A New Round of Saudi-Iranian Talks Soon - MBS To Tehran: I Won’t Normalize Ties With ‘Israel’!
By Hussein Ibrahim – Al-Akhbar Newspaper / Translated by Staff
Saudi Arabia is rushing to hold an additional round of talks with Iranian officials within the framework of the new approach it has recently shown, and one of its prominent reasons is the Biden administration’s option to take the heavy loads in the region off its shoulders. According to "Al-Akhbar" information, Saudi Arabia’s "offers" presented during the Baghdad talks indicate a major shift, reaching the point of stopping the wave of normalization with ‘Israel’. However, caution remains prevalent particularly in Tehran, as the entanglement and accumulation of differences make it very difficult to normalize relations as simple and as quickly as possible.
If the Saudis are serious about what they told the Iranians during the talks in Baghdad last month, it means that the region will be on a date with the biggest turn in Saudi politics in a long time. The information indicates that the Saudis have assured the Iranians that they do not want to normalize ties with ‘Israel,’ and they also mentioned that the Americans want to limit Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS], even if they accept the fact that he will rule the kingdom for a long time, as predicted by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Hence, bin Salman finds no alternative but to open up to Iran in order to get rid of the predicament that he gets himself in, in his conviction that only Tehran has the keys to getting him out of it, allowing him to accomplish an achievement that he can market for the Saudis, and to gain alternative legitimacy to that of the ruling family that seems not to be granted to him.
Sources familiar with the Saudi-Iranian talks in Baghdad reported to “Al-Akhbar” that the Saudi side assured the Iranians that the Kingdom does not want to normalize relations with ‘Israel’ and is willing to open a new page in relations with Tehran. According to the sources, the Saudis have basically asked for an end to the missiles and drones launched by [the Yemeni] "Ansarullah" against Saudi targets in response to the aggression and siege imposed on their country, and have shown their willingness to accept a major role for the movement in governing Yemen. But the Iranians responded that the whole issue is with “Ansarullah”, and they decide on it. The sources also indicated that the Saudi delegation said that bin Salman "is not a Wahhabi, nor does he hate the Shiites, as is being represented." They added that the Iranians understood that the Americans want to limit bin Salman. Even if they accept him, he will always stay under their mercy. Therefore, he wants to solve the problems with Tehran bilaterally. The next round of talks is expected to be held very soon, as the Saudis seemed in a hurry to reach such a solution.
One of the main reasons behind this rush appears to be the return of the United States to the nuclear negotiations with Iran, as it becomes clear day after day that it is a revival of the strategy aimed at diverting the American focus from the Middle East, and providing part of the resources employed in it to be used elsewhere. However, this strategy requires, first, to dismantle the factors that dictate the survival of US forces in their current number in this region, primarily guarding the Gulf regimes from a fictitious enemy called Iran. In this area, Biden’s administration believes that the United States is too late to be pulled out of conflicts made by allied regimes, which have become addicted to the paid US military protection. Indeed, the new administration has begun to implement the aforementioned strategy, which may accelerate after achieving a breakthrough in Vienna negotiations. The withdrawal from Afghanistan and the cessation of the war on “ISIS” and “Al-Qaeda” reduces the need for American bases in the Gulf; this began last month when the mission of an American division of five thousand men was announced at the "Ali Al-Salem Air Force Base" in Kuwait, after years of participating in managing the war on “Daesh” [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group].
Bin Salman has contemplated the ‘Israeli’ option, seeking to alter American priorities. Therefore, he encouraged the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan to normalize their relations with Tel Aviv, but found that ‘Israel itself is seeking protection under the new circumstances, and is frantically seeking the Americans, without succeeding to abandon the return to the nuclear agreement. Thus, talks with Iran have become the least expensive and most feasible option for him. After excluding this option for years, those talks became a path to achieving a breakthrough that has earned him the legitimacy he has been searching for. In Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince's legitimacy is eroded, rather than getting stronger over time; Saudi Arabia's situation is worse than it was before he assumed the mandate of the Covenant, particularly at the economic level, according to figures that he reformed in his last interview, in which he also appeared to fail to record any progress in obtaining the family's blessings, appearing in a coup, as if he was still at the beginning of the journey, indirectly threatening opponents with murder.