memri
October 13, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8965

Saudi Journalist: Peace With Israel Is A Necessity, Not A Choice; Turkey And Iran Are A Greater Threat Than Israel

October 13, 2020
Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 8965

In an article titled "Peace Is A Necessity, Not A Choice" in the Saudi state daily 'Okaz, published one day before the signing of the peace agreements between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel, Saudi journalist Fahd Ibrahim Al-Dughaither welcomed these agreements as harbingers of coexistence, economic growth and constructive competition in the region. Al-Dughaither added that Saudi Arabia not only does not oppose the agreements, but has future development plans of its own that require peace and stability; therefore, it has the right to make decisions that serve its supreme interests, at a time of its choosing.

Al-Dughaither wrote further that the Arab states have supported the Palestinian cause for years and have sacrificed for it, yet the Palestinian leaders have been stubborn and corrupt, filling their own pockets with the aid money provided by the Gulf. Responding to Palestinian claims that normalization with Israel is an act of betrayal,[1]   Al-Dughaither stressed that the Arab countries that have signed peace agreements with Israel, starting with Egypt and Jordan, have continued to support the Palestinians and their rights. However, he said, the recent decades have seen vast changes in the region, chief of them the growing threat to the Arabs posted by Turkey, Iran and their regional proxies, which  is much greater than the threat posed by Israel. These changes  have caused the Arab countries to reassess their priorities and to advance towards peace with Israel.  


Fahd Ibrahim Al-Dughaither (Source: Sabq.org)

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[2]

"After the signing of the peace and normalization agreement between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain we have begun to see, even if from afar, a new future, different from the past 70 years: a future that contains some hope of coexistence, development, constructive competition and the avoidance of war and military conflicts -- even if it does bring about the realization of all the aspirations related to the Palestinian issue. This is a trend that can isolate the rogue regimes and organizations, which support violence and benefit from the rivalry in our region. This future is very different from the destructive future that former U.S. president Barak Obama envisioned for our region, [namely] the so-called 'Arab Spring'…

"Saudi Arabia certainly does not oppose the trend of peace and has impressive development plans for the future, whose implementation required an environment of stability and mutual interests vis-à-vis all the countries of the world. Therefore, Saudi Arabia has the sovereign right to make decisions according to its supreme interests, whenever it wants and without paying attention to populist rumblings [that are heard] here and there. Let me just remind [the readers] that it was Saudi Arabia that laid down the foundations for the Arab peace initiative, known already in the 1980s.[3] [And] what have I said about Saudi Arabia and its development ambitions is also true for Israel and of all the Arab states…

"Saudi Arabia and the Arab countries have supported the Palestinian rights since passing of the partition plan in 1948 [sic], and even took part in the wars that were waged after the passing of this resolution, until 1973, sacrificing their fighters, military gear and resources alongside Egyot, Syria and Jordan… After the wars and the repeated Arab defeats, Egypt – the most important  of the countries involved in the conflict – decided to sign an agreement of peace and normalization with Israel. Later, towards the end of the previous century, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority did so as well. Back then we assumed that the Palestinian factions would be modest [in their ambitions] and would unite, understand the new reality and take what  could be attained at the time. But as usual, that did not happen. Naturally, the Arab countries could not force the Palestinians and Israelis to make peace, and that is why the [Palestinian] issue is still pending, since the 1980s. Amid this impasse, the pockets of the Palestinian leaders started to swell with the economic aid money pledged by the Arab countries since the 1967 defeat, and all talk about a solution… became prohibited. [In fact], anyone who spoke of this publicly was even accused of betrayal, because this jeopardized the livelihood [of the Palestinian leaders].

"In terms of the geopolitical [situation], new enemies of the Arabs arose in the region, with new ambitions, dangerous and overt, different from the ambitions of Israel. We have been told that Israel's slogan is "from the Nile to the Euphrates," [but it is] Iran who does not hide its ideological expansion inclinations and realizes them in practice by means of its militias in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. Turkey [too] seeks to take over new sources of energy in Libya  and has [military] bases in Africa, on the Red Sea. It has not forgotten the days of the obsolete Ottoman empire, and is motivated by a clear ambition to renew them.

"It is these developments, described here only in brief,  that have lately pushed the moderate Arab camp to reassess its previous political positions, make cost-benefit calculations regarding the economic aid [to the Palestinians] and avoid [repeating] the mistakes of the past. It should be noted that the Arab countries that have signed [peace Agreement] with Israel have never relinquished their demands in support of the Palestinian cause. That is, relations with Israel and the normalization [with it] do not necessarily mean giving up the [Palestinian] rights. [But] the more important point is that the countries that support the [Palestinian] cause morally and financially cannot continue this support forever. Circumstances are now different than they were in the 1960s, [at the time of] the three  no's [of the Arab League in Khartoum], or in the 1970s and 1980s. The vast changes that occurred in the region have forced every country to rearrange its priorities…"

 

[2] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), September 14, 2020.

[3] The reference is to the "Fahd Plan," presented in 1981 by the Saudi crown prince at the time, Fahd ibn Abd Al-'Aziz, which is regarded by some as the basis for the Arab peace initiative of 2002.

Share this Report:

HELP BRIDGE THE LANGUAGE GAP – DONATE TO MEMRI’S 2020 SUMMER CAMPAIGN