Voices from the Arab Press: Courting Israel will not bring stability to Saudi Arabia

A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world.

IRANIAN SUPREME Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran on June 4, 2017 (photo credit: REUTERS)
IRANIAN SUPREME Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran on June 4, 2017
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al Sharq, Qatar, May 4
What we are currently witnessing in the Arab Gulf in general, and in Saudi Arabia in particular, is a very alarming phenomenon: more and more members of the House of Saud are wooing Israel, viewing their improved relationship with Tel Aviv as a gateway to better ties with the United States.
There have already been countless reports of secret visits of Saudi representatives to Tel Aviv, including acting military generals and security officials. More recently, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman met with Zionist representatives in the United States and publicly stated that the Palestinian issue is no longer a “top priority” for the Kingdom.
This is a major departure from Riyadh’s historical stance on Palestine. When King Abdulaziz Al-Saud founded Saudi Arabia, he made sure not to compromise the Palestinian struggle for liberation. In his negotiations with world leaders, including then-British prime minister Winston Churchill and former US president Franklin Roosevelt, Ibn Saud stood on guard for his Palestinian brethren and refused to relinquish his commitment to them even at the cost of losing British-American support for his country.
Likewise, King Salman, the current monarch, has remained steadfast in his support of Palestine. Even before his accession to the throne, he convened international summits aimed at protecting Palestinian rights and raised millions of dollars in donations for the Palestinian government.
The recent statements we’ve been hearing from younger generations of the royal family are thus very concerning. Israel, as we all remember, turned down every single Saudi proposal for peace, including the Arab Peace Initiative presented at a 2002 summit in Beirut. It has continuously encroached on the rights of the Palestinian people and continued with its aggressive policy of land grabs, including in the holy city of Jerusalem.
Although there is a conception that an alignment with Israel could bring American support and, thus, stability to Saudi Arabia, this is nothing but a fantasy. A regime’s only source of legitimacy comes from the people it serves, and, in turn, their support for their rulers. Legitimacy cannot be forced from without, even by a major superpower such as the United States.
The Saudi people are not foolish. The rapprochement we are witnessing with Israel could truly undermine the stability of the Saudi regime.
– Muhammad Saleh al-Masfar
Al-Arab, London, May 1
As President Trump continues to threaten to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal, there are growing fears in the region of an impending war between Israel and Iran. The recent attack carried out by the US, the United Kingdom and France against Syrian targets on April 13, despite Russian warnings against such a move, has certainly stirred the pot and left us with even more uncertainties.
Moscow already expressed its willingness to provide the Syrian regime with advanced S-300 surface-to-air missiles in response to what the Kremlin described as “American aggression.” The transfer of such weapon systems could bring an end to Israeli freedom of action in Syrian airspace, thereby triggering an Israeli response. Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, have already warned that any defiance of Israel’s air supremacy would result in a pinpointed military attack against the source of this threat. This could lead to a direct confrontation between Israel and Russia or, perhaps, Israel and Iran in Syria’s skies.
The Iranians also have not forgotten the Tiyas military base attack, carried out by the Israel Air Force on April 9, which resulted in the deaths of 14 Iranian soldiers and the destruction of the airfield. The strike deeply humiliated the regime in Tehran, which is now keen to restore its pride by retaliating against Israel.
When will this strike come? Will it take the form of a missile salvo against Israeli targets, or an indirect attack on Israeli assets abroad? While the answer is unclear, the Israeli military has already started drafting reserve forces and units have been mobilized to the country’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon.
Finally, there is Saudi Arabia, which seems aligned with Israel against Iran. If such a military buildup like the one I have described does, indeed, take place, it is likely that Riyadh would also begin preparing for war, readying its army and deploying advanced weapon systems. This, in turn, will push Tehran further into a corner.
Under such conditions, even a simple act could trigger a full-fledged war. This is the time to be careful and thoughtful, not rash and brazen.
– Hasan Barari
Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, May 2
The first Palestinian refugees who fled Palestine in 1948 took their keys with them, thinking that they would return to their homes within a matter of days or a few weeks. The Arab army fought a war against the Zionist occupier, believing that Palestinian lands would be returned to their lawful owners.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian refugees formed small camps, taking shelter in tents. These tents later grew into tin shacks, which, with time, turned into make-shift homes. All throughout the Middle East, Palestinian refugee camps began appearing, a testament to the catastrophe of the Palestinian people.
Years went by and a new generation of Palestinians emerged. For them, the focus was no longer 1948. Younger Palestinians came of age with empty promises of statehood based on the 1967 borders. International mediators vowed to promote the Palestinian cause, even as they buried the prospects of Palestinian sovereignty deeper and deeper in the ground. Palestinian youth became disillusioned. Many abandoned their quest for freedom. Others lost hope for a better future.
It is precisely for this reason that the March of Return, now entering its sixth week, symbolizes an important moment in Palestinian history. It is a movement by reinvigorated Palestinians who have had enough empty promises. Standing proudly and bravely against the Occupation Forces, these young people unapologetically demand a return to their lands; the very same lands that their grandparents were forcibly expelled and displaced from.
In this regard, the March of Return symbolizes the coming together of all Palestinian people around one national cause. The March of Return reminds us that the Palestinian struggle is no longer a struggle against the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but against the occupation of the entire Palestinian homeland. It is a reminder to all of us that we must not abandon our younger generation.
The sole culprit of the Palestinian catastrophe is the Zionist entity, which bears responsibility for the human rights abuses we witness in Palestine each and every day. This is what those marching along the Gaza border are opposing. Their movement symbolizes a new Palestinian generation that is unwilling to abandon its national struggle.
Two generations have passed since 1948, but the Palestinian people are still fighting. Despite being ridiculed and scorned, they are generating real fear among the Zionist authorities, who are trying to crush these demonstrations in every possible way.
– Jamal Ali
Asharq al-Awsat, London, May 1
The delicate relationship between Iran and the rest of the world has once again been shaken in recent weeks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who took to the stage and revealed thousands of secret documents seized by his country’s intelligence services from an Iranian nuclear facility.
The documents presented by the Israeli premier pointed to an unequivocal Iranian attempt to develop nuclear weapons and included irrefutable diagrams of nuclear warheads and weapon delivery systems designed by Iran for future use. Accordingly, Netanyahu’s evidence could spell the end of the nuclear deal, as it reveals Tehran’s consistent violation of the conditions laid out in the accord, which prohibits the development of nuclear technology for military purposes.
The burden now falls on the Iranian regime, which must explain whether Netanyahu’s documents are authentic or not. Iran has a dubious track record of lies and deceit so it will not surprise any of us to discover that the Israeli documents are genuine. Indeed, it seems as though Iran continued operating a secret nuclear program at undisclosed locations, while claiming it ceased all uranium enrichment activity at IAEA–monitored sites.
There is also something to be said about the responsibility of European nations, which must ensure that the deal they signed is respected. European powers, primarily signatories of the nuclear deal such as France and Germany, ought to conduct conclusive investigations into whether the Iranian regime violated the terms of the agreement and, if so, how. Although these countries will likely resort to issuing ambiguous statements, claiming that the evidence is “inconclusive,” it is clear that monitoring Iran via surprise inspections and the use of surveillance cameras is insufficient.
Overall, Tehran must come clean or publicly refute the assertions made by the Israeli premier. Only then can it claim to be a trustworthy player that can be respected and defended. If it fails to do so, the deal that it signed with the P5+1 is as useless as the paper on which it was written. We can no longer tolerate lies and deception.
– Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed