Israel-Jordan make headway with “Water for Energy Deal”

After an early analysis of the project revealed its viability, Israel and Jordan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to proceed with a water-for-energy deal. Jordan is supposed to develop 600 megawatts of solar power generating capacity that would be transferred to Israel, according to the plan, which was first revealed a year ago. Israel would give Jordan 200 million cubic meters of desalinated water in exchange for Jordan’s water. The United Arab Emirates, which in 2020 became the first Gulf state to normalize relations with Israel and has been a partner in the project, held an event during the COP27 climate summit in Egypt where the MOU was signed. This will be the first time that the nations have worked together on such a project. The Middle East is particularly sensitive to climate change. Considered one of the largest energy projects between Jordan and Israel since the Wadi Araba Treaty was signed in 1994, the recently proposed “water-for-energy” agreement is a significant energy project between Jordan and Israel. Through this agreement, regional collaboration on environmental issues could be strengthened.

Although political institutions signed the pact, Ecopeace Middle East, an environmental NGO that operates in Palestine, Israel, and Jordan, is the organization that came up with the proposal. According to the director of Ecopeace Jordan, “in 2020, we produced the Green Blue Deal for the Middle East report which included exchanging renewable energy and desalinated sea water between Jordan, Israel and Palestine.” The parties have agreed to carry out feasibility studies related to the development of the solar power plant and the necessary infrastructure in Israel to desalinate water from the Mediterranean Sea and transport it to Jordan, as per the declaration of intent (DOI), which was finalized last year in Dubai. According to the director of Ecopeace Jordan, “Jordan has the potential to become a regional powerhouse for creating renewable energy, while Israel possesses an advanced desalination technology.” As climate change and population growth are likely to exacerbate water scarcity in the region, the likelihood of conflicts may also rise. “The main benefit of this project is that it enables the parties to meet their carbon reduction commitments and to secure extra quantities of water and renewable energy at relatively cheap prices.” The new proposed deal is supposed to capitalize on the natural resources of each country. According to UNICEF, Jordan’s agricultural output could be seriously hampered by reduced water availability, lower crop yields, and possibly crop failures. Although it only makes up about 5% of Jordan’s GDP, agriculture uses more than 50% of the country’s freshwater. The demand for water is rising as Jordan experiences rapid urbanization and an influx of immigrants and refugees. Water is a resource that spans across sectors and necessitates cooperation from different stakeholders. In this situation, the subsidy and tariff system, whose implementation should be gradual, can be proved helpful. In the meanwhile, it is crucial to encourage the adoption of water-efficient methods and technology, notably in agriculture sector.

Historically, war and unemployment drive more migration within MENA than water-related events such as drought. But in the region, political conflicts over water resources have a long history. These are more the outcome of a lack of collaboration over unequally distributed common resources than a true dearth of water in the area. Jordan, a downstream nation, depends substantially on collaboration with its upstream neighbors because it receives 40% of its water from trans-boundary basins. Effective cooperation over shared water resources remains difficult despite years of discussion. However, creative initiatives could pave the road for increased collaboration, such as the water-energy accord between Jordan and Israel. Jordan has yearly renewable water resource availability per person of fewer than 100 cubic meters, which is already far below the 500 cubic meters mark of “absolute water scarcity.” Without strong actions, the situation is likely to get worse as Jordan’s water resources are rapidly running out. If the “water for energy” deal between Israel and Jordan is successfully implemented, it may assist to alleviate some of the problems with water and energy security brought on by climate change in Middle East, as well as to promote the renewable energy sources, sustainable water supply and stability in the region.




The Historic Lebanon-Israel Maritime Border Agreement

Introduction

The long-disputed issue between Lebanon and Israel over the maritime border and gas fields has finally reached a landmark decision. It has been decided by both Governments to make a permanent maritime border as well as uplift the production of natural gas in the Mediterranean.
After years of stalled negotiations, the deal has been brokered by the United States Department of State’s energy envy. This is being considered as a diplomatic achievement, the Prime Minister of Israel, Yair Lapid called it a “historic agreement” as the two nations was in a state of disagreement since 1948. The Israeli Prime Minister emphasized the importance of the new accord which will not only aid the economy but will also help strengthen Israel’s security and bring stability for the northern border. On the other hand, the office of Lebanese President, Michel Aoun issued a statement that the newest agreement “satisfies Lebanon, meets its demands, and preserves its rights to its natural resources.” It means that it will become a key source of income for the country’s crippled economy.

Flashback

The territorial dispute among Lebanon and Israel have seen many highs and lows, the conflict flared up badly in 2010, when massive deposits of gas found near the Israel’s northern border. The two sides claimed the 330 square miles region covering the Qana and Karish gas fields and submitted the proposals of border claims to the United Nations in 2011. The United Nations started the round of negotiations for the division maritime border in 2020, later on it turned into a stalemate. But when the gas extraction process started in Karish field by Israel in 2017, the situation worsened as the treat of military escalation emerged significantly and gas field talks reached a knife-edge in July 2022. The recent talks of October 2022 and the finalized deal, sponsored by the United Nations and mediated by the U.S., represent a rare compromise between the rival neighbors. Lebanon and Israel has reiterated the groundbreaking agreement is made not for the normalization of ties but only for paving the way for offshore oil production that could help the economy of each country which means that Lebanon and Israel is still technically at war.

Reaction to the Maritime Border Agreement

The newly clinched deal between Lebanon and Israel has been applauded by the UN Security Council and the member states. In a press statement issued in a response to the agreement between Lebanon and Israel the members appreciated each side for ending the long running dispute of maritime boundary. The UN Security Council said “the deal is a major step, which would contribute to the stability, security, and prosperity of the region. The agreement will benefit both the countries and their people and will allow them to benefit equitably from energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean.” Meanwhile, the President of the United States, Joe Biden hailed the agreement and congratulated heads of Lebanon and Israel separately.

Analysis

The role of the United States remained prominent in an agreement between Lebanon-Israel for demarcating a disputed border in the Mediterranean that has massive deposits of oil and natural gas. Recently, the west is struggling due to limited gas flows and sky-rocketing gas prices because of crunched global supply as a result Russia-Ukraine war. This has forced Europe to look for alternatives to Russian oil and gas as it has remained heavily dependent on the Russian energy sector. Europe is facing the worst “Energy Crisis” ever, as Russia has cut the gas supply because of the sanctions imposed by EU and the United States. Later on, the crisis was exacerbated as a consequence of Europe’s main source of Russian gas i.e. Nord Stream leaks which completely halted the gas supply.
Following previous failed attempts, US mediation efforts are being considered to help Israel and Lebanon reach a maritime agreement. Israel is an important ally of Washington, the maritime border agreement is mutually beneficial for both stakeholders. It is because the greatest supply cut since the COVID-19 pandemic was announced by the oil cartel OPEC+, which is led by Saudi Arabia and Russia. The reduction in oil production increased the pressure on Biden administration. According to Israel, it would start extracting gas and oil from its Karish field at earliest possible and export it to Europe within a few weeks. Therefore, the United States and Israel’s western allies appreciated the development, even though the reservoirs of Karish field are relatively minor in terms of global oil production but it will support EU energy needs. Parallel to the agreement, it is reported that Israeli President Lapid was successful in attaining number of economic and security guarantees from the United States. The prospects of the agreement in terms of regional stability have to be seen yet as security threats are not eliminated completely.




The Future of Food Security in Middle East

Before COVID-19, UN agencies predicted that more than 55 million of the 456.7 million people living in MENA countries were undernourished. Food insecurity is still prevalent due to the pandemic, extended conflict, and other circumstances. In contrast to its 6% share of the world’s population, MENA had a 20% percentage of those who were severely food insecure in 2020. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has made the situation worse now. While approving a new food shock borrowing window for vulnerable nations, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, stated in Riyadh that more than 141 million people in the Arab world are at risk of food insecurity. As a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, she continued, crop supplies are being choked off in 48 nations around the world, which has made them particularly vulnerable to the food crisis.

In September 2022, the secretary general of the League of Arab States, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, urged for the activation of integrated management of the Arab region’s issues regarding food, water and energy security, he warned that food security in particular is “deteriorating” alarmingly which requires a holistic approach for building national capacities in particular areas. After the statement of secretary general a positive development was observed when the agriculture ministers of Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria have decided to support a regional effort to boost food security in the region amid the ongoing complex global events. The ministers also endorsed the recommendation from the World Food Program (WFP) to look into the establishment of a regional center for food security in Jordan. According to a statement, they also decided to establish partnerships in agricultural marketing and to improve interstate cooperation and integration in the food production sector. That plan will also support to forge agreements, support unconventional agriculture as well as the exchange of goods.

There are numerous threats to the Middle East’s food security, it is extremely complicated because of the region’s stability and development. Large-scale hunger is becoming more likely as a result of conflicts that are hurting agricultural productivity in several Middle-Eastern countries. In addition, the area’s low agricultural output is caused by a lack of agricultural land, lack of water and climate-related shocks. More than half of the people in the area struggle to pay for nutritious food. Food systems are pressurized as a result of high food import levels, food quality and wastage, economic shocks, global food crises, and fluctuating oil costs. If government funding and other policies on agriculture are reviewed, the situation can be addressed by employing digital technologies in the agriculture sector which will also attract private investment. Interventions in development are required to help farmers adopt more sustainable, productive systems that are resistant to threats like drought and flooding. Apart from the mentioned factors, there is extreme food reliance on other countries for basic commodities. According to reports, the Middle East will continue to be one of the most “import-dependent regions in the world,” with over 50% of its food coming from other countries. The Middle East can play a significant role in providing its population with a sustainable, affordable, nutritious, and inclusive food system by making serious efforts and working with international players to bring up the necessary changes for the current situation of food insecurity.


Currently, the wide-ranging impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on food prices and food supplies around the world are being experienced. Domestic food price inflation was significant at the beginning of October 2022, with low-income nations experiencing an increase of 88.2%, lower-middle-income countries experiencing an increase of 91.1%, and upper-middle-income countries experiencing an increase of 93%. About 82.1% of high-income nations now have high food price inflation, a sharp rise in the proportion of high-income countries with high inflation. If this situation continues and gets worse, it might have disastrous repercussions for a region like Middle-East. Countries in the Middle East will have many difficulties in responding and dealing to the escalating food insecurity, as the United Nations have asserted that the global food crisis might endure for a longer time if it is not handled. To conclude, Middle Eastern countries should reconsider their development strategies and start economic and social reforms to ensure food security in the region while considering the needs of the people and the food systems in the context of world’s rapidly changing and escalating problems.




Role Of Media In Israel-Palestine Conflict

Israel’s assaults on Gaza has been increasing day by day. The situation there has been worsening even more since May 2021. Protests took place nationwide against the brutal Israel’s attacks and this led to a temporary cease fire for the time being. This became possible because people got to know about the killings of Palestinians by Israelis through social media. The violence has flared up now. There is no proper media coverage given in case of Israel Palestine conflict. Media plays a very important role in any violent conflict. It can also help in transforming the violent conflict into the non-violent one by giving it a nonbiased coverage.

Palestinian protesters carry a wounded man who was shot by Israeli troops during a protest near the Gaza Strip border with Israel, in eastern Gaza City, Saturday, March 31, 2018. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

Role of mainstream media is not prominent in case of Israel-Palestine conflict. There is a very minimal role of social media but that is not enough. Media should unleash the world about the atrocities committed in Gaza strip by the Israel. The world know very less about what is happening in Gaza. There are apparent war crimes being committed in Gaza which needs to be covered by the digital media. Very few reports are there on the war crimes and that too are on the print media. Israel’s behavior is represented less negatively. Their human rights violations and war crimes are not labeled as that what they are but, in fact, they are just considered as the violence in conflict.




Biden Administration Approved $5.3 Billion Arms Sale to UAE and Saudi Arabia

On 2nd August, 2022, the US State Department approved $5 Billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE). The deal includes the sale of Patriot missile to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of worth $3.05 billion and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems to UAE having worth of $2.25 billion. The Pentagon said that the sale of 300 MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical Ballistic Missiles (GEM-T) for the Patriot missile defense system, as well as supporting equipment, replacement parts, and technical support to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has been approved by the U.S. State Department. Furthermore, it has been authorized to sell 96 THAAD missile defense system interceptors to the United Arab Emirates, along with spare parts and technical support. The State Department in a statement has said “These missiles are used to defend Saudi Arabia’s borders from recurrent cross-border attacks by the Houthis on civilian and critical infrastructure using unmanned aerial systems and ballistic missiles”.

The deal came after Biden administration suspended arms sale to Saudi Arabia and UAE in February 2021 because of the two country’s involvement in Yemen war. Earlier, Donald Trump agreed upon the arms sales, defense equipment and transfers as a step to normalize relations with key Middle–East partners as part of “Abraham Accords”. Recently, it was in news that US is considering policy change towards Riyadh regarding weapons sale. Biden’s trip to Middle-East and Saudi Arabia in July has made it clear in the form of current announcement for massive arms sale. The aim of the US is to promote relations with Gulf States amid of Ukraine war for the sake of reducing dependency on Russian oil and gas, because these states can be proved a potential alternative to Russia. On the other hand, the latest development between the three countries is being seen as a measure to counter and defend against Iran. Few months back, US-led missile defense pact between Israel and several Arab countries known as Middle-East Air Defense Alliance (MEAD) has also been established. Under this arrangement, sensors and shooters from several countries will be connected together to counter threat from Iran. Considering the whole scenario, any defense deals such as US to resupply Saudi and UAE missile defense systems that are moving into the region are important to note. It is because Middle East has multiple existing challenges such as conflict within governments, civil wars, and serious humanitarian crises, undermining the regional order. Iran has remained a prominent actor in shaping up the region’s politics that is why Israel and the Arab nations pushed closer together more quickly considering Iran’s nuclear expansion as a common threat. The United States is also actively playing its role in Middle-East that is changing the dynamics of strategic and political landscape as well as threatening the already sensitive situation of security in the region.




Tehran Summit: Turkey’s New Operation in Syria

Historical Background

Syria has been in a civil war since 2011 which has devastated the country. The militant group ISIS took the hold of Syria’s majority ethnic group i.e. Kurds territory who located in the northern part of Syria. It happened in 2013 as a result of power vacuum left by protests emerged against authoritarian Government. However, Kurdish militant groups (SDF) in north Syria managed to push back ISIS with the help of the United States support which also resulted in the expansion of Kurdish-led territory. By 2019, US started patrolling across the Syrian-Turkish border. The rise of Kurds in Syria is viewed as a threat by Turkey. It is because of Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) group in Turkey fighting for more than a decade with an objective of self-autonomy. The conflict between Kurds and Turkish Government has taken lives of thousands of people. Turkey is of opinion that PKK is aligned with Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which comprises Kurdish and non-Kurdish militant groups in Syria and can trigger formation of illegitimate zone in Turkey. Therefore, Turkey has launched at least four military operations between 2016 and 2021 with an ultimate goal to establish “safe zone” in north-Syria.

Involvement of Different Stakeholders

Russia, Iran and Turkey along with other countries such as US, UK, France, Israel as well as Gulf states have remained prominent stakeholders since the start of Syrian war. Russia and Iran is supporting Syria’s Government whereas Turkey is a significant ally of the opposition. The focus of Turkey remained on deploying rebel groups to restrain the dominant Kurdish YPG militia in Turkey which is considered identical to SDF and is banned Kurdish rebel group in Turkey. In order to prevent the forces from launching an attack on Idlib which is the final stronghold of the opposition, Turkish troops and rebel allies have taken control of large areas along Syria’s northern border.

New Operation

Recently, the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey met for a tri-lateral summit in Tehran over Syrian issue where three vowed to continue cooperation. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said “Turkey would continue its plans for a new military attack in neighboring Syria until its security concerns are resolved”. On 19th July, 2022, Erdogan met with his Russian and Iranian counterparts in Tehran to discuss Syria after announcing earlier this year that Turkey will conduct a new offensive operation against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northeast Syria. On the other hand, United States is opposing the idea of operation in view of ISIS as a threat to United States’ stability and interests. This could escalate the tensions between both the countries and military options can be contemplated by both the sides. In any case, Syria has to suffer the most because it will weaken the security situation in northern Syria and would impact a large number of vulnerable groups living in the country which are already suffering due to numerous issues such as health, economic and security crisis.




Anticipated Outcomes of OIC meeting in Pakistan

Overview:

During the past time, Pakistan remarkably has hosted a number of major Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) events. Last year in December 2021, Pakistan held an extraordinary 17th session of OIC exclusively on Afghanistan. This year, Pakistan will again host OIC’s 48th session of Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) on 22-23 March, in Islamabad and that is a matter of great honor. For the particular session, Pakistani officials have confirmed the participation of the 48 Muslim countries’ foreign ministers until now. The Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi has been invited for the event as a “guest of honor”. Apart from that, a high-level Russian delegation would also take part in it. The meeting will be coinciding with the celebrations of Pakistan’s 75th Independence anniversary and the ministers will attend the 23rd March Pakistan Day parade.

Theme of the Meeting:

The session will be conducted under the theme of “Building partnerships for Unity, Justice and Development”. The General Secretariat will address the implementation of activities, projects and resolutions adopted on different issues in the Islamic world including Kashmir and Palestine. In addition, issues of Islamophobia, terrorism as well as developments in Afghanistan and its humanitarian consequences for the Afghan people will be the important part of meeting’s agenda. Cooperation issues with international community, specifically the United States, the Russian federation and the European Union will be discussed while considering the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Prospects:

As the host country, Pakistan seeks to foster unity among OIC members, advance the cause of justice for Muslims, and accomplish the mutually reinforcing goals of prosperity and development for all OIC members. Right now, the majority conflicts in the world including Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Palestine and other regions depict that Muslim communities are at high risk, which implies the urgency of OIC’s function and position more crucial than ever. Issues such as peace, security, economic development, cultural and scientific collaboration and the role of the OIC will be discussed. Over the last few years, the organization’s activities particularly in relation to Kashmir and Palestine have received notable attention. The forthcoming CFM will be a great chance for member states to establish a common ground that will help to build ‘partnership’ and work as a bridge to address the variety of challenges that Muslim Ummah is facing. In OIC, Pakistan has taken a leadership role for countering Islamophobia which resulted in a good conclusion. On March 15th, United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution that was introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. In the imminent meeting, OIC will focus on Islamophobia and associated aspects such as hate speech, discrimination, intolerance and negative stereotyping against Muslims. This time OIC would be a significant platform and a voice for Muslim countries regarding their concerns that are needed to be heard in the international arena.

Kashmir will be the part of extensive agenda, ahead of the 48th session; Pakistan has drafted a resolution seeking adoption with the goal of directing its anti-India rhetoric at Kashmir. Hurriyat Conference members are also invited at the conference that will highlight the humanitarian challenges and will remind the world to look upon the stance of Kashmiris. The last OIC’s summit which held in Pakistan, ended with the establishment of the OIC-led Humanitarian Trust Fund for Afghanistan to channel aid, as well as the designation of the OIC Secretary General’s Special Envoy to work alongside the UN in the war-torn country. Moreover, the members will review the previous decisions on Afghanistan in this session.

In the view of contemporary challenges, OIC will be a unified voice not only for member countries but for the Muslims around the world. The world is going through difficult times and experiencing a renewed cold war due to Ukraine crisis. Therefore, the upcoming meeting holds importance for Pakistan along with other members in this regard. The OIC meeting will have the opportunity to examine increasing threats and the options available for the Islamic world to deal with the ongoing issues. Also, it will provide an opportunity to build a common attitude in attaining peace and stability at regional and global level.


Pakistan is looking forward for a productive session and has become a center stage of attention. Its efforts as well as contributions are being acknowledged and appreciated by the member countries. In the following event, brotherhood and unity which are also core Islamic values will be portrayed and this will create an image of cooperation and strong bonding of Muslim states worldwide.




Pakistan and Oman take part in Naval Drills in North Arabian Sea

Oman is the nearest Arab country to Pakistan, because of this, they both share a maritime boundary with each other. Pakistan and Oman cooperate in diverse sectors to enhance the bilateral economic, military and trade relations. Pakistan and Oman share common interests in ensuring maritime security and free flow of commerce through the region. Accordingly, navies of the two countries have been cooperating on a wide range of issues in maritime domain. Both navies have been regularly participating in Maritime Security Operations at sea. In the area of human resource, PN is providing officers and men on deputation to Omani Navy to support RNO in fulfilling its maritime and naval obligations. The two navies have also been closely collaborating in the field of training of respective officers and men.

This year The Pakistan Navy and Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) participated in the naval exercise ‘Thamar Al Tayyib 2021’ (TAT-21) in the North Arabian Sea. The exercise conducted in Pakistani territorial waters from December 13-18 included the participation of surface and air units, besides special operations forces from both navies. The Omani Navy Task Group comprised RNO ships Al Dhaferah and Al Seeb. Maritime patrol aircraft of Royal Air Force of Oman also participated in the exercise. The sea phase of the exercise comprised counter-terrorism, anti-air and anti-surface warfare operations with an overall aim to curb illicit activities at sea. Exercises between the two navies have regularly been conducted since 1990. The last exercise in the TAT series was conducted in Oman waters in 2019. During the harbour phase of the exercise, operational and tactical-level discussions and pre-exercise conferences were conducted. The sea phase of the exercise included counter-terrorism training, anti-air and anti-surface warfare operations with a focus on curbing illicit activities at sea, according to the official statement. Gwadar Port and Salalah Port can be used to create efficient communication channels between the two countries because both ports possess excellent infrastructure and other facilities.  Regular conduct of bilateral naval exercise between the Pakistan Navy and the Royal Navy of Oman are indicative of long-standing brotherly relations between the two countries in general and both navies in particular.




The Houthis, Saudi Arabia and the War in Yemen

The Houthis have a complex relationship with Yemen’s Sunni Muslims. The movement has discriminated against Sunnis, but also recruited and allied with them. Under the leadership of Hussein Badreddin al-Houthis, the group emerged as an opposition to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, whom they charged with massive financial corruption and criticized for being backed by Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The Houthi movement attracts its Zaidi-Shia followers in Yemen by promoting regional political-religious issues in its media, including the overarching U.S.  Israeli conspiracy theory and Arab “collusion”. In 2003, the Houthis’ raised a slogan, “God is great, death to the U.S, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam”, and it became the group’s trademark. Houthis officials, however, have rejected the literal interpretation of the slogan. Iran is widely accused of backing the Houthis, a Zaydi Shiite movement that has been fighting Yemen’s Sunni-majority government since 2004. The Houthis took control of the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September 2014 and continued on towards Aden, Yemen’s largest city. In response to Houthi advances, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states launched a military campaign in March 2015.

Recently, The Houthi armed group has fired artillery and ballistic missiles indiscriminately into populated areas of Yemen’s Marib governorate resulting in civilian casualties, including women and children, and causing a new wave of civilian displacement. And now Houthi rebel attack on the Saudi Arabian town of Jizan resulted in two casualties and seven injured. The Houthi–Saudi Arabian conflict is an ongoing armed conflict between the Royal Saudi Armed Forces and Yemeni Houthi forces that has been taking place in the Arabian Peninsula, including the southern Saudi regions of Asir, Jizan, and Najran, and northern Yemeni governorates of Saada, Al Jawf, and Hajjah since the onset of the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen in 2015. On December 7, 2021, Reuters reported that the Saudi-led coalition bombed military targets in the capital Sanaa after the Iran-aligned Houthis launched ballistic missiles and armed drones into Saudi Arabia.

What is happening in the conflict now?

As the war has dragged on, Houthis have stepped up the boldness of their attacks on Saudi Arabia. Using drones and missiles, the Houthis have launched attacks on Saudi airports, oil facilities and military sites.

While Houthi attacks have failed to cause massive devastation, they have been enough to rattle global oil markets. Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia have more than doubled this year compared to last year. CSIS records 78 Houthi attacks per month this year on Saudi Arabia, compared with 38 a month in 2020.

In Yemen, there is much criticism of the Saudi-led coalition’s attacks for targeting civilians in one of the world’s poorest countries. More than 80% of the population of 30 million requires food assistance. Estimates on the number of fatalities caused by the conflict vary widely, though at least some 130,000 have been killed over the course of the conflict. By contrast, the UN estimates the conflict will have claimed 377,000 by the end of the year, both through the direct and indirect consequences of war, such as disease and starvation.




The UAE-Israel Relations and its Impact on Palestinians

Introduction

For many decades, Arab and Muslim states have remained hostile towards Israel and supported the Palestinian cause. The 21st century has seen many developments that Israel has established with the world, especially the Arab countries. The Middle East has tried to modernise with time, including its foreign policy that has sparked debate on sensitive issues such as the Israel-Palestine conflict and the new peace deal. While Israel’s peace deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain provides opportunities for trade, cybersecurity cooperation and lessens Israel’s isolation, it questions the chances of Palestinian independence.

The new peace-deal

Many experts and authors have tried to assess the significance of the peace deal in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Different narratives emerge from the literature and media as the challenge to resolve the conflict increases. The ancient normative approach that has been applied to this issue was to isolate Israel, by countries closing their borders and restricting any economic exchange. This has resulted in assuring Palestinians that they have support from around the world. The emerging consensus among some scholars is that if Arab/Muslim countries establish peace with Israel, a better policy solution can be formed to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, the question is to what extent can the Muslim countries benefit from Israel’s growing economy and innovation by establishing trade relations?

 

As experts and authors continue to reflect on the advantages of the peace deal, it is important to reflect on the intention of the countries recognizing Israel. The true nature of the peace deal seems to be based off on economic and trade relations, rather than to encourage a two-state solution regarding Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The initial statement issued by the UAE for the peace deal was to obstruct Israel’s plan of annexing the West Bank. However, as proclaimed by the Israeli officials, the UAE statement is invalid.  The DAWN news published the reality of the “peace treaty” illusions developed by the UAE, that may cost the Palestinians their land and their rights. As per Turkey and Iran, the anti-Israel states, claim that the former US President Trump influenced the motive of establishing the peace deal, in order to promote US’ Gulf state allies’ bilateral relations. So, when the idea of reforming the methods to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict is concerned, the real intentions of the states must be acknowledged. This is because the ideology of a state has a great impact on its politics. If a capitalist country decides to recognise Israel to better trade relations, then the threat to Palestinians is significant. The new approach towards Israel may still put the Arab/Muslim countries in a difficult situation.

Cybersecurity perspective

The cyber security cooperation between Israel and the UAE has been established in the recent years. According to Al Jazeera, the UAE has poured hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase the Pegasus spyware from Israel based on the conditions set by Israeli Intelligence service. A Palestinian analyst, Issa uncovers that “the Palestinians are at the weakest point ever in history”.

The NSO group is an Israeli company that sells the product called Pegasus, which is a spyware for mobiles. The company was founded in 2010 and has over 500 cyber security experts. Pegasus is the company’s essential product, used for offensive hacking. According to Cooper Quintin, a cyber security specialist, Israel is one of the most sophisticated cyber actors in the world. This is because the Israeli forces are training its military officials to use such offensive hacking in their Defence department. The NSO company claimed that it was launched to detect and prevent terrorism but the people it has targeted is questionable, as human right activists, politicians, and the elites are usually the ones targeted. So, the question arises, who are the NSO clients? Although the company is supposed to work for the government and is legally advised to not sell its services, it extends it services to other countries. The spyware service has been sold to Mexico, Saudi Arabia, UAE and even Colombia.

 

A possible analysis of UAE-Israel cybersecurity cooperation clearly indicates Israel’s ability to exploit confidential information of countries top officials with an advanced spyware in use. Israel can easily attain a position where rather than asking the US, it can turn to Saudi Arabia or UAE to make Palestinians accept a deal favourable for Israelis.

Conclusion

To witness Israel’s strength in cybersecurity and innovation, an allied sentiment of the Muslim countries on Israel-Palestinian conflict may be difficult to achieve. To approach Israel with a proposal for Israel-Palestinian conflict is risky business, as Israel has better and advance technology that can cause serious damage politically and economically to other countries. Considering the imbalance of power between majority of the Muslim countries and Israel, a safe approach would be to get Israel to recognise its boundaries with Palestine’s agreement before more countries open its borders to Israel with the intention of trade.