Alwaght- The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo started a 6-day tour of West Asia and North Africa yesterday. According to State Department spokesperson, Pompeo after meeting with Israeli officials in al-Quds (Jerusalem) visits Sudan, Bahrain, and the UAE and discusses a set of cases with their officials.
The trip comes shortly after an announcement by US President Donald Trump on the normalization agreement between the Israeli regime and the UAE and amid reports about the possibility of more Arab countries joining thaw with the Israelis.
From another dimension, the tour has some specific goals and Pompeo seeks to make, or at least pretend to make, gains for Trump as the presidential elections are approaching and the president has no influential achievements in foreign policy. So the tour and its results are of high importance for the US administration.
What is behind Pompeo’s visit to the Israeli regime?
According to the State Department, Pompeo and Netanyahu discuss regional cases, Iran's influence, and economic matters. Still the following seem to be the headlines of the cases of discussion between the two:
1. Incentivizing Arabs towards normalization: The US seeks to offer incentives to the Arab leaders to push forward the Arab-Israeli normalization. So, Washington intends to gain Tel Aviv’s contentment on the nature of the incentives and specific privileges for the countries that are prepared to normalize with the Israeli regime to facilitate the process.
This becomes an important matter as we know that the US elections are close and Trump has nothing impressive in hand in foreign policy. So, the White House is mobilizing its efforts to, as fast as possible, make gains for Trump to give him play cards against his Democratic rival Joe Biden. Also, the critical political conditions of Netanyahu in the occupied territories, especially the massive protests against him, necessitate making foreign policy and home achievements.
2. The State Department said that the two sides also discuss economic ties. It needs to be taken into account that beside their ordinary economic ties and the annual US financial aids to the Israeli regime, a new point pursued by the US administration is what Trump government calls “protecting the economy from bad investors.”
It seems that concerns about Chinese deepening influence and fast-growing investment in the region are driving the US to make moves, openly this time. Very likely, Washington plans to fight the Chinese economic toehold in the region using the Israeli companies’ capital and also the cash to be injected into this American strategy by the Arab states close to the Israeli regime whose capital is scheduled to have a key role in this project.
What would Pompeo seek in Sudan?
The first point about Sudan and its relations with the US is that Khartoum after April 2019, the month its long-serving ruler Omar al-Bashir was ousted by a military coup, stepped in a track of improving relations with Washington. But Sudan's name remains on the US list of sponsors of terrorism. Sudan transition council has set as a top priority removal from the list. Additionally, the North African state is struggling with critical economic conditions and the council is seeking US support for survival. Therefore, Washington holds in hand many instruments to press Sedan towards normalization with the Israeli regime in return for removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Recently, Sudan foreign ministry spokesman said that Khartoum was interested to normalize ties with Tel Aviv. Although the stance cost him his post, it should be known that such positions cannot be publicized without knowledge of top foreign policy officials and decision-makers in Khartoum. Odds are that the spokesman made the remarks at an inappropriate time and without coordination.
Pompeo is traveling to Sudan very likely to propose Washington support and removal from the list in exchange for an agreement with the Israelis for normalization. This proposal can be even more impressive if the UAE offers financial aids to Sudan for an exit from the economic predicament.
What are Pompeo’s goals in Bahrain and the UAE?
The main goal of Pompeo behind the UAE trip is the Emirati-Israeli normalization accord. Washington intends to talk with both sides to, as fast as possible, boost their ties and paint this as a success on media to help improve Trump’s victory chance. Also, the top American diplomat will possibly talk with Abu Dhabi rulers a deal to sell F-35 fighter jets to the Arab country as a sweetener to thaw with Tel Aviv.
In addition to being a media show to lure other Arab countries to go the UAE path, the deal can mark a considerable income source for the troubled American companies that are struggling with a drop in production and sales as a result of coronavirus pandemic outbreak. Rejuvenated industries can bring more chances for Trump in the presidential race.
Pompeo’s visit to Bahrain is not separate from the American campaign to persuade the Arab rulers to normalize with the Israeli regime. Manama, which considerably cooperated with Washington in unveiling the “deal of the century” and supported the Emirati decision to open ties with the Israelis, is a suitable choice for Washington and can with a bit of encouragement stand stronger by the UAE in the normalization case.