Referring to the Saudi Foreign Minister’s remarks that normalization of relations with Israel will finally take place, Dr. Hussein Ebrahimnia, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, further remarked: The international world today is standing at a point where past meanings of relations between players, either governmental or non-governmental, is changing and
The security conundrum that has always plagued its actors in the Middle East is changing in nature from Arab-Hebrew conflict into other conflicts such as Arab-Turkish, Arab-Iranian, and so on.
Reasons for Saudi-Zionist Regime Closeness
Saying that the complexities that have been formed, especially since 2011 onward, have changed the behaviour of governments towards taking multicentric nature, he referred to three interrelated factors as the main cause for the establishment of political and security relations between Saudi Arabia and the Zionist regime and its acceleration in the past year. Further commenting over the factors, he said: The first is the issue of Iran and concentration on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which has resulted in not only not reducing the extent of tensions but also widening its scope every day.
The expert on the Middle East and North Africa Affairs cited the US presidential elections and the possibility of the victory of the Democratic Party’s candidate as another factor in the closeness of Saudi Arabia and Israel and said: Saudi Arabia and the Zionist regime both believe that with the Democratic Party gaining power, like the Obama’s presidency, the Middle East will be excluded from the priority list of that diplomatic apparatus of that country. Therefore, they are trying to upgrade their relationship before the Republicans leave the White House in order to form a kind of coalition in the face of future issues.
Ebrahimnia continued: The third issue is the Erdogan’s Neo-Ottomanism in Turkey, which has taken a rapid turn, especially in the Mediterranean area, an issue that Saudi Arabia is not pleased with particularly with regard to its futuristic development plans and has caused it to approach the Zionist regime.
He added: The multiplicity of variables has turned into a context in which political processes are intertwined across geographical borders and its multifunctional nature affects the decisions of the players in the field of foreign policy and since in foreign policy discourse is primarily protecting national interests and Saudi Arabia has defined its future in promoting cross-border communications and role-playing of a decentralized network characterized by the patterns of voluntary, reciprocal exchange and diverse and complex nature of global communications; therefore, it sees it the necessity of today to take the level of its relations with the Zionist regime out of the passive level and promote it to the active level up to the border of the coalition in future.
Regarding Saudi Arabia’s possible ideas in this regard, the university professor said: For the past five years Saudi Arabia has been trying to demonstrate a new image of itself; therefore, by proposing forward-looking projects such as the 10-Fold Development Plans, the Neom Plan, the Vision 2030 Program, and the Oxis Saudi Agri Hub project (turning desert lands into hydroponic agriculture), and so on, is looking for other opportunities to exploit its capacities.
Ebrahimnia emphasized: In fact, in order to realize its ideas, Saudi Arabia needs to improve the level of its regional interactions, especially in the face of the Iranian and Turkish axes as the rival; therefore, the transitional Saudi Arabia has now defined a multifaceted position for its centre of power in the field of foreign policy in order to achieve its forward-looking targets by shaping each of the political, economic, cultural and military sides.
Saudi Efforts to Distance Politics, Economy and Culture from Islam
He continued: Saudi Arabia is trying to implement its most important idea in this regard, move each side away from Islamism as much as possible and define centrality and priority beyond issues of the Islamic world. However, this country is taking very conservative steps in implementing the said ideas and this has been an inherent feature of its diplomatic apparatus from the beginning.
Consequences of Saudi Measures and Possible Establishment of Relations with Zionist Regime
Commenting on the consequences of Saudi Arabia’s measure, the Middle East and North Africa analyst said: Certainly, the path of normalization and reaching an agreement with the Zionist regime will not be easy for this country, as its inherent and religious center of gravity in the world of Islam will expose it to extremist attacks by the Sunni extremists all over the world as well as the Shiite groups. But, apart from these attacks in the short run, in the long run, it divides the Islamic world into three fronts.
Ebrahimnia explained: The first front agrees with the Saudi measure, which will include countries that reach an agreement with the Zionist regime and some passive countries in the Islamic world. The second front will be led by Erdogan’s Turkey, who will lack sufficient cohesion to confront Saudi Arabia, and the third front will be Iran, as the inherent centre of Shiite Islam, and the only opposition and cohesive front in this direction.
The university professor continued by saying: Therefore, the division of the Islamic world into three fronts will definitely have a negative impact in future not only on Saudi Arabia and the region; but will also create complex conditions in the region that will add to the inherent ambiguities of the Middle East region, will alter the level of its coercive competition and its forms, and some issues among these three fronts will take vital and ideological importance and the game enhances with the sum of zero.
He also referred to the remarks of Saudi officials regarding the need for realization of lasting peace and stability in the Palestinian issue and helping it by establishing relations with Israel, saying: The Saudis, although performing very cautiously in foreign policy and the Palestinian cause, always make this argument that an agreement with the Zionist regime will cause the issue to move towards peace and stability as they believe that from Israel’s point of view, establishing relations with Saudi Arabia will mean normalizing their relations with the Islamic world and the region.
Ebrahimnia added: The Saudis see themselves in a high position in this regard, Israel should also give them the desired concession in the issue of Palestine; accordingly, the Saudis have suggested that Israel have no problem choosing a new leader for Palestine in order to be able to make decisive decisions.
Saudis Pursuing National Interests without Looking for a Solution to Palestinian Issue
stressing that they were trying to legitimize the Saudi-Israeli trend in this way: he said: The basis for their argument is that just as the Arafat leadership legitimized the Oslo Accords and the negotiation process led to the formation of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza, they want to legitimize the agreement in this way. In fact, the Saudis independent of resolving the Palestinian issue, are pursuing their own national interests and are only taking advantage of the issue to show that this is not a sign of their weakness, but a sign of their strength.
Ebrahimnia said: They claim to have achieved concessions for the Palestinians, concessions that may never be realized in practice, therefore, it will certainly not lead to lasting peace because the Palestinians who are the main topic of discussion have been simply turned into a scoring ground for other players and their issue has been ignored.