Brian Hook: No more Arab-Israeli peace deals if Biden mollifies Iran

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Hook spoke less than a week after Israel announced a normalization deal with Morocco. This was its fourth such agreement under the US brokered Abraham Accords.

US special representative for Iran Brian Hook speaks during a joint news conference with Bahrain Foreign Minister, Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani (not pictured), in Manama, Bahrain June 29, 2020.
(photo credit: HAMAD I MOHAMMED/REUTERS)
US President-elect Joe Biden will not be able to pursue Israeli-Arab normalization deals if he softens America’s stance against Tehran, former US special representative for Iran Brian Hook told i24 News.

“If the Biden administration pursue a policy of accommodating Iran and alienating our partners in the region, there will be no more peace agreements that are made,” Hook said.

He spoke less than a week after Israel announced a normalization deal with Morocco, the fourth under the US brokered Abraham Accords. The focus of those deals has been Israeli-Arab peace and expanded regional economic opportunity.

But the deals have also been viewed as the backbone of a new and very public regional alliance between Israel and its Arab neighbors against Iran.

The United Arab Emirates was able to secure an agreement with the US to purchase advanced F-35 fighter jets, concurrent with its peace deal with Israel that was ratified in October. A normalization deal with Bahrain was ratified in November and a deal with Sudan has been agreed on but not ratified.

Hook told i24 News that Iran was such an important dynamic in such deals, that further agreements would not be possible if Biden softened the US stance against Iran.

“One of the ways we were able to bring together our Arab partners and Israel was to counter the common enemy, the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Hook said.

The Trump administration in 2018 pulled out of the Iran deal, that the Obama administration had brokered in 2015 between Tehran and the six world powers, including the US. The US followed up its departure with a series of harsh economic sanctions against Iran.

Biden has indicated that he would want to rejoin the deal. Tehran has already rejected a Biden initiative, but concern is still high that he will make overtures to Iran after entering the White House.

“I don’t know if the next administration will pursue a new deal, they have made noises about doing that,” Hook said, but an important general operating principal in the Gulf, is that,  “you have to stand with your friends, you have to stand with your partners and you have to counter the threats not just to the US, but to our partners in the region,” he explained.

“When you talk with a lot of our Arab partners and the Israelis there is no daylight between them on what is the existential threat that they face, and it is Iran,” Hook emphasized.

The Trump administration has  “done a historic job in putting maximum economic pressure” on Iran and has restored “the military option as a deterrent.” “There is a great platform for further success in the Middle East,” Hook added.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday said he didn’t believe that Biden would open a new page with Iran.

He used his first public appearance in weeks to suggest the United States would remain hostile towards the Islamic Republic even after Biden takes office.

Speaking at his first public function since rumors surfaced in early December that his health was deteriorating, Khamenei said Washington could not be trusted, a remark indicating wariness towards President Donald Trump’s successor.

In a meeting with organizers of events to mark the first anniversary of the killing of military commander Qassem Soleimani in a US attack in Iraq, Khamenei said American antagonism would not disappear with the end of the Trump administration.

“My firm recommendation is not to trust the enemy,” Khamenei said in remarks carried by state TV.

“The hostility (against Iran) is not just from Trump’s America, which supposedly some could say would end when he leaves, as (President Barack) Obama’s America also did bad things to …the Iranian nation.”

Biden was Obama’s vice president.

Earlier, President Hassan Rouhani said he was happy Trump was leaving office, calling him “the most lawless US president” and a “murderer” for hampering Iran’s access to Covid-19 vaccines.

“We are not overjoyed about Mr. Biden’s arrival, but we are happy about Trump leaving … that such a terrorist and murderer, who does not even have mercy for coronavirus vaccines, will be gone,” Rouhani said in a televised speech to the cabinet.  Reuters contributed to this report.

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