See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Opinion

Saudi-Israel thaw?

Today’s Arab governments are willing to put Palestine issue on the back burner to establish ties with Israel.


Written by

Updated: April 6, 2018

IN terms of Middle East politics, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has recently made some statements that — if indicative of Riyadh’s future policy — could have a significant impact on the region.

On Monday, comments published in American magazine The Atlantic quoted the prince as accepting Israel’s right to exist, alongside a Palestinian state, while last month, speaking to The Washington Post, he appeared to admit that the Saudis were responsible for the spread of Wahhabi ideology across the Muslim world as part of the Cold War. Considering Saudi Arabia’s place in the Muslim and Arab worlds, these words coming from the man who actually runs the show in Riyadh must not be taken lightly.

Concerning the spread of Wahhabism/ Salafism as a religio-political ideology, it is good that the prince has accepted this fact. In the Postinterview, he said that the Saudis had promoted mosques and madressahs across the globe as a pushback to communism, and that Riyadh’s Western allies were on board.

This is no doubt true, as we experienced firsthand the use of religion to reverse the red tide in Afghanistan.

However, the prince indicated in the same interview that this policy of exporting a narrow brand of faith was being reviewed, which should be welcomed.

Coming to the recognition of Israel, it should be remembered that the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 — spearheaded by the Saudis — had already called for normalisation of ties with Israel if it went back to the 1967 borders and recognised the Palestinian right of return, among other things. Mohammed bin Salman’s statement, however, is most likely inspired by his extreme dislike of Iran — something he shares with Tel Aviv.

Interestingly, King Salman was swift to call for support to the Palestinians in a phone call to Donald Trump after his son’s remarks were published. While once any Arab state making peace with Israel was considered a pariah — eg Sadat’s Egypt — today’s sad reality is that Arab governments are willing to put the Palestinian issue on the back burner to establish ties with Israel.

On the domestic front, the crown prince may be blazing new trails by ensuring greater freedoms for women and a more relaxed social order. However, true reform can only take root if political freedoms and free expression are also encouraged. This is something the Saudi leadership must ponder over. Meanwhile, there is great need for caution on the external front.

The ruinous war in Yemen, which the crown prince has led, is an unmitigated human catastrophe.

Moreover, the growing warm ties with Israel and the harsh rhetoric towards Iran — the prince has placed Tehran as part of a “triangle of evil” and compared Iran’s supreme leader to Hitler — could spell the beginning of a new conflict in the region. If growth and stability are what he desires, then a new conflagration must be avoided.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Dawn
About the Author: Dawn is Pakistan's oldest and most widely read English-language newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Opinion

Report of NK’s ‘undisclosed’ missile bases not new, S. Korea says

South Korea’s presidential office on Tuesday played down a new report on North Korea’s “undisclosed” missile sites. South Korea’s government said that it’s going too far to call the North’s continued activity a “great deception” given that it has no specific agreement to dismantle or disclose the facilities mentioned in the report issued by Beyond Parallel, a group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The group said it has located 13 out of an estimated 20 missile operating bases undeclared by the secretive communist regime. “The dispersed deployment of these bases and distinctive tactics employed by ballistic missile units are combined with decades of extensive camouflage, concealment and deception practices to maximize the survival of its missile units from pre-emptive strikes and during wartime operations,” the report


By The Korea Herald
November 13, 2018

Diplomacy, Opinion

‘Forced repatriation’ to pose security risk

International crisis warns that forced repatriation of Rohingya refugees could pose serious security risks. The International Crisis Group has warned of serious security risks of “forced repatriation” of the Rohingya, just as Myanmar and Bangladesh prepare for the November 15 return of the refugees sheltered in Bangladesh. In a statement, the Brussels-based global advocacy body said Rohingyas strongly opposed the repatriation move and would do whatever they can to resist it. “This [forced repatriation] will increase tension in the camps and could lead to confrontations between refugees and Bangladesh security forces and greatly complicate humanitarian operations. “A botched repatriation attempt could potentially set back peace and development efforts by years,” said the statement released yesterday. It comes two weeks after Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin the repatriation


By Daily Star
November 13, 2018

Diplomacy, Opinion

Suu Kyi stripped of Amnesty honour

The Amnesty International has stripped Aung San Suu Kyi of its highest honour, the latest of several honours taken away from her since last year’s brutal military crackdown on the Rohingyas. This is the eighth honour that the former Nobel peace prizewinner has been stripped of over the past year, with Amnesty following the example of Canada, US Holocaust Museum, UK’s Edinburgh, Oxford, Glasgow and Newcastle and Canada’s Carleton Universities which also revoked Suu Kyi’s honorary degrees and awards. The long-celebrated Nobel Laureate was given Amnesty’s most prestigious honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2009 marking the 20th anniversary of her arrest and 20 years since it declared her a prisoner of conscience. The AI yesterday announced withdrawal of its highest honour fr


By Daily Star
November 13, 2018

Diplomacy, Opinion

Kim Jong-un’s Seoul visit unlikely this year: experts

Stalled talks between Pyongyang and Washington likely cause for deceleration of diplomacy. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to Seoul appears to be less likely to take place this year without more progress in stalled denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington, experts said Sunday. South Korea’s Moon Jae-in administration is pushing to hold the fourth inter-Korean summit between Moon and Kim in Seoul within the year, in the hope of facilitating a breakthrough in the deadlocked US-North Korea talks. One of the unexpected achievements from the third summit, which was held in September in Pyongyang, was the North Korean leader’s promise to visit Seoul within the year. President Moon said at his speech at the National Assembly earlier this month that Kim’s visit to Seoul will take place in the near future. Unification Minister Cho Myong-gyon said Friday at a parliamentary se


By Cod Satrusayang
November 12, 2018

Diplomacy, Opinion

US calls on China to remove missiles from Spratly Islands

For the first time, the United States called on China to remove missiles it deployed on three fortified outposts it built in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The United States called on China to withdraw its missile systems from disputed features in the Spratly Islands, and reaffirmed that all countries should avoid addressing disputes through coercion or intimidation,” the Department of State released in a statement on Saturday (Philippine time) after the high-level US-China diplomatic and security dialogue in Washington. Both US and China committed to supporting peace and stability in the South China Sea, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea in accordance with international law during the dialogue, it added.


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
November 12, 2018

Diplomacy, Opinion

Xi, Kissinger expound ties’ importance

President Xi Jinping met with former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday. President Xi Jinping called for coordinated efforts with the United States to promote healthy development of Sino-US ties. Xi made the remark on Thursday while meeting with former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The president’s comment comes ahead of his planned meeting with US President Donald Trump at the upcoming G20 Summit in Argentina. China and the US should exercise proper judgment toward each other’s strategic intentions, Xi said, adding that there are rising negative voices in the US toward China of late, which should be taken note of. China would like to properly improve bilateral ties through friendly coordination on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, along with the spirit of mutual


By China Daily
November 9, 2018