Watching Israel’s national carrier, El Al, make its maiden trip to the United Arab Emirates on Monday, including an overflight of Saudi Arabia, was itself history-making. The passenger list—a group of top American and Israeli officials, led by President Trump’s senior aide and son-in-law, Jared Kushner—only added to the moment’s significance. But it’s the work that these officials do with their Emirati counterparts in the coming weeks and months that has the potential to fundamentally alter the Middle East’s strategic landscape, especially for countering the Iranian threat.
Make no mistake: The normalization deal is a major blow to Iran’s already-battered regional standing. Sure, it’s not the first breakthrough that Israel’s had with an Arab country. The peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan have been on the books for decades.
But the UAE deal is the first in a generation, ending a 26-year long dry spell. It’s also the first with one of the six Gulf Arab states that sit directly on Iran’s doorstep. The Emirates, whose population (minus expatriates) might, with some creative accounting, approach one fortieth the size of Iran’s, acted in brazen defiance of the Tehran-led resistance camp on an issue—peace with the Zionist entity—absolutely central to the Islamic Republic’s ideological creed.