Goals of Blinken’s Recent Trip to Saudi Arabia

2024/05/17 | interview, political, top news

Strategic Council Online—Interview: A researcher of Saudi affairs said that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in Riyadh recently during a regional trip and had consultations with the Riyadh officials. It seems that one of the items on the agenda between Saudi Arabia and America, in addition to the Gaza war, is the process of normalizing relations between the Israeli regime and the Arab kingdom.

Kamran Karami, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, stated: As long as the aggressive approach dominates the current government of the Israeli regime, there is no room for normalization.

What comes below is the full text of the interview:

Question: What was Blinken looking for in his recent trip to Saudi Arabia?

Blinken’s trip is considered part of the regional tour of the US Secretary of State to the Middle East region, which is trying to bring together the sometimes different views of the leading Arab actors around the main axis of the ceasefire agreement in Gaza to lay the groundwork for the other sides of the agenda of Blinken’s trip, which is the agreement. The normalization of Saudi Arabia and the Israeli regime and the future of the administration of Gaza under the formation of an independent Palestinian state should be provided. The several trips of the US Secretary of State to Arab capitals, including Riyadh, are part of this back-and-forth framework to advance the main elements of the Biden administration’s strategy for West Asia.

 

Question: In your opinion, what are the differences between the normalization process before and after October 7?

The 7th of October should be considered a new factor in explaining what is happening in the West Asia region. In other words, if before the 7th of October, the ground was apparently being prepared for the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and the Israeli regime within the framework of a security agreement between Riyadh and Washington without the urgency of forming an independent Palestinian state, after the 7th of October such a process of transformation has become a puzzle where each piece is meaningless and sterile without other pieces. The recent interview of Jake Sullivan, US National Security Advisor, stating that there is no possibility of a bilateral agreement with Riyadh without normalization and the formation of an independent Palestinian state, shows the validity of October 7 as a decisive event in the calculations of regional and transregional actors. In Riyadh’s foreign policy calculations, the formation of an independent Palestinian state while re-validating Saudi Arabia’s political position in the Arab world is seen as a strong negotiation lever to put pressure on America and the Israeli regime.

 

Question: Does the Israeli regime accept the Saudi condition?

The political, military, and security realities governing the current climate of the Israeli regime have put the prospect of normalizing relations between Riyadh and Tel Aviv further away than at any other time in recent months. As long as the aggressive approach dominates the current cabinet of the Israeli regime, there is no room for normalization, even if the Western media highlight the Saudi-American security agreement as a precondition for entering this process and talk about its progress. This precondition itself is also associated with many complications, especially in the US Senate and the strategic issue of unconditional support for Saudi Arabia, which has brought the frequent story of the costs of intervention in the Middle East to the arena of theoretical discussions in the United States. The critical issue for America is that saying yes to one Middle Eastern ally makes it harder to say no to others.

 

Question: America is looking for a tripartite agreement. What are the elements of this agreement, and how likely is it to be implemented, according to Sullivan?

The elements of this tripartite agreement are the creation of an umbrella of support by the US for Saudi Arabia in the form of a security treaty, which itself includes three sides of a bilateral security agreement, advanced weapons purchases, and a peaceful enrichment program. The second element of this equation is the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and the Israeli regime within the framework of the Abraham Accords, which was signed earlier in September 2020 between the UAE and Bahrain with the Israeli regime. The third element of this equation is how to manage the future of Gaza within the framework of the formation of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Is.

In the period after October 7, with the added value of forming an independent Palestinian state and Riyadh’s maneuver on it, other elements cannot create the desired framework without this variable. Jake Sullivan’s words that without normalizing relationships, the different pieces of the puzzle don’t make sense also point to other complexities that have made it more complex than ever to reconcile viewpoints. The fact is that without a significant change in the military and security policy of the Israeli regime, the tripartite agreement will remain just an idea.

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