Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Turning tides in Middle-East: Normalizing ties between Saudi and Israel?

Falgs of Saudi and Israel
For decades Palestine question remained as the biggest obstacle for normalization of ties between Israel and other Arab countries. However, US invasion of Iraq and Arab spring changed the landscape set in motion a string of chaos. Autocrats were ousted, regimes collapsed and even stable countries became lawless bad lands.

Out of this two coalitions emerged, Saudi led Sunni coalition and Iran led Shia coalition. Both tried to undermine each other tried for supremacy in Middle-East. Yemen and Syria are living example of this struggle.
Syrian civil war and Iran standing at the doorstep of nuclear bomb completely changed the landscape. All of a sudden Palestine question become invisible. Even arbs stopped caring about what is going on in Palestine. Iran’s nuclear program, as well as Iranian and Hezbollah at the Syrian border, also brought two arch enemies – Saudi led GCC and Israel together.

Recently, Saudi allowed a commercial airline flight to Israel through its airspace. It is also believed that covert contacts are growing in the background.

Recently, Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman gave an interview to Jeffrey Goldberg of ‘The Atlantic’. See the answers given by MbS for three of his questions.

Goldberg: Let’s talk about the broader Middle East. Do you believe the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland?

MbS: I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation. I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land. But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations.

Goldberg: You have no religious-based objection to the existence of Israel?

MbS: We have religious concerns about the fate of the holy mosque in Jerusalem and about the rights of the Palestinian people. This is what we have. We don’t have any objection against any other people.

Goldberg: Saudi Arabia has traditionally been a place that has produced a lot of anti-Semitic propaganda. Do you think you have a problem with anti-Semitism in your country?

MbS: Our country doesn’t have a problem with Jews. Our Prophet Muhammad married a Jewish woman. Not just a friend—he married her. Our prophet, his neighbors were Jewish. You will find a lot of Jews in Saudi Arabia coming from America, coming from Europe. There are no problems between Christian and Muslims and Jews. We have problems like you would find anywhere in the world, among some people. But the normal sort of problems.

Goldberg: Do you think Iran is bringing you and Israel together? Without Iran, could you imagine a situation in which you had other interests in common with Israel?

MbS: Israel is a big economy compared to their size and it’s a growing economy, and of course there are a lot of interests we share with Israel and if there is peace, there would be a lot of interest between Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and countries like Egypt and Jordan.

Looks like Israel will no longer remain as a pariah in Middle-East. At least covertly she will reach an understanding with Arab countries.



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