Iran+Saudi Arabia+China Deal: Game Changer?

March 11, 2023

Front-coverGame Changer? Iran and Saudi Arabia’s breakthrough decision on 10th March 2023 – facilitated by China – may deeply polarize  the geopolitics. It seems that the world is divided into liberal democracies with Western values including North America, Israel and most parts of Europe and the rest of the world with more or less authoritarian regimes and huge raw material and energy resources. 

Economic blocks will have their effect also on security politics and ongoing conflicts.  Seems that Saudi Arabia and Iran are getting closer BRICS. BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa – are among the world’s ten largest countries by population, area, and GDP, and the latter three are widely considered to be current or emerging superpowers. Turkey and Pakistan may be the next big candidates.  This huge economic cooperation might challenge the sc Petrodollar which is preeminent global currency for global investments.  Petrodollars are crude oil export revenues denominated in U.S. dollars. Last century Saudi Arabia agreed to settle oil transactions in dollars, which helped the dollar become the global reserve currency. The value of the dollar was greatly increased and Americans have enjoyed the benefits of Saudi help. Now World leading oil exporters (Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran) are on the same side so Petroyuan might be coming.

In 2021, regional archrivals Saudi Arabia and Iran met more times than in the previous five years altogether. The four meetings in Baghdad, and one on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, indicate continuity in the warming of bilateral relations that had been frozen since 2016. Back then, protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in the Islamic republic following Riyadh’s execution of the Shiite Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

After 2016 the Sunni Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Shiite-majority Islamic Republic of Iran had been on opposite sides e.g. with regional conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.  During the last years Saudi Arabia and Israel have tried to create a regional alliance against Tehran as Iran has been main threat against Israel via its nuclear program and proxy wars via Hizbollah and Hamas i.a.

Saudi Arabia’s concern has increased because of the growing shadow of Iran’s progress in its nuclear program and the lowering of the U.S. posture in the region, exemplified by the recent removal of Patriot missiles and THAAD air-defense systems from Saudi Arabia, the possibility of a U.S.-Iran mutual return to a renewed JCPOA, and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. To express its growing dissatisfaction with U.S. Middle East policy, Saudi Arabia signed a military agreement with Russia in August 2021

The deal might end the wars in Yemen, Syria and the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.  However Israel is very concerned about the situation.  

Former prime minister Naftali Bennett on Friday 10th harshly criticized the restoration of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, saying it represented the failure of Israeli efforts to create a regional alliance against Tehran and laying the blame squarely on the Netanyahu government. “The restoration of relations between the Saudis and Iran is a serious and dangerous development for Israel that represents an Iranian diplomatic victory. It represents a critical blow to efforts to build a regional coalition against Iran.” 

Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid also slammed  the agreement calling it “a collapse of our regional defensive walls that we had been building against Iran.”

The deal via China demonstrates that U.S.’s influence and credibility in that region has diminished and that there is a new sort of international regional alignment taking place, which has empowered and given both Russia and China newfound influence and status.

Sources i.a: Joint Trilateral Statement by the People’s Republic of China, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Islamic Republic of Iran 

INSS Strategic Analysis for Israel 2023

March 8, 2023

The Institute for National Security Studies launches and engages in innovative, relevant, high-quality research that shapes the public discourse of issues on Israel’s national security agenda, and provides policy analysis and recommendations to decision makers, public leaders, and the strategic community, both in Israel and abroad. As part of its mission, it is committed to encourage new ways of thinking and expand the traditional contours of establishment analysis.

In a reaction to the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Tel Aviv University decided to establish a Center for Security Studies. A number of individuals within and outside the University community posited that one possible reason for Israel’s having been caught by surprise on October 6, 1973 was that no institution outside the Israeli establishment had assumed the responsibility of evaluating the premises on which government policy was based – premises that also guided the planning and conduct of Israel’s defense establishment. Had such a research institute existed, it might have questioned the assumptions leading to the intelligence assessment that war was unlikely.

Now INSS has published its newest Strategic Analysis for Israel 2023 .

According INSS,as we look back at 2022 we can clearly discern the acceleration of key global and internal trends that pose serious challenges to Israel’s national security and call for a revision of existing policies. Among those processes that took a sharp turn, three stand out: 

  • The heightened competition between China and the United States, which has turned into an overt conflict between the two great powers, thus becoming the key factor shaping the global geopolitical arena. 
  • Russia’s belligerence toward Ukraine, which has simmered since Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, turned into a full-scale war a year ago, and upended in one stroke the Pax Europaea that had reigned in the continent since the end of World War II. 
  • Iran’s relentless pursuit of military nuclear capabilities, which advanced to the point of Iran becoming a de facto nuclear threshold state, without the restraints of the JCPOA agreement, and without a credible military deterrent from the United States.

The main conclusions that arise from our Strategic Analysis for Israel 2023 are:

  • The criticality of maintaining and strengthening relations with the United States as an overall organizing principle in shaping Israel’s foreign and security policy, particularly with regard to the Iranian threat. 
  • The imperative to recognize the dangerous consequences of divisive trends within Israel and the trends vis-à-vis the Palestinians, and hence the urgent need to seek novel strategies. 

As the whole assessment includes 96 pages here below are only abstracts/infographics from main chapters:

Source: INSS

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