The Noble Committee gave the 2020 Peace Prize to a yet another nameless, faceless organization that most likely misuses funds intended to feed the needy, rather than President Donald J Trump for his Middle East peace. Men like Trump do not act to win prizes. They see problems and solve them.
Years from now when the World Food Programme is mired in some scandal, the ripple effect of peace between Israel and the Gulf States will continue to impact the world at large.
Israel has become the “startup nation” since the mass immigration of Jews from the Former Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Today, Israel boasts the third most listings on the NASDAQ, only behind the US and China. Israel spends almost 50% more per capita on research and development than the second highest nation, the US. Israeli startups raised $39 billion between 2010-2019. Investors worldwide scour Israel for its technology.
The Saudis and other oil rich Gulf States realize their oil will one day run out or be replaced by alternative energy sources. Consider the US now is independent and no longer reliant on their oil. Most of their relationships with the world are based on oil. Over the years they have bought companies, football clubs, created great cities, yet are not really integral to the world economy beyond oil.
A natural ally and neighbor, Israel would have been a perfect partner for the oil rich states in the Arabia Peninsula. Both sides could have benefited. The Arab states had almost limitless funds while Israeli Jews had technology, medicine, a professional class and connections to Europe and the US.
One early Arab leader who recognized Israel’s gifts was King Abdullah I of Jordan. He met secretly with Golda Meir before the 1948 War. He was assassinated for his position. Decades of war between frontline Arab states, Palestinians and Israel have prevented the Saudis or Emirates from considering peace. While Egypt and Jordan have had peace agreements, neither are considered unmitigated successes. Egypt’s Sadat was assassinated by Muslim Brotherhood terrorists. Jordan’s King Abdullah II has to balance peace with his 80% Palestinian population. The Saudis particularly fear Shia claims to Mecca, so they have always been cautious.
The Obama Administration abandoned traditional US allies in an effort to court the Iranians, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders, and Iraqi Shite leaders. This drove the Egyptians, Israelis, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and others toward each other, and unfortunately China. Secret security relationships developed as a shield against Iran emboldened and enriched by a seriously flawed JCPOA agreement that allowed the world to trade with Iran.
The election of President Trump in 2016 changed the dynamic. Suddenly, Iran found itself isolated, yet the relationships between Arab states and Israel developed over the intervening 8 years lasted. Once the Palestinians rejected peace with Israel, the Trump Administration turned its attention to the Gulf.
The final push came, ironically, with the Chinese-released Coronavirus. Israel’s independent research into vaccines and therapeutics convinced the UAE and Bahrain that access to those biotechnology resources were critical to their survival. There is little doubt that the Saudis and others will soon join.
Now that relations have been formalized, the combined financial and technological resources can be truly be explored. Europe and the US have always had strings attached to their relationships with Israel and the Arab world. Imagine a Middle East able deal with the rest of the world on its own terms and without preconditions. This is the world Trump enabled. This is the new Middle East he defined. This is what the Nobel Committee should have recognized. It was a missed opportunity for them, but men like Trump measure themselves by success, irrespective of recognition.