Saudi Crown Prince has clear vision that will change Mideast, US Senator Graham says

Republican senator says there will be no security for Israel without hope for the Palestinians

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
6 min read

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has a clear vision that will change the face of the Middle East and help achieve peace in the region, US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Al Arabiya in an exclusive interview.

The veteran US senator also clarified recent comments about the use of nuclear weapons. During a televised interview last weekend, Graham referred to the US use of atomic bombs in Japan during World War II, telling Israel to “do whatever you have to do” to end the Gaza war. Some saw his comments as greenlighting the approval of using nuclear weapons in Gaza.

Nevertheless, he clarified those comments and denied ever saying that Israel should use the same tactics that the US used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “I never said that Israel should drop an atomic bomb or nuclear bomb on Gaza. I said our country did,” he said. “Here’s what I said: Give [Israel] the ability to destroy Hamas as quickly as possible, and let’s move to peace.” Graham said he did not want to see any child die “on either side.”

For the latest updates on the Israel-Palestine conflict, visit our dedicated page.

US guarantees for Saudi Arabia

Noting that he has traveled to Saudi Arabia and Israel four times since Oct 7, Graham said the purpose of his visits was not only “to find a way to end the war, but [also] create peace.”

Graham said MBS was open to the possibility of a bilateral pact with the US while reaffirming that any normalization of ties with Israel included in the agreement must guarantee a two-state solution.

He also said the best time to achieve this deal would be under a Democratic US administration, which would guarantee that Saudi Arabia’s requests were met. Graham said he was ready to work with Democratic senators and President Joe Biden to vote on a potential agreement.

Graham said a defense agreement with the United States is the “best seal of approval in the world. There are only a handful of countries we will go to war for.” Graham went on to say that such a pact would make Saudi Arabia a very attractive place to do business because “you would have the American people and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia working together to defend the territory.”

During the interview, Graham presented two visions for the region: The first is that of progress, prosperity, and renaissance led by MBS – whom he considers to be the leader of the region – while the second is a dark one led by Iran and its agents that aim to destroy the entire region.

“The security and defense agreement between Saudi Arabia and the United States will ensure complete neutralization of Iran because the US will be obligated to defend the Kingdom if it is exposed to any attack from Iran and its agents,” Graham said.

Several bilateral agreements between the US and Saudi Arabia fall under a larger deal, including ones that focus on strengthening economic relations and making Saudi Arabia a global center for artificial intelligence, Graham added.

He said he told MBS to “get what you want from the United States” as part of a deal because the Saudi Crown Prince was going to ask for the “biggest change in my lifetime, in the Mideast, to sit down with Israelis and talk about recognizing the Jewish state. That’s no small thing.”

No security for Israel without hope for Palestinians

Graham, a staunch supporter of Israel, said that the Israelis needed to end the war in Gaza and come up with a plan for the day after the war.

“There’s no security for Israel without hope for the Palestinians; that’s just not gonna happen,” he said while voicing concern about the day after.

He said that Gulf states were ready to rebuild Gaza and reform the Palestinian Authority. But he noted that there was no place for Hamas in any future plan and stressed the need to “defeat Hamas completely and as quickly as possible,” as this would lead to a framework for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The senator also criticized the leaders of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, describing them as corrupt, and voiced the need to build a better future for Palestinians in Gaza.

Hezbollah, other Iranian proxies could overwhelm Iron Dome

On cross-border tensions between Israel and Lebanon, Graham warned Hezbollah that escalation with Israel and opening a new front in the north could lead to an Israeli reaction that would completely destroy Beirut.

But he voiced concern that if Hezbollah, which is believed to have north of 100,000 rockets and missiles, unleashed its arsenal, “they could overwhelm the Iron Dome.” He added: “If Israel had a massive attack from Hamas and Hezbollah at the same time, it could really do a lot of damage to the State of Israel.”

Graham warned the Lebanese group and Tehran. “Here’s what I want Iran to know: If you unleash Hezbollah, then we’re coming for you,” he said, suggesting that Hezbollah has so far refrained from escalation because is afraid that Israel “will hit back hard.”

He also criticized the way the Biden administration for the way it has sought to counter Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi attacks in the Red Sea that have disrupted global shipping and stoked fears that the Israel-Hamas war could destabilize the entire region.

Read more:

Biden’s top national security officials set to travel to Saudi Arabia

US-GCC defense working groups to look at increasing integrated air, missile defense

Palestinian statehood key to Gulf and Arab plans for post-war Gaza

Top Content Trending