LONDON: The Abraham Accords are an important tool for countering regional threats such as Iran and should be celebrated, former US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey said on the first anniversary of the deal.
In a press briefing hosted on Monday by the Woodrow Wilson Center and attended by Arab News, Jeffrey — chair of the think tank’s Middle East program — said the accords are “a significant step forward for the region.”
They established diplomatic, cultural and economic ties between the UAE and Bahrain on one side and Israel on the other. Morocco and Sudan later joined the accords following US diplomatic overtures.
The accords “give both the (Biden) administration and, more importantly, the states in the region, another tool to use to build common positions and deal with problems that are shaking the entire region, and have for decades now,” said Jeffrey, whose decades-long diplomatic career spanned postings in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, the Balkans and more.
Among the most important threats shared by Arab countries and Israel are Iranian-made missiles, he added.
“When you look at the threats to the region from a military-violence standpoint, it’s rocket missile systems of Iranian origin and various terrorist movements,” he said. For Arab states, “Israel is seen as a highly effective partner on both of those issues,” he added.
“Frankly, rockets flying into your capitals or your airports isn’t just something Israel faces these days, and the source of all those rockets ultimately is Iran.”
Saudi Arabia, Jeffrey said, is “the big win” for any such rapprochement between the Israelis and the Arab world, but the Kingdom has made clear that any agreement between it and Israel is contingent upon a just and lasting solution for the Palestinian people.
Earlier this year, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan said: “Overall, the Abraham Accords have had a positive effect on relations in the region, and we must build on that by finding a solution for the Palestinians.”
Jeffrey also tackled the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, expressing his belief that for the first time in 50 years, America had “lost the struggle.”
He said: “When I say the struggle or the conflict, in the end all conflicts are political. Our political effort there was morphed into a 20-year campaign to take one side in a civil war, the side that we’d created, and have it triumph culturally, economically, politically and militarily over the insurgent side, which was the Taliban. The problem was, the Taliban were stronger.”
However, the American withdrawal from Afghanistan should not be seen as an indication of future US policies vis-a-vis its allies in the Middle East, said Jeffrey.
“Any American withdrawal we do from any place sends shivers through a collective security system with many-score of countries that rely on America,” he acknowledged, but Afghanistan “was a very special case both for Joe Biden and for the United States, and I don’t think there will be any further withdrawals. In fact, I don’t think there’s any intention to pull out of any other place.”