The reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia is likely to benefit Arab countries like Yemen, Syria and Lebanon, but “spells disaster” for ‘Israel’, The Guardian reported on Monday.
In an article published on Monday, diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour wonder whether “these winds of change could spread through the Middle East, unlocking conflicts in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and even Israel, all of which have been aggravated or even sustained by the Saudi-Iranian rivalry.”
As he sought answers for his questions, the writer quoted several analysts as talking about the ramifications of the China-brokered deal, which was announced last March in Beijing and followed by a meeting with Iranian FM Hossein Amir Abdollahian and his Saudi counterpart Faissal Bin Farhan in the Chinese capital last April.
Cinzia Bianco, a research fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the deal “was genuine but very fragile.”
“There are a few critical points, such as a potential new Republican president in the US, or an Israeli attack in Iran … Both sides are still looking at potential insurance policies.”
Wintour cited an Arab diplomat in London, who likened the process to the construction of a ground floor on which other countries could build, suggesting that the ramifications for the region could eventually be momentous.
A deal could confirm Washington’s declining influence in the Middle East, weaken ‘Israel’, restore Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, to the Arab fold, provide Saudi Arabia with a new long-term carbon market in China and start to end Iran’s economic isolation, the diplomat said, according to the article.
Saudi Done with “World’s ATM” Image
Wintour commented on remarks by Ayham Kamel, the head of Middle East research for the Eurasia Group, who suspected that Iran-Gulf relations are going to be taken out of an era of confrontation to a more natural one. The Guardian’s diplomatic editor said Riyadh “has not felt secure in its relationship with Washington for at least a decade,” adding that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “wanted to get himself out of the line of fire, fearing Saudi Arabia would be Tehran’s bullseye in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.”
“Saudi is done with that image as the world ATM. They are no longer a world cash cow,” the writer quoted Farea Al-Muslimi, a Middle East fellow at Chatham House, as saying.
Yemen, Syria, Lebanon
Wintour said that one potential chance for progress is in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world.
“Iran has armed the Houthi rebels fighting a Saudi-led coalition but now seems to be supportive of peace efforts,” the diplomatic editor wrote.
He noted, meanwhile, that Saudi Arabia appears prepared to normalize relations with Syria’s Assad.
“Assad has been treated as a pariah for 12 years, but on Sunday his country was readmitted to the Arab League. Riyadh contends that normalization may lead to a strengthening of Syrian institutions, and offers the most realistic way to regain influence and control cross-border drug networks, Wintour wrote.
A third country likely to benefit from an end to Saudi-Iranian rivalry would be Lebanon, the writer added.
Iran-Saudi Deal in Israeli Eyes
On the other hand, Wintour said that for the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, “all this potentially spells disaster.”
“He thought the Abraham accords engineered by the Trump administration would normalize relations with Saudi Arabia, but instead Riyadh is normalizing relations with Israel’s enemies – Iran, Syria and even Hamas.”
“Two years ago, Saudi Arabia might have agreed with that assessment, but it seems to have decided that cooperation, not Israel’s brand of confrontation, is the path ahead,” Wintour concluded his article.
Source: The Guardian (edited by Al-Manar English Website)