Who is Going to Tie the Knot with Israel Next in the Muslim World?


Israel could pursue closer ties to Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia years ago

After the signing of the Abraham Accords last week, there was widespread speculation that as many as five more countries could be in line for deals with Israel that would be pushed and brokered by the US President Donald Trump’s administration.

As the Rosh Hashanah holiday weekend began, observers pored over a list of likely candidates as each rumor of talks with the Trump administration fueled more speculation.

The latest details pointed to Kuwait, according to posts on social media and Arabic news outlets. The country, at the top end of the Gulf, is of great strategic and military importance to the US. It was at the center of global attention in the late 1980s, but after the 1990 invasion by Saddam Hussein was ended, the country preferred to adopt a lower profile.

Although it is close to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, it has been more hostile to Israel over the years. It also has a difficult history with the Palestinians, having expelled hundreds of thousands after the country was liberated from Hussein’s clutches in 1991.

Kuwait is a key US partner in the region but it has a lower international profile than the UAE and Qatar. It tries to be more neutral in disputes, but it is concerned about Iran’s activities.

In the 1980s, pro-Iranian groups and militants – such as Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis – plotted bombings in Kuwait. The emirate doesn’t want any trouble. Pro-Iranian groups in Iraq have opposed peace deals with the US.

The White House said Trump was awarding the Legion of Merit to the Emir of Kuwait, who is an “unwavering friend and partner.” The rest of the nature of recent Kuwaiti meetings with the White House was unclear.

Qatar is also working with America on strategic dialogue and a closer alliance. The US has an airbase in Qatar, and reports this week indicated that Washington was also working with Doha regarding possible discussions with Israel.

Qatar has indicated it could move forward when the time was right – and after some Israeli concessions on the peace process.
Among the other countries on the list in various Arabic media and elsewhere are Sudan and Saudi Arabia – by far the most important Gulf state, and a leader in the Islamic world.

Indonesia, meanwhile, has said its position on the Palestinians has not changed. There has been little news from Oman, despite optimism regarding its position, and there has been no news from Malaysia or Morocco, either, despite recent speculation about Morocco. Officials in Rabat threw cold water on those reports last week.

It should be recalled that some 30 countries do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Beside the above, these include: Mauritania, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq, Djibouti, Comoros, Algeria, Tunisia, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, Niger, Mali, Pakistan, Brunei, Bangladesh and Yemen. Due to civil war, there is no chance for Yemen, Somalia and Libya to initiate ties. Iraq, Lebanon and Syria are too close to Iran to ever increase ties, even if some communities in each country are more open to doing so.

Israel could pursue closer ties to Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia years ago, and it is not clear what prevents ties to Niger, Brunei, Djibouti, or the Comoros.

Algeria and Tunisia would appear to be possible eventual candidates, too, and Bangladesh may be easier than Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is involved in peace talks with the Taliban now, but not with Israel. Mali recently had a change in government. Mauritania may be a possibility as well, a Palestinian official recently noted.

Overall speculation and rumors continue to swirl with every report of a White House meeting or US diplomatic visit. Many of these countries want things from the US, so the White House is in the driver’s seat.

Source: Jerusalem Post


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