AhlulBayt News Agency

source : Al Waght News

27 May 2023

5:13:10 AM

Paper: Biden-Netanyahu’s strategy for breaking growing Iranian-Saudi bonds

Finding the course of regional political developments going against their interests, the US and Israeli regime are struggling to reroute the current course to their favorable direction. Meanwhile, it seems that their option is clinging to the threadbare normalization project and reactivating pursuit of Arab-Israeli relations.

AhlulBayt News Agency: Finding the course of regional political developments going against their interests, the US and Israeli regime are struggling to reroute the current course to their favorable direction. Meanwhile, it seems that their option is clinging to the threadbare normalization project and reactivating pursuit of Arab-Israeli relations.

To this end, Netanyahu, Jerusalem Post reported, talked over phone to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at least twice in recent weeks. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, the foreign minister of Bahrain, has coordinated and facilitated the contacts between the two sides. According to the report, Netanyahu talked to bin Salman once before the Arab League summit in Jeddah and once after it. The calls focused on creating opportunities for immediate normalization between the kingdom and Tel Aviv. Bin Salman rejected Netanyahu’s request for a meeting, the report further said, and no progress was made in the talks. 

Also, Israeli foreign minister, Eli Cohen, had a phone conversation with Bin Salman in a bid to reactivate the normalization process, but it seems that the Saudis have no intention for a thaw with the Israelis at present. 

Since assumption of power, Netanyahu has repeatedly claimed that Saudi Arabia will soon normalize its relations with Tel Aviv and has called this action the most important step to resolve the historical Israeli-Arab conflict. But despite some symbolic measures such as issuing permission for Israeli flights in their airspace, the Saudis have not taken an effective step toward normalization, perhaps sending signals of a principal change in their past approach. 

Israeli media reports suggest that Tel Aviv is under US President Joe Biden’s pressure to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia in exchange for significant privileges to the Palestinians. The privileges include taking power from the Israeli army in the West Bank and giving it to the Palestinian Authority’s forces, as well as giving security authority to these forces in Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City in Al-Quds, but these proposals have so far been rejected by Netanyahu. 

Though Netanyahu has had a passion for establishing relations with Saudi Arabia years ago, he stepped up his movement towards this aim after Iran signed a détente agreement with Saudi Arabia two months ago and Syria reclaimed its Arab League seat after last week after a 12-year suspension. The Israelis feel extremely threatened by the brewing developments in the region. Now the question is that can bin Salman walk a tight rope between Iran and the Israeli regime in a way allowing advancing relations with both sides? What choice will the Saudis make in this difficult dilemma? 

Seeking to disrupt Tehran-Riyadh reconciliation 

Certainly, any moves by the Israelis in the region are aimed at countering the Islamic Republic’s policies. Under the US pressures and by trusting largely empty Israeli promises of granting Palestinians some privileges, the Saudis may concede to normalization and even argue that it would not damage growing relations with Tehran, the essential issue here is the strategic interests the Israeli regime, as a crisis-making and crisis-fed entity, gains from widening the Iranian-Arab gaps. 

The revival of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia and its positive effects on increasing regional peace and stability in many West Asian crises, including the return of Syria to the Arab League, have greatly worried the Israeli and the American leaders, and, therefore, the Israeli hardliners started to bring the Saudis to their side by normalizing the relations and making empty promises regarding the Palestinian conflict before the Iran-Saudi relations gain traction. Tel Aviv is afraid that with the improvement of relations between Iran and the Arabs, Tehran’s power and influence will increase in the region, and subsequently, with the boost of of power of Resistance camp next to occupied territories, shadows of anti-Israeli threats with broaden. 

Tel Aviv sets all of its policies in the region against Tehran , and it is obvious that it will follow the same scenario in relations with the Saudis. Israeli building of influence in the Arab capitals will turn the Persian Gulf into a vintage point for the occupiers to watch Iran’s moves and advance the ‘death by a thousand stabs’ strategy. Therefore, any political and security cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the Israeli regime will damage the agreements between Tehran and Riyadh due to the sinister intentions of this regime, and if the Saudis agree to a thaw, they will be at a difficult dilemma, because Iranian and Israeli policies go opposite directions and Riyadh’s friendship with one side will mean enmity to the other side. And it is for this reason that Netanyahu is going to great lengths to disrupt Iranian-Arab convergence process. 

Over the past years, the Saudis have tied agreement with Tel Aviv to implementation of the 2000 Arab peace initiative and the formation of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Also, at a time even the Westerners are angered by the extremist behavior of Netanyahu’s cabinet, naturally, Saudi Arabia is uninterested to normalize with a hard-line Israeli cabinet. Given this condition, Netanyahu is resorting to the Americans to use their sway over the Saudis for a thaw deal. 

Biden, who has an election to win next year, is striving for securing a foreign policy trump card to defend his performance and achievements against his Republican rivals, particularly Donald Trump. Sustaining a loss in Ukraine war and under Republican fire, Biden is eyeing gains at least in Arab-Israeli case. Arab-Israeli normalization can prove advantageous and, thus, he bends over the backwards to forge this unholy bond. 

Washington also finds Iranian-Saudi reconciliation, which was brokered by its rival China, running counter to its interests in West Asia. Though the Americans do not publicize their opposition, behind the scenes they are working to again divide Tehran and Riyadh as they know that Iranian-Arab friendship will end their several-decade presence in the Persian Gulf while Washington does not want to quit this geostrategically important region. Last year, Biden pushed to force an anti-Iranian Arab-Israeli alliance, but the project proved stillborn as the Arab leaders rejected to counter Iran for the Israeli-American interests. 

Saudis eyeing Israeli technologies 

Though the White House pressures cannot be ignored in potential Riyadh’s movement to normalization, the Saudis themselves have set their own goals. In the past seven years, under bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has designed major economic plans to turn into an economic hub in the region. The megaproject to build the dream Neom city with a cost of $500 billion requires advanced technologies, which bin Salman hopes to receive part of which from the Israelis. Bin Salman has invested $2 billion in the Israeli infrastructure in order to draw the Israeli contribution to his project. In the past years, Jewish businessmen and moguls have traveled to Riyadh to consult about investing in the Neom project. Bin Salman needs the help of the whole world to implement his projects, and that is why he extended a hand of friendship to the Israelis, too. Also, bin Salman is not yet completely relieved of the succession issue and is probably looking for the help of the powerful Jewish lobby in the US to facilitate ascension to the throne. 

However, bin Salman is setting his heart on the Israeli technologies while Tel Aviv does not simply share its technological achievements with others, especially the Arabs. The Israeli policy rests on increasing its power in the face of the Muslim world to tip the scales in its favor. Therefore, Tel Aviv will not give its state-of-the-art technologies to Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies to enable them being in better conditions.

The UAE is a good example. Over the past two years, Abu Dhabi served the Israelis and facilitated their entry to the Persian Gulf, but practically received nothing in return and everything goes unilaterally in favor of Tel Aviv. Security pacts and deals to provide the Arab country with air defense systems and deploy drones remain ink on the paper.

The same would be true to the Saudis. Saudi Arabia is trying to build a nuclear power plant and needs the help of foreign actors, but the Israelis are strongly against this ambition and have warned the US and the Europeans not to cooperate with Riyadh, considering it posing a security threat. With this look of the Israelis to pro-compromise Arab countries, it is clear that the normalization is pursued by the Israelis only with the aim of reducing the enemies in the Islamic world and ensuring the stability and security in the occupied territories. The Saudis, who have had a political challenge with the US over the past year, need the powerful Jewish lobby to influence the governing structures of this country and want to realize this aim through normalization. 

The Israeli regime is, seemingly, expected to make concessions to the Palestinians to advance normalization project with the Saudis. But it is noteworthy that over the past three decades, the Israelis have not committed to Oslo Accords with the Palestinians and practically violated them by constructing settlements and opposing an independent Palestinian state. This sends a warning to the Saudis not to sell the Palestinian legacy for empty Israeli promises. Meanwhile, the central goal of the Israeli occupation is to isolate Iran in the region with the help of Arab countries. This time, the Israelis have chosen Saudi Arabia for this job, but the regional and international conditions are not going as Israeli-Western camp wishes and the project to mar Iranian-Arab relations will fail like its predecessors.