Impact of Gaza War on Israeli-Saudi Relations
Impact of Gaza War on Truce in Yemen
Peace between Yemen and Saudi Arabia
Israel’s dreams of diplomatic recognition from Saudi Arabia may remain just that – dreams – for now. The Saudi monarchy under Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman is putting the plans – that had the blessing of Washington DC – “on ice”.1 This signals a rapid rethink by Riyadh of its foreign policy priorities as war escalates between Israel and the Palestinian resistance group Hamas.2 This is according to two unknown sources in contact with Reuters, familiar with the current Saudi administration’s thinking.3 The conflict has also pushed the Kingdom to further embrace its erstwhile foe Iran.4 Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman also known as MBS took his first phone call from Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi since the war began as the Saudis try to prevent a broader surge of violence in the region.5 (Al Jazeera)
The two sources informed Reuters there would be a delay in the US-backed talks on normalization which was a key step for Riyadh to secure what the Saudis considers the real prize of a US defence pact in exchange.6 Until Iran-backed Hamas sparked a war on October 7 by launching a devastating attack on the Zionist regime, both the Israeli and Saudi leaderships had stated that they were progressing steadily toward relations that could have reshaped the political landscape of the Middle East known for its unpredictable and chaotic nature.7 The Saudi Kingdom known as the birth place of Islam and home to its two holy sites, had until the latest conflict indicated it would not allow its pursuit of a US defence pact to be derailed even if Tel Aviv did not offer significant concessions to the Palestinian people in their demands for statehood, sources have already said.8 (Al Jazeera)
Saudi Arabia is looking to save face after having flirted with the radical, right-wing Zionist administration of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, which launched the onslaught on Gaza. The Kingdom under MBS is looking to save face after Netanyahu expressed his willingness to have diplomatic ties with Riyadh at the United Nations General Assembly in September without recognizing an independent Palestinian state. Now the Saudi monarchy is moving closer to the Iranian sphere of influence at least for now. Tehran has long been opposed to the Zionist occupation and both Iran and Saudi Arabia are set to join the BRICS Bloc next year. The Saudi monarchy has long been pulled into the sphere of influence of China and Russia. Both Beijing and Moscow are close allies of Iran. Riyadh’s main goal in forging new relations is to affect a transition away from its oil exports dependent economy.
The other major head ache for the Saudi monarchy is the war its Crown Prince is waging in Yemen and the uneasy truce there could be impacted by the war in Gaza.
The parties involved have yet to reach an agreement on a lasting peace.9 But progress towards an agreement was made on several fronts in Riyadh.10 These include the Ziyadi Shi’ite Ansarullah or Houthis group’s priorities such as the withdrawal of foreign troops and the payment of public sector wages from oil revenues.11 The Yemeni group also demanded the full reopening of ports it controls and the airport of Sana’a.12 Further consultations between the parties are expected.13 Negotiations with the Houthis are critical to the Saudis for two main reasons:14 First MBS is attempting to position his nation as a peace broker in Yemen rather than a belligerent.15 Peace could offer Saudi Arabia economic opportunities in Yemen.16 It would also ease tensions with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which had given support to different Yemeni factions.17 An Omani- initiated peace deal may also have the benefit of providing the Saudi government with more impunity for its actions during the war than a UN-mediated process.18 (Amwaj. media)
Second of all, forging peace in Yemen adds to MBS’ power projection in the unstable region. This approach prioritizes economic interests, as seen in the Saudi Monarchy’s accession to BRICS.19 It has also led a reconciliation of sorts with previous rivals Qatar, Türkiye and Iran.20 A reconciliation with the Houthis is next on the table.21 (Amwaj. media)
Bin Salman’s main priority for the Kingdom, in moving forward with these reconciliations is to secure stability so he can concentrate on mega projects on the home soil. Such as NEOM, a special economic region that consists of a linear city known as the Line, A ski resort and sports park known as Trojena and a state-of-the-art floating sea port known as Oxagon, etc. However, to do this MBS needs to end the quagmire that he and then UAE Abu Dhabi Crown Prince now Emir, Sheikh Muhammad Bin Zayed started in Yemen. The Yemeni people have suffered just as much as the Palestinians in Gaza. The reconciliation between the Saudis and the Emiratis on the one hand and the Houthi forces on the other would not have happened with out the reconciliation between the Iranians and the Saudis.
For now, with the war in Gaza it will prove to be an added head ache for MBS and his inner circle as well as for any hope of a permanent peace in Yemen. The same is true of other stable regimes in the region, including Oman which had the most to gain from a peace agreement between the Houthis, the legitimate Yemeni government and the Saudis. A peace with the Houthis would have given the Saudis safe passage through the straits of Hormuz for their oil, while Oman and the Kingdom gains a stable Western neighbour and border. The Houthis for their part receive petrol and food aide. So, there will be more focus for peace in Yemen rather than recognition for Israel which doesn’t sound like a bad thing.