Saudi Arabia Might Recognize Israel Because Of NEOM


The half-a-trillion-dollar initiative to build a tristate city at the Saudi, Egyptian, and Jordanian border in the Gulf of Aqaba will more than likely lead to Riyadh recognizing Israel and integrating Tel Aviv into the project.

The ambitious Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman unveiled a $500 billion project at an investment forum earlier this week in an effort to bring some serious substance to his Vision 2030 project of fundamentally diversifying his country’s oil-dependent economy in the coming decade. The proposal calls for a gigantic city called NEOM to be built at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba in the northeastern corner of the Red Sea, with the plan being for it to eventually extend into neighboring Egypt and Jordan as well. The Crown Prince promised that it would be a technologically advanced city with its own laws and administration, and it will also be free from anything “traditional”.

The latter remark hints that Mohammed Bin Salman won’t allow the Kingdom’s traditional Wahhabi socio-cultural “regulations” to be enforced there, which goes along with his other headline-grabbing statement during the event when he said that Saudi Arabia will “return…to moderate Islam” and “swiftly deal a blow to extremist ideologies”. Quite clearly, as analyzed in the author’s earlier piece this month about Saudi Arabia’s shifting grand strategy, a “deep state” conflict is indeed being fought in the country between its monarchic and clerical factions, with the former poised to carry out a “soft coup” against the latter as it seeks to “modernize” the country. This will surely result in some behind-the-scenes tumult in the coming future, if not overt destabilization, but the point of the present article isn’t to dwell too much on that tangent.

Instead, it’s relevant to have brought that up in order to make the case that Saudi Arabia is on the cusp of an unprecedented paradigm change that will likely see it recognizing Israel if the monarchy is successful in snuffing out the clerics’ political influence. Saudi Arabia’s Egyptian and Jordanian NEOM partners have already recognized and signed peace treaties with Israel, and Riyadh is known to be coordinating with Tel Aviv in crafting a comprehensive anti-Iranian regional policy, amongst other strategic commonalities that they share. Moreover, the secret meetings between Saudi Arabia and Israel over the years suggest that their relationship is much warmer in private than either side publicly presents it as for their own respective domestic political reasons.

Israel has always wanted relations with Saudi Arabia, though Riyadh has traditionally shirked away from this because it wanted to present itself as a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, made all the more symbolic by the Saudi monarchy’s custodianship over the Two Holy Mosques given the religious dimensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, if Mohammed Bin Salman comes out on top in his “deep state” “soft coup” against the Wahhabi clerics, then he can easily lay the “blame” on them for his country’s refusal to recognize Israel after all of these decades. Not only could he be interested in doing this as the ultimate expression of his country’s radically transformed identity under his stewardship, but he might be just as importantly driven by the geostrategic imperatives related to Vision 2030’s flagship NEOM project.

Red-Med Railway

The Gulf of Aqaba was chosen not just because it would allow NEOM to spread into Egypt and Jordan, but also because of its proximity to Israel, which is promoting its “Red-Med” railway proposal as the perfect Mideast complementary component of the New Silk Road. Tel Aviv keenly knows that the Chinese are always looking for backup plans and transport route diversification in order to not be too dependent on any single connectivity corridor, and in this case, overland rail transit from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Eastern Mediterranean via Israel comes off as exceedingly attractive to Beijing’s strategists. Furthermore, China has fantastic relations with both Saudi Arabia and Israel, so from Beijing’s perspective, this is the perfect Mideast “win-win”, especially if the People’s Republic can find a way to insinuate that its possible financing of both the NEOM and “Red-Med” projects contributed to bringing peace to the Mideast.

In addition, there’s also the Russian factor to take into consideration, and it’s objectively known – though commonly denied in the Alt-Media Community – that Moscow and Tel Aviv are on excellent terms with one another and basically cooperate as allies in Syria. When accounting for the fast-moving Russian-Saudi rapprochement and Moscow’s envisioned 21st-century grand strategic role in becoming the supreme balancing force in Eurasia, it’s likely that Russia would be in favor of any Saudi recognition of Israel and Tel Aviv’s integration into the NEOM project because it would then allow the Russian business elite both in the Russian Federation and Israel to invest in this exciting city-state and the complementary “Red-Med” Silk Road corridor.

Seeing as how Mohammed Bin Salman is trying to purge the clerics’ political influence from the Kingdom, it’s very possible that Saudi Arabia will end up recognizing Israel in the near future and blaming its decades-long delay in doing so on the Wahhabis. The grand intent behind this isn’t just to formalize the Saudi-Israeli anti-Iranian partnership or to show the world just how serious the Crown Prince is in changing the course of his country, but to please Riyadh’s newfound Multipolar Great Power partners in Moscow and Beijing, both of which enjoy exceptional relations with Tel Aviv but would probably be reluctant to invest in the Kingdom’s NEOM city-state project so long as its connectivity access remained dependent on the Suez Canal chokepoint.

Russia and China would feel more strategically secure if Israel was incorporated into this megaproject so that its territory could be used for overland transshipment between the Red and Mediterranean Seas via the “Red-Med” railway proposal, which would then make NEOM infinitely more attractive from a logistics perspective for all sorts of investors. If Saudi Arabia doesn’t recognize Israel, then this non-Suez workaround is impossible and the NEOM city-state loses its grand strategic significance in the context of the Multipolar World Order, which could consequently lead to a lack of investment and therefore the potential failure of Vision 2030’s flagship project. As such, due to the economic-strategic imperatives associated with NEOM, as well as the geopolitical paradigm shift staking place in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh will probably recognize Israel in the coming future in order to guarantee that its city-state initiative succeeds and ultimately transitions the Kingdom away from its oil-exporting dependency.

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution. 


May 3, 2018 | 4 Comments »

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4 Comments / 4 Comments

  1. Just about 10 days ago King Salman stated that he and his country were solidly behind the “Palestinians,” and their demands, and that his position was the same as that decided in 2002 by all the Arab States. So where does his son come in here….? His announced, indeed blazoned intentions are diametrically opposed to the Kingdom’s political stance as announced by his father , the King.

  2. Is this a good opportunity for Israel to make demographic demands on Jordan with the support of Saudi Arabia as Jordan’s big brother? Meaning specifically, relocation of Arabs from Judea Samaria Gaza to Jordan, ostensibly to create employment and Jordanian relocation for this population… israel can not afford to overlook any more opportunities to advance the Jewish homeland’s demography and strategic security future . There is something more to be gained for Israel in this.

  3. The Saudi’s know to dangle money and tempt. But this plan rather looks like an encroachment on Israel.

    The British had it all nicely worked out, to grab the southern part of British Mandate Palestine, and lay oil pipelines through it to the Mediterranean.

    When British commanders visited the few Jewish kibbutz farms and homesteads of the Negev in 1947/1948 instructing them to leave in an orderly fashion, they were resolutely shown the door.

    Surprisingly, the hardy farmers held out against an Egyptian army onslaught. Ben Gurion then pulled off another feat. During the last days of the War of Independence, he sent a couple of Jeeps to stake out a flag at a small fishing outpost, at the tip of the Gulf. Eilat was captured.

    The conquest of a small backwater was to become a major strike of geo-political consequence. Lacking a land bridge, Egypt, the mother and leader of the Arab, world was cut off from the heartlands of Arabia.

    Ben Gurion struck a solid wedge between Egypt and the the pan-Arab World. Nasser’s United Arab Republic with Syria would never really work out. Egyptians seeking to visit Mecca were forced to take the ferry. Another cause of rage and humiliation.

    The plans to populate a new city just across the tiny Israeli sliver of Eilat, does not bode well.

  4. This Grande Plan has still to be more comprehensively detailed, and will likely be laid out is many sections.

    Jus r==one thing. The article say that the “City” to be built will be at the entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba, but the map shows the square grid as being at the end of the Gulf, where Eilat, Aqaba and Taba are situated.

    Of course the entrance could be at Eilat if one is dipping a toe in the water there…but the recognised entrance to the Gulf is where Tiran Island and it’s smaller companion are situated.

    So, to involve Israel in the coming city, it would have to be at the TOP (or END) of the Gulf, where Taba Eilat, and Aqaba are sited.