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Moving Alliances In The Middle East

Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict

Over the past year, the signs have been everywhere that Middle East alliances are truly shifting, and the very tricky game of normalization of ties with Israel is happening on multiple fronts. First and foremost, this is because Israel’s major natural gas discoveries and first-time production have given it much more regional clout, and plenty of soft-power leverage over neighbors, particularly those who need gas. Setting the stage in 2020, we saw the UAE normalize ties with Israel, followed by a series of energy deals. The Saudis have not jumped on this slow-moving train, first re-establishing ties earlier this year with arch-enemy Iran, which is also Israel’s arch-enemy. This week, Saudi Arabia and Iran formally finalized rapprochement by installing their respective ambassadors in Riyadh and Tehran, while the Biden administration reversed a Trump-era move to grant Israel the Golan Heights. Likewise, as we noted last week, Washington’s schemes to get Libya to normalize with Israel have led to dangerous protests and the fleeing of the country’s foreign minister (the scapegoat); yet, it has more recently emerged that PM Dbeibah has also met with Israel’s Mossad chief in Jordan, with normalization on the secret agenda. The big question now is, what will normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel cost? Saudi Arabia wants a new security deal with the U.S., while Palestinian Authorities want hundreds of…

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