PEACE deals struck between Israel and the Gulf nations could decimate Iran’s economy, a researcher has told Redaction Politics.
Having brokered a deal between Bahrain and Israel last Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said: “After decades of division and conflict we mark the dawn of a new Middle East.
“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history.”
To some observers, it may seem Trump’s Middle East peace plan is finally coming to fruition, especially after the debacle that was the ‘Deal of the Century’.
However, so-called peace deals between Israel and the Gulf Nations don’t necessarily reduce tensions in the Middle East, but unite the three parties against a common enemy – Iran.
Researcher Nazanin Zarepour of the University of Toronto said: “Any attempt to forge links between the allies of the ‘liberal-democratic’ axis evidently suffocates Iran which is a crucial part of the counterforce of the ‘Axis of Resistance.’
“This, in fact, is not even a matter of conjecture. Israeli leaders themselves are seeing as this as an affront to Iran, with Israel’s MP stating that the “peace deal is the new front against Iran.”
“Similarly, Brian Hook, the Former U.S. Special Representative for Iran has stated that “the future is very much in the Gulf and with Israel, and the past is with the Iranian regime.”
Predictably, Iran have viewed both the UAE and Bahrain deals with great suspicion. President Hassan Rouhani has said both nations will face “consequences” for ratifying the agreements.
Miss Zarepour continued: “Despite the UAE claiming that the deal was not meant to be an affront to Iran, it is evident, with both the claims of the Israel and the United States, that this move was an attempt to weaken Iran’s position in the region considerably.
“While the interests of Israel and the US are clear, the motives of the UAE are blurry. This peace deal could perhaps be a strategic response to their own dire economic circumstances, with the UAE recently entering the debt market with a 50-year bond.”
READ MORE: The Sharpening of the Dialectic: The UAE and Israel’s ‘Peace Deal’
It is important to note that the UAE, specifically Dubai, and Iran have shared reasonably deep economic ties over the past few decades.
To many, the former has been a rare economic hub for an ailing Iranian economy damaged by sanctions. However, the peace deal could, ironically, drive the two nations further apart.
“Given Iran’s economic isolation as a result of sanctions (particularly from the United States), Dubai has served as an important centre for trade and banking for Iran,” Miss Zarepour told Redaction Politics.
“Iranian banks such as Melli and Saderat which have typically been blacklisted by US sanctions have been able to operate with moderate success out of Dubai.
“However, this relationship has been threatened for the past few years, with US sanctions pressuring Dubai to cut ties with Iran. Evidently, the deal with Israel can only make such tension stronger and can potentially lead to further economic isolation.
“Despite such warming up to the “liberal-democratic” order in the past, the UAE—and especially Dubai—nonetheless offered a haven for Iranian trade and banking in the face of sanctions.”
The UAE could, then, be self-sabotaging its own economy by cutting ties with Iran – but neither nation, at least internally, will want this.
It opens up the remarkable possibility that they will continue their economic relationship under the radar, the reseacher claimed.
Miss Zarepour said: “It is, in the face of debt and insecurity, in the UAE’s strategic interest to balance the interests of both axes.
“Thus, it is likely that such a strategic relationship between Iran and the UAE will persist—one which is outwardly hostile but quietly economically cooperative.
“The relationship is evidently subject to future fluctuation, not dissimilar to Qatar’s change in relationship with Iran in the wake of the diplomatic crisis of 2017.
“Though the deal may be cited as a clear move by the UAE, its potential aftermath is beyond prediction.”
Nazanin Zarepour is a graduate student and researcher at the University of Toronto. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto, with the twelfth edition available here.
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