It was at the end of July this year that Saudi Arabia announced that it had appointed its first ambassador to the Palestinian National Authority. Based on this decision, Nayef bin Bandar Al Sudairi, as the ambassador extraordinary, plenipotentiary, and non-resident (accredited) of Saudi Arabia in Ramallah and the Saudi consul general in the occupied Jerusalem, presented his credentials to Majdi Khaldi, the diplomatic advisor of Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian National Authority.
Saudi Arabia is looking for conditions to reach an agreement that will resolve the Palestinian problem and then provide the possibility of normalizing relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Muhammad bin Salman, who some time ago was hated and under pressure due to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the domestic problems caused by the succession crisis, now, by adopting new and popular international approaches, has placed himself and his country in the position of a key and influential actor, to whom all wishes for peace end!
In this regard, Saudi Arabia is trying and consulting during diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement with the Zionist regime, to put pressure on the authorities of this regime and make concessions for the Palestinians and on the other hand, while consulting with the Palestinian authorities, pushing them towards pragmatism and moving towards peace agreements. Of course, the resolution of the Palestinian problem and mediation to play the main role in the end of the historical conflicts between Palestine and Israel are not all the goals of the Saudis; the new Saudi Arabia is trying to become the superior power of the West Asian region and achieving this goal requires having all the power tools that competitors have and don't have.
It is in line with such an approach that this country seeks to acquire technologies that can change the .0.0.0.0 scene of the strategic game in the region and the world, from nuclear energy to artificial intelligence. As a result, since the end of 2020, Saudi Arabia has launched its national strategy in the field of data and artificial intelligence, intending to attract 20 billion dollars of foreign and domestic investment by 2030, and it has started a close competition with the regime of Israel, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Egypt, the UAE, Turkey, and Qatar, which are prominent regional actors in this field. The result of these plans was that in 2023, Saudi Arabia was at the top of the world table of "National AI Strategy," which shows the depth of the country's commitments and seriousness in implementing the national strategy.
While Saudi Arabia's ambitions in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have not faced serious obstacles from the big powers, the country's requests to obtain nuclear energy have serious opponents. America and Israel are at the top of these opponents because they believe that permitting Saudi Arabia to enrich uranium is a danger to Israel and leads to an arms race in the Middle East. The existence of differences in these fields, along with Saudi Arabia's request to establish a defense agreement with Washington, has caused American officials to declare that the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel is still far from reach. However, Israel still hopes or at least tries to keep the negotiations for normalization open. As a result, it announced that not only will the agreement with Saudi Arabia be signed in the first quarter of 2024 by the White House, but this compromise will include not only Saudi Arabia but six or seven other countries that will also join it.
Now, whether we accept the pessimistic attitude of America or whether we believe the optimistic approach of the Israeli regime, it is an undeniable fact Saudi Arabia has entered into a serious competitive game with regional powers and has taken a long step to become the top power in the region and the undisputed leader of the Islamic world. Unlike other countries in the region that only focus on designing the vision and are not determined and serious about realizing it, Saudi Arabia has performed very well in implementing its "Vision 2030," which is designed to make this country the most successful country in the region in reducing dependence on oil, diversifying the economy and developing service sectors such as health, infrastructure, education, recreation, and tourism. In such a situation, the only threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran is not the development of the Abraham Accords and the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and other Arab and Islamic countries with the Israeli regime. The new Saudi Arabia has also threatened the prestige and strategic position of Iran.
Mohammad Mehdi Mazaheri, university professor
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)