Opinion

Change and transformation... America and the Gulf countries

April 25, 2022
Change and transformation... America and the Gulf countries
Abdullah Bin Bjad Al-Otaibi



Change is the nature of life and people. America and its allies have changed. The imbalance between the global and regional powers provides a clarion call to the vibrant nations that they have to pursue their interests, take care of their people, and build their future.

Change and transformation are in the nature of human beings, the norm of their life, and the logic of history. A proponent of ideas, an observer of policies and a follower of events identifies major changes as well as huge regional and international transformations that have been evolving over decades.

What the world is witnessing today is baffling for those who consider changing scenarios as constant ones. On the other hand, it is exciting for those who see it as a natural movement and development worthy of monitoring and analyzing, as well as acceptable as it is precisely embodying the Kingdom’s “Vision 2030” and its support programs and the statements of its architect — the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.

This constitutes an insight into the development of identity with all its elements of Saudi Arabia, Arabism and Islam.

The divergence and convergence in policies among allies are natural, occurring along history and across geography. The relations with the United States had the characteristics of the alliance for many decades, during which major successes were recorded. The most important of these was the defeat of the Soviet Union and the fall of Communism in philosophical, religious, political, and even military conflicts whose multiple and intertwined details are easy to recall.

But change is the master of rulings, and the nature of life and human beings. The United States of America and its allies have changed, and hence there was a change in the nature of those relations. The imbalance between international and regional powers has called upon vibrant nations to see their feet in the new situation, follow their interests and goals, take care of their people and build their future.

The future is heading towards systems of regional alliances and effective and influential political and economic blocs, after some Western ideological and political systems posed a burden to the “international system” with its concepts, ideas and principles that harmed the interests of many cultures, nations, peoples and states, and drained international institutions and their credibility with regard to many crises and issues.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sought to build a balanced international approach in its relations between the West and the East, similar to but not identical to the approach of the “non-aligned countries” during the Cold War.

One of the most important differences between the two models lies in the fact that the old trend was a negative “neutral” position, while the contemporary trend is a positive and practical position that many countries of the world need and search for in order to give them a way out of the irrational and illogical pressures that America and Western countries exercise against many countries of the world without taking into account the interests and ambitions of those countries, their culture and civilization.

On the other hand, their political and intellectual priorities belong to the special Western civilizational context, and these do not constitute solutions for the issues facing all nations, states and peoples.

Since what was known as the “Arab Spring” of 2011 and after that the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, the vibrant and powerful Arab countries have discovered that America and the Western countries are not serious in their alliance with them and are contradictory in their principles.

This has developed into positions and policies that cannot be described as alliance and friendship but rather it is akin to hostility. The change in the old great allies necessitated a change as far as the countries of the region are concerned, and this explains all the attitudes and policies towards major events in the Middle East and around the world at large.

The system of international and regional powers has changed. Over the years, relations have taken on a stronger character with the emerging of two superpowers in the world — Russia and China. Israel has become a natural state in the region and an ally in the regional security system of many Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Morocco.

It is a potential ally of Saudi Arabia and a number of other Arab countries. Transforming this potential status to a fixed position depends on the evolution of the Israeli position. All this is a remarkable development that has profound and important regional and international effects.

The policies of the Iranian regime — the “Western broker” — and the silence that resembles support for its expansionist policies in the Arab countries, as well as for its ballistic missiles that strike Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and its threat to international navigation and trade routes without deterrence and without an international stance, in addition to their support to Iran’s “stabilizing chaos” in Arab countries, and insisting on “weakening” Arab countries militarily are evident. All of these were an important motive for re-arranging international relations and bringing balance in them as a purely and indispensable goal.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson mentioned candidly about this distance between allies after his recent visit to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The tense relations with the current US administration are more obvious than that was explained, and any observer and analyst can clearly monitor this. It would not have been possible to find practical solutions to the major crises in the region without strong positions and clear policies. The best example for this is the Yemeni crisis, which witnessed a real breakthrough and a rearrangement of the entire Yemeni scene that was not possible before.

The Russian-Ukrainian war is an example of how the differences between the allies come to the fore but it was not the cause for this crisis. This is an important difference. The energy prices in the world are not subject to the whims of any country in the world, even if they are great, and are not subject to blackmail or pressures by any Western or Eastern political administration, but rather it is closely linked to the interests of the producing countries in the OPEC and OPEC+. The aggrieved must reconsider and review policies, strategies and positions, and that is what began in practice and in statements and announced policies in front of the world.

In a remarkable lecture delivered at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Majlis, Dr. Anwar Gargash, diplomatic advisor to the president of the UAE, said that “Western domination of the international system is in its last days,” and that “the international system that depends on the dollar is 50, 60 or 70 years old, and therefore, change is the nature of life.” It is a talk full of realism and rationality.

Finally, conflicts of ideas affect policy conflicts, and biased and irrational policies lead to a reaction that is proportional to their size and influence, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE score victories in all these arenas.

— Abdullah Al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer. This article was originally published in Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

April 25, 2022
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