Lots of fanfare and whoop-de-doo from Trump as two Gulf States—Bahrain and the UAE—signed an agreement Tuesday, Sept. 15, to normalize their relations with Israel. Trump, as expected, viewed the process as a major historic breakthrough. “After decades of division and conflict we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” Trump told a crowd of hundreds gathered at the White House. “We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history.”
It may have been a big deal for the U.S., Israel, Bahrain and the Gulf States, but it’s to be seen how it will resonate with the other Arabs in the region, particularly Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians.
Do these deals end the balance of achieving a two-state solution in Israel?
The recent move follows last month’s normalization plan with the UAE, an action that infuriated Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and he probably is no less irritated by the recent development.
“The Palestinian leadership rejects and denounces the UAE, Israeli and U.S.’ trilateral, surprising, announcement,” said Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. He read his statement on Palestinian television, and added that the leadership regarded the deal as a “betrayal.”
At a time when Trump has been taking his lumps on the domestic front, from book revelations from relatives and others, citing him as less than fit to run the nation, the Middle East news must be as good as a cheering crowd in Las Vegas.
Even so, much of the news continues to be hardly celebratory. If Trump feels he has done a good job reining in COVID-19, there’s a multitude of dissenters, according to recent polls. In a new poll released Tuesday, a median of 15% of respondents said the U.S. had handled the pandemic well, while 85% said the country had responded poorly—that is, Trump had responded badly.
And that’s something he somewhat admitted himself in an interview with reporter Bob Woodward; an expanded version of their conversation appears in Woodward’s book “Rage.”
As Trump continues on the campaign trail you can bet he will be gloating on the Middle East situation, but he should be concerned about the closer U.S. Midwest.