Magazine December 17, 2020, Issue

The New Middle East

Netanyahu (Israel), al-Nahyan (United Arab Emirates), and al-Zayani (Bahrain) in Washington, D.C., September 15 (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
From Israel to the Gulf States to Iran, the troubled region is changing

‘Normalization” is the rather cumbersome jargon for what seems to be happening in the Middle East. For the time being, it’s to do with expectations. Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have signed peace treaties with Israel. At the signing ceremony in the White House, the Arab foreign ministers looked like officials going about their business. The expression on the face of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, was beatific.

For the Arabs, it is taboo to normalize anything with Israel. The sole exceptions are Egypt and Jordan, which signed peace treaties to mitigate their wartime losses. When Islamist soldiers then

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