Saudi-Israel Normalisation, A Gift To Iran

21 November 2017

Saudi Arabia is on the verge of establishing official and overt diplomatic, security, and economic relations with Israel. This is sooner than we expected.

The ruling clique in Saudi Arabia, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has made the decision. This group no longer cares about any of the have history that has prevented many Arab countries from having official relations with Israel.

The Kingdom is heading in this direction without shame. From the perspective of the general Arab public, normalisation of relations with Israel is no longer a disgrace or taboo.

A prevalent belief amongst the ruling clique is that the Palestinian cause is no longer their central concern. Rather, they are preoccupied with their various domestic issues. Before the Saudi’s finalise this move, it is likely that they will find a way to blame the Palestinians themselves. They will assert that the Palestinians themselves sold out their cause and surrendered to their fate. They will point to officials who have put the pursuit of a ‘solution’ above the national project.

Furthermore Saudi’s de facto ruler, Mohammad Bin Salman knows that he needs American support to fulfill his ambitious domestic programme and that, for now, the road to Washington runs through Tel Aviv.

Other Arab states have, of course, already normalised relations with Israel. However, the dilemma for Saudi Arabia is different. For Saudi Arabia the project is not based on a clear strategic plan, but rather, is born out of the poverty of alternatives. In other words, this project has been pushed onto Saudi Arabia by its repeated defeats and disappointments in regional politics and by its failure to deal adequately with Iran.

The risks are high; Saudi officials see themselves as leaders speaking on behalf of hundreds of millions of Sunni Muslims and Arabs. They should not take this position for granted as they have done recently on more than one occasion. When the Saudi leaders behave with such arrogance, they take advantage of the respect many Muslims hold for Saudi Arabia as it is land where Islam began and has the two holy mosques.

The first signs of this shift emanate from leaks that suggest the PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, was summoned to Riyadh two weeks ago to be told, once again, that he must agree to Trump’s plan to resolve the conflict with the Israelis without any discussions. Under these circumstances, Abbas deserves sympathy because he cannot say ‘no’, while his consent will not make a difference on the ground.

This approach can only reassure the Israelis, though it may be seen as a pyrrhic victory, as it will not change the minds of ordinary people. (Egypt normalised relations 40 years ago, but only on an official level, as the public rejection of Israel has not changed. The same goes for Jordan, which normalised relations 25 years ago).

But the most likely outcome of this is that it will, ironically, bolster Iran. This will be because, at the height of the horrendous sectarian conflict in the region, the normalisation of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel “in the name of the Sunni Muslims” help create the image that Sunni Muslims have given up on Palestine. While on the other hand there are the steadfast Shia Muslims who have made sacrifices for the sake of their sanctities.

This would be a most precious gift to Iran and another demonstration of Saudi Arabia’s clumsiness.

This article first appeared in Arabic on Al-Quds Al-Arabi on 21 November 2017


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Author

Dursun Yıldız

DURSUN YILDIZ
Civil Engineer
Hydro Politics Expert

He was born in Samsun in 1958. He was graduated from İstanbul Technical University Civil Engineering Faculty in 1981. After completing his military service in 1983 he began to work in State Hydraulic Works Technical Research and Quality Control Department. While working here he participated graduate professional education and investigation programs in Holland and USA Bureu of Reclamation and US Army Corps of Engineers.

In 1998 he participated first “EU Master Education” program and later “International Affairs Proficiency” program in Ankara University European Union Research and Application Center. In 2000 he completed his MS thesis in the topic of water politics in Hacettepe University Hydropolitics and Strategy Research Center. He worked for five years as the section head and for following 10 years as department deputy head in State Hydraulic Works Technical Research and Quality Control Department. During this period he published more than 100 technical and scientific reports and papers. Then he worked as the department deputy head in State Hydraulic Works Domestic Water Supply Department and worked at the Planning and Investigation Department of the same institution and retired in 2007.

Dursun YILDIZ while working in State Hydraulic Works he lectured in the topics of water works in Gazi University Engineering and Architectural Faculty, Civil Engineering Department and water resources and hydropolitics in Hacettepe University, Hydropolitics and Strategy Research Center.

Dursun YILDIZ worked also as a executive committee member , Vice President in Turkish Chamber of Civil Engineers and Vice President of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects . He worked in execution committee of “Water Politics Congress” held by the Civil Engineers Chamber in several times.

Dursun YILDIZ, experienced in water management, water development ,hydraulic research and consultancy for 30 years, wrote 15 books (Water Report,Water Problems in the Mediterranean Basin and Turkey,Strategical İmportance and Water Related İssues in Eastern Meditterranean Water Security 2050, etc.) and besides published several papers and technical reports in the topics of water engineering,water development,hydraulic research and hydro-politics in national and international periodicals.
He has awarded Successful Water Resarcher Prize of Year of 2008 by Agriculturers Associations of Türkiye .He was also awarded continuously success on water research prize of 2016 by Central Union of Irrigation Cooperatives of Turkey.

He is a member of Scientific Committee of Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion (TEMA). He is now the director of an NGO called Hydropolitics Association, and runs a company, Ada Hydro-Energy, Strategy & Engineering Consultancy Co.
He is head of Ada Hydro-Energy , Strategy & Engineering Consultancy Co. Since 2007.He is president of Hydropolitics Association.