affect Trump domestically. Although the latest opinion polls suggest that the US President is on course to lose this year’s election, Middle Eastern politics could have an impact on specific groups of voters that the Republicans need to win over if they have any hope of ensuring Trump returns to the White House in November.
A Pew research poll in July showed 8 in 10 white evangelicals still intend to vote for Trump. Mark Tooley, editor of Providence, a journal that focuses on Christianity and foreign policy, believes that the US President’s foreign policy successes will convince those who were “tottering on the edge that God’s support remains.”
Time reports that Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, one of the largest evangelical advocacy organizations in the US, says that Trump’s Middle East accord that was signed earlier in the year is unlikely to dissuade many evangelicals from voting for Trump, even if Israel suspended its annexation of Palestine.
A major Jewish donor also told Time that peace in the Middle East “is a real feather in his (Trump’s) cap with the Jewish voters.”
Iran and Turkey Will Feel Increasingly Isolated
The significant impact of the Bahrain-Israeli deal will be felt in the Middle East. The pact will isolate both Iran and Turkey further.
The growing threat from Tehran has no doubt pushed many nations who used to be hostile toward Israel further into Jerusalem’s arms before the Palestinian dispute has been fully resolved. Growing insecurity made it easier for Trump to sign peace deals with both the UAE and Bahrain.
There will now be increased pressure on Saudi Arabia to normalize its relations with Israel too.
The Times of Israel suggests that Bahrain would not have proceeded with the Bahrain-Israeli deal without Riyadh’s blessing.
Will Saudi Arabia Normalize Relations with Israel?
The Saudi Government allowed an Israeli El Al jet to fly over Saudi Arabia to the UAE for the first time on August 31, but it is unlikely that Riyadh will be normalizing relations with Israel soon.
Despite this, the more Iran poses a security threat to the Saudi kingdom, the more likely they are to forge their own deal with Netanyahu, particularly if the US pushes for one behind closed doors.
Countries that cut off their ties with Israel in the past may be persuaded to reforge them again because of the increasing threat that both Turkey and Iran pose to the Middle East. For example, in 1999, Mauritania established diplomatic relations with Israel, but severed ties again in 2010.
Either way, the Bahrain-Israeli agreement ensures that there may be more deals like this one in the future as long as Iran and Turkey continue to push many Middle Eastern nations closer together.