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.

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Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

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Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

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For Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM and now CEO of the Asia Society, the science on climate change is pretty much done, so the only unresolved issues are tech and — more importantly — lack of political leadership. He can't think of a single national political leader who can fill the role, and says the only way to get political action on climate is to mobilize public opinion.

Rudd joined for the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here and register here to watch part two Friday 10/22 at 8 am ET.

The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

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Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the NBA's latest rift with China, Brazil's Senate investigation, and COVID booster shots.

China wipes Boston Celtics from NBA broadcast after the "Free Tibet" speech from Enes Kanter. Is NBA boxing itself into a corner?

Nice mixed sports metaphor there. NBA has some challenges because they are of course the most progressive on political and social issues in the United States among sports leagues, but not when it comes to China, their most important international market. And you've seen that with LeBron James telling everyone about we need to learn better from the Communist Party on issues like Hong Kong and how Daryl Morey got hammered for taking his stance in favor of Hong Kong democracy. Well, Enes Kanter's doing the same thing and he's a second-string center. Didn't even play yesterday and still the Chinese said that they were not going to air any Boston Celtics games. Why? Because he criticized the Chinese government and had some "Free Tibet" sneakers. This is a real problem for a lot of corporations out there, but particularly publicly, the NBA. Watch for a bunch of American politicians to make it harder for the NBA going forward, saying how dare you kowtow to the Chinese when you're all about "Black Lives Matter" inside the United States. No fun.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

A Trump media platform? Is this for real?

This week, President Trump announced his potential return to social media through the creation of his own digital media platform that's going to merge with an existing publicly-traded company in a deal known as a SPAC. These deals are increasingly popular for getting access to capital, and it seems like that's where President Trump is headed.

The publicly-traded company's stock was up on the news, but it's really hard to see this coming together. The Trump media company claims it wants to go up against not only Facebook and Twitter, but companies like Amazon and cloud computing and even Disney providing a safe space for conservatives to share their points of view. The fact of the matter is, conservatives do quite well on existing social media platforms when they aren't being kicked off for violating the terms of service, and other conservative social media platforms that have attempted to launch this year haven't really gone off the ground.

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Protests in Sudan: Protests are again shaking the Sudanese capital, as supporters of rival wings of the transitional government take to the streets. Back in 2019, after popular demonstrations led to the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, a deal was struck between civilian activists and the army, in which a joint civilian-military government would run the country until fresh elections could be held in 2023. But now supporters of the military wing are calling on it to dissolve the government entirely, while supporters of the civilian wing are counter-protesting. Making matters worse, a pro-military tribal leader in Eastern Sudan has set up a blockade which is interrupting the flow of goods and food to the capital. The US, which backs the civilian wing, has sent an envoy to Khartoum as tensions rise, while Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are all vying for a piece as well.

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