Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahar, former Palestinian Foreign Minister and professor at the Islamic University of Gaza; Dr. Rafiq Abdul- Salam, former Tunisian Foreign Minister and head of the Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies; Dr. Massoud Asadollahi, University Professor and Director of West Asian Studies Group at the International Assembly of Muslim University Professors (IAOMUP) and Dr. Levent Basturk, Professor at Eskişehir University, Turkey, were the speakers of the roundtable discussion under the theme of “Analytical Study of the Dimensions of Normalization of Relations between the UAE and the Zionist Regime”, hosted by IAOMUP and the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations on Saturday (September 12, 2020).
Following are excerpts of the topics raised in this roundtable.
Need for Strategic Outlook on UAE-Zionist Regime Agreement
Dr. Rafiq Abdul Salam, former Tunisian Foreign Minister and head of the Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, commenting on the agreement for normalization of relations between the UAE and the Zionist regime said: What is important about normalization of the UAE’s relations with the Zionist regime is that the Emiratis thought they have obtained specific privileges such as cessation of the plan to annex the West Bank to the occupied territories, but Netanyahu, the prime minister of the Zionist regime, did not let his friends to enjoy the subject matter and rejected it, in such a way that the Zionist settlements is continued today and nothing has been changed and, therefore, we must look at the issue strategically.
Referring to the cooperation between Islamic countries, including Iran and Tunisia, Rafiq Abdul Salam said: Views of the two countries on strategic issues such as Quds are the same and there is a similarity of opinion.
He also said: Disputes should be put aside and we should solve problems strategically and stand against arrogance.
Professor Basturk, Professor at the University of Eskişehir in Turkey, referring to the fact that the agreement is the continuation of the past relations between the UAE and the Zionist regime said: the UAE-Zionist regime agreement is neither an agreement for pace nor for normalization because for the development of an agreement both the conflicting parties should remain, but we have never witnessed a conflict between the UAE and the Zionist regime; therefore, using these terms is a kind of political game to deceive public opinion.
Basturk added: Regarding normalization, it should be said that the relations between the UAE and the Zionist regime date back to the years before 2000, so using the term normalization is not correct, because they have never been in conflict with each other and only in the recent agreement relations between the two sides has been formalized
Attempts to Create a New Regional Order
Regarding the objectives of the agreement, Professor Basturk said: This agreement goes beyond the issue of normalization of relations and, in fact, is a kind of declaration of formation of a coalition against Iran and an important step towards creation of a new regional order that we will witness in the next few years and other countries such as Saudi Arabia play their role in it.
The professor of Eskişehir University of Turkey cited the influence of the Islamic Revolution of Iran in the region, the fear of repetition of the fall of Saddam and the rise of pro-Islamist movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, after the 2010 Islamic Awakening in the Middle East and North Africa as the reasons behind the agreement for normalization of relations between Arab countries bordering the Persian Gulf and the Zionist regime.
Basturk also named Trump, Netanyahu and Sheikh Zayed as the main players in the agreement, each seeking their own interests in the agreement. He said: Trump has backed the deal for political gain to win the election, Netanyahu for diverting Israeli public opinion from the regime’s internal problems, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed for attracting backing of a strong supporter to advance his goals in the region.
He added: Although Bin Salman also supported this agreement behind the scenes, but apparently he has not joined this agreement due to his concern about the reactions of the public opinion of the Muslim nations.
Palestine, the Loser of the UAE-Zionist Regime Agreement
Pointing to Palestine as the loser of the UAE-Zionist regime agreement, the Professor at the University of Eskişehir in Turkey said: This agreement will further open Israel’s hands before the Palestinians, because by recognizing this illegitimate regime by some Arab states, Netanyahu can make demands such as settlement and annexation of the West Bank more easily.
He continued by saying: Overall, this agreement will make Israel more powerful and weaken the Palestinian defiance, and if Saudi Arabia wants to join the agreement, the Palestinians hands will be more tightened for resistance and in return the situation will improve for Israel.
As for the Palestinians’ reaction to the agreement, Basturk said: The UAE-Zionist regime agreement will leave no solution for the Palestinians other than resistance, especially since the solution of the two governments considered by the Saudis has been dead since a long time ego and as a result, the Palestinian cause is being destroyed by these authoritarian countries.
Consequences of the UAE-Zionist Regime Agreement
In this agreement, the two parties to the deal are not equal with each other, on the one hand, i.e. Israel, is like a master and the other side is a slave, and there is a kind of master-slave relationship. These relations are also politically and economically beneficial, including in the field of energy, for Israel, which intends to invest in the energy field of the Arab countries in the region.
He continued: This agreement will hit Turkey’s reconsideration policies in the region and will also damage Iran’s influence in the region.
Massoud Asadollahi, director of the West Asian Studies Group at the International Association of Muslim University Professors commenting on the normalization of relations between Arabs and the Israeli regime said: The UAE and Israel have already had extensive security, economic and intelligence relations, and now these relations have been revealed. Assadollahi stated: Signing of an agreement between Bahrain and the UAE with Israel is the personal need of US President Donald Trump to succeed in the elections, because he has no success in foreign policy.
Anti-Iranian Objective of UAE-Zionist Regime Agreement
Regarding the main purpose of the agreement, the Director of the West Asian Studies Group said: Trump’s son-in-law and the architect of the normalization of Arab relations with Israel has said in an interview that he would do his best for the joining of Saudi Arabia to the process of normalizing relations with Israel.
Asadollahi said: Pompeo has announced that the ultimate goal of the US is to form an anti-Iranian coalition, because previous US alliances in Syria, Iraq and other countries have failed.
Director of the West Asian Studies Group at the International Association of Muslim University Professors added: The rulers of the UAE think that if their interests are threatened, the US will help them, but experience has proven that the US and Israel wage war only for their own interests.
Asadollahi also stressed that Iran has warned the UAE that if Israel wants to attack Iran through the UAE, the whole UAE will be targeted; the UAE is a vulnerable country.
Director of the West Asian Studies Group at the International Assembly of Muslim University Professors said: The Islamic Republic of Iran’s advice to the UAE is that not to think that an alliance with Israel will create security.
Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahar, former Palestinian Foreign Minister and Professor at the Islamic University of Gaza, thanking the Islamic Republic of Iran for its support of the Palestinian resistance commented on the UAE-Zionist regime agreement and said: This imaginary agreement has endangered the future of Palestine and the Arab and Islamic nation in general and this great crime has been committed by the Emiratis against the Palestinian people, at a time when the Zionist regime has a clear enmity with the Palestinians, and they are proud of this humiliating peace, and are still legitimizing it worldwide.
Resistance Only Way to Victory of Palestine
Mahmoud al-Zahar referring to the players behind the agreement said: Following this agreement, the UAE officials tried to cover it up with lies, but the Zionists quickly revealed its nature.
He added: This agreement has no gains except for Trump to win the elections and for Netanyahu who is on the verge of being tried for corruption.
Mahmoud al-Zahar said: This agreement and its timeline indicate a criminal plan that seeks to destroy the resistance, which doubles the need to confront it, and there is no other way in it but resistance to win.