U.S. President Donald Trump is rushing to complete his pro-Israel Middle East initiatives at breakneck speed before his Democrat rival Joe Biden takes on his duties at the White House on January 20. Trump, who was elected in 2016 with the slogan “America First,” had throughout his presidency always prioritized Israel when it came to his Middle East policy.
The Riyadh regime, which supports the so-called "normalization" agreements that the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Sudan had signed with Israel, to the detriment of the Palestinians, "officially" prefers to watch from the sidelines. Meanwhile, Qatar, which has been subjected to a strict blockade for three years by a coalition led by the Emirates and Saudis, stayed out of Trump's pro-Israel initiatives. Trump is pressuring Saudi Arabia and Qatar to sign similar deals with Israel in the eleventh hour.
Trump’s son-in-law and Chief Adviser Jared Kushner, whom he has commissioned to spearhead his Middle East policy, headed to Saudi Arabia and Qatar earlier this month in a last-ditch effort. The talks were said to be aimed at lifting the blockade against Qatar and ending disputes within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
According to analysts, the most important pillar of the talks is to get Riyadh and Doha to sign an agreement with Israel. Kushner is said to have returned to Washington empty-handed from this leg of the meeting.
However, it is said that Riyadh is waiting for Biden to move into the White House. It is known that, compared to Trump, the incoming Biden administration is expected to adopt a more stand-offish policy when it comes to its ties with Riyadh.
Kuwait has been mediating for a while now in a bid to resolve the dispute between Qatar and the Saudis. Meanwhile, the UAE opposes this initiative, which is favored by the Saudis.
Meanwhile, Gulf media outlets have been hinting that the Qatar dispute will be resolved during the "Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit" to be held later this month.
Prior to Kushner's visit, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a secret meeting.
The Trump administration and Israel are conducting an intense clandestine diplomacy with the regimes in the Middle East.
The meeting of Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi at the "Allenby Bridge" that connects the occupied West Bank with Jordan is a prime example of this clandestine diplomacy. It is noteworthy that during the First World War, the name of British general Allenby, who invaded Jerusalem in 1917, was given to the bridge in Jordan.
Gabi Ashkenazi is a member of the "Blue-White Bloc", which is part of the ruling coalition government in Israel. However, the coalition is falling apart and Israel is heading for a fourth snap election.
Early elections could bring a new government in Israel that is more compatible with the incoming Biden administration. A peace agreement has been in place between Israel and Jordan for 25 years. Dismayed by Israel's annexation policies, it is said that King Abdullah II even turned down Netanyahu's request to speak on the phone.
Meanwhile, Jordan is hopeful that Biden will adopt a policy that is in line with the "two-state solution" on the Palestine issue, as Amman believes that the so-called normalization agreements should push Israel towards accepting a peaceful solution with the Palestinians.
Jordan also believes that the "Blue-White Bloc" in Israel will be more comfortable working with Biden than it has been with Trump. However, both the Netanyahu wing and the "Blue-White Bloc" expect Biden to support the so-called "normalization" deals. Biden had also expressed support for these agreements.
Trump had decided to completely halt U.S. financial aid to The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Of course, speculations abound as to whether the Biden administration will release this aid. Both the Israeli government and the "Israel Lobby" in the U.S. believe that Biden will not rescind Trump's decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Biden for his part wants to return the U.S. to the “Iran Nuclear Agreement.” Meanwhile, it’s the last thing Israel, Saudi, UAE and Bahrain want to see happen. Thus, the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was seen as the mastermind behind the “Iran Nuclear Agreement”, through an assassination that is shrouded in mystery, is seen as roadblock that could complicate Biden’s plans to reconcile with Iran. Trump, who will stay in office until January 20, is pursuing moves, together with Israel, that will make it difficult for the Biden administration to make this decision. Covert diplomacy in the region and the assassination of Mohshn Fakhrizadeh are all part of these moves. Other Iran-related actions are expected before January 20.