Publicly declare refusal to allow U.S. military bases in Arab countries to support or supply Israeli war in Gaza
(November 20, 2023 – Washington, DC) – The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan should immediately withdraw from each of their Abraham Accords with Israel and, alongside peace treaty signatories Egypt and Jordan, end all military coordination with Israel in light of Israel's ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, said Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) in a statement released today.
Arab states hosting U.S. military bases, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar, should publicly declare that they will not permit the U.S. to use these bases to supply weapons to or provide protection for Israeli forces during its ongoing war against Palestinians in Gaza.
"The UAE and other signatories to the Abraham Accords should take responsibility for emboldening Israel into believing that it can wantonly bombard and massacre Palestinians with no consequence to its standing in the region," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of DAWN. "Continued adherence to the Abraham Accords signals that the UAE and other Accords signatories are still supporting Israel and rewarding it with commitments for economic and trade development and most shocking of all, military coordination."
The Abraham Accords facilitate the establishment of full diplomatic relations and cooperation in various areas, including security and intelligence sharing, between Israel and Arab states.
On September 15, 2020, the UAE and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords, normalizing relations with Israel. The UAE's agreement established formal diplomatic relations and laid the groundwork for extensive commercial, security, and cultural ties. Bahrain's accord, signed on the same day, mirrored these commitments. Sudan formalized its agreement on January 6, 2021, securing from the U.S. a $1.5 billion loan and a lifting of its designation as a terrorist state. Morocco announced its decision to normalize relations with Israel on December 10, 2020, which was coupled with the United States recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over occupied Western Sahara.
Saudi Arabia, while not a signatory to the Abraham Accords, has stated that it is considering normalizing its relationship with Israel in exchange for a bilateral security agreement with the U.S.. The media has reported extensively on Saudi Arabia's behind-the-scenes diplomatic relationships. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a secret visit to Saudi Arabia on November 22, 2020 where he reportedly met with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The reports of this visit were noted in Israeli media, but the Saudi foreign minister denied these reports, and Netanyahu himself did not comment on them.
In addition, the Arab signatories to the Abraham Accords as well as Egypt and Jordan now appear to have established formal military coordination and intelligence sharing with Israel. On January 15, 2021, the U.S. moved Israel from its European Command to its U.S. Central Command covering the Middle East, facilitating and "deepening" more direct military and operational cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The inclusion of Israel in the Central Command increases interoperability among Israel and Arab nations, which means that any and all intelligence sharing will lead to supporting Israel's field operations.
The deepening Arab-Israel military cooperation has also been reflected in the U.S.-sponsored regional air defense network, including Israel, called the Middle East Air Defense Alliance (MEAD) as well as the newly established Negev Forum, designed to further integrate security cooperation with Israel and to form a regional alliance.
Recent military coordination between Arab states and Israel underscore the deepening military ties in the region. In 2016, Egypt, Israel and Jordan commenced an intelligence sharing agreement, and most recently Egypt stated that it had warned Israeli officials about the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel ten days before the attack. Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Sinai to support Egypt's war against armed groups there.
Since 2020, Israeli F-35 squadrons and American F-35s flying from Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE have conducted several joint aerial drills, dubbed Enduring Lightning. In August 2021, Israeli and U.S. Fifth Fleet forces also held joint naval drills in the Red Sea, and in November 2021, the UAE, Bahrain, Israel and the United States Naval Forces Central Command conducted maritime security operations exercises in the Red Sea.
Israeli weapons manufacturers also have significantly expanded their business with Arab states, especially following the Abraham Accords. In 2022, Israel exported a record $12.556 billion in defense products to UAE and Bahrain accounting for almost a quarter of this business.
"The very least the UAE and Egypt could do is terminate all military and intelligence cooperation with Israel," said Adam Shapiro, Advocacy Director for Israel/Palestine at DAWN. "These Arab states are hiding behind boldly worded Arab League resolutions while shamefully continuing to buy Israeli weapons and coordinate with the Israeli military."
The Geneva Conventions impose obligations on states to ensure respect for the Conventions in all circumstances. This includes the responsibility to prevent and put an end to breaches of these conventions, not only within their own actions but also in their international relations. Continued military support for Israel violates these fundamental principles of international humanitarian law raise serious legal and moral concerns. Arab states should critically evaluate their roles and take proactive measures to halt any form of assistance that might contribute to the perpetuation of atrocities in Gaza and the West Bank.