The recent sacking of Libyan Foreign Minister, Najla Al-Mangoush, over the attendance of a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, has set the ambition of the Biden administration to achieve a Saudi-Zionist normalization deal further back. Both Washington and “Tel Aviv” are searching for a diplomatic victory, yet are making moves that are overambitious and may begin to backfire.
Following the Chinese-brokered Saudi-Iranian rapprochement, which took place in early March, Washington has intensified the search for a deal of their own to counter Beijing’s success story, one that has highlighted the notable decline in US power throughout West Asia. At this current stage, it will prove a near insurmountable task for the United States government to bring about their desired normalization deal between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the Israelis, which may be why there has been a branching out to rope in other Muslim majority nations into normalizing ties.
Regardless of what the truth was behind the meeting which took place in Italy between Libya’s foreign minister and her Israeli counterpart, the issue here was the way in which the meeting was handled through the media. According to the Israeli channel “Kan News,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not briefed on the occurrence of the normalization meeting between the Libyan official and Eli Cohen, a report which has been contradicted by sources that spoke with “The Times of Israel” claiming that the Zionist regime’s PM was made fully aware of all but the press release. The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) even attempted to distance itself from the embarrassing incident by releasing a statement which directed all such secretive meetings to only take place with the PMO’s approval in the future.
As has been suggested by various analysts, it would be out of the norm for two foreign ministers to meet each other in such a way, without prior approval from their respective Prime Ministers, especially when it comes to normalization talks. Therefore, the alleged sources that the Times of Israel spoke with, do seem to corroborate the conventional wisdom on this topic. However, there is no way to currently confirm exactly who ordered what and to know the exact course of the discussions that took place. Irrespective of how meaningful the meeting was, who had taken the initiative, whether the US was potentially involved in facilitation, and the way in which the Israeli media carried on about the issue, created a massive stir.
Instead of paving the way towards a future normalization deal between Libya and the Israeli regime, the handling of the matter has backfired to ruin the career of Libya’s foreign minister, force her to flee the country, and to embarrass Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. The agenda to further establish ties with Arab and Muslim-majority nations, in addition to having as many countries as possible place their embassies in occupied Jerusalem, is clearly a priority for the Zionist entity itself. For example, Papua New Guinea is set to move its embassy into the occupied Holy city, while back in March, Kosovo made the same decision. This has all come under US pressure, as Washington can easily use its sway to convince weaker and/or smaller nations to make such concessions.
Perhaps it has been in the books for the US Biden administration to pull off a series of lesser normalization deals, with the major prize being the integration of Saudi Arabia into such a scheme. The problem that the US President, Joe Biden, now faces, is that he is attempting to convince a Saudi leader – the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman – who has shown little interest in developing closer relations with the US. The KSA has drifted away from the US during the Biden administration and refused to listen to its demands to alter oil production; which would have worked for the purpose of benefiting the West’s anti-Russian agenda.
On the other hand, the Zionist regime, under the current government of Benjamin Netanyahu, is not only making it more difficult for a deal to seem feasible to Saudi Arabia, due to its extremist actions and the frequent virulent racism of its ministers, but, on top of this, the far-right regime itself will fall if a single concession is given to the Palestinians. The KSA has offered to provide funding to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), but the Israelis will not likely be capable of promising the PA anything without the collapse of the current government. So, while Saudi Arabia could be granted major concessions by the US and well compensated for the move, they have to weigh this up with a stream of possible negatives.
If Saudi Arabia normalizes ties with the Zionists, it could face a public reaction, such as we have just seen what happened in Libya. The reaction inside Saudi Arabia may not only be in the form of street protests either, which is nerve-racking for the Royal family, specifically Mohammed bin Salman. Unlike the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia does not have a small collection of citizens who are made extremely wealthy, and Riyadh has the responsibility of managing the top two holiest sites in the Islamic faith; Mecca and Medina. Normalizing ties with the Zionist regime, which illegally occupies the Third Holiest site in Islam, could trigger a massive, even violent, backlash.
Another issue that could come out of Saudi-Israeli normalization, is a deterioration in relations between the KSA and Iran. While Saudi Arabia will not necessarily lose anything from holding back on the decision to normalize ties with the Zionist entity, it could certainly lose big by catapulting itself into the midst of a US-led violent confrontation with the Islamic Republic next door. It is unlikely that Tehran will remain idle in the event that Riyadh normalizes ties with “Tel Aviv”, which may easily rupture the Chinese-negotiated normalization between Iran and Saudi. Beijing is a key international ally and of the utmost importance to the success of the KSA – which seems to be in competition with the UAE for a position of becoming a major world player. China could interpret the normalization move as Saudi Arabia’s way of signaling dependency on the US and also undermining its diplomatic achievement.
If the KSA is to normalize ties, the push will have to come from Riyadh and not Washington, as it did from Abu Dhabi during the former Trump administration. When the Israeli regime demonstrates its inability to keep normalization meetings between top diplomats quiet and seems to be out of the control of their handlers in Washington, it could also create a break in trust with the Saudi side that is allegedly discussing the issue with the US. Again, however, the Biden administration is refusing to act in order to put the Netanyahu government in its place, instead carrying on with their policy of unconditional support for the Zionists.