King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud said that he condemned US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights. According to Reuters, the King made this statement while addressing participants of the Arab League Summit in Tunisia. In his speech, King Salman said “We reaffirm our absolute rejection of any measures that encroach upon Syrian sovereignty over the Golan, and we stress the importance of reaching a political solution to the Syrian crisis that will guarantee Syria’s security, unity and sovereignty and prevent foreign intervention,” (i.e. by Israel) in accordance with the Declaration of Geneva and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254.
At first glance, its seems as if this is a wonderful, fair decision taken by Saudi Arabia, which, at present, is the leader and ruler of the entire Arab world. However, first appearances are deceiving, as the Saudi King has made similar statements on more than one occasion, but nothing much has changed. Israel has taken advantage of US unconditional support and, we could even say, of its kinship with the current Donald Trump administration, and, as a result, it has occupied Syria’s Golan Heights for several decades now.
And what has Saudi Arabia done to help Damascus free the occupied territories? Instead of uniting all the Arab forces, Riyadh has done everything in its power to initiate the civil war in Syria by financing terrorists, of various affiliations, and generously supplying them with American weapons in order to oust the legally elected President, Bashar al-Assad. How could Syrians free their occupied lands in such conditions?
Moreover, Saudi “fighters” for unity and respect of Arab rights instigated another civil war in the neighboring Yemen. This war has resulted in a sharp decline of wages below the subsistence minimum; destruction of most of the infrastructure, and the killing and injury of hundreds of thousands of civilians in this fairly poor country.
In addition, Riyadh has had a complete falling-out with Qatar, whose people’s sole aim is to hope for and strive towards leading their lives, according to their own rules, without the need to bow down to its powerful Arab neighbor. In an attempt to bring the small emirate to heel, the elderly and sickly Saudi King, in whose stead the young and inexperienced Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud reigns, is, currently, simply trying to “bury” Qatar by announcing its plans to build a canal, which will transform the emirate from a peninsula into an island.
It is also worth mentioning that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has recently made attempts to repair the antagonistic relationship with Israel by “backing down” from the Arab-Israeli conflict and “allowing” Iran to take on the role of chief villain in the Middle East.
In the meantime, using Riyadh’s acquiescence to his advantage, Saudi Arabia’s “best friend” Donald Trump struck two painful blows to the Arab world within a year. Firstly, he proclaimed Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, and then without waiting for the backlash towards this decision to subside, he recognized Israeli sovereignty over occupied Golan Heights.
In such an environment, a fairly reasonable question arises “Whose interests are Saudi Arabia, the leader of the Arab world, and its trans-Atlantic allies protecting?”
The answer to this question became readily apparent via Riyadh’s reaction towards an incident, connected with Earth Day, that occurred when protesters, comprising tens of thousands of Palestinians, approached a fence, which was, incidentally, erected by Israelis in Palestine territory. It was a peaceful demonstration, since the Palestinians did not have any weapons and the only thing they were capable of was burning tires and throwing rocks, which littered the ground. Their opposition was a fully mobilized Israeli military, armed to their teeth and ready to shoot at the unarmed Palestinians on first command.
While meeting Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro (on a visit to Israel) at the airport, the Prime Minister / Minister of Defense of the Jewish state, Benjamin Netanyahu said that he ordered Israeli military forces to remain deployed around the Gaza strip. This meant tanks, ground troops and air forces. He also added that they were ready for any eventuality, and, if necessary, for an intense military campaign. In other words, he seemed to be keen on ordering the troops to fire on the forty-thousand-strong unarmed protesters, but something stopped him. As a result, according to media sources in the Gaza strip, four unarmed Palestinians were killed and more than 300 were injured, the latter included mainly children and teenagers. It was an impressive victory for the Israeli Army, which ought to be included in the annals of history!
In response to this incident, Riyadh merely issued a hollow statement about Arab unity and nothing else. But as the leader of the entire Arab world, Saudis should have urged others to boycott the USA, as Israel is its puppet.
Incidentally, following in American footsteps, Saudi Arabia could have imposed sanctions on the USA and stopped purchasing its weapons in vast quantities (as doing so enables the United States to prosper). It is common knowledge that, around the world, there are a number of other countries that manufacture weapons of a higher quality and lower in price, which are essentially identical to those made by the USA. In addition, the Saudi King is truly obliged to file a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice against Israel for its role in unintentionally killing defenseless Palestinians. If no such actions are taken, it follows that every time an American or an Israeli is killed, the resulting outcry reaches all corners of the globe, but when a similar fate befalls a Palestinian, silence ensues. This tends to signify that Palestinians are second class citizens whose death evokes sorrow only among their family and friends. It is quite clear that Israel would not be able to act this brazenly and provocatively if it was not for Washington’s unyielding support and Riyadh’s indifference and connivance.
Donald Trump’s administration has completely lost its credibility as a mediator, capable of resolving the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, as it is acting solely in the interests of Israel, stated Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in his speech at the opening of the 30th Arab League Summit in Tunisia. “Israel’s continuation of its racist policy, and the act of being a state above the law, would not have been possible without the support of the American administration,” stated Mahmoud Abbas, whose speech was broadcast by the Sky News Arabia channel. He said that because the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US embassy there, removed the issue of illegal Jewish settlements and the return of refugees from the agenda for the negotiations, and shut down the Palestinian missions in Washington, the USA lost its credibility to broker peace between Israel and Palestine. Mahmoud Abbas added that Palestinians would not accept a deal that does not take into account outcomes of the previous rounds of peace negotiations or UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which includes the end to Israeli occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem.
It is also worth mentioning that Saudi Arabia is not the only nation to completely withdraw from the process of resolving the Palestinian issue, Kuwait followed suit by passing on all of this responsibility to Washington, which is increasingly acting in the interests of Israel. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah, stated, at a press conference, that the US plan to find a peaceful solution in the Middle East is optimal in nature. According to the UAE-based Al Arabia news channel (reporting in Arabic), the minister also said that he believed in the role of the United States as a peacekeeper in the Middle East, including in Yemen.
All of these developments are causing a rift in the alliance of Arab nations, Palestinians completely reject the US. plan to resolve their issues, while the Kuwaiti Emir, not to mention the Saudi King, is promoting Washington’s peace conditions. The presence of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the Summit in Tunisia did not add either robustness or integrity to Arab unity. According to Tunisian media outlets, the Qatari leader left the hall, where the Arab League Summit was being staged, and went straight to the airport without even giving an opening speech. In reality, the Qatari Emir left the gathering after hearing the words of the Saudi King about Iran’s aggressive policies and the need to oppose them so as to focus on resolving the problems facing the region. Incidentally, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani did not attend last year’s Arab League Summit due to the serious conflict, personally instigated by the Saudi Crown Prince, between Qatar and the other Arab countries.
It seems as if nations of the Arab world, at the whim of Saudi Arabia, are obliged to start, for one reason or another, a serious confrontation against Iran, which, incidentally, supports the fair cause of the Palestinian people, opposes Israel, and tries to limit Washington’s insatiable “appetite” in the region.
Instead of all of this, for the sake of unity in the Arab world, it would be better to stop engaging in wars in Syria and Yemen, instigated by Saudi Arabia; make peace with Qatar; decisively and abruptly stop spreading anti-Iranian propaganda, and promote, not only in words, the true interests of Arab nations.
*Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”