Live from Virginia Monday morning on The John Fredericks Show – weekdays on WNTW AM 820/ FM 92.7 – Richmond, WJFN FM 100.5 – Central Virginia, WMPH AM 1010 / FM 100.1 / FM 96.9 (7-9 PM) Hampton Roads, WBRG AM 1050 / FM 105.1 – Lynchburg/Roanoke and Weekdays 6-10 am and 24/7 Stream – host Fredericks welcomed US Ambassador Anne Patterson to the show.
During the show, Patterson detailed the Middle East peace talks as historic and detailed that the threat of Iran and domestic political issues were part of the glue that brought the deal together. She later added that the positive consequences of this deal would bring more economic prosperity to the Middle East.
Fredericks: Joining us now is former Ambassador Anne Patterson. Ambassador Patterson is the former US Ambassador to El Salvador, Columbia, Egypt, and Pakistan so she knows a little bit about the middle east. She most recently served as secretary for near eastern affairs of 2013-2017 in the Obama administration. And then for the Trump administration for the time being. And she is now President of the US Qatar council and she’s with us now. Ambassador Patterson thanks for being with us. I really appreciate you coming on early. Thank you.
Patterson: Thank you. Thank you, John. And let me say that this a historic event. It’s been a goal of US policy literally for decades to integrate Israel more peacefully and effectively in the region. Admittedly these contacts with the Gulf states have been going on for a long time and Israel has had good relations particularly with the security and intelligence officials in those countries. But it is certainly a historic occasion.
Fredericks: Ambassador, when you say a historic occasion on paper it is. I guess a lot of us want to know in reality what change is this going to inspire? Or as Hillary Clinton once said, what difference does it make?
Patterson: Let me throw out a couple of cautions and then I’ll tell you what I think the difference is. The big rub in this is going to be the sale of the F-35 to the Emirates. And most people around Washington think the US will eventually sell that to Washington and of course, the target is Iran. It’snot Israel. They want these advanced aircraft to go after Iran.
But certainly, when I was in Egypt I found that the Israeli’s were absolutely rigorous about enforcing what is called a qualitative military edge. Which is also in US legislation. Now there are a lot of different versions in the F-35. The Israeli’s already have two squadrons of them and maybe they could make a deal.
But you already hear a noise from the Israeli defense establishment about concerns about this. And then of course we hope this leads to a deal. And eventually, that has to be addressed. Hopefully sooner than later. But I think the real impact of this is going to be economic.
Because the other two countries that had peace deals, Egypt and Jordan they were basically poor countries. And there was a long time before Israel was really a first world thriving economy like it is now. So I think there are going to be huge synergies on the economic side between the UAE and Israel in healthcare, IT, and all sorts of things that we can only imagine at this point. I think that’s going to be the real breakthrough.
Fredericks: It’s going to be the economic end of it. So there is an old saying. My enemy is now my friend. Is Iran the common thread here that is driving these Gulf countries to normalized relations with Israel. Is Iran being the common enemy?
Patterson: Yes. They all see Iran as a threat. And not without justification because of course Iran has been aggressive in the Gulf. It’s been particularly aggressive in Yemen against the Saudi’s. The Saudi’s are an interesting case here because the Bahraini would never have signed up to this deal without Saudi permission at least permission. At least not without asking permission.
And it looks like what’s going on in Saudi Arabia they have very conservative clerics. They are home to the two holy sites. I think there is a generation gap between King Salman and his front son Mohammad bin Salman. And the administration is suggesting that other countries will come along soon. And we’ll see. it might be Iman. It might be Sudan. But yes, Iran is the common enemy.
Fredericks: This is fascinating. Let’s get back to the sale of the F-35s. Let me get back to this sale of the F-35s what you were saying is when Washington sells those to the UAE basically the Israeli’s almost have to sign off on that or if not try to block it. And you think that’s going to really be the indication of how serious this is right?
Patterson: I think that is going to be a pretty big deal. Let’s put it more directly the Israeli’s have a veto. The Israelis flat out have a veto over anything the US Sells in the Middle East. Most people wouldn’t use that word but as a practical element that’s what it comes down to.
And the Emirates has been interested in large drones and the administration has removed a lot of the extra controls on that. And (Inaudible talk) the F35 for a long time. So maybe there is a version of the F35 the Israeli’s will agree too. Maybe the Israeli’s have already agreed to this. That seems kind of up in the air. But I think that’s going to be a challenge to work through. Some writer or pundit said the real test to this is going to be when the American’s aren’t in the room and I think that’s right.
Fredericks: A lot of administrations have worked on this for a long time. Obviously you can’t get this type of a thing done in two weeks. There’s been a lot of work on it. Jared Kushner has worked on it as part of his master plan. Mike Pompeo has. But the Obama administration that you were a part of worked on it also. What was the thing that sprung it? What was the linchpin now that made it work now?
Patterson: Well I think one of the linchpins was of course Iran and the Obama administration had a much different relationship with Iran. But I think frankly domestic politics has played into this too. Prime Minister Netanyahu is just an incredible survivor. He has some domestic issues in Israel.
The President is confronting an election as we all know. So I think the idea to get this deal done for domestic political reasons is also a factor. And the Trump administration has been a lot more aggressive in it’s outreach to the Suni Arabs particularly in the Gulf than the Obama administration was. The Obama administration had a pretty rocky relationship with some of these countries.
Fredericks: Ambassador, when you talk about the political domestic ramifications of this how is that going to translate back now to the Palestinians? Obviously Netanyahu somehow seems to survive. You said you called him the ultimate survivor.
So he really was desperate to get something done. But we started the conversation on what I thought was the elephant in the room. How does this affect the Palestinians and how does it lead to peace between Palestine and Israel.
Patterson: Well, of course, that’s the big challenge. And the Palestinians have been extremely critical of this deal. And they seem to be frankly increasingly isolated. And I hope paths can be found for Israel’s sake quite apart from peace in the Middle East to bring in the Palestinians for a more comprehensive peace deal. Lots of people say the Arab Peace Initiative is dead.
I don’t think it necessarily has to be that way. I hope the Arabs will come back now that they have these arrangements with Israel and work seriously on a peace deal with the Palestinians. It seems further away than it did before. But its absolutely key to longstanding and permanent peace in the region. And I hope whoever wins the election can work through that as quickly as possible.
Listen to the full show here: