After the dust has settled on one of the most unusual presidential races in US history, immediate responses from the Arab world seem to be short-sighted. Arabs are credulously rejoicing this victory believing that it will usher in a new era of promised prosperity.
It is natural for the US elections to trigger this level of polarization over social media platforms and networks, especially given the fact that the Arab region is rife with raging conflicts and deep crises between the axis of moderation represented by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, and between the axis of evil represented by Iran and Turkey, supported by the Qatari regime’s financial wealth and infamous media platform.
It is easy to note that Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, al-Nusra Front, the Iran-backed Houthi militia, and the Popular Mobilization Forces are backing this axis of evil.
It is clear to see that we are currently in the midst of a raging political war between good and evil; a war against Persianism and Turkification; a war to defeat extremism and promote moderate Islam.
Since 1943, Saudi-US relations have been strong, with a Saudi diplomatic collaboration with all US presidents regardless of their backgrounds, partisan interests, or political views. Even during Obama's long presidency, despite undeniable disagreements over a number of matters, both nations intensified their efforts and cooperated closely in the war on terror.
Then- US Vice President Joe Biden, right, offers his condolences to then-Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz upon the death of on his brother Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin AbdulAziz Al Saud on Oct. 27, 2011. (File photo: AP)
We cannot deny the fact that the Obama administration and Saudi Arabia have had major disagreements over the Iranian issue, as King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia repeatedly exhorted the United States to “cut off the head of the snake” by launching military strikes to destroy Iran's nuclear program.
However, during his presidency, the US gave its full support to Saudi Arabia in the Yemen war. Saudi Arabia received military support and even announced the decision to go to war from Washington. During that time, Obama’s visits to Saudi Arabia reached a record high.
At the time, the Obama administration realized the necessity of cooperating with Saudi Arabia as a key player that can efficiently contribute to solving regional problems. In this context, I would like to refer to Vali Nasr, a Middle East scholar, foreign policy adviser and commentator on international relations, who served as a senior adviser at the US State Department and he was the assistant to Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Even though in his book ‘The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat,’ Vali Nasr was not particularly pro-Saudi Arabia, he still acknowledged its role in difficult negotiations.
He mentioned that at the time, the US had to confer with the head of Saudi intelligence regarding issues related to Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is no denying that Saudi Arabia was present at the scene throughout the US-Iranian conflict despite the differences in their policies. At that time, Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “The United States will never allow Iran to enter the nuclear arena through the front door, and thus we had to jump over the fence” to which Nasr commented, “Part of the problem that fuels the movement against Iran is that Tehran has political aspirations, yet these aspirations do not have solid economic grounds to stand on.”
In my opinion, strategic Saudi-US cooperation is crucial, and the US cannot protect its interests, achieve its goals, and raise the level of its national security without full coordination with Saudi Arabia. This cooperation has remained resolute and steady despite the successive changes in US leadership.
US President Donald Trump speaks with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 leaders summit in Japan, June 28, 2019. (File Photo: Reuters)
The US has long attributed great importance to Saudi Arabia as one of the main players in the Middle East, namely due to being the world's top oil exporter and partially due to its spiritual significance. Muslims around the world orient themselves for prayer in the direction of the sacred Qibla (Kaaba), not to mention that Saudi Arabia is home to the tomb of the Prophet, the holy sites, and the two holy mosques. We also cannot dismiss Saudi Arabia’s rich ancient Arab history that witnessed the birth of the Islamic civilization.
Therefore, it is safe to say that due to all these reasons, Saudi Arabia will always be regarded as a force to be reckoned with.
The axis of evil thinks that since it did not make any useful political achievements during the Trump administration, then no one else will achieve major political gains after Trump’s departure. This is certainly a faulty way of thinking.
For decades, Qatar has been working on the Afghan reconciliation file, and it has traveled back and forth and devoted enormous sums of money for this purpose, yet its policy has failed to arrange any agreements despite the efforts of the Afghan-American diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad.
Meanwhile, the Doha agreement reached by rival Lebanese factions can now be seen as a curse and we can certainly consider it the main reason behind the current collapse in political, economic, and security affairs. For over 20 years, the axis of evil has been promoting failing policies.
The fact that the countries forming the axis of evil have set their hopes on a US shift in leadership to save them from American clutches only serves to prove how shortsighted these countries are, and this reflects the level of confusion and disarray they have reached.
In this context, I would like to direct the reader’s attention towards one of Mr. Abdulrahman al-Rashed’s articles regarding Biden's victory and its impact on the future of the Gulf region, he says: “Biden, president-elect and international affairs expert, needs the cooperation of major regional powers around the world. Saudi Arabia has a pivotal role in maintaining stability in the region and the Muslim world. The recent events in Paris have proved that the world needs Saudi Arabia as a leader of the Muslim world, the alternative being other Islamic countries that only provoked the major players of the European Union and the United States. Today, Saudi Arabia is more important than ever as a global supplier of energy, one of the key factors that plays into US foreign policy.”
The countries of the axis of evil have also set their hopes on the possibility of an American shift in leadership resulting in the weakening of major Arab states that represent the axis of moderation. However, al-Rashed responded to this by saying: “Two new realities created in the Trump era will continue during the Biden administration, the first of which is the political bloc of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Emirates and Bahrain, which represents an economic, human and of course political alliance.
Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, Bahrain’s FM Abdullatif Al Zayani and UAE FM Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan wave from the White House balcony, Sept. 15, 2020. (Reuters)
The second is UAE's agreement with Israel in the face of Iran. Qatar will once more try to dismantle this coalition, and it will not succeed. Iran and Turkey, despite their attempts to work together against the Quartet (Saudi, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain), are facing difficulties due to competition and differing expectations between Tehran and Ankara, in addition to the economic hardships they are undergoing.”
Finally, it is no surprise that the flagrant hostility and loud opposition we are witnessing from the Qatari side will not subside any time soon. However, what is truly disheartening is the level of moral corruption that these individuals have reached. It is evident that these people are outsiders who do not understand the true meaning of loyalty to the homeland and defending its people.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.
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