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Proxy Conflict…

Israel’s Ambassador to India Naor Gilon recently triggered an angry exchange of words with Iran on Twitter, as he said that Iran was being steered by a very Extreme Regime with nuclear weapons and was a danger in West Asia. Soon after this comment by the 57-year-old Israeli official, Tehran issued a statement, saying: “… Certainly great civilisations with the great history of peace and coexistence are smarter than falling into the traps of such selfish and bloodthirsty regime with huge records of Human Rights abuses, killings of children, and the childish remarks of its evil-minded Zionist envoy.

In reply, Ambassador Gilon wrote on his Twitter account: “Thank you @Iran_in_India When at 57 someone calls me ‘childish‘ and ‘adventurous‘, I take it as a compliment. Yours proudly the ‘evil minded Zionist envoy’.” The Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Alon Ushpiz, too, backed his colleague on the Twitter swipe at Iran, stating: “We still vividly remember how in February 2012 an ‘evil minded‘ Iranian death squad attempted to assassinate one of our diplomats in the heart of New Delhi.” Interestingly, Israeli fighter jets escorted a US B-1B Lancer bomber over the Persian Gulf, Bab al-Mandeb Strait, Suez Canal and Gulf of Oman on the same day (October 31, 2021). They also flew over the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint for a fifth of world oil output at the head of the Persian Gulf that Iran considers a strategic area of influence. As expected, violation of its airspace by the US and Israeli aircraft irked Iran.

Meanwhile, the relation between Israel and the US has changed since Joe Biden became the President in January 2021. The Every Morning Asia online portal has reported that the Biden Administration has downplayed the Abraham Accords, which celebrate one year since the signing of the largest diplomatic breakthrough in West Asia after the 1994 Peace Treaty between Israel and Jordan.

The Abraham Accords, aimed to normalise relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain (later joined by Morocco and Sudan), were one of the Foreign Policy achievements that the Donald Trump Administration was most vociferous about, and a huge capital image for the Republicans that seems to haunt the current Democrat Leadership in the White House, with President Biden paying far too little attention to this accomplishment of his predecessor, being more concerned externally with the situation in Afghanistan, and internally with the increase in COVID-19 cases, healing the US Economy and diminishing social divisions in the American Society.

Persian Gulf

This was also noted during the official meeting between President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Washington in which the US side paid lip service to the Abraham Accords, less so discussing a comprehensive diplomatic role for Washington in normalising Israeli relations with other US allies in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Moreover, the US Department of State discourages its employees from using the term ‘Abraham’ (a term too strongly associated with the former Trump Administration) in favour of a more practical approach, such as “relations normalisation agreements”. However, by demoting a prophet name with a strong resonance and presence in both Judaism and Islam (Muslims refer to him as ‘Ibrahim’), the State Department, seemingly, ignores the exact symbol, unifying both religious communities.

President Biden (L) and Israeli PM Bennett

The reason behind all this is the fear that the Accords resonate too much with the former Republican Administration, and their success would boost the popularity of the Republican Party both in the short term, approaching the 2022 midterm elections, and in the longer term, the 2024 Presidential Election, all the more so as Biden might have suffered a political blow following the chaos caused by the US Military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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