Exploring implications of normalised Saudi-Israel Ties For The Middle East
Saudi Arabia and Israel have never had diplomatic ties. But it appears the two countries’ leaders want to explore the possibilities of normalisation and the US is actively negotiating its details.
While some experts believe normalised relations between Washington’s two top Middle Eastern allies would create a tectonic shift in the region, others argue it could come at too high a price.
American journalist Nick Schifrin, PBS NewsHour’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Correspondent, recently discussed the possible deal with a few experts. Let’s explore the highlights.
US Interested In A “More Stable Middle East
Examining the outline of the possible deal and its implications, Schifrin said it would be a grand bargain, underscoring what US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said late last month.
Sullivan said the deal would “help create a circumstance in which the countries of the region … could collaborate on everything from economics to technology to regional security.”
Continuing, the top official said: “Peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel would be a big deal,” adding the US is interested in a “more integrated, more stable Middle East”.
Schifrin, however, raised concerns over critics of the possible deal arguing the partnership could come at too high a price for not enough gain. He began the discussions with Bernard Haykel.
Deal’s Importance For Riyadh
The professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University was asked about the deal’s importance for Riyadh. He called it “extremely important”, highlighting guarantees from the US.
Earlier, Schifrin had elaborated on the broad outline, adding the US would provide Saudi Arabia security guarantees, civil nuclear technology with enrichment and advanced weapons.
And Israel would provide concessions to the Palestinians, he added. Haykel underscored these possibilities, while also adding a free trade agreement Riyadh would like to have with the US.
“I think they are interested in stability and they want to move away from the ideologies of anti-imperialism and resistance to the US and turmoil which has characterised much of the history of the modern Middle East until recently,” the professor added.
Although US Should Welcome Normalisation …
The journalist asked Dalia Dassa Kaye, a senior fellow at the UCLA Berkley Centre for International Relations, about her thoughts on the deal advancing peace in the region.
While she said “normalisation is … positive and the US should welcome it,” she raised concerns over the implications: “It will be a high price and mostly paid from Washington.”
“This defence pact … we’re talking about with the Saudis is the kind of agreement we don’t even have with Israel. We tend not to have these agreements with undemocratic partners, particularly those with erratic records, foreign interventions,” she added.