Could there be a chance of peace breaking out in the Middle East?

The times they are a-changin’. Certainly in the Middle East where, increasingly, once implacable foes are becoming as near to friends as is possible in the troubled region.

Ponder this: In its 72 years of independence Israel has only ever made formal peace with two Arab nations: Egypt and Jordan.

In the last month it has made peace with two more: the United Arab Emirates and, on Friday, with Bahrain.

Donald Trump the unlikely peacemaker

For many people what will also be surprising is that the peacemaker in both recent cases is the frequently undiplomatic and belligerent US President, Donald Trump.

Trump was apparently a key player in the peace agreement between the UAE and Israel, reached in mid-August. It will be formalised at a White House event this week, which will also be attended by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister.

The Bahrain-Israel agreement was announced on Friday – ironically the anniversary of the devastating 9/11 terror attacks that drove a wedge between the US and the Arab world – via a three-way announcement from Trump and the two national leaders: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

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Benjamin Netanyahu of Isreal. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Positive transformation of the Middle East

“This is a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East,” the trio said in their statement.

“Opening direct dialogue and ties between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security and prosperity in the region.”

The deal means normalised diplomatic relations between Israel and Bahrain, which is a small island nation comprising an archipelago made up of 40 natural islands and an additional 51 artificial islands. It is off the coast of Saudi Arabia and also close to Qatar.

Oman and Sudan are also in the wings

Other Arab nations believed to be close to reaching diplomatic agreements with Israel are Oman and Sudan.

A deal with Saudi Arabia, the regional superpower that has moderated its views on Israel and even allows Israeli civil airline flights over its airspace, may also happen at a later date, some experts believe.

Each such agreement is a further blow to the Palestinians, who have long condemned normal relations by Arab nations with Israel until such time as it can hammer out its own deals with its longtime foe.

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