In Middle East, Rising Temperatures and Climate Cooperation

Via Diplomatic Courier, commentary that – instead of driving tensions and even war between nations – climate change may actually bring nations closer together:

In September 2020, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain signed a diplomatic normalization agreement widely known as the Abraham Accords. Afterwards, other Arab countries, such as Sudan and Morocco, started a similar rapprochement with Israel.

In addition to paving the way for long-lasting peace between the sides involved, the accords fostered economic cooperation. In November 2021, OurCrowd became the first Israeli company to expand its activities in Abu Dhabi. Sectors like security, technology, and trade were all involved in this broad integration.

Overall, the international community recognized the Abraham Accords as a tool for fostering peace within a region characterized by wars and ethnic-religious clashes. Global and local media widely covered the opening of embassies or signing new trade agreements as symbols of the birth of a “new Middle East.”

Another trend, however, had gone relatively unnoticed, at least until this year’s World Economic Forum, when it was openly discussed under the theme of “Cooperation in a Fragmented World.” Israel, a country with years-long efforts in energy research and development, has indeed started cooperating with some Arab countries to fight climate change.

This partnership encompasses three different levels: government-to-government, companies-to-companies, and universities-to-universities.

Regarding the first one, in 2021, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan signed the so-called Blue Green Deal that provides Israeli clean water export to Jordan in exchange for solar energy. The UAE will support the deal by building a new solar farm in Jordan and a new transmission line to connect with Israel. Also, in September 2022, Israel and Morocco concluded a comprehensive cooperation accord, including collaborations on hydrogen, solar power, and batteries.

Also, the company-to-company level prompted the flourishing of relationships inconceivable just a few years ago. The Israeli firm Watergen reached an ambitious agreement with the Abu Dhabi-based Al Dahra to export to the United Arab Emirates its low-energy-cost freshwater production devices. Dr Michael Mirilashvili, CEO and President of Watergen, declared to the Jerusalem Post that “the Abraham Accords has given countries in the Middle East the opportunity to improve and advance relations in various fields.”

Lastly, United Arab Emirates Zayed University and the Israel’s University of Haifa signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2021 to research climate-related areas, such as natural resources and marine sciences. The institutions also agreed to have joint research projects, workshops, and seminars.

The Abraham Accords played a crucial role in these achievements due to increasing diplomatic stability and mutual trust. This cooperation will allow countries that have developed advanced technologies to share knowledge, collect capital to invest, and expand markets.

Kelsey Goodman, associate director for the World Economic Forum, said to the New York Times: “[Middle Eastern] nations are expected to turn out in record numbers at Davos, whose talks are being seen as a springboard for next year’s COP28 climate summit.” This year, Dubai will host COP28 after it was previously held in Egypt.

The Middle East is one of the  regions hit hardest by rising temperatures worldwide, and in the long run, these joint efforts will mitigate the most disruptive consequences. If the fight against global warming proves particularly effective, it will increase the chances of expanding the Abraham Accords to other non-signatory Arab countries.

However, this climate-related common goal is strictly connected with the diplomatic issues that affect the region. The Arab-Israeli rapprochement seems to have reached a standstill, especially after Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line government took office in late 2022.

Future steps forward will pass through Israel’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, the most influential and powerful Middle Eastern country. In early 2023, the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al-Saud, declared that a Palestinian state is necessary for normalization with Israel. This circumstance is still far from being accomplished.

Therefore, limited market-driven climate and economic deals will continue paving the way for Arab-Israeli diplomatic talks, at least in the short term.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 15th, 2023 at 5:55 am and is filed under Israel, Jordan, UAE.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

Comments are closed.

© 2024 Water Politics LLC .  'Water Politics', 'Water. Politics. Life', and 'Defining the Geopolitics of a Thirsty World' are service marks of Water Politics LLC.