Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, officially met with leaders in Egypt, Jordan and Turkey this week. Its aim, analysts say, is to reconcile their views on security issues, such as growing concerns about Iran.
The improvement of economic cooperation and the strengthening of bilateral relations with oil-producing Saudi Arabia were also part of the visits, analysts say, as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine continue to take a heavy toll.
Bin Salman’s visits to the region this week, analysts say, indicate his desire for recognition on the world stage and an end to years of international isolation following the 2018 assassination and dismantling of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, of which the prince personally denied. involvement. US President Joe Biden described Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” when he campaigned, but the two countries are historical allies.
Jordanian analyst Amer al-Sabaileh told VOA that Russia’s war in Ukraine, while driving up oil prices and causing food shortages around the world, had opened up “changes in the rules of US administration” to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter and the Middle East’s strategic political king.
A non-resident fellow at the Washington-based Stimson Center, al-Sabaileh, said that Biden’s participation in a July 16 summit in Jeddah, which included the leaders of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states along with that of Bringing Jordan, Egypt and Iraq together gives MBS, as Bin Salman is known, is “a kind of credit” and an ability to help determine the regional agenda, especially on Iran and Israel. Saudi Arabia is one of the GCC members.
“It is clear that he wants to pave the way for his regional presence and bring this old edition of the Sunni back. [axis] “Iran is facing the danger of Iran,” al-Sabaileh said. “Then he has another important card he wants to play politically — the relationship with Israel. If you have the Emiratis and Bahrainis in the Abraham chords and you do not have Saudi Arabia, it has nothing. Without Saudi Arabia as the representative of the Sunni world, it will not function. ”
The United States mediated the Abrahamic Agreements in 2020, which normalized diplomatic and economic relations between Israel and the Gulf states of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. No country has ever been at war with Israel, other than Egypt and Jordan, which signed peace treaties with the Jewish state in 1979 and 1994.
Jordanian political commentator Osama al-Sharif told VOA that Jordan was “a little anxious about the agenda of the summit” if it meant preparing an “anti-Iranian alliance” of Sunni Muslim states, as it could undermine the country’s moderate stance. Jordan, a key U.S. ally, has also been a longtime fighter for the two-state solution to ending the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In a joint statement on Wednesday following Bin Salman’s visit with Jordan’s King Abdullah, both leaders emphasized their support for international efforts to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, as well as for Iran’s ‘destabilizing activities’ in Arab countries, such as Lebanon. Syria and Yemen, to combat.
As an oil-swing producer with money to invest, Al Sharif says Bin Salman is using Saudi funds to fund projects in Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, all of which are suffering from severe economic downturns due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
“Economically, Saudi Arabia is a very important supporter of Jordan, the largest investor with about $ 10- to $ 13 billion in investments in the country,” al-Sharif said. A $ 3 billion fund has been very active in signing MOUs [memoranda of understanding] regarding investment in Jordan’s railway system, in new ventures, in new ventures. In Cairo, they sign agreements [worth] $ 7.7 billion. ”
Saudi Arabia and Turkey sign agreements on energy, security and economy, including a plan for Saudi funds to enter capital markets in Turkey, according to Reuters. Turkey is experiencing its worst economic crisis in two decades.
Some analysts believe that Washington could encourage Arab states to take a greater role in defending themselves and working in coordination with Israel to combat the ongoing threats posed by Iran. But Khaled Shneikat, head of the Jordanian Political Science Society, told the online publication Middle East Eye that it was likely that “regional countries will request a greater security role for the US” at the summit.
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