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India, Saudi Arabia and the Riyal 20: The Intent and the Repercussions

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Adding fuel to the South Asian boiling waters Saudi Arabia has quite recently, released a 20 Riyal banknote to commemorate its presidency of organizing the G-20 Summit. What is interesting for the world and irks India, Pakistan and China is that on the world map shown on the banknote Ladakh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir have been removed from Pakistan and India. The Saudi move has roused angst amongst the three and has serious repercussions if not mended soon. Saudi Arabia opened new vistas of strategic relations with India as it slices a significant chunk away from the Muslim world in favour of Indian position on Kashmir. In view of the US, Israel and UAE understanding and Nagorno-Karabakh alignments India and Saudi Arabia have peddled forth towards a new era of relations where they pose a serious threat to Sino-Pakistan vision of South Asia and OBOR expansion in the Middle-East. The Riyal 20 banknote has some intent behind and the repercussions on their bilateral relations as also on the politics of South Asia and Middle East.

The Backdrop

India and Saudi Arabia, the two regional giants have shared historical cultural relations since past but in the post-World War II scenario they developed distances on Kashmir and OIC politics. Kashmir determined the Indo-US, Indo-Pak and Indo-Saudi Arabia relations till the collapse of USSR and continues to influence the strategic shifts in the post-cold war era. Saudi Arabia, till recently, supported Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir. It also provided frequent economic packages to Pakistan to bail it out of critical situations like conflict with India, internal turbulences and jihadi operations. The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and India’s proximity with the former also irked it. However, after the economic depression of 2008 Saudi Arabia has changed its policy towards Indian subcontinent as it can’t rely on a weak partner at the cost of rising India, the world’s largest prospective market.

It was in the nineties that the two sides took serious steps over improvisation of relations when Saudi Arabia helped India (home to second largest Muslim population in the world) attain the observer status in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It also became critical of Pak sponsored terrorism in India in the following years.   King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia became the first state head to have visited India after a period of 52 years in 2006, thus finally breaking the ice. The move was coincided with a shift in India’s strategic relations with United States when India signed a nuclear deal with US in the same year.  The Saudi king and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also signed an agreement forging a strategic energy partnership that was termed the “Delhi Declaration”. The pact provides for a “reliable, stable and increased volume of crude oil supplies to India through long-term contracts” (CNN January 27, 2006). Both nations also agreed on joint ventures and the development of oil and natural gas in public and private sectors. An Indo-Saudi joint declaration in the Indian capital New Delhi described the king’s visit as “heralding a new era in India-Saudi Arabia relations” (BBC, January 27, 2006).

Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trade partner (after China, USA and Japan) and is a major source of energy as India imports around 18% of its crude oil requirement from the Kingdom. In 2018-19 (as per DGFT), India-Saudi bilateral trade has increased by 23.83 % to US$ 34.03 billion. Indo-Saudi bilateral trade reached US$36 billion in the financial year 2019-20. The Indian investments in the Kingdom have grown significantly, especially after the signing of Bilateral Investment Promotion Agreement (BIPA) and Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) in 2006. However, the trade surplus is in favour of Saudi Arabia and recently it has focused on exploring more fields except oil in India. During the visit of Saudi Prince to India in February 2019, the declaration of a mammoth investment of US $100 billion in the next few years in different sectors like energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining, manufacturing, education and health have paved a way for further consolidation of their mutual relations. The Ministry of Finance also signed an MoU with the Saudi Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources in February 2019 to invest in India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund Limited (NIIF). The NITI Aayog-Saudi Centre for International Strategic Partnership workshop in Riyadh on 17-18 February, 2019 identified 40 potential projects for investments. Subsequent to the Framework Agreement signed between Invest India and SAGIA in February 2019, the Invest India Team visited the Kingdom multiple times and held wide interactions with the major players in the Kingdom in diversified sectors (Embassy of India, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia).

The Middle East

After the US move of withdrawing from active role in the region the new aspirants for dominance like Iran and Saudi Arabia are looking for diversification and intensification of relations with the prospective prolific partners. PM Modi’s visits to Middle East have also given significant energy to India’s policy objectives. India is a strategic partner of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel and has a tremendous scope of playing crucial role with its highly demanded soft power resources. In the meantime the increased Chinese presence and its ambitious OBOR project have triggered a new wave of strategic thinking in the region with the debilitated US and rejuvenating Israel.

In response to abrogation of special status under article 370 by India to Jammu & Kashmir  Pakistan government had released a new political maps in September that claimed the Indian territories of Junagadh, Sir Creek, and Manavadar in Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir and a part of Ladakh.  Pakistan also proposed November 15, 2020 as the date for elections in disputed Gilgit-Baltisatn area which receives strong Indian protests. The revocation of Article 370 had the backing both of Saudi Arabia and UAE for whom India has emerged as a significant trade and strategic partner. The Saudi Arabian step of showing Kashmir as an independent state is just to disgrace the stakeholders especially Pakistan which had challenged its leadership recently over its Kashmir policy among the members of OIC. This led to the revocation of huge loans to Pakistan by Saudi government and the retaliation doesn’t end here. It also seems to be adapting to the new developments and alignments, the emergence of which takes shape in view of Turkish-Iranian dream of leading the Muslim world.

With the announcement in August of the U.S.-brokered Israel-UAE ‘normalization deal’ it appears that a new corridor of co-operation is being developed from the U.S. (and Israel), through the UAE (and Kuwait, Bahrain, and in part Saudi Arabia) through to India, as a regional counterbalance to China’s growing sphere of influence (Simson Watkins). India is likely to leave China behind as the top driver of growth in oil demand by 2024. India has also shored up its energy investments in the region. India’s ONGC Videsh has acquired a 10% stake in an offshore oil concession in Abu Dhabi, UAE, for $600 million (Economic Times).  The August deal of ‘Israel-UAE thaw’ appears to have crafted a new zone of collaboration among US, Israel, UAE, Saudi Arabia and India in order to deal with the OBOR challenge from China. In the meantime the Saudi move highlights Kashmir as a major issue yet to be settled keeping the stakeholders away and pleading for the voices looking for a space in the highly volatile region. The move may have further ramifications for the region as it might have worked on behest of a clandestine director looking for ‘another Kuwait’ and entrench a strong foothold as part of a larger geostrategic plan. After receiving Indian protests to the move it would be wise for Saudi Arabia to mend the flaw and negotiate furtherance of bilateralism.

References

BBC. “New era for Saudi-Indian ties”.  27 January 2006. Retrieved on 14 Aug. 2020.

CNN. “India, Saudi Arabia in energy deal”. 27 January 2006. Retrieved on 4 June 2020.

Economic Times. November 3, 2019.

Embassy of India, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. “India-Saudi Arabia Economic and Commercial Relations”.  Retrieved on November 10, 2020. https://www.eoiriyadh.gov.in/page/india-saudi-business-relations/.

Watkins, Simson. “Two Major Power Blocs Are Vying For Power In The Middle East.” Oilprice.com.  Retrieved on November 8, 2020. https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Two-Major-Power-Blocs-Are-Vying-For-Power-In-The-Middle-East.html

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Suez Canal: Enhancing alignment between Belt and Road and Egypt Vision 2030

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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.

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The Meeting of Sisi with Li Shi

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Image source: dailynewsegypt.com

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.

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Behind Closed Doors: The Startling Repercussion of Saudi-Israeli Alliance

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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.

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