It’s come as a shock to some that Israel has refrained quite resolutely from joining the United States in condemning and sanctioning Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Israel has historically fallen in line with Washington’s global policies, wary of being isolated from its most committed ally and benefactor.
But it’s not only the Jewish state that is loosening ties to the US. A chorus of Arab voices are warning that America is losing its grip on the entire Middle East due to reckless, contradictory and even hypocritical policies.
“The Saudi-US relationship is in the throes of a crisis,” wrote Mohammed al-Yahya, former editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab, Saudi-owned news network Al-Arabiya.
That al-Yahya penned his op-ed not for a major American publication, but for The Jerusalem Post already tells you that the Arabs are looking to diversify their alliances, and see in Israel as worthy a partner as any other to whom to air their grievances.
The prominent Arab journalist said that while the White House still fails to fully comprehend what’s happening, the Arab states on the Persian Gulf see themselves in the throws of a “divorce.”
This breakup began with the previous Iran nuclear deal facilitated by former US President Barak Obama, a deal that for all its efforts to avoid such an outcome still, in the words of al-Yahya, “paves a path for Iran to a nuclear bomb.” Former Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was of the same opinion, which is why he so vigorously, to the point of violating diplomatic protocol, opposed the agreement.
Now, continued al-Yahya, President Joe Biden is doing the same with the nuclear deal emerging from ongoing talks in Vienna. He lamented that when these concerns were raised at the recent summit in southern Israel, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken did little more than “paper over the rift that the nuclear deal has created by presenting an image of regional solidarity, but the region is not deceived.”
The conclusion that the Arabs have arrived at is that the United States no longer has their back, at least not in the way that would protect them from Iranian aggression.
Israel has reached much the same conclusion, even if it doesn’t say so in such explicit terms. Repeatedly have Israeli leaders said that the Jewish state can ultimately rely only upon itself for its defense.
And interestingly enough, it is Israel’s realization in this regard that has the Arabs better understanding where the US really stands, and that they too should start seeking other, or at least additional, allies, including Israel.
“If the Americans won’t side with Israel against Iran, what’s the chance they will side with us?” wondered al-Yahya.
He wrote such in regards not only to the dangerous nuclear agreement, but also in response to the oddly feeble American reaction to an Iranian missile attack on US facilities in Erbil in northern Iraq last month. The Iranians claimed the attack targeted secret Israeli installations, and the Biden Administration, at least in Arab eyes, seemed largely unconcerned, if not tacitly approving.
This comes from a foreign policy approach under which both Obama and Biden have stressed “balance” in order to maintain stability.
So al-Yahya and others wonder then why the US is so adamant that Israel and the Arab Gulf states join it in directly opposing Russia, rather than maintaining a balance that suits their own national interests.
“Why should America’s regional allies help Washington contain Russia in Europe when Washington is strengthening Russia and Iran in the Middle East?” the Arab journalist stressed.
By contrast to America’s contradictory policies and positions, he noted that Russia and China are far more straightforward in what they want and expect. And this is why Israel and the Western-aligned Arab states are increasingly looking to one another and to those other rising superpowers in with wake of America’s faltering. They can’t afford to do otherwise.