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The latest details related to Kuwait, according to posts on social media and Arabic media. Israel could also pursue closer to ties to Somaliland,

By Seth J. Frantzman   

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After the signing of the Abraham Accords this week there was widespread speculation that as many as five other countries could be in line for deals with Israel that would be pushed and brokered by the Trump administration. As the Rosh HaShanah weekend holiday began the speculation continued to look at a list of countries that might be likely, with each rumor of talks with the Trump administration leading to speculation.

The latest details related to Kuwait, according to posts on social media and Arabic media. The country at the end of the Persian Gulf is of the great strategic and military importance of the US. It had been the center of politics during the 1980s but the 1990 invasion by Saddam Hussein led the country to choose a lower profile. Although it is close to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states it has been more hostile to Israel over the years. It also has a difficult history with the Palestinians, who have expelled hundreds of thousands after the country was liberated in 1991.

Kuwait is a key US partner in the Middle East. However, it has a lower profile than the UAE and Qatar. It tries to be more neutral in disputes. It is concerned about Iranian activity. In the 1980s pro-Iranian groups and militants like Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis plotted bombings in Kuwait. The Emirate doesn’t want any troubles. Pro-Iranian groups in Iraq have opposed peace deals with the US.

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The White House said that US President Donald Trump was awarding the Legion of Merit to the Emir of Kuwait who is an “unwavering friend and partner.” The rest of the nature of recent Kuwait meetings with the White House were unclear. Qatar is also working with the US on strategic dialogue and a closer alliance. The US has an airbase in Qatar. Reports this week indicated the US was also working with Qatar regarding possible discussions with Israel. Qatar has indicated it could move forward when the time was right and after some Israeli concessions on the peace process.

Among the other countries on the list in various Arabic media and elsewhere are Saudi Arabia, the most important Gulf state and a leader in the Islamic world, and Sudan. Indonesia meanwhile has said its position on the Palestinians has not changed. There has been little news from Oman, despite optimism regarding Oman’s position. There is no news from Malaysia or Morocco either, despite earlier positive nears about Morocco. Officials in Morocco threw cold water on those reports five days ago.

It should be recalled that some thirty countries do not have relations with Israel. Besides the above, these include Mauritania, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq, Djibouti, Comoros, Algeria, Tunisia, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, Niger, Mali, Pakistan, Brunei, Bangladesh, and Yemen. Due to civil war, there is no chance for Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria are too close to Iran to ever increase ties, even if some communities in each country are more open to such ties. Israel could pursue closer to ties to Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia many years ago. It is not clear what prevents ties to Niger or Brunei, Djibouti, or Comoros. Algeria and Tunisia would appear possible eventually as well. Bangladesh may be easier than Pakistan or Afghanistan. Afghanistan is involved in peace talks with the Taliban now, but not Israel. Mali recently had a change in government. Mauritania may be a possibility as well, a Palestinian official recently noted.

Overall speculation and rumors continue to swirl with every news of a White House meeting or US diplomatic visit. Many of these countries want things from the US and the White House is in the driver’s seat here.

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