Will Biden Miss The Chance To Strike His Own Abraham Accords?
War in Europe is threatening international energy and food security while exacerbating global inflation and supply chain disruptions. The historic Abraham Accords agreements have the potential to transform the Middle East into a source of sustainable solutions to these urgent challenges.
President Joe Biden’s visit to the region is a welcome opportunity to accelerate the mutually-beneficial cooperation made possible by the Accords, which can advance peace and stability not only in the Middle East but around the world.
While much of the discourse surrounding the Accords has focused on the flourishing bilateral ties between Israel and its Arab peace partners, the true transformative potential of the Accords is in strategic multilateral initiatives linking Abraham Accords members and other Middle East countries with the U.S., European and Asian markets at whose crossroads they sit.
One area where this transformative potential can have a far-reaching impact to meet pressing needs is in the field of energy. The June 2022 agreement between the EU, Egypt and Israel that will significantly increase the export of Israeli gas to Europe via Egypt, providing the EU with a reliable alternative to Russian gas, is a harbinger of future energy collaboration through frameworks such as the East Mediterranean Gas Forum.
Eastern Mediterranean gas reserves are estimated at about 345 trillion cubic feet, more than enough to provide for both domestic needs and export to Europe, helping to replace the loss of Russian gas following their invasion of Ukraine.
This cooperation encompasses renewable energy as well, where the region is seeing major new initiatives. In November 2021, Jordan, Israel and the UAE signed a memorandum, overseen by the U.S., to develop the Prosperity Green/Blue project, which will see Jordan leverage its desert expanses to provide solar energy to Israel, while Israel provides Jordan with up to 200 million cubic meters of desalinated water.
Looking ahead, with the improvement of solar and green hydrogen technologies, the Middle East can become a reliable source for Europe’s renewable energy needs.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is also leading to acute food shortages.
“Countries in Africa and the Middle East in particular are heavily dependent on wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine,” according to the World Economic Forum. Joint Abraham Accords ventures taking advantage of the relative strengths of each country can promote successful agricultural projects in developing economies.
At the same time, expanding the overland Israel-GCC trade route, connecting Europe with Asia, can greatly reduce the time and cost of shipping perishables across the region, thereby enhancing food security. Indeed, Abraham Accords innovation cooperation, in sectors such as energy, water, agriculture and logistics.
It can lead to breakthroughs that will improve the lives of the over two billion residents of arid and semi-arid climates.
A new regional security architecture could help safeguard shared economic interests against threats by radical regimes and their proxies. This is particularly urgent as Iran continues to direct and fund terror activity, including missile and drone attacks against its neighbors, while seeking to undermine regional governments.
The benefits of the Accords for global stability will increase exponentially as more and more Islamic countries join, from Africa to the Gulf to southern Asia. It is therefore in the interest of all US and international stakeholders to play an active role in expanding and deepening the Accords.
With Europe at war, and peace spreading in the Middle East, the Abraham Accords have opened the door to groundbreaking solutions for crises across the globe. President Biden’s trip, including the planned ‘GCC+3’ summit, can be a key step towards realizing the tremendous potential of the Abraham Accords.
Robert Greenway is President and Executive Director of the Abraham Accords Peace Institute (AAPI), and was one of the architects of the Abraham Accords. Asher Fredman is Director for Israel at AAPI.
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