One man in particular, the well-known Emirates ambassador to Washington, Youssef al-Otaiba, may have been influential in this case. In June, he published a letter in an Israeli newspaper warning the authorities in Jerusalem that the annexation of the West Bank would be an obstacle to the rapprochement between the two countries. The August 13 agreement is in a way an operational corollary of this analysis, giving it a positive outcome. Youssef al-Otaiba is sufficiently aware of the American political world to have his own back covered in Biden's entourage.
Not everything, however, boils down to tactical expediency. If the United Arab Emirates and Israel took the step of normalization, it is also because they considered it necessary to prepare for the future phases of American disengagement from the region and, in the event of a Democratic victory, for the possible return of détente between Washington and Tehran. Moreover, this agreement marks a real change of perspective in the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It strips the Palestinian Authority of the only real playing card it had left, what is known as the Abdallah initiative or the Arab Initiative, the old doctrine that the Arabs would recognize Israel the day an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement was signed.
Admittedly, for the time being, normalization with Israel concerns only the Emirates. The move has however not been condemned by any Arab State. Everyone expects others to follow, and it is known that in Saudi Arabia it is the king who remains hostile to normalization, but not his son, MBS, who is the effective leader of the country. In other words, it is likely that the UAE-Israel agreement is a precursor to a general realignment of the positions of the regional players.
What will Europe’s role be?
The new coalition that is taking shape has one main enemy: Iran (with Turkey increasingly coming in second). This is one of the most intriguing aspects of the announcement of August 13. In the summer of 2019, what made the headlines was a rapprochement between the Emirates and Iran, marked among other things by the visit to Tehran of a large delegation from Abu Dhabi. Indeed, in the event of a regional conflict, the prosperous Dubai, Abu Dhabi's sister city, could be the easiest target for an Iranian attack.