Sarah: Good afternoon, and welcome to yet another extremely timely, extremely topical, and extremely important at met webinar. On March 9th, many of us went to bed at night thinking that the liberal world order Pax Americana with the United States at its helm was intact. Especially since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It seemed as though there was a unipolar world with the United States sitting at the center of gravity. Many of us were hoping that Saudi Arabia would enter into the constellation of countries that had signed the Abraham Accords and eventually enjoy full normalization with the state of Israel. We were also hoping that there could be an Israeli suing, NATO like alignment, which might be able to unite an act as a military force against Iran. As recently as the very day before on March 9th, we read a report in the Wall Street Journal, delineating what sort of security guarantees the Saudis were expecting from the United States in exchange for normalizing ties with Israel.
Then on the morning of March 10th, we awoke to the news that Beijing submitted diplomatic ties between Riyad and Tyra. The world’s center of gravity was no longer just the United States. Yesterday, there was a meeting in Moscow between Chichen Penn and Vladimir Putin. And it’s obvious from reading their speeches that the glue that cement them together is overwhelmingly resentment of the United States. We know that relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been broken for the lasts seven years, and that they’ve been enemies since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. And that in 1979, the Iranians attacked the Grand Mosque in Mecca. But their differences are more fundamental, going back to whom they believe are the rightful heirs of the mantle of Islam, and go back as far as the seventh century. We’re profoundly honored to have with us a very remarkable individual who, I have to say more than any other foreign policy diplomat, writer, or professional, has shaped my worldview personally, as well as that of Annette, and has contributed enormously to the public’s understanding, both in the United States and in Israel of the Middle East.
Its history, its foreign policy. He has decades and decades of understanding and consults frequently with members of the US Congress, as well as Israeli members of Nesse. Ambassador Yure Edinger is widely published and is often a featured guest on Israeli television and radio. Is an expert on newest relations and is Israeli in Palestinian, Arab demography, American and Middle Eastern history, among many, many other things. Europe was the consulate general for the Israeli consulate in Houston from 1985 to 1988, and was the Minister of Congressional Affairs at the ambassador level at the US Embassy in Washington, DC from 1989 to 1992. Yure, how is this new arrangement being regarded in Jerusalem?
Yure: Well, I can talk for myself obviously, I don’t represent Jerusalem. But I think in order to understand the Saudi role in the resumption of diplomatic ties with the Iran and the impact on Saudi Israel relations I’ll resort to an old story about a person who just passed away and is about to enter either hell or heaven. And he’s told by an angel, which awaits him that the choice is up to him and the person say, well, if it’s up to me, I would like to see how is hell like, and how is heaven like. And angel takes him first to hell, and he sees beautiful one family homes, very impressive cars, grass lawn all over, coffee shops restaurants.
He notices also sport arenas. He sees announcements about tonight and next week’s concerts. And he said, wow, that looks tempting. I can only imagine if that’s hell that paradise probably is even more tempting, how about giving me a chance to see paradise? The angel takes him to paradise, and he sees very simple shabby apartment buildings not very impressive cars very little greenery around. And he says, well I guess I prefer hell. Angel said, well your choice is my command, and he takes him to hell. And as soon as he enters hell two devils jump on him, grabs him into a torture room where he sees a huge spiders and he sees dismembered bodies of people.
He sees bleeding and flagging all over. He yells what’s going on? This is not hell, that I saw just few minutes ago. And the devil said, well, I guess you didn’t notice that few minutes ago, you were shown the screen saver. And it seems to me that while there are too many Western policy makers are easily enticed to take a screen saver for reality, the Saudis definitely are not part of that naiveté. The Saudis recognize very well reality when they see it certainly in the Middle East and the bottom line when it comes to the recent resumption of ties with Iran, it certainly is not going to be at the expense of Saudi interest. The Saudis are not going to allow the resumption of ties with Iran to be fog to cloud the very tenuous reality in the Middle East, which goes back 14 centuries, the transient nature of regimes and therefore policies and therefore accords or resumptions of diplomatic ties.
And this is not the first time the diplomatic ties were severed and then resumed in 1988/2016 diplomatic relations were severed following much of rug behavior by the Ayatollahs of Iran. And with all due respect to resumption of diplomatic relations the Saudis are well aware of the track record of the Ayatollahs of Iran. They know exactly the potential consequences for the house of Saud in Saudi Arabia. They are well aware of the consistent rogue behavior of the Ayatollahs since February 1979. They’re well aware that the most cardinal strategy by the Ayatollahs of Iran has been, will be the exportation of the radical Shiite revolution throughout the Gulf, throughout the Middle East and beyond.
They’re aware that the number one target of the radical Shiite Ayatollah regime is the to bring the Sunni Arab regimes to submission and especially the Saudi regime, which they view as they view other Sunni regime as apostate regime worse than just infidel Christian or infidel Hindu, or infidel or infidel Jew. One may ask so how come they signed they resumed diplomatic relations with Iran. And it seems to me that it’s very obvious this has been derivative once again of Saudi interest. In this case the Saudi interest has to do with the growing frustration by the Saudis with the erosion in US strategic reliability or US posture of deterrence. They have shaped such an attitude towards the US as a result of the 2015 JCPOA, the nuclear accord with Iran.
They have shaped the lower regard for US posture of deterrence as a result of the 2021 withdrawal or flight from Afghanistan. Certainly they have shaped that low regard or lowered regard for US posture of deterrence as a result of the systematic courting by the US of three lethal threats to the regime in Saudi Arabia, namely the Ayatollah’s of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Houthis terrorist in Yemen who are heavily supported by the Ayatollah’s of Iran. All that while the US exerts much pressure on Saudi Arabia as well as the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. That pressure, especially on the Saudis, is not something new. If you go back to the pre November, 2020, if you go back to Secretary Lincoln’s different public speaking engagements and panel participation.
On number of occasions, he issued the public warning to the Saudis putting the Saudis on notice as he expressed it due to secretary Blinks dissatisfaction with Saudi’s record of human rights. In a way, he failed to appreciate the fact that that very abysmal record of human rights had primarily to do with the Saudis war or battle against Muslim Brotherhood terrorist inside Saudi Arabia and against the Iranian backed Houthis in Yemen. And while the us did pressure still pressures Saudi Arabia on account of human rights the Saudis haven’t noticed similar public pressure or non-public pressure on the Ayatollah’s of Iran on account of basically human rights records inside Iran on account of the hate education in Iran. Certainly, that type of us policy towards Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, and Egypt has driven those countries closer and closer to China and Russia. Not because they prefer China and Russia but they seek, they seek a super power protection against the Ayatollah’s of Iran.The reliability of the US, as far as they are concerned, has dwindled considerably, and therefore, they feel obligated to get closer to China and Russia in order to get a sense of protection by them against Iran. China’s interest, obviously is to gain posture in the Middle East at the expense of the US, and they do it both with Iran as well as increasingly with the pro US Arab, Sunni countries, or producing countries in the Persian Gulf, primarily Saudi Arabia. It is Chinese interest to see relaxation of hostilities between Iran and Saudi Arabia. And certainly get credit from the Iranians and the Saudis for such service.
In the process, by the way the Saudis are negotiating with China, the construction of two civilian nuclear plants. They negotiate the construction of hard rock uranium mill, and the Saudis export to China, some 2 million barrels of oil every single day. They also buy a cheap diesel fuel from Russia and therefore, they’re able to export more of their own more expensive oil produced in Saudi Arabia. When it comes to Israel and Saudi relations the Saudis once again assess those relations and advance those relations, or diminish those relations based on Saudi interest. And it has been Saudi determination that ties with Israel are very, very helpful to advance the vision 2030 which has guided the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman MBS.
This has been the flagship of MBS, and he has regarded the cooperation with Israel as a win-win proposition, irrespective of disagreements, obviously, over religion and over possibly, I’m not sure the Palestinian issue maybe Jerusalem. But primarily as far as the Saudis are concerned, cooperation with Israel produces potential for the Saudis, both militarily as well as as commercially. They also view Israel as a very reliable partner, unlike, again, according to their assessment, unlike the US, which sometimes embraces them, sometimes pressures them they do not expect. And there’s no ground for assuming that left of center or right of center government of Israel will be anything but very reliable ally or partner of the Saudis, again, when it comes to military interests or economic challenges.
The Saudis, by the way, when it comes to Vision 2030, the strategic vision of MBS is to transform Saudi Arabia into regional and global economic and military power. He wants to leverage the very special geostrategic location of Saudi Arabia, which has much, much impact on very critical trade routes between Asia and Europe, namely the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, the Red Sea. He wants to leverage that in order to bolster Saudi economic and military diplomatic posture. Once again, it has to do with Israel, obviously militarily, whether it is training, whether it has to do with the military systems, whether it has to do with intelligence, whether it has to do with the counter terrorism. Israel is a top-notch partner and when it comes to the most little threat to the house of Saud.
When it comes to economic interest, again, advancing vision 2030 the number one challenge for Saudi Arabia in order to become global, regional powerhouse economically, technologically the number one challenge is to diversify the economy. They need to limit to reduce the overreliance on oil MBS understands that oil is subject to price volatility oil is subject to competitive sources of energy, and potentially it could lose its value thus allowing Saudi Arabia to remain without any major economic source of income. Their vision is to diversify the economy through innovation, which would expand the base of national income, and they view Israel as a natural ally for that due to Israel’s track record in the area of innovative technologies, both commercial and defense technologies.
There is a challenge, obviously facing facing MBS. That challenge has to do with the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia in West and, the Southern and. Central and South West Saudi Arabia going back to 1744, there has been an alliance forged between the House of Saud and the Wahhabis who are regarded as the authority on Islam. They have opposed any attempt to modernize, to moderate Saudi Arabia, which is exactly what MBS is trying to do, has done so far, quite considerably, namely, modernizing, moderating Saudi Arabia in Western terms. Not there yet, but the trend has been pretty promising. In the process, as far as I am aware, MBS is the first significant Saudi leader to challenge the Wahhabis to so-called de sanctify the Wahhabis, and claim publicly that they are not the sole interpreter of Islam.
They are not the top interpreter of Islam. That certainly produces quite a challenge to MBS domestically. He has to overcome that challenge. Going back to his ties with with Israel, obviously he would be effective for promoting ties with Israel pending his domestic legitimacy. And domestic legitimacy depends to a large extent on his ability to contain or constrain the influence the cloud of the Wahhabi. When it comes to the Saudi interest I would say that independent of the resumption of ties with Iran the Saudis are very, very well aware that the Middle East resembles a volcano, which occasionally emits releases explosive lava, both domestically as well as originally. This again, has been going on for 1400 years.
We have seen it recently in the form of the Arab tsunami, which erupted at the end of 2010. Still constitutes turbulence on the Arab street. The Saudis are well aware of the daily threats to the house of Saud. They are well aware of the threat posed by the Ayatollah’s of Iran through the Shiite majority in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia, which is the oil region of Saudi Arabia. This is nothing new Ayatollah’s impact subversion and terrorism in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia has been part of the reality in that region. I doubt if they expect that to disappear, maybe subsiding suspended for a while, but once again, the most intrinsic vision and [inaudible], in a way of the Ayatollah’s regime is to tackle every single Arab Sunni regime.
The Ayatollah’s interest has never been limited to the boundaries of Iran. It has always been an imperialistic vision, well beyond the Gulf, well beyond the Middle East, well beyond Africa well into south and Central America. One can say literally all the way to the US Mexico border, where the Iranians are very increasingly entrenched in that area.The Saudis and especially MBS are aware of that threat emanating from Teheran, irrespective of any accord, which, as I mentioned before, accords by definition in the Middle East, are as stringent as the regime, as stringent as the policies in the case of the Ayatollah’s of Iran. It’s consistent. The subversion and terrorism anti Sunni policy has been consistent with the track record of the Ayatollah’s ever since they took over control of Iran back in February of 1979.
The Ayatollah’s are well aware of the Muslim Brotherhood threat, not only inside Saudi Arabia, but literally in every single Sunni led country. Muslim Brotherhood aspire actively sometime through terrorism, sometime through politics, they are actively pursuing the establishment of a universal Muslim society trying to topple every single national Muslim society. This is not something new. It goes back to the late 1920’s centered in Egypt, but not limited in Egypt. in fact, it’s throughout the Middle East. It’s all the way to India, all the way to Pakistan, and Bangladesh throughout different Muslim societies in Africa. The Saudis are pretty frustrated when they watch the State Department, when they watch the foreign policy establishment in Washington approaching the Muslim Brotherhood, as if it is that organization is limited to religion and welfare, and education, and politics, all of which are very, very systematically pursued by the Muslim Brotherhood.
But all those are branches around the core. And the core is, once again, an attempt to topple Sunni Muslim national regimes through terrorism, through subversion, simultaneously, with also dealing very smartly with welfare and education and religion, and politic. Faced by such challenges they also do not ignore the challenge of Erdogan, which again, has a vision to reestablish the Ottoman Empire. And in the old days, the Ottoman Empire controlled, not the whole of, but much of the Arabian Peninsula, much of today’s Saudi Arabia, they’re well aware of Erdogan collaboration with very, very Pro-Muslim Brotherhood, Pro Iran, Qatar. They are aware that Erdogan is a major supporter of Hamas terrorist, namely Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, and they are well aware that the Saudis and the Erdogan are supporting opposing sides in Libya. Erdogan supports the Islamic terrorists that lynched Kaddafi and took over control of Tripoli, the Saudis support the Libyan tribes, which control Benghazi and other parts of Libya in that ongoing civil war, which, by the way, was triggered to a large extent by a very Ill conceived US idea of launching NATO, US-led military offensive against Kaddafi, which transformed Libya into a platform of anti-American terrorism and ongoing civil wars, where, again, Saudis and Erdogan are supporting opposing sides.
The Saudis look around to who could they rely on when it comes to bolstering their military capabilities, their economic diversification challenge. And they have concluded that they cannot rely on NATO. They’re well aware that NATO has lost all or much of its cloud, as some may suggest. It’s not the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but has evolved into, or regressed into NATO. No action talk only. They certainly cannot rely on the Europeans which they view, and rightly saw as a vacillating entity unable reluctant to face up to the threat of Islamic terrorism or the threat of Iran. They certainly cannot rely on fellow Arab countries, because of the fact that each one of them has a machete at the throat domestically, and many of them also originally.
The bottom line is that indeed Israel, Israel is the one that they can rely on. Here comes a question. Well how can they cooperate with Israel while Israel does not retreat from Judea and Samaria, the West Bank while Israel does not allow the establishment of a Palestinian state wouldn’t that be a major block preventing expended ties with Israel, or eventual peace treaty with Israel? And it seems to me that the best response to such question is the Saudi track record. The Saudis have showered the Palestinians with very embracing talk, just like every single Arab country. But again, just like every single Arab countries, the walk towards the Palestinian, unlike the talk, has been anywhere from indifferent to negative to hostile.
The Saudis are very well aware of the Palestinian track record. They do not submit themselves to wishful thinking. Some of you may be familiar with country Western music. There was an old. not very old, but former top country western singer George Strait, and one of his hits was, I’ve got some ocean from property in Arizona, and if you buy that, I’ll throw the Golden Gate in free. Well, many Westerners have been misled by Palestinians trying to sell ocean from properties in Gaza and in a potential Palestinian state. Saudis do not belong to such a naïve bunch of policy makers. They’re aware of the reality of the Palestinian track record in the intra Arab context, namely the Palestinian betrayal of Egypt when Egypt allowed them to terrorize Israel in the early 1950s.
During the mid 1950s the Palestinians, that time fat headed by [inaudible], and the rest of them joined the Muslim Brotherhood, terrorizing the host regime in Saudi Arabia, and they had to flee Egypt. They found refuge in Syria. But by the 1960s, they started to terrorize Syrian intelligence officers. Jordan offered them space to terrorize Israel for two years. They terrorized Israel a compliment of the late King Hussein of Jordan. And by 1970, they assumed that they are powerful enough to take on the Hashemite regime in Jordan which triggered civil war in Jordan Black September, and they ran away from from Jordan. When I say they, it’s basically [inaudible] the Palestinian Authority upper echelon. We are talking about the most distinct betrayal by Palestinians as far as the Saudis are concerned, and that’s the joining forces with Saddam Hussein.
When Saddam invaded plundered Kuwait, which was at that time the most generous hostess of Palestinians, and 400,000 of them. The real danger was that plundering Kuwait was only a milestone away from or ahead of venturing into Saudi Arabia. Certainly the US war on Saddam, the first Gulf War saved in many respect, the Saudis. But the Saudis remember that and just like other Middle Easterners, they highly value history. They don’t forget, and therefore, they don’t forgive. They’re also aware that the PLO Palestinian Authority of today has had very, very intimate ties with international terror organizations, European terrorists, Asian, African, Latin-American terrorists and similarly historically, the Palestinians, as we know cited with Nazi Germany later on with the Soviet Black. They were among the first to embrace Ayatollah when he took over control of Teheran. Certainly, they do have close ties with North Korea, with Cuba, with Venezuela, none of which is attractive to Saudi Arabia and most other Arab regimes. Therefore, they have never acted effectively on behalf of establishing a Palestinian state. They talked about it, but they haven’t acted about it. Certainly not militarily, but also very meagerly in financial and diplomatic terms. One can say that the annual foreign aid of Saudi Arabia to the Palestinians when they extended at that aid, which they haven’t done in recent years, but at the height of the so-called foreign aid to the Palestinians, the annual foreign aid was literally less than the cost of Royal yak, which distinguished Saudis bought for their own pleasure, just to show how low the Palestinians have always been in the Saudi order of national priorities. Last and not least they are well aware that based on the track record, should there be a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River.
The Saudis are very cognizant of the fact that that is going to doom the pro US, pro Saudi Hashemite regime in Jordan, that would transform Jordan into another chaotic Arab state in the mode of Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen. That could transform Jordan into another platform of Islamic terrorism, anti-Arab and anti-American Islamic terrorism. That would become a pretty lucrative, pretty attractive platform for the Ayatollahs of Iran, which are going to employ it in order to tighten the screws on Saudi Arabia from Iraq, from Jordan, and in the South through Yemen. Certainly, once the Hashemites are toppled and replaced by a radical regime, and I don’t see any potential of a relatively moderate regime replacing the Hashemite one that takes place. It’s a question of time, weeks, month before a domino effect is triggered into the Arabian Peninsula, threatening every single pro-American oil producing Arab regime, the Saudis and Iran, Oman, Kuwait, and I would say with direct impact all the way to Egypt as well.
As far as I’m concerned, this is a major reason for the Saudis to oppose, in effect, not publicly, not rhetorically, but to refrain from supporting a Palestinian state, certainly to refrain from preconditioning ties with Israel upon the establishment of a Palestinian state. As we know, the Saudis were the chief by far, the chief engine behind Israel’s peace treaties with the United Arab Emirates, with Bahrain, with Morocco, with Sudan, and also the Saudis have expanded dramatically their commercial technological, but mostly security ties with Israel and all that without preconditioning it upon any move on the Palestinian front. As I mentioned briefly before, when one observes the top national security Saudi priorities, whether it is the Ayatollahs of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood the Houthis of Yemen, the Erdogan, and others, it has nothing to do with a Palestinian issue. Certainly the economic challenges of Iran, of Saudi Arabia, the vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with the Palestinian issue.
The Palestinian issue does not feature at the top of the Saudis national priorities. I can share an experience which some of you may have had. A friend of mine has invested in Saudi Arabia has developed very personal ties with crown Prince. He shared with me this friend of mine recently, that in a visit to Saudi Arabia about two months ago, he had one of his many conversations with the Crown Prince, and he asked him, how does he assess the new Israeli government’s policies on the Palestinian issue? How does he assess that impacting Saudi Israeli relations? And the response was very clear, why do you bring up the Palestinian issue when it comes to discussing Saudi ties with Israel? Another American friend of mine who recently visited Saudi Arabia asked the Crown Prince if he could rank the Palestinian issue among Saudi Arabia’s top priorities.
And the response was not in the top 50 national security priorities. And I think this is an objective assessment when one views the Saudi reality in the Middle East, the challenges facing Saudi Arabia, the threats facing Saudi Arabia. The last topic, which I would like to briefly mention, and maybe it’s already over time, but I’ll do it very briefly. What’s the future of Saudi Israel relations? What will happen if everything, which I said before about the Palestinian issue is reversed or is reshuffled, and the Palestinian and the Saudi decide for their own interest to make it pre-condition upon expanding ties with Israel? What will happen if the Crown prince is successful in constraining the web in Saudi Arabia? And he says, the only hurdle right now is Palestinian rights, the Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria.
What will the Israeli response be? In my assessment, if I were an Israeli policymaker, I certainly would not rank peace with Saudi Arabia as the top or a top priority for Israel’s national security compared to securing Israel’s minimal security requirements. When it comes to securing Israel’s minimal security requirements, again, it has to do with the nature of the beast, with the nature of the neighborhood the Middle East, in such a volatile, volcanic, unpredictable, violent, intolerant, and tenuous neighborhood where regimes do not ascend through ballot, but through the bullet, or in other words, through the bustle, through violence. This is an area where you need a pretty high level minimal security requirements. In the case of Israel, objectively speaking, we are talking about the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, the mountains of the Golan Heights.
In the case of Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights, we’re talking about combination. This area, those mountain ridges are the cradle of Jewish history, cradle of Jewish religion, Jewish culture, Jewish language, namely Hebrew. And at the same time, irreplaceable component of Israel’s national security. Nothing is compared to the value of those mountain ridges, which dominate the very slim sliver along the Mediterranean, namely, the pre 1967, and at the same time, constituting the most effective obstacle for any invasion from the East into the pre 67 area of Israel. The difference between those mountain ridges on the one hand and peace accord with Saudi Arabia is that as desirable, and it is desirable to have peace accord with Israel and peace accord with the UAE and with Egypt and with Jordan etc.
As desirable as it is, those are transient or variable components. On the other hand, the geography, the topography of the mountains of Judea, Samaria, and Golan are fixed elements. Those are permanent components, which nothing can change while the peace accords can change overnight with a change of regime in the UAE with a change of regime in Saudi Arabia with a change of regime in Jordan or in Egypt. Last and not least, we have had a precedence to base our assessment on what will happen if Israel will be preconditioned. And we had it when prime Minister Begin decided first to bump the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, in June of 81 and then in December of 81, he applied the Israeli law to the Golan Heights. On both occasions, the US administrations demanded Israel refraining from such action prominent personalities inside Israel.
And certainly State Department predicted that should Israel do that, it’s going to kill the peace treaty with Egypt, which was concluded, as we know in 1979. And guess what? Israel defied American pressure, Israeli government defied Israelis who opposed the bombing of the nuclear reactor, who opposed application of linen. I’m talking about tap monad people, tap IDF people, tap researchers, tap academicians and tap politicians. And guess what? Egypt did not abrogate peace with Israel. For a simple reason. Egypt, just like Saudi Arabia act in accordance with its own interest. Its Egyptian interest, its Jordanian interest, Saudi, UAE, Bahrain, Moroccan interest to cooperate with Israel, irrespective of the Palestinian issue. And again, one should not mistake the talk emitted by the Saudis with the walk actually implemented or acted by the Saudis. Therefore, going back to Sarah’s comment, yes, I’m very optimistic.
As I was taught during my years in Texas, studying in Texas, serving as a diploma in Texas and visiting Texas few times a year in Texas, they say, when you are faced with very c severe challenge or crisis, and the first one, it aimed the last one, and it aimed the worst one. And we certainly are aware of it. once we study Jewish history in general, and the history of the Jewish state in particular, I’ll end my comments here and open it to not only questions, but especially I would welcome criticism of whatever I said, the opposing views, which will enable me to check myself and learn about the other side’s way of thinking.
Sarah: That was very comprehensive. Thank you so much. Masterful as usual. And you spoke a lot about the Palestinian issue, and you spoke about the Muslim Brotherhood and the Sunni terrorist groups, but we know that the head of the octopus for most of the destabilizing challenges throughout the Middle East and the world is Tehran. Now, do you think that Iran has either the capability or the willingness to reign in the Houthis and Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon and all their malign forces in Syria and Bahrain or will this new found wealth and influence just be used to empower them?
Yure: Well, once again I think the most effective way of assessing the future is to rely on track record of the past, in this case, the recent past. The fact is that as of February 1st, 1979, when the Ayatollah of Iran seized power they have been very persistent, very consistent, and they proved to anyone who opens his or her eyes that as far as their concerned monetary and diplomatic bonanza do not transcend their own ideology. It has been western state of mind. And I’m very dismayed also many Israelis joining that state of mind that you can induce rogue elements to abandon their ideology through financial and diplomatic bonanza. While Hamas has proven us wrong, Hezbollah has proven us wrong. The Palestinian authority has proven us wrong. Every time they received another bonanza from Israel or the international community, it only wet their appetite.
And the same thing, certainly definitely with three exclamation marks does apply to the Ayatollahs of Iran. The 150 billion bonanza, which they ripped through the JCPOA has not moderated the Ayatollahs. It has only provided them with more resources to advance their imperialistic, radical Shiite vision again in the Gulf, in the Middle East, in Africa, in Central Asia, and in south and central America. Why would one assume that right now when they resume diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, which they have done in the past, it’s not the first time, but now they finally have realized that advancing standard of living in Iran, advancing free education, advancing women’s rights in Iran promoting peaceful coexistence. This should be the new motto of the Ayatollah of Iran. Peaceful coexistence on the one hand and Ayatollah ideology, on the other hand, constitute a classic oxymoron. And I know it is very difficult to even listen to that, let alone to believe in that. But the question is, do we want to resemble people who are addicted to drugs and therefore willing to sacrifice reality on the altar of drug addiction, Pollyannaish wishful thinking, or do we want to stick by reality as horrendous, as violent as it is? Because this is reality and ignoring reality is the worst prescription for one’s survival.
Sarah: Okay. a bunch of other questions. I don’t know how much time we have, but if we could go over just a bit, cause I have a bunch of questions, and I’m sure members of the audience do as well. so what does this do, first of all, to nuclear proliferation within the Middle East? And would it stop with building nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia?
Yure: Well certainly there is upside and there is downside in every set of relationship. We know it from our personal lives within the family, among friends politically, etc. And the same thing applies to Saudi Arabia. As I mentioned before part of the enhanced ties between Saudi Arabia and China, and I would’ve compliment of faulty State Department policy has been the negotiated, and I’m not familiar about the stage of the negotiation. But they have been talking for some time now about construction of two civilian nuclear power station. And as I mentioned before, also establishing capabilities to extract more and more uranium, which they have in Saudi Arabia for those nuclear plants, that’s quite potential danger. Are they going to stop at civilian or are they going to limit themselves to only to civilian?
Moreover, I trust at this stage, and I underline at this stage that the Crown Prince is indeed committed to peaceful coexistence. But will the Crown Prince survive the domestic challenge? And my own philosophy is that we always should be ready for the worst case, not the best case reality. And therefore, yes we should be ready for potential expansion or proliferation of nuclear capabilities in the Middle East. Mostly as a result of the delinquent diplomatic option applied by the US towards Iran, which has facilitated the Ayatollah of Iran to get closer and closer to nuclear military nuclear capabilities. That could be the potential for proliferation in the Middle East. And by the way, the Israeli policy when it comes to Iran Nuclear power prior to that Syrian nuclear power, Iraq nuclear power, I would say that this has been the dominant factor which convinced the Crown Prince, to get closer and closer to Israel.
The fact that Israel defined the US and went after the nuclear reactor in Iraq and then in Syria, and now challenging Iran both in Lebanon and in Syria, and in Iraq and inside Iran itself. That fact has underscored Israel’s reliability as an ally, because the last thing you’re looking for an ally, or the last thing you want to see in an ally is inability to defy pressure. And here the Saudis are witnessing Israel challenging its number one ally in the world, namely the USA. But it’s a challenge which is driven by principles. It’s a challenge which is driven by national security, and for the Saudis and the Emiratis, and I would say for Egypt and Jordan that has endeared Israel, because on a rainy day, they don’t want a softhearted partner on their side. On a rainy day they want a so-called SOB who is willing to defy even its number one supporter, number one ally. And certainly the Saudis are aware that the Israeli elimination destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor, especially, but also the Syrian nuclear reactor, has spared the Saudis very, very significant little threat. It’s a major major IOU to Israel. I would say similar to Israel’s victory in 67, which put an end to the the Egyptian threat to to Saudi Arabia.
Sarah: Okay. Yure you always put an optimistic spin on things, but the reality is that it does seem to isolate Israel within the Middle East, the smooth. And we just saw that the Emiratis downgraded their ties to Israel yesterday. How does this reflect on decisions? And I know they’re on again, off again, and I don’t want you to reveal any state secrets, if you have any, and I certainly don’t to attack, to set back the Iranian nuclear plants. We’ve seen that traces of highly uranium have been found around [inaudible] at the 84% level, and that’s a lethal threat for Israel. I know that there had been plans to have a natal like force of Sunni Arab allies. So how does this interfere with those plans?
Yure: Well, I’m not underestimating, I’m not belittling any downside scenario. As I mentioned before I certainly could be wrong and will wake up tomorrow, and we’ll find out the Saudi that decided the Palestinian issue is their prime priority. I don’t think it’s realistic. But we certainly cannot base our assessment for the near future, certainly not long future on a few weeks or a few months. Again, based on precedence, you go back to Bangor’s defiance of American pressure levy, ESCO’s defiance of American pressure, Goldez defines, Begging’s defines, Shamir’s defines each time such a defines took place, whether it’s over the bombing destroying the Iraqi nuclear reactor, or the application of Israeli law to the Golan Heights or construction throughout Judea Samaria. Each time it took place it followed with rising tension between the White House and Israeli prime ministers.
But in hindsight, we know that the litany of tensions and frictions between the White House and Israeli prime ministers were always short term. Followed by bolstered respect for Israel’s geostrategic role in the Middle East. Namely throughout the years, there have been many points of pressure by the US on Israel, followed by short-term reduction of Israel’s popularity, but then rising geostrategic statue by Israel, in my mind, precisely because of Israel’s defiance of pressure, or Israel’s defiance of odds. Will it be sustained with the UAE in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain? Once again I think that the roots of the current agreements between Israel and this countries has to do not with realization by those countries that Israel indeed seeks peace. Those relations have been induced by Arab’s interests, and Arabs have demonstrated that they’re not willing to subordinate their own interests to Palestinian interests or their own interests to Western wishful thinking.
Again it’ll be assessed in the next few months, in the next few years. But in my mind the Crown Prince is not blind to Middle East reality. He does not delude himself that the Ayatollah’s of Iran have been transformed into peaceful coexistence type of regime. He knows very well that he should be ready for rainy day when it comes to Saudi Arabia, Iran relations. In order to be ready for those rainy days, and in addition, order to advance his vision 2030, once again, he considers Israel to be the most reliable partner. We are not the global partner, which are Russia and China, certainly we are in a different, much lower league. But when it comes to advancing Saudi interest, I would say there’s no downside for the Crown Prince to enhance ties with Israel. But there is a downside when it comes to giving up on Israel, because that could tax him severely, both in the way of facing up to anti-Saudi terrorism and anti-Saudi Ayatollah’s as well as the challenge of diversifying his economy.
Sarah: Okay, finally, and I’m going to then hand it over to Hussein. We’ve run over, but finally anybody who tried to read the tea leaves in the Middle East would really be a fool. But how would you rate the longevity of this agreement? Do you think it’s a healthy agreement that might sustain itself for a while, or it will be a brief sort of deal?
Yure: I’m not going to predict how many days or how many weeks, or how many months or how many years, but once again, we have to look at the track record. We had resumption of diplomatic relations and severing those diplomatic relations between the Saudis and the Iranians. But more importantly, we are talking about the Middle East. We are talking about the Middle East, which has been characterized by a very tenuous, very transient regimes. You look at Iran there was one Iran until the end of 1978, 180 different Iran after December 78. There was one Iran before 1953, and there was a different Iran after 1953. There was one Egypt in 2012 different Egypt in 2013, and another different Egypt until 1952, a different Egypt after 1952.
I can go over Syria and Iraq and Libya and Tunisia, and it’s the same tenuous nature of regimes. I don’t see the Middle East transforming itself into a non-predictable area, nonviolent area, non-volcanic area in the near future. I hope, and I pray to be wrong on that. I hope to wake up tomorrow and find out that the Middle East is utterly different than what I had in mind. But once again, I’m reminded of good advice I got from my friends in Texas. Don’t kiss chicken until they grow lips. At this stage, the Middle east chicken have not grown lips yet. Against that background, yes, I see the resumption of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia as another example of a 10 years accord. How long will it last? I don’t know. But at the end of the day, this is another tenuous agreement unless one believes that the Ayatollah’s of Iran are going to transform themselves away from and into abandoning their radical imperialistic Shiite ideology, which I think, as I mentioned before, would be a devastating oxymoron to assume that, that regime could be transformed into moderate regime in Western terms. It’s not in the cards.
Sarah: So even though we’re running over this has been really enlightening. I am going to turn the podium over to my amazing colleague, Hussein Abubakr. Mansur, who will read some of the questions that have come in, Hussein.
Hussein: Thank you very much, Sarah, and thank you very much for all our audience who tuned in, who’d stayed with us. We’re not almost we’re more than 15 minutes over time. We received a number of questions, and since I don’t want to take much more time, so I’m going to go ahead and combine the most element that I see and the questions that I have. One last question for you, Yure. The question is the about the Abraham accords. This agreement obviously undermines the Abraham accords, the current political crisis in Israel also seems to have some impact on the Abraham accords. Are we now seeing a backsliding of the Abraham accords? Is this going to undermine the potential, should we forget about the potential of Saudi Arabia joining the Abraham accords at all? Where’s the Abraham accords from all of this?
Yure: Okay, well first of all Hussein thank you for joining us. I would say based on our acquaintance, this has been Sarah’s number one, so-called acquisition. And you certainly have been an asset to the campaign of shedding light on reality in exposing wishful thinking. I hope to continue and interacting with you as we have done in recent months. When it comes to Abraham accords certainly there is an impact by the resumption of ties with Iran. My own assessment, as I suggested before, this is going to be a short-term impact. I’m certain that the Saudis are aware of the Middle East. They are aware of the contribution made by their ties with Israel and by their energizing the Emiratis and Bahrain, especially, as well as Morocco and Sudan, to conclude peace treaties with Israel.
However, expecting Saudi Israeli peace treated in my mind was premature before the resumption of the ties, and is certainly premature. I don’t think and I did not think that peace treated between Israel and Saudi Arabia should be considered the most pressing, the number one priority. The number one priority in my mind, should be to coalesce the ties commercial and security ties to leverage the actual Saudi interest in order to bolster more and more cooperation between the relatively moderate Arab regimes, the pro-American Arab regimes, and Israel. Pushing the Saudis to conclude peace treaty with Israel, going public with such an expectation may play into the hands of the anti MBS forces in Saudi Arabia, thus undermining the whole process. I am much more comfortable with effective walk rather than with impressive talk.
In many respects, announcing peace treaty is part of talk. However, forging more and more ties without peace treaty in my mind constitutes an effective walk. And that walk so far has well served the Saudis, has well served Egypt and Jordan, and the fact is that Israel’s Peace treaty with Egypt, with Jordan, with the UAE, with Bahrain, with Morocco, with Sudan, all those peace treaties were not preconditioned upon a Palestinian state or upon dramatic concessions to the Palestinians. And I don’t see any reason why that type of reality will change, only because there is another form of tenuous accord agreement between two Muslim countries in the Middle East.
Sarah: Thank you so much Yure, I would just like to say, and I should have said this before we’re incredibly honored to have had a very, very long relationship with Yure. Whenever he comes into Washington, we are honored to accompany him around Capital Hill. At Met as you know, is more than just a traditional think tank. We write him publish and have wonderful speakers such as ambassador Yure Edinger every single week. We also have a very profound presence on Capital Hill, where we meet with members of Congress or their staffers every single day. If you like the work that we do, we really are dependent upon all of you for your support. So please if you can support us to the best capability that you can at metonline.org. Thank you so much. Thank you again, ambassador Yure Endinger..
Yure: Thank you very much.
Sarah: Thank you. Bye.
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