Commenting on the Beijing-brokered agreement, the expert, the former head of the Gulf office at the National Security Council at the White House, says: “It does not in any way diminish Washington’s role in the region. There is no need for Tel Aviv to fear a violent reaction to normalization with Saudi Arabia.”
He explains that China is the country that “sold” Saudi Arabia and Iran “tools to fight each other and somehow emerged as a peacemaker.” Kirsten FontenroseAnd Non-resident senior fellow From the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., in 2018 Senior doctor for the Gulf in the White House National Security Council Donald Trump. Therefore, China “is the winner in this agreement” to resume diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which have been suspended since 2016. However, Riyadh and Tehran will remain rivals.
How is that?
The agreement is not a partnership but a non-aggression pact. Neither side has conceded its closure. And while this is a positive sign that they are willing to de-escalate tensions, we shouldn’t have too many expectations.
What should we expect instead?
We can expect the Saudis to be sadly disappointed. Iran has rearmed the Houthis since the ceasefire expired last fall. In this way, the Houthis can resume attacks against Saudi Arabia and Iran can claim deniability and therefore not violate the agreement.
How does this deal affect the US role in the region?
This agreement does not in any way diminish the role of the United States in the region or the importance of relations with the United States to Saudi Arabia. In fact, Iran was only willing to make this deal because it hoped to widen the gap between Riyadh and Washington and push the United States out of the Gulf, which is one of Tehran’s stated political goals. This will not happen.
And what about Israel in light of the expansion of the Abraham Accords?
There is no need for Israel to fear that this deal will reduce the chances of normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia. Two of the kingdom’s priorities are securing itself against Iranian threats and strengthening its economy. Agreements with Israel and Iran are essential to the former. But Iran cannot contribute significantly to the latter, while Israel can. Any Iranian pressure not to pursue relations with Israel will be completely ignored by the crown prince, who is focused on development goals.
Is there room for action for Europe in this context?
Europe should encourage détente. To be especially helpful, Europe could make it clear to Tehran that any attack on Saudi Arabia from Iraq or Yemen with munitions supplied or supported by Iran would be seen by Europe as a violation of the agreement.
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