By Julio Rivera,
The Abraham Accords were a series of agreements brokered by the Trump administration in 2020, aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab nations. The main participants in the accords were Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain.
The primary objective of the Abraham Accords was to establish formal diplomatic ties, including the exchange of ambassadors, opening embassies, and fostering cooperation in various fields. The agreements encompassed several areas such as trade, tourism, investment, security, technology, and cultural exchanges.
Prior to the Abraham Accords, Israel had formal diplomatic relations with only two Arab nations, Egypt, and Jordan. The accords marked a significant shift in the region’s dynamics, with Arab countries openly recognizing and establishing diplomatic ties with Israel.
From Israel’s perspective, the accords provided an opportunity to expand its diplomatic reach, enhance regional stability, and foster economic cooperation. The participating Arab countries sought to strengthen their relations with Israel, potentially benefitting from increased trade and economic opportunities, security cooperation, and access to advanced technology and innovation.
The Abraham Accords are considered a notable achievement of the Trump administration’s Middle East policy, aiming to foster peace and stability in the region through diplomatic initiatives.
Now, years after their creation, the groundbreaking cooperative is expanding, as a bipartisan group of US senators have unveiled a new proposal known as the Abraham Accords Cybersecurity Cooperation Act of 2023.
The bill, which is co-sponsored by members of the Abraham Accords Committee in the Senate, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), follows a Department of Homeland Security announcement from earlier this year that noted that expanded cyber cooperation between the Abraham Accord countries was in the works.
The act will enhance the current partnerships between America and the Abraham Accords countries as they seek to strengthen their individual and collective defense against cyber attacks from countries like Iran, Indonesia, and other countries that continually target critical infrastructure and wage all forms of cyber warfare.
“At a time when Iran and other hostile cyber actors are those targeting the United States and Abraham Accords countries with malicious cyberattacks, this bipartisan legislation will help strengthen our collective cybersecurity defenses against shared threats,” according to Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev).
The act comes at a time when Israel has been repeatedly victimized by a growing Indonesian and Sudanese cyber threat. This spring, a flurry of attacks from the two countries hit several Israeli targets across multiple sectors.
May of this year saw a cyber-attack against Israel’s mobile air defense, which is known as the Iron Dome. An Indonesian hacking group claims that the breach was carried out “in support of the Palestinian resistance,” and the group reported the attack on May 14 on its Twitter account. In April, an Indonesian hacking group known as “VulzSecTeam” hacked Israeli gas stations, bus stations, and airports, and published stolen data on their Telegram channel.
The Sudanese hacker group known as “Anonymous Sudan” targeted websites belonging to Israeli banks, the postal service, electrical utilities companies and the country’s red alert warning app, in April. Anonymous Sudan also attacked several Israeli media sites, including the Jerusalem Post, i24 News, KAN, and N12.
These particular attacks complicate what was thought to be an opportunity for both Sudan and Indonesia to continue to improve diplomatic relations with Israel as well as the rest of the world. In October of 2020, the Sudan and Israel announced their collective intention to establish diplomatic relations. That seemed to be solidified when in February of this year, they established diplomatic relations officially.
Sudan’s reentry into the global market has since been thrown into jeopardy by the ongoing intra-military war that led to the evacuation of the US Embassy on April 23rd, and the continued cyber-attacks against Israel only make matters worse.
Indonesia is one of 6 non-Arab Asian Muslim countries that do not have normalized ties with Israel. It sports a strong economy (16th largest in the world) and annual growth rate of 5.7%, which could quickly grow into one of the world’s largest. It has also been identified as a country that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would like to include in an expansion of the Abraham Accords. The ongoing cyber-attacks from Indonesian hackers, especially if they are found to be in any way state-sponsored, like attacks of the Advanced Persistent Threat variety, put the future of diplomatic advancement in question for the country.
The future of diplomacy in many ways is tied into the future of the ongoing set of individual cyber wars currently happening in real time. The bipartisan Abraham Accords Cybersecurity Cooperation Act of 2023 truly has an opportunity to be a standard bearer for diplomacy and enhanced logistical cooperation in the digital age. It would certainly be an interesting footnote in history if something as groundbreaking as this can get done during a period of unprecedented divide on Capitol Hill.
Julio Rivera is a business and political strategist, Editorial Director for Reactionary Times, and a political commentator and columnist. His writing, which is focused on cybersecurity and politics, has been published by many of the most heavily trafficked websites in the world.