The authoritarian leaders, or authoritarian-curious leaders, of four countries
The agreement is a victory for Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the de facto ruler of the Emirates; Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia; Benjamin Netanyahu, the forever prime minister of Israel; and President Donald Trump. Each of these men needed this agreement rather urgently:
(A) Bin Zayed, because he realizes that the U.A.E. is deeply unpopular with Democrats (the U.A.E. leadership put itself on President Barack Obama’s bad side and was a bit too ostentatiously relieved when Trump came into office), and so understands that he needs to make his country look helpful and constructive to Joe Biden, just in case.
(B) Bin Salman, without whom these Gulf states, Bahrain in particular, would not dare make such a bold and public move, needs this agreement for much the same reason: He has to prove to Democrats (and to Europeans) that he is a constructive and moderate leader, and not merely a murderer of dissidents.
(C) Netanyahu benefits in at least three ways: First, he diverts attention from his miserable handling of the coronavirus pandemic (Israel is moving into a new, three-week lockdown on Friday). Second, he manages to make “peace” with Arabs who are not Palestinians, the particular group of Arabs he’d most like to avoid. And third, he buttresses his reputation among Israeli voters as a statesman on the world stage.
d) Donald Trump, because he can tell his followers, particularly his more gullible followers, that he has brought peace to the Middle East. (Not that American voters reward presidents who bring peace to the Middle East; just ask Jimmy Carter.)
The makers of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
In many ways “The Abraham Accords” amount to an arms deal. The U.A.E. and other states that now engage with Israel will find themselves armed with a better class of American weaponry. The U.S. has pledged for a very long time to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge, but the U.A.E. in particular might have just arranged for itself a similar promise.
The deal is a triumph for the Emirati ambassador to the U.S., Yousef Al Otaiba; the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer; and Jared Kushner, the Trump administration’s ambassador to all sorts of Semites. It was Otaiba, more than any other single figure, who organized this coming-out party. He is the canniest and most influential ambassador in Washington, in part because he has bin Zayed’s trust, and in part because he so assiduously cultivates his country’s image as a (relatively speaking) progressive, anti-extremist Arab state. Dermer, Netanyahu’s longtime confidant, gets to claim a diplomatic victory, one that bypasses the core of the conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. And credit where credit is due: Kushner brought energy and drive to this process, and secured a win for his father-in-law and for the Israeli right, to which he is partial. It was the regional players who made this happen, but Kushner was smart enough to help set the table.