US Officially Severs Open Skies Treaty With Russia

The U.S. has officially withdrawn from the 1992 Open Skies Treaty, a pact with Russia that permitted unarmed, reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories.

Sunday was the deadline after a 6-month warning on withdrawal, according to State Department deputy spokesman Cale Brown.

“On May 22, 2020, the United States exercised its right pursuant to paragraph 2 of Article XV of the Treaty on Open Skies by providing notice to the Treaty Depositaries and to all States Parties of its decision to withdraw from the Treaty, effective six months from the notification date,” Brown’s statement read. “Six months having elapsed, the U.S. withdrawal took effect on Nov. 22, 2020, and the United States is no longer a State Party to the Treaty on Open Skies.”

The treaty was designed to permit surveillance of military installations around the world, but the Trump administration has warned Russia has not been holding up its end of the agreement anyway, leading to the announcement of intention to withdraw six months ago.

“While the United States, along with our Allies and partners that are States Parties to the treaty, have lived up to our commitments and obligations under the treaty, Russia has flagrantly and continuously violated the treaty in various ways for years,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a May statement, per Fox News. “This is not a story exclusive to just the treaty on Open Skies, unfortunately, for Russia has been a serial violator of many of its arms control obligations and commitments.” Continue reading “”

Israel and Sudan begin normalization process after call with Trump.

Sudan and Israel announced today that they will “end the state of belligerence” between them and start the process of normalizing ties.

Driving the news: The announcement came after a phone call hosted by President Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and the head of Sudan’s governing council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

Why it matters: Unlike with Israel’s recent deals with the UAE and Bahrain, there was a state of belligerency between Israel and Sudan for years.

  • Sudan is not designated in Israeli law as an enemy state, but for decades there has been deep animosity and a history of military incidents between the countries, which don’t have diplomatic relations.
  • Under Sudanese law, Sudanese nationals are not allowed to travel to Israel and could face heavy penalties for doing so.

The backdrop: Sudan hosted a Hamas headquarters in Khartoum for years and maintained a military and political alliance with Israel’s enemies Iran and Hezbollah. The Iranians used Sudan as a base for arms smuggling to the Gaza Strip, and established a massive factory for long-range rockets there. Continue reading “”

All of a sudden, the ‘Palestinian Problem’ is theirs, not anyone else’s. This is probably due to the current Trump triumphs in ME diplomacy and the resulting diminution of the access to bribery.


Washington’s Middle East Debate Is Changing.

Old Middle East experts probably recall a time not so long ago when the debate over U.S. policy towards the region was dominated by one narrative: The “pro-Arab” crowd versus the “pro-Israel” community. This zero-sum-game forced Americans, the White House and Congress to choose sides.

Even during that period of time, embracing a binary approach to understand U.S. Middle East policy as an outcome of a clash between supporters of Israel and friends of the Arabs, or between the Zionists and the Arabists, did not make sense.

Israel and the Arab oil countries had shared in the 1950s and 1960s common interests in opposing the Pan Arabist movement led by Egypt’s Gamal Abdul Nasser (“Nasserism”). In that context, they found themselves (together with the Shah’s Iran and Turkey) joining in support of U.S. interests in the region. Continue reading “”

How Trump Made It Happen: The Abraham Accords Peace Deal.

Today on the White House South Lawn, Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords, the first peace deal between Israel and Muslim Arab states in over a quarter-century……….

Trump correctly figured out that many of the moderate Arab States were tiring of the Palestinians refusal to even try to make peace. They were tired of having to carry the Palestinians and were already dealing with Israel behind the scenes. The ones already working with Israel were the Sunni-led states like UAE and Bahrain (and the Saudis), because of their fear of Shia Iran. Continue reading “”

Trump announces Bahrain joining UAE in normalizing ties with Israel

The White House on Friday announced that Bahrain is joining the United Arab Emirates in normalizing ties with Israel.

Driving the news: In a phone call between President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Israeli and Bahraini leaders agreed to establish full diplomatic relations between the two countries.

  • Israeli officials tell Axios that over the last two weeks, the White House has been pressing Bahrain to follow the UAE, which announced last month that it would open full diplomatic relations with Israel.
  • Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Manama, the capital of Bahrain, recently and asked the king and crown prince of Bahrain to normalize relations with Israel, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: The deal is a win for the Trump administration, which has sought to broker Middle East peace and strengthen ties with Israel.

  • It’s also a major breakthrough for Israel, which lacks diplomatic recognition in many Middle Eastern countries, but has steadily improved relations in the Gulf, largely due to mutual antipathy toward Iran.

What they’re saying: “Another HISTORIC breakthrough today! Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain agree to a Peace Deal – the second Arab country to make peace with Israel in 30 days!” Trump tweeted on Friday.

  • The U.S. president told reporters at the White House that when he took office “the Middle East was in a state of absolute chaos.”
  • Trump added that he “can see a lot of good things happening with respect to the Palestinians,” and noted that “something very positive” can happen with Iran.
  • Netanyahu thanked Trump, saying in a statement that “it took Israel 26 years to reach peace with a third Arab country – the United Arab Emirates. Now it took 29 days to reach peace with a forth Arab country – Bahrain.” The Israeli prime minister added that more normalization agreements with other Arab countries will follow.
  • Bahrain’s King Al-Khalifa told Trump and Netanyahu on the phone call that just and comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians must be achieved and should be based on the two-state solution and UN resolutions, the Bahraini news agency reported.
  • The UAE foreign ministry welcomed the Israel-Bahrain deal:
    • “Congratulations to the Kingdom of Bahrain and Israel on their decision to establish full diplomatic relations. Today marks another significant and historic achievement which will contribute enormously to the stability and prosperity of the region.”

What to watch: A “treaty of peace” between the UAE and Israel is expected to be signed next week, mirroring previous agreements between the Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

  • The Trump administration said that the Bahraini foreign minister will also be at the signing ceremony on Tuesday and will sign “a declaration of peace” with Netanyahu.

 

Arab League rejects Palestinian Authority demand to condemn Israel-UAE deal.

The Arab League on Wednesday failed to pass a resolution proposed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) which would have condemned the normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Times of Israel reports.

“After a three-hour debate, some Arab countries refused to include [a] statement condemning [the UAE] for abandoning Arab decisions. Additionally, they struck out a clause which discussed the trilateral agreement” between the UAE, the US, and Israel, the PA representative to the Arab League, Muhannad al-Aklouk, was quoted as having told the Ma’an news agency. Continue reading “”

Norwegian Lawmaker Nominates Trump for Nobel Peace Prize.

Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a member of the Norwegian Parliament and chairman of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, submitted the nomination, Fox News reported.

“For his merit, I think he has done more trying to create peace between nations than most other Peace Prize nominees,” Tybring-Gjedde told Fox News.

In his letter to the Nobel Committee, Tybring-Gjedde wrote that the Trump administration has played a key role in the establishment of relations between the two nations. Continue reading “”

Breaking: Trump administration brokers Serb-Kosovo deal — with normalized Israel relations.

Score another foreign-policy win for the Trump administration, and this one’s a surprising two-fer. More than twenty years after the Balkan Wars concluded, Serbia and Kosovo have settled their differences enough to establish economic ties, although full diplomatic recognition of Kosovo’s independence still appears out of reach. As part of the deal, Kosovo also became the next Muslim-majority nation to recognize Israel:

Serbia and Kosovo announced Friday that they have normalized economic ties as part of U.S.-brokered discussions that also include Belgrade moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem and Pristina recognizing Israel.

After two days of meetings with Trump administration officials, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti agreed to cooperate on a range of economic fronts to attract investment and create jobs. The White House announcement provided President Donald Trump with a diplomatic win ahead of the November presidential election and furthers his administration’s push to improve Israel’s international standing.

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