A U.S. rescue mission that saved the lives of Emirati soldiers and retrieved a member of the royal family paved the way to the historic pact between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, according to a new report.
“That general is part of my family,” Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a top Emirati diplomat, told President Trump before the signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords.
The foreign minister was gesturing at Miguel Correa, the Army general who oversees the White House National Security Council’s policy team for the Gulf. The envoy’s comment underscored the degree to which Correa’s background as a military official helped orchestrate the rescue of the Emirati prince.
“On Aug. 11, 2017, a United Arab Emirates helicopter filled with soldiers taking part in an offensive against al Qaeda militants crashed in Yemen, leaving three soldiers dead and seven seriously wounded, including a young member of the royal family,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “Gen. Correa, then the defense attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi, coordinated the risky 2017 mission, leading to a celebration of the young royal’s homecoming six months later … At the White House, Gen. Correa’s revered status in Abu Dhabi quickly became an asset.”
The UAE’s decision to establish diplomatic relations prompted Bahrain to follow suit — a shift that could help ease tensions in the Middle East and enhance the cooperation of key U.S. allies who have been divided historically by the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian disputes.
“I think the UAE is not the only country here,” UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said last month. “There are several Arab countries that are on this scale in different stages.”
Israel and the UAE are proceeding with various agreements to implement the normalization deal, including the establishment of direct flights between the two countries and a forthcoming “mutual visa exemption agreement” to ease travel between the Gulf state and the Jewish state. “Israel doesn’t have such an agreement with any other Arab country,” wrote Axios contributor Barak Ravid, who revealed the impending visa deal.
Correa’s personal relationship with Emirati leaders is crucial for all those developments.
“The truth is, for the Abraham Accords to have materialized, there was a very much-needed element of trust, and we had that trust with Miguel Correa and the White House,” UAE ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Otaiba told the Wall Street Journal. “A pretty big leap of faith was required from all sides for this to happen.