An agreement to establish diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel and a Saudi-Pakistani spat over Kashmir coupled with feuds among Gulf states and between Turkey, the kingdom, and the Emirates drive nails into the notion that the Arab and Islamic world by definition share common geopolitical interests on the basis of ethnicity or religion and embrace kinship solidarity.
The UAE-Israel agreement weakens the Palestinians’ efforts to create a state of their own but their criticism of the UAE’s move to become the third Arab country after Egypt and Jordan to officially recognize the Jewish state is based on a moral rather than a legal claim.
The UAE and Israel see their relations with the United States and the perceived threat from Iran as bigger fish to fry.
Both countries hope that an upgrading of their relations will keep the US engaged in the Middle East, particularly given that it puts pressure to follow suit on other Gulf states that have similar concerns and have engaged with Israel but not to the degree that the UAE has.
The UAE and Israel further worry that a potential victory by presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the US’ November presidential election could bring to office an administration more willing than President Donald J. Trump to seek accommodation with Iran and emphasize human rights and basic freedoms.
The establishment of diplomatic relations strengthens the UAE’s position as one of the United States’ most important partners in the Middle East and allows Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to argue that his hardline policy towards the Palestinians does not impede a broader peace between the Jewish state and Arab nations.
Mr. Netanyahu is however concerned that his argument may resonate less with a Biden administration that potentially could be less empathetic to Israel’s annexationist aspirations on the West Bank as well as with the right-wing in Israel that may not feel that the UAE is worth surrendering what they see as historical Jewish land.
Ironically, the price of suspending annexation in exchange for diplomatic relations with the UAE gets Mr. Netanyahu off the hook in the short term.
Mr. Netanyahu had pledged to annex parts of the West Bank on July 1 but has dragged his feet since because the Trump administration, while endorsing the principle, opposed any tangible move on the ground. Mr. Trump feared that annexation would have pre-empted his ability to claim some success for his controversial Israel-Palestinian peace plan.
Emirati officials had made clear that a formal annexation of parts of the West Bank, captured from Jordan during the 1967 Middle East war, would preclude the establishment of formal relations with Israel.
The question now is whether the UAE will put paid to that notion by opening their embassy in Jerusalem, whose status under international law has yet to be negotiated, rather than Tel Aviv.
So is what the UAE, alongside Jordan and Egypt, will do if and when Israel legally incorporates West Bank lands sometime in the future.
The UAE’s willingness to formally recognize Israel constituted the latest nail in the coffin of Arab and Muslim solidarity that has been trumped by hardnosed interests of the state and its rulers.
As Messrs. Trump and Netanyahu and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed were putting the final touches on their coordinated statements, traditional allies Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were locked into an escalating spat over Kashmir.
India last year revoked the autonomy of the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir and imposed a brutal crackdown.
Muslim countries with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the lead, much like in the case of China’s brutal crackdown on Turkic Muslims, have been reluctant to jeopardize their growing economic and military ties to India, effectively hanging Pakistan out to dry.
The two Gulf states, instead of maintaining their traditional support for Pakistan, feted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as developments in Kashmir unfolded.
In response, Pakistan hit out at Saudi Arabia where it hurts. In rare public criticism of the kingdom, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi suggested that Pakistan would convene an Islamic conference outside the confines of the Saudi-controlled Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) after the group rejected Islamabad’s request for a meeting on Kashmir.
Targeting Saudi Arabia’s leadership and quest for Muslim religious soft power, Mr. Qureishi issued his threat eight months after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan under Saudi pressure bowed out of an Islamic summit in Kuala Lumpur convened by the kingdom’s critics, including Qatar, Turkey, and Iran.
Saudi Arabia fears that any challenge to its leadership could fuel demands that Saudi Arabia sign over custodianship of Mecca and Medina to a pan-Islamic body.
The custodianship and Saudi Arabia’s image as a leader of the Muslim world is what persuaded Crown Prince Mohammed to reach out to Israel primarily to use that as well as his embrace of dialogue with Jewish and Christian groups to bolster his tarnished image in Washington and other Western capitals.
The UAE’s recognition of Israel puts Saudi Arabia more than any other Gulf state in the hot seat when it comes to establishing relations with Israel and it puts Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in the driver’s seat.
That is all about interests and competition and has little to do with Arab or Muslim solidarity.
Suez Canal: Enhancing alignment between Belt and Road and Egypt Vision 2030
The location of the Suez Canal Economic Zone plays an effective role at the heart of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, ensuring a permanent strategic partnership between the two sides, to enhance the concept of the role of economic corridors and ports in development for the benefit of all parties. This brings us to a fundamental point, which is the importance of integration between ports and industrial areas, such as the Suez Canal, as the most prominent model for this, as a model of cooperation that is the most distinguished in the entire world within the framework of the relationship between the Suez Canal corridor and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, in order to advance the development wheel for all its parties, and open endless horizons in front of various investments. We find that the Suez Canal is a major gateway for Chinese products to enter African, European, Arab, and American markets, due to its strategic location on the Red Bahrain and the Mediterranean, passing through the Suez Canal. Therefore, it serves the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, and this will be greatly reflected after the completion of development work in the Port of Sokhna in Suez, which will become one of the pivotal ports in the Red Sea and a fulcrum for serving international trade within the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.
The Suez Canal is considered the main station and the main sea corridor for the sea route of the Belt and Road Initiative, which focuses on linking the continents of Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, in addition to the land link between China and Europe, given that the sea road of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative extends from the (South China to the Strait of Mule, the Indian Ocean, the Horn of Africa, the Strait of Bab al-Mandab, all the way to the Suez Canal).
For this reason, the State of China, in light of the globalization system and the new global economic order that it is trying to strengthen to serve the interests of mainly African and developing countries, seeks to launch many global initiatives, the most important of which is the “Belt and Road Initiative”, which allows it to cooperate with its strategic partners within the framework of that. The initiative, led by Egypt, and within this framework, China officially signed a document of cooperation with the Suez Canal Economic Zone, and participation in the establishment of many industries and infrastructure projects cooperation between China and Egypt through the Egyptian Suez Canal corridor within the framework of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative does not only aim for the material part related to investments and projects, but also aims to build human values, which the initiative aims to build a better world that shares those values and seeks to build international relations based on peace. Achieving comprehensive development for all sectors, as well as working to bring peace instead of violence. As the world seeks to achieve comprehensive development, it either takes place within a framework of cooperation or pursues an aggressive policy that does not build but rather destroys entire civilizations.
The Egyptian Suez Canal plays a major role in increasing cooperation in the areas of trade exchange, localization of industry, and the transfer of Chinese technology and energy to Egypt. As the main goal of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative is to support the economy and intra-state trade between countries, facilitate trade, and extend communications lines, stressing that the initiative includes extending cable, communications, Internet, and maritime digitization lines, explaining that Egypt is one of the countries in the world through which most submarine cables, digitization, and digital pass. Egypt represents a very important number and has its weight in the initiative, taking into account the Suez Canal, and the importance of the geographical location, as it connects the east to the west and the north to the south, in addition to the Suez Canal axis, as it represents an added value to the Suez Canal as well as the initiative, which relies heavily on the Suez Canal, in addition to Establishment of the Chinese industrial zone and the Russian economic zone in the Suez Canal. The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative relies primarily on the concept of economic corridors for development, given that the Suez Canal is the most important and prominent international shipping corridor that directly links the three continents to which the initiative countries belong the economic zone surrounding the Suez Canal has been planned according to a future vision that takes into account Taking into account the various dimensions of the expected future development in maritime transport traffic and rates of international trade.
Here, Egypt and China can cooperate on the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative in many ways. The Belt and Road Initiative differs from other economic blocs in that it is the first of its kind to link trade with development. Egypt is also an important partner in building the Belt and Road. The Chinese side is keen to enhance the alignment between the Belt and Road Initiative and Egypt’s Vision 2030. China supports the Egyptian side in advancing the pace of industrialization, enhancing scientific and technological capacity, and raising the level of development, in addition to deepening cooperation in the field of security and law enforcement between the two countries, in a way that maintains the common security to them. The Chinese side is also keen to enhance coordination and cooperation with the Egyptian side in international affairs to work together to support and implement multilateralism, reject the tendency of unilateralism and bullying, and ensure the correct direction of global governance reforms. The Egyptian side plays an effective role within the framework of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum and the China-Africa Cooperation Forum.
The list of Chinese companies investing in Egypt includes Sino Tharwa Drilling, Shamal International Petroleum, TEDA Investment, Jushi Egypt for Fiberglass Manufacturing, Huawei Technology, and Conco Technology. In addition to a large number of projects implemented by some Chinese companies under the direct contracting system, among the most prominent Chinese projects being implemented are: the Financial and Business District project in the New Administrative Capital, The TEDA-Suez zone for Chinese-Egyptian economic cooperation and the electric train project in 10th of Ramadan City. In addition to financing (Exim Bank of China) the implementation of a railway project to connect Cairo to the New Administrative Capital at a cost of more than one and a half billion dollars.
Therefore, China seeks to expand its investments in the Suez Canal region, especially as an important axis of development. The region also represents an important link and plays a prominent role in the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, especially in light of the implementation of the ambitious development plan aimed at establishing development projects in the Suez Canal axis, including logistical services in a way that represents a good opportunity for cooperation between the two sides in many fields, especially technology and infrastructure in approximately 6 ports and two integrated regions, in addition to the role of the Suez Canal axis in enhancing Chinese-Egyptian economic cooperation, and making Egypt a starting point for the Arab and African markets, by virtue of Egypt’s membership in the Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement and the COMESA Economic Community of Eastern and Southern African Countries.
The Suez Canal axis has special importance within the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, especially in light of the services provided by the Suez Canal Economic Zone, to support global trade movement through its ports, most notably ship bunkering services with green fuel, in addition to the role of Chinese companies in the region’s ports and the Suez Canal, such as: (Hutchison, COSCO and CMA Alliance), which is responsible for managing and operating one of the berths in the port of Ain Sokhna in the Suez Canal axis, with investments estimated at more than 600 million dollars, within the framework of the effective role that the Suez Canal plays in attracting Chinese investments in the sectors of financial services, logistics, and ports. Therefore, cooperation between many Chinese provinces and cities and the Suez Canal Economic Zone has been strengthened in this context. The Chinese company TEDA aims to promote its industrial zone in Ain Sokhna, in addition to investment opportunities in the Suez Canal Economic Zone to various Chinese companies, and to enhance cooperation with the Suez Canal Economic Zone in Egypt as an economic ally of great importance to Chinese investments.
In order to strengthen Chinese-Egyptian cooperation within the framework of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, China seeks to expand the base of cooperation with Egypt, so that it will be a starting point for Chinese-African cooperation, and Chinese participation in enhancing the economic development and political stability of the countries of the continent, especially in light of the material globalization system and the inability of the peoples. Which is still at the beginning of the development process of keeping pace with the global movement and the rapid transition towards globalization, and therefore the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative targets developing countries in order to work to enhance their economic cooperation and raise the standard of living for the peoples of those regions.
Accordingly, we find that all the elements of success are available for the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, as it started from a comprehensive development concept that addresses emerging and emerging economies, and aims to enhance cooperation with many international financial institutions, as well as economic blocs and organizations, such as: (ASEAN, BRICS, the European Union, the World Trade Organization), and others.
The Meeting of Sisi with Li Shi
The meeting between Egyptian President “Abdel Fattah El-Sisi” and a high-level Chinese delegation, headed by Li Qi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, came as a confirmation of the Chinese-Egyptian efforts to work together within the framework of the principle of mutual benefit between the two parties and the common destiny of humanity established by the Chinese President “Xi Jinping”. The importance of the visit of the senior Chinese official in the Communist Party “Li Shi” comes to present the Chinese side’s point of view to Egyptian President “El-Sisi” regarding the joint agreement between China and Egypt to contribute positively to confronting the challenges facing the international community, especially developing and African countries, and to enhance joint international collective action towards a shift to international multipolarity away from the concept of American hegemony, in a way that preserves international peace and stability, and pushes towards reforming the international financial governance system.
Also, the significance and timing of this visit by the Chinese official, Li Shi, and his meeting with President “Abdel Fattah El-Sisi” prior to President El-Sisi’s participation in the “Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation” summit in the capital (Beijing) at the end of October 2023, it carries more than one political connotation, whether at the bilateral Egyptian-Chinese level, or for this summit in which hundreds of heads of state and government around the world participate. Therefore, this visit by “Li Qi” comes in preparation for the participation of Egypt and President “El-Sisi” in the Chinese international Belt and Road Conference, including… It has positive effects and great gains for the benefit of Cairo and Beijing in various fields, especially the economic field.
During his visit to Cairo and his meeting with President “El-Sisi”, Chinese Communist Party official “Li Shi” confirmed the readiness of the Chinese side to work with the Egyptian side in order to implement the agreements reached by the presidents of the two countries (El- Sisi and Xi Jinping) in a good way, and to consolidate mutual trust at the political level and enhance Aligning the Belt and Road Initiative with Egypt’s Vision 2030, expanding practical cooperation, intensifying communication, cooperation and coordination in international and regional affairs, and working together to defend the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries and advancing the democratization of international relations. Especially with China’s full understanding of the situation in the Middle East with the complex changes and turmoil it is witnessing, which has negatively affected security and development in the Middle East region, hence China’s keenness to launch (the five-point initiative on achieving security and stability in the Middle East), which is an initiative that focuses on maintaining stability and bringing peace to the region.
Here, the visit of Chinese official “Li Shi” to Cairo comes as a culmination of the joint Chinese-Egyptian efforts to achieve many positive results regarding the joint construction of the Belt and Road. Especially since Chinese-Egyptian relations have become a model of solidarity, cooperation, mutual benefit and mutual gain between China and Egypt and between Arab and African countries and developing countries under the leadership of the presidents of the two countries. The Chinese side also confirmed China’s readiness to work with the Egyptian side to implement the agreements reached by the presidents of the two countries (El-Sisi and Xi Jinping) in a good manner, consolidate mutual trust at the political level, and enhance the alignment between the Belt and Road Initiative and Egypt’s Vision 2030 to expand practical cooperation and intensifying communication, cooperation and coordination in international and regional affairs, and working together to defend the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries and advancing the democratization of international relations, by emphasizing that China’s permanent membership in the UN Security Council and its being the largest developing country in the world serves Egyptian goals and interests. Egypt is also a large Arab and African country and an important emerging economy, so under the current circumstances, the strategic and comprehensive nature of Chinese-Egyptian relations is highlighted.
It is necessary to analyze the temporal context of the visit of Chinese official “Li Shi” to Cairo, which stems from China’s understanding of the Egyptian role in networking the issues of the African continent and regional and international powers, with China’s view of Egypt as China’s gateway to the African continent, and this view is a constant feature in Chinese political discourse in In light of the fact that Egypt was one of the first African countries to recognize China. Egypt also adopts an integrated strategy for development and regional integration of the African continent, in addition to maintaining fruitful and close cooperation relations with all international partners, including China, in a way that serves this Egyptian strategy, especially in the fields of transportation and infrastructure within the framework of its projects with the Chinese side in the Suez Canal axis and the New Administrative Capital.
Here, President “El-Sisi” always affirms Egypt’s desire to learn from China’s successful experience in development, align its development plan with the Belt and Road Initiative, and deepen bilateral cooperation in a wide range of fields. In addition to President El-Sisi’s keenness to attend Belt and Road forums for international cooperation, which reflects Egypt’s desire to actively participate in the joint construction of the Belt and Road, which also represents a common voice for African countries to achieve mutual benefit and common development. Egypt and China succeeded in integrating the Egyptian road and port network within the Belt and Road Initiative, which prompted the development and operation of the industrial zone in Ain Sokhna near the Suez Canal, called the TEDA Chinese Industrial Zone.
The joint meetings between high-level delegations between Egypt and China stem from Egypt’s interest in the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and its projects in Cairo, as the Chinese initiative addresses vital sectors and areas of priority for Egypt within the framework of Egypt’s Vision 2030. Therefore, President Sisi’s visits to China, which reached six visits to China in five years, indicate the tireless effort of President “El-Sisi” and the practical and presidential diplomacy of Egypt, as President “El-Sisi” has become a friend of the Chinese people in a short time as he seeks to create a new and better future for Egypt within the framework of its relationship with China.
Here we can reach the conclusion that the tireless efforts of the Chinese and Egyptian sides within the framework of joint construction of the Belt and Road strengthen the rapprochement, understanding and mutual benefit of the two open and peace-loving countries. For example, the Suez Zone for economic and trade cooperation between China and Egypt has reaped great benefits, as it has hosted more than 77 companies with huge investments exceeding one billion dollars. The zone established by the Chinese TEDA company also contributed to creating more than 30,000 job opportunities for the Egyptian side, in addition to achieving tax revenues worth one billion Egyptian pounds for the Egyptian side. In addition to China’s major role in the construction projects of the New Administrative Capital and the launch of major infrastructure projects in Egypt, where Chinese companies always play a distinguished role, as a result of the mutual trust between the two countries. Therefore, Chinese President “Xi Jinping” is always keen to invite President “El-Sisi” to attend the international summits hosted by Beijing, such as the BRICS summit and the G20 summit, in addition to the China-Africa summit, based on China’s appreciation of the regional and international standing it enjoys. Egypt, as well as Egyptian interest in relations with Beijing, in light of Egypt’s trend towards strengthening its relations with important powers in East Asia, especially China.
Behind Closed Doors: The Startling Repercussion of Saudi-Israeli Alliance
The media is fervently fueling the narrative that Saudi Arabia and Israel are on the brink of normalizing relations, a development that the United States is investing tremendous resources to realize. However, the certainty of this deal coming to fruition remains in the hands of time. Nevertheless, any such shift will undoubtedly send shockwaves throughout the region. Advocates worldwide argue that this potential alliance could usher in a new era of coherence and peace in the Middle East. Yet, the looming consequences of such a deal could cast a dark shadow over the region, hinting at turbulent times ahead.
To delve deeper into the complexities of the Middle East, it’s crucial to understand the historical penetration and influence of the US and Israel in the region. This background provides a critical context for interpreting current events and potential development. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter embarked on a mission to underscore the Unites State’s immense influence in the Middle East. He saw Israel and Egypt as instrumental to his objectives and invited their leaders to establish normalized relations through a series of agreements that would later be known as the Camp David Accords. The underlying premise of these accords was to restore peace and stability in the region, address the Palestinian issues, and foster harmonious relations between Israel and the Arab states. However, instead of ushering in an era of tranquility and stability, the Middle East was plunged into a vortex of instability and war following this penetration.
The Iran-Iraq war, the US invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent instability that has plagued the region can largely be traced back to the deep-seated influence and intervention of the US and Israel. This penetration, characterized by strategic alliances and political maneuvering, has left indelible marks on the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East. The ripple effects of these actions have not only sparked conflicts but also contributed to a climate of uncertainty and volatility. This complex web of relations and its repercussions continue to shape the region’s dynamics, underscoring the far-reaching impact of foreign intervention.
Yet, this penetration also unleashed a cascade of complications. These included the exacerbation of sectarian tension, the rise of terrorism, the onset of revolts, rampant corruption, widespread violations of human rights, and regional instability. These multifaceted issues underscore the intricate dynamics at play in the Middle East.
When examining the annals of history, we find that the narrative of the US and Israel are marred by bloodshed, occupation, and intervention. Given this backdrop, one might question how normalizing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia could possibly transform the region’s longstanding instability from a conflict formation to a security regime. Can the myriad of problems that have plagued the region for decades simply vanish overnight? That is to say; even if the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel is seen as inevitable, it does not necessarily promise peace and stability in the region. On the contrary, it could potentially exacerbate sectarian divisions and fuel proxy wars. The complexities of regional politics and longstanding religious and ethnic tensions mean that any shift in alliances or partnerships could have unpredictable consequences.
Moreover, the proposed deal to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel is steeped in controversy. While there is a possibility that the agreement may come to fruition, it is expected to include a mutual defense treaty, a security guarantee, assistance in developing Saudi Arabia’s own civilian nuclear program, and decreased restrictions on US arms sales to Saudi Arabia. This could potentially include lifting the ban on selling F-35 fighter jets or other advanced weapons.
However, if Saudi Arabia acquires such advanced weaponry and nuclear capabilities, will it truly foster peace and stability? Or did it instead destabilize the region in unprecedented ways? Or could it be that the potential deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia hinges solely on the exchange of weaponry? Regardless of the underlying motivations, the transfer of nuclear capabilities from the US to Saudi Arabia could potentially perpetuate the cycle of militarization rather than offering solutions to the region’s longstanding rivalry.
The recent reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, facilitated by China, could be undermined by the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. It was hoped that the reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia would transform the region’s security architecture (a change that has been broadly felt across the region). However, this progress could be jeopardized and provoke a more potent reaction from Iran. Iran has explicitly stated that the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel is not only a betrayal of Palestinian causes but also a catalyst for regional instability.
Thus, Saudi Arabia stands at a crossroads, with the weight of a monumental decision pressing heavily upon its shoulders. The whisper of the populace echoes through the Kingdom, with reports indicating that over 60% of Saudis are against the idea of normalizing relations with Israel; their voices, filled with apprehension and uncertainty, cannot be ignored.
As a beacon of power in the region, Saudi Arabia’s actions could sway its allies, potentially coercing them into a similar normalization with Israel. This could send ripples through the delicate balance of regional stability, especially given Iran’s vehement opposition to any country in the region forging ties with Israel.
The Middle East, once a simmering cauldron of proxy wars between Iran and Saudi Arabia, had restored some semblance of control with the resumption of ties between these two countries. However, if Saudi Arabia normalizes relations with Israel, we will witness a chilling new conflict. A solitary Iran pitted against an alliance of Israel and Saudi Arabia could ignite a firestorm that engulfs the region. The potential consequences are dire and could cast a long, unending shadow over the region, plunging it into an abyss from which recovery may be impossible. The specters of such a future are a poignant reminder of the high stakes involved and the careful consideration required before taking such a step.
World News4 days ago
Assad-Xi Jinping meeting: China-Syria strategic partnership
Environment4 days ago
Global warming did the Unthinkable
Economy3 days ago
International Forum for China’s Belt and Road and the Six Economic Corridors Projects
Terrorism3 days ago
Bad Strategies Boost Al-Shabab
Africa4 days ago
Decorating Africa at United Nations
East Asia3 days ago
Assad’s visit to China: Breaking diplomatic isolation and rebuilding Syria
Americas3 days ago
Quad foreign ministers meet in New York for the third time
World News3 days ago
India’s Canadian riddle