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Deciphering Riyadh’s Rejection to Dictates of White House

Monday 24 August 2020

Amid differing reactions from countries in the region to the normalization of relations between the UAE and the Israeli regime, Saudi Arabia, which was initially quiet, finally, after a six-day period, in its first reaction to this, claimed that it was committed to the Arab Peace Initiative.

Last week, regarding this matter, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud told reporters in Berlin “We are committed to the Arab Peace Plan and that is the best way forward to a settlement of the conflict and to normalization with Israel with all states. That said, any efforts that could promote peace in the region and that result in holding back the threat of annexation could be viewed as positive.”

Also a few days after the speech of Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, the former head of the Saudi intelligence service, stated that “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has set a price for concluding peace between Israel and the Arabs – it is the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state with al-Quds [Jerusalem] as capital, as provided for by the initiative of the late King Abdullah,”

Regarding an article in Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Prince Faisal, a former Saudi ambassador to Washington and ex-intelligence chief, wrote. “Any Arab state that is considering following the UAE should demand in return a price, and it should be an expensive price”.

The Arab Peace Initiative consists of:

(a) Complete withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the 4 June 1967 line and the territories still occupied in southern Lebanon.

(b) Attain a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees to be agreed upon in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution No 194.

(c) Accept the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since 4 June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Al-Quds as its capital.

In return the Arab states will do the following:

(a) Consider the Arab–Israeli conflict over, sign a peace agreement with Israel, and achieve peace for all states in the region;

(b) Establish normal relations with Israel within the framework of this comprehensive peace.

In fact, Saudi Arabia intends to play a role in defending Palestine by announcing its commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative.

However, the breaking of Saudi Arabia’s silence and the announcement of its commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative are not in line with its previous actions and positions taken on the Palestinian issue. Saudi Arabia did not react seriously to the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to al-Quds, and Bahrain, a country subordinate to Riyadh in all its foreign policy matters, hosted the unveiling of Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century”. Therefore, the question arises that, what are the reasons for Saudi Arabia’s recent stance, which contradicts its performance in recent years?

On the other hand, the delay of Saudi Arabia in announcing its position on the agreement to formalization of the UAE-Israel relations is also questionable. In fact, we should ask that if Riyadh has an objection to this, why has the country reacted to it after a few days of silence and with such a delay?

Saudi Arabia’s stance and actions in recent years confirm that the country has entered into secret relations with the Israeli regime, yet Riyadh has concerns about revealing and normalizing its relations with Tel Aviv.

Issues such as the failure of Saudi Arabia’s regional policies, internal opposition to Mohammed bin Salman’s policies, the occurrence of acute economic problems in the country and the unwillingness of some Western countries to the rise of Mohammed bin Salman have severely shaken the foundations of the Saudi Crown Prince’s reign. Therefore, Riyadh intends to be cautious about normalizing relations with the Israeli regime, given the current sensitive situation in Saudi Arabia, and thus receive the maximum possible concessions from Washington to guarantee the support of Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

This would seem even more important when, in addition to the abovementioned facts, the emergence of internal opposition to the normalization of Riyadh-Tel Aviv relations comes to light, which will subsequently lead to the emerge of additional problems for Mohammed bin Salman. This could be a means of putting more pressure on the young Crown Prince by his opponents. Hence, the Saudi regime is in dire need of Washington’s support for Mohammed bin Salman.

In this regard, Mujtahidd, a Twitter activist known as the revealer of the secrets of the Saudi dynasty, revealed that Saudi Arabia wants to take a decision similar to the UAE’s decision to normalize relations with the Israeli regime, but has put forward a condition. He tweeted that in exchange for announcing normalization of relations, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Americans were now negotiating to force opposing Princes to pledge allegiance to him as King. While there is disagreement between the Saudi Crown Prince and the Trump administration over this issue; the Americans say normalization should be the priority, whilst Mohammed bin Salman insists that allegiance to him should be the main concern that must be resolved.

However, Riyadh is unsure of Trump’s survival in the White House, which may keep Saudi Arabia awaiting the outcome of the US presidential election. Until then, Riyadh will wait for the negotiation and finalization for normalization of relations with the Israeli regime in exchange for supporting the reign of Mohammed bin Salman.

With knowledge of Abu Dhabi’s ambitions, Saudi Arabia is concerned about the loss of its regional position. Saudi Arabia is well aware that if it should support the agreement to normalize relations between the UAE and the Israeli regime, it would be seen as the Saudi’s standing by the UAE for such a decision. Whilst becoming a companion of the UAE in the normalization of relations between the UAE and the Israeli regime, the Saudis will be associated with the criticisms following such attitude, resulting in the Saudi’s loss of some of its playable cards within the region.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is seriously concerned about the strategic alliance of the United States and the United Arab Emirates. In such a way that, it would affect Riyadh-Washington relations, resulting in Abu Dhabi becoming a replacement for US regional policies.

This worries Riyadh even more when there are recent reports that US F-35 fighter jets may be sold to the UAE and also unconfirmed rumors about the possibility of transferring the largest US Air Base in the region, Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, to the UAE. Therefore, with this in mind, on the matter of normalization of relations with the Israeli regime, Riyadh does not intend to reduce the pressure that is being implemented on the UAE, for the sake of its own profit.

Overall, it seems that Riyadh has broken its silence on the normalization of the UAE’s relations with the Israeli regime and the Palestinian issue and declared its commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative; in order to demand concessions from Washington on bilateral relations and the preservation of Riyadh’s regional role, along with support for Mohammed bin Salman’s reign.

The article first appeared on Alwaght News

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