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Will Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US reach an agreement?

Sep 08, 2023


There’s been some public speculation on a possible military and political deal between the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. But while the U.S.-Israeli alliance dates back decades, relations between America, Israel and Saudi Arabia have at times been adversarial. Moreover, Israel’s new far-right government has weakened the U.S.-Israeli alliance and created an even wider gap between the historic partners.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan explores the possibility of a trilateral military agreement but concludes that the Saudis will have to bring much more to the table for any serious deal to stand a chance.

Excerpted from Peter’s Sept. 8 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, has seen the ongoing engagement and security guarantee that the US has with Japan, and he wants a similar deal for Saudi Arabia. MBS will have to offer something pretty attractive to get the U.S. involved in the region again.

As of now, the only offer on the table is formal relations with Israel (in exchange for some undefined concessions to the West Bank Palestinians) and the ~high honor~ of having troops stationed in Saudi Arabia. That’s probably not going to cut it, but it does highlight how concerned the Saudis are about the U.S. pulling out of the region.

Israel is on board with any U.S. involvement, as it would take some weight off their struggling coalition government. But the absence of the Palestinians in all talks up to this point brings into question the seriousness of these negotiations.

This region of the world has been a thorn in the side of the U.S. for decades, and jumping back into the thorn bush won’t be on the calendar anytime soon. If Saudi Arabia and Israel really want to make a deal happen, it’s time to head back to the drawing board.

Everybody, Peter design here coming to you from Colorado and a lot of you have written in asking about ongoing conversations among the Americans, the Israelis and the Saudis about some sort of broad spectrum political and security deal. At the moment, there isn’t one. It’s not imminent, it’s not even clear what it would be. But the talks are absolutely going on. So I would just wanted to kind of give you an idea of what is not so much at stake. But what the players are thinking. So this is all Saudi Arabia’s idea, specifically MBs, Mohammed bin Salman, who is the Crown Prince, he’s the guy who’s in his 30s, who’s running the place. His father, King, Salman, is the one who’s probably mentally a vegetable at this point. So the Crown Prince really is already in charge of everything. There’s a lot of generational disputes going on, which are shaping the talks. But ultimately, what the Saudis want, is ongoing American engagement to give them a security guarantee that is on the scale of what the Americans have with the Japanese. The idea is that you stations and forces in country, therefore, an attack on the country is considered an attack on the United States, and will raise the ire of the military forces of the United States in order to take off and destroy the attacker who in this case, it would most certainly be Iran.

It’s not clear that the United States is interested at all, after

70 years, the United States is finally getting out of the region and global war on terror is over the US is broadly happy with that situation. So in order to get brought back in the US would have to be offered something fairly significant. And what the Saudis are offering is normalization of relations with Israel. And it’s not that that’s not interesting. But that’s just not anywhere near enough to justify the United States, putting its soldiers in harm’s way and beating Iran into a war. In addition, the Saudis were thinking that just the honor of having military forces in Saudi Arabia would be so high that the Palestinians could get tossed in as a side benefit with Israel being forced to recognize some sort of shift in authority when it comes to things like the West Bank. This is a long shot, the United States is largely done with the region and the Saudis are basically etching out a position where most other players are the ones who have to give something just for the honor of having to deal with Saudi Arabia, it screams of Saudi arrogance, specifically by Crown Prince MBS himself. Remember that MBS has basically established himself as a bit of a cult of personality, and he steadily edged everyone with experience and the older generation out of the system. The talks are being managed by I believe one of his brothers, but this is Saudi Arabia, he has like a billion brothers. So that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. In fact, it means that if the talks go sideways, he can always execute his brother and just move on as if nothing happened. So I’ve don’t have particularly high hopes that this will happen. But it is interesting from a few points of view, because it shows how insecure the Saudis are, as the Americans are pulling back from the region. Now, on the Israeli side, they think that this is all great, anything that brings the Americans more in meshed into the region to something that Israel is broadly going to support, because that means that their troops don’t have to do it. And Israel is a country of less than 8 million people. So having the superpower do things for Israel is something that Israel has always been a big fan of. But the US hasn’t. Now, specifically with the Israelis and the Americans right now, relations are not great, largely because the current government of Israel is a little wackadoo. It’s made up of a series of populist and nationalist and religious parties that are

somewhat either hateful or stupid. And the Prime Minister Netanyahu was fully aware of that he had to make a lot of compromises in order to cobble together this coalition, he knows it’s not working very well. And if he can get a deal with the United States on anything, it would relieve some of the pressure that Washington has been putting on his government versus Palestinians have housing issues and military deployments and economics and an intellectual property theft. There’s a long list of irritants in the relationship right now. Anyway, that’s where everyone kind of stands. There’s one other little bit that indicates that you shouldn’t expect this to get resolved very soon. And that it’s not clear from the Saudis just how serious they are, or are not about looping the Palestinians into this, the older generation one that’s in the process of being shown the door by MBAs, they’re the ones who are reasonably dedicated to the Palestinian cause. And in whatever final communique comes out of this deal, so you networks, the Palestinians are included, then you know that NBS is not nearly as powerful as we all thought, and the older generation still has some breath and life left in them. If the Palestinians get at most a cosmetic concession or not mentioned at all, then you know that NBS is large and in charge because he doesn’t care about Palestinians at all.

And weird, because this is the Middle East and this is how it works. At this point. The Palestinians haven’t even been consulted or invited to the negotiation table, which is ironically how you know that this may be

A serious series of talks alright that’s it if something more comes up this I’ll let you know take care


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