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Quick Take: Normalizing Israel & UAE Relations

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

You may have seen the big news, that the United States facilitating normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, one of the Gulf monarchies. It is a real change in the way we think about the geopolitics of the Middle East. And it just shows how much times have changed.

If you go around the Middle East and ask Arab leaders what their priorities are, they'll tell you Iran, they'll tell you ISIS, al-Qaida, they'll tell you Syria, and Libya, they'll tell you Yemen, they'll tell you domestic instability, but they will not say Israel-Palestine. And that is so different than five, 10, 20 years ago when no willingness to talk to the Israelis unless you actually had some sort of successful peace negotiations between the two. Well, what's happening is the common enemy of Iran is becoming more important, the Palestinians are becoming less important, poorly governed, less powerful, and their former erstwhile friends and supporters are saying, "eh, we've got other priorities."


This is a big deal. And I said that back when Jared Kushner unveiled the peace plan, which, of course, was going to be much less of an attractive deal for the Palestinians in terms of land, allowing for the annexation of some of their territory by the Israelis in the West Bank, giving them a quilt work of territories that were not joined directly, building tunnels and roads to allow them somehow to have a Palestinian state. They were going to get a lot of money in return that was promised by the Americans and others in the region, but the Palestinians were not a part of putting the plan together. The Americans negotiated it basically themselves with their allies, Israel.

And not only that, but President Trump has been quite unilateral in changing the rules on the ground. You know that he, after decades of Congress and presidents calling to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, he did it. And a lot of people complained all over the world, but nothing really happened. He also recognized the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, complaints in the region, no one really did anything. And the reality is that the Israelis are increasingly making the rules. The Palestinians are being left behind. And the fact that on the back of that, with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is facing big corruption scandals at home and might not even last very much longer as PM and his unity government could easily fall apart, but Israel is in a much stronger position geopolitically than it has been before. And that's despite the fact that they've given absolutely nothing to the Palestinians.

I remember reading all of these New York Times op-eds from Tom Friedman saying that, you know, if Israel doesn't form a deal with the Palestinians, that will be it for Israel. Actually, that's not true. And it's because Israel doesn't need the Palestinians. It's a horrible thing to say. It's horrible, particularly for the Palestinians, because these are people that have no capacity for real employment, and education, and opportunity in Gaza. It's over 50 percent unemployment, extraordinary amounts of hunger and no opportunity, but also no opportunity to change the status quo. And they've had really bad governance for decades now, with Palestinian authority and with Hamas. And people just don't find the need to work with them anymore. They're being left behind.

Israel, meanwhile, one of the most effective advanced industrial democracies in the world. A great judiciary, media, open, transparent, educational system, healthcare system, as long as you're not Palestinian. And the fact that that is leading not only to no challenges at home, but even to changing the geopolitics in the region to their favor, breaking through in a way that no one could have anticipated 10 or 20 years ago, just shows you how much the Middle East is changing.

And does give President Trump one of the larger wins he's had diplomatically. And Lord knows we can point to a lot of failures. But this one is one he's going to run a couple laps around because they've seen the change in the Middle East and their pivot away from the Americans being the sheriff in the region, instead recognizing the new geopolitics, is something we're all going to coming to terms with over coming years.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

UNGA Livestream