US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke at a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh during a multi-day trip to Saudi Arabia this week, emphasizing the US’s commitment to the region, with particular focus on potential Israel normalization.
The US’s top diplomat said that “the United States is in this region to stay, and we remain deeply invested in partnering with all of you to build the brightest and strongest possible future for the Middle East. And indeed, the GCC is at the core of our vision for a Middle East that is more stable, more secure, more prosperous, more integrated.”
Blinken touched on several important issues such as peace in Yemen, saying that the US will continue to “counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior, including its nuclear escalation and recent seizures of oil tankers in international waters.”
The Middle East is a priority for the US
He also discussed combating terror threats and Syria, which has just been welcomed back into the Arab league. The US, though, wants UN Security Council Resolution 2254 upheld. It calls for an end to the situation in Syria after years of conflict. The US also has forces in Eastern Syria.
"We’re also collaborating with countries in the region to widen and deepen the normalization of relations with Israel.”- Antony Blinken
Blinken added that the US remains committed to lowering Israeli-Palestinian tensions, maintaining a horizon of hope, “and working toward a two-state solution. And we’re also collaborating with countries in the region to widen and deepen the normalization of relations with Israel.” This is a noteworthy comment that shows how normalization and ties with Israel are high on the agenda and openly talked about, as opposed to being whispered about quietly behind the scenes.
Blinken touched on other issues as well, like climate issues and green tech: “As we transition to this greener future, it’s important that we build out existing energy infrastructure as well, and we applaud the remarkable strides that you’ve made linking GCC power grids to Iraq, as one example.”
In another meeting, which Al-Arabiya highlighted, Saudi Arabia said it will continue to work to prevent the resurgence of ISIS, according to the Kingdom’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan. This came during a meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS on Thursday: “The Kingdom believes in the need to confront terrorism and extremist ideology, he said, adding that it is necessary to dry up the sources of financing for ISIS.”
According to the report, “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken ahead of the ministerial meeting, and the two vowed to work together to advance stability, security, and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond, the State Department said late Tuesday.” Blinken met with bin Farhan on Wednesday.
Big moves taking place in the Gulf
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued a royal decree to establish a new institute for the Global Cybersecurity Forum (GCF) in Riyadh, state news agency SPA reported according to Arab News.
All these events are taking place as other parts of the Gulf continue to shift and move. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued a royal decree to establish a new institute for the Global Cybersecurity Forum (GCF) in Riyadh, state news agency SPA reported, according to Arab News, an institute that aims to “harness the potential of cyberspace and support efforts to boost cyber safety on a global scale... the institute will tackle the most challenging cybersecurity issues facing governments, businesses, and individuals. It will be a catalyst for the exchange of ideas, driving thought leadership and developing research to inform policy solutions and action.”
Bin Farhan will open the 10th Arab-China Business Conference in Riyadh on Sunday, which is significant because the DMCC in Dubai, which calls itself the world’s flagship free zone and Government of Dubai Authority on commodities trade and enterprise, said it “signed an agreement with the Administrative Committee of Beijing Daxing International Airport Economic Zone (BDIAEZ) that will see the two entities work together to establish a cooperation mechanism in order to achieve greater strategic collaboration on bilateral projects and trade.”
Ahmad Hamza, Executive Director, atthe Free Zone, DMCC, said that “the economic ties between UAE and China continue to strengthen and grow rapidly, which reflects the impact we can have when we work together with trade partners towards mutually beneficial outcomes. This strategic agreement with BDIAEZ builds on this since it will further boost collaboration between Dubai and Beijing and promote new opportunities for businesses looking to expand and access new markets.”
Youguo Wang, Secretary of the Beijing Daxing District Committee of the Communist Party of China, and Secretary of the CPC Work Committee of BDIAEZ (Daxing), praised the partnership as well.
Taken together, the US visit and the upcoming China business conference, as well as other moves in the region to fight terrorism, show how the Gulf is playing a key role in the region’s affairs. Israel, which has ties to Bahrain and the UAE, is a part of this.