In an October 18 2023 article in the Saudi daily Okaz, journalist Fahd Ibrahim Al-Dughaither described Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel as an "all-out suicide operation whose victims were innocent women and children" and which in no way matched the desires of the peoples in the region. The goal of this unprecedented attack, he wrote, was to thwart the efforts of regional development led by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and to put an end to the normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel, which could have led to the establishment of the Palestinian state.
The following is a translation of the article:
"Let's quickly review the atmosphere in the region before October 7 this year. In the last five years a new slogan appeared, led by the Arab Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and attracted considerable attention, namely the slogan of "development first"– not only in Saudi Arabia but on a regional level. This became known as [the vision of the Middle East as the] "New Europe ", and at its core is the [goal of] cultivating the individual and encouraging innovation and creativity. The appearance of this unprecedented trend in our region after decades of political and military failure, which was accompanied by sweepingly positive reactions, especially among young people, led to the vanishing of the empty slogans of nationalism, resistance and Islamization that have been repeated incessantly by some of the regimes and militias that dominated the arena for over fifty years. This program, and every word uttered by Saudi Crown Prince [Muhammad bin Salman], was the talk of the region, infusing it with a spirit of optimism and hope. The media interviews with this young leader became the most viewed both in the region and across the world.
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"In this context, the Kingdom, along with most of the donor Gulf states, decided to adopt a new principle in its provision of support and aid. There will be no support without economic viability that will produce adequate profits, the same as would be required with any financial investment. What this means is that no more [financial] transfers (which were actually grants) will be made to organizations or governments in the supported countries. Instead, these grants will be converted into development programs. But the success of such a move naturally requires the coordinated efforts of all the countries in the region, in order to remove the obstacles and pave the way for pending political arrangements, which may disrupt or delay the anticipated success. To this end, Saudi Arabia agreed to the mediation of China, and reached an understanding with Iran regarding plans for economic cooperation. Embassies were reopened, and ambassadors were reinstated. Saudi Arabia also agreed to the American government's mediation regarding the prospect of normalization with Israel, under specified conditions that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state (the two-state solution), along with other conditions between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Despite Israel's overt stubbornness, indications emerging from the major think tanks in the West do not rule out the possibility that Israel will accede to these demands, albeit gradually. Prior to this, Saudi Arabia dealt with the Yemen issue in the spirit of future reconciliation and optimism, which restored hope and security to the Yemenis, raised the income level of its residents, and stimulated the rebuilding of what was destroyed in the wars.
"At this point, they (there is no need name them) sensed that the matter had become serious, and that Israel might actually agree to concessions that they themselves had not been able to obtain throughout their "struggle". In other words, they felt that the initiative had been removed from their hands. Suddenly, at dawn on that Saturday, a new front was opened between Hamas and Israel. If only it had been like its predecessors, without this scale of violence and the targeting of civilians, which brought the conflict to the horrifying humanitarian situation we are witnessing today. What has now transpired, as many observers have pointed out, was a broad operation designed to produce outrage and reactions that will neutralize the development plans that serve as an alternative to peace. This was done in order to bury these plans and obliterate their chance of success while they are still in their infancy.
"This was a all-out suicide operation, whose victims were innocent women and children. An action that surpasses all previous such conflicts between Hamas and Israel. It goes without saying that what happened, in contrast to previous conflicts and based on corroborating indications, does not at all reflect the will of the societies in the region, and especially not the will of Palestinian society, including its young men and women. Today there is a new generation whose members were born after the defeats and have witnessed various failures in their lifetime, whether in Palestine, Lebanon or Syria.
"Let us once again ask the same question that recurs after every irresponsible action: Aside from Netanyahu and his unstable government -- who received a gift of salvation from Hamas -- who benefits from this destruction? Once again there will be a surrender to militias supported by 'foreign parties' – militias, some of which are Arab, that will lead the situation far away from providing the basic elements of life, livelihood, healthy competition and innovation. Have we embarked on another fifty years that will fail to produce any alternative solutions or positive horizons that will put an end to the conflict [but will instead] postpone it for future generations?
"In any case, the Gulf states are continuing to build their human [capital] and economy. Our countries welcome Arabs innovators and appoint them to various positions, regardless of religion or origin. Our history shows that we have not established, and will never establish, hired militias to hide behind in order to realize expansionist goals. Our relationships with others are open, public and transcend the region’s borders, and the strength of our ideas has become international. The initiatives we have taken here are for the benefit of the public in a region that is plagued by slogans and catastrophes. Our region has become a playground for others to realize their own "objectives" with the collaboration of Arab agents who betray their homeland, their country and their people."