Mohammed bin Salman: State power and alliances

Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi
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The strength, awareness, and achievements of leaders transform them into a historical icon that symbolizes a stage of exceptional success and achievement for their countries and peoples, and into a source of inspiration and hope for other peoples. This symbolism becomes even more vivid the greater the major commonalities, the more intense the hopes, and the more achievements accumulate.

The Saudi Crown Prince’s tour of Gulf Cooperation Council countries was an expression of the GCC’s potency, and a serious endeavor to strengthen its status, resume its role, and develop its mechanisms and ambitions, and sends out a message worthy of perusal and study.

The strength of countries begins with the unity of domestic ranks internally, in terms of stability, security, development and prosperity, which is based on a solid identity, historical depth, political legitimacy, economic strength, and what they promise with respect to a better future by way of a clear vision, declared plans and projects, and objectives achieved and developed, which is what is taking place in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

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In the same vein, the strength of countries stems from their relations with the closest neighbors in their vicinity, and the closest countries to Saudi Arabia are the Gulf states; Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, which were covered by the Crown Prince’s tour. The GCC’s strength and coherence serves as a source of power for Saudi Arabia and to each member state, by reinforcing the alliance and heightening integration amongst its components on the political, economic, security and military levels, which are based mainly on the strength of the major commonalities between all these countries and their peoples in terms of religion, language, culture, fixed traditions and inherited customs, which facilitates the task of building on them towards a better future and greater power and influence.

Regional power comes next, through organizations and countries, such as the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the like, along with the well-established relations with all Arab countries - with exceptions for countries undergoing distinct, exceptional circumstances that are being remedied with work underway to overcome their difficulties and challenges, including the Saudi-Emirati-Egyptian alliance that saved a number of Arab countries from the dangers of the so-called "Arab Spring," whereas saving Yemen is still ongoing.

Last but not least, the strength of international alliances and strategic partnerships, which constitute a genuine bulwark of state power when managed with prudence, wisdom and interests. These alliances develop with the progression of history and differ according to different interests and goals. In that respect, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states do not depend on one party, but rather weave multiple alliances with all the major powers in the world, which ensures impact and effectiveness in all files that concern these countries regionally and internationally.

There exists two major projects hostile to the Arab countries in the region, especially to Gulf states, one of which is an expansionist fundamentalist project represented by political Islam groups and religious terrorist organizations, which have shown their invariable animosity to GCC states time and time again, by way of military and nonmilitary actions. However, this project resulted in an utter failure, and it is now abandoning its previous goals and hostile policies.

A photo provided by Saudi Press Agency shows Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman boarding a flight to Bahrain. (SPA)
A photo provided by Saudi Press Agency shows Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman boarding a flight to Bahrain. (SPA)

The other project is an expansionist sectarian project; an ideologically extremist project inculcated with sectarianism, and it wields the sect as a political and military weapon. This project has forged deep-seated alliances with political Islam groups and organizations promoting religious violence, Sunni and Shiite alike, and is more successful and threatening compared to the first project. Major countries around the world seek to pacify this threat through appeasement and submission, rather than by confronting it with firmness and wariness befitting its ambitions and hostile policies to the world at large, not just to the Arab countries.

This project has succeeded in hijacking the Lebanese state, and hence Gulf states boycotted Beirut, and it succeeded in Yemen through the terrorist Houthi militia where Gulf states are fighting it politically and militarily. Saudi Arabia is leading the “Arab coalition” to save Yemen from its clutches using soft and hard power, and successes are racking up rapidly with respect to striking it and curtailing its threat. In Iraq, the strongest opponents of this project are the Iraqi people who, for many years, experienced how this project destroyed them, and sought to overthrow their state and subjugate some of their parties and leaders. Iraqis expressed this in various ways, most recently in the results of the recent election. Saudi Arabia and GCC countries are helping the Iraqi state regain its autonomy and sovereignty.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's tour aims to achieve all this and more. It adopts joint projects and supports "coordination councils," and reconnects GCC countries with greater strength, stronger rapprochement, and more comprehensive interests, stemming from awareness of the current imbalance in international powers, and their positions and policies towards major issues in the region. At this stage, a strong GCC represents the best support for its countries and peoples to overcome their problems and face up to their challenges.

The unbiased onlooker cannot deny the spontaneous scenes of GCC citizens welcoming the Saudi Crown Prince, in sincere and heartfelt terms, for what they see in him as an icon that evokes their emotions. The successful leader carries the individual aspirations of all subjects in terms of pride, dignity, protection, and strength. This is the overflowing message from all the video clips circulated throughout this Gulf tour. This has happened in Arab Gulf states, where there is a far-reaching and stable consensus between leaders and countries, but it had also happened before by other Arab peoples, where many expressed the same feelings and ideas, those of searching for dream and hope embodied in a person and a symbol that presents a distinctive model desired by all who can be followed and pursued.

The traditional allies of Saudi Arabia and GCC member-states are the United States and Western countries, yet the Kingdom builds distinguished relations with each major Western country separately and builds distinguished relations as well with the superpowers of Russia and China, and with its surrounding Muslim countries including Pakistan, Southeast-Asian Muslim countries, and all influential countries around the world. What bolsters the position of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states is that they do not have an expansionist project, but rather focus their attention on success, achievement, development, progress and advancement, and are keen on protecting the stability of their countries and the well-being of their peoples - away from uncalculated escapades, or seeking to export internal problems by creating regional and international crises, which is what these countries have succeeded in achieving through decades of the modern nation state, that saw these countries overcome all major challenges regionally and internationally, while their opponents fell.

Finally, a strong state becomes stronger through its alliances, and even the US Empire wields more clout through its alliances and does not suffice with its own power. Saudi Arabia’s alliances on the Arab, regional and international levels are getting stronger and stronger, and Gulf states come first in this respect.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

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