The Netanyahu-MBS partnership comes into full view

The Saudi crown prince made it clear that he won’t accept American appeasement of Iran. 

  Sep 22, 2023, 5:00 AM (GMT+3)

(JNS) Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS)’s interview Wednesday night with Fox News’ Bret Baier was an inflection point in global affairs. There were world affairs before the interview and world affairs after the interview.

The fireworks started immediately, and a major focus was Iran

Saudi Arabia and its fellow Sunni Arab states oppose the U.S.’s nuclear appeasement of Tehran just as fervently as Israel. But over the past decade, the Sunnis opted to let Israel do the heavy lifting. They gave off-the-record briefings to reporters backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s protests, but they didn’t take the stage themselves.

In a nutshell, the Obama-Biden policy is to enable Iran to become a nuclear threshold state—and beyond. The idea, as explained at various points by former President Barack Obama and his senior aides, was that Iran acted as a rogue state because of Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal. The key to stabilizing the Middle East, they contended, was to realign the U.S. away from Israel and its traditional Sunni Arab allies and towards Iran.

Empowering Iran, first and foremost through nuclear appeasement, would enable Iran to balance Israel. Just as the balance of terror between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War prevented nuclear war, so a balance of terror between Israel and Iran would prevent nuclear war.

Efforts by Israelis and other opponents of Obama’s vision to explain the absurdity of the former president’s comparison made no headway. Obama and his advisers refused to acknowledge that Iran is not a status quo power. It is a revolutionary regime that sees itself as the spearhead and leader of an Islamic supremacist empire, which it has built through terror, radicalization and war. As a result, the U.S.-USSR mutually assured destruction nuclear deterrence model cannot work in the Iranian case.<

Today, the same arguments hold. But like Obama and his aides, President Joe Biden and his team of Obama alumni are pursuing Obama’s vision with redoubled energy, and the results have been disastrous. Iran on the brink of a nuclear arsenal. Its decision last weekend to expel international nuclear inspectors signaled immediate danger. Its Hezbollah proxy regime in Lebanon, like Iran’s Palestinian Arab terror proxies, are escalating their threats and aggression against Israel, signaling the approach of a major war.

All the same, the Biden administration insists its nuclear diplomacy is geared towards regional stability and nuclear non-proliferation.<

MBS didn’t require a long speech to explain why the administration’s policy can’t work. He did it in one sentence. Bret Baier asked him how Saudi Arabia would respond to a nuclear-armed Iran. He responded simply, “If they get [a nuclear weapon], we will have to get one, for security reasons, for balancing power in the Middle East.”

MBS is not alone. If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, the Middle East will become fully nuclearized. Regime after regime will procure nuclear weapons to guard against other regimes that already have them.

By bluntly stating the obvious, MBS showed that the Biden administration’s Iran policy is leading to a fully nuclearized Middle East. Now that the truth is out, Biden and his advisers have a choice. They can stay on their current course and be held responsible for their actions, or they can reverse course and adopt a strategy that will prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed state and keep the Middle East nuclear free, pro-American and stable.

During his meeting on Wednesday, Netanyahu set out the strategy for blocking Iran’s (short) path to a nuclear arsenal. Netanyahu said a winning strategy has three components: “A credible military threat, crippling sanctions and supporting the brave men and women of Iran who despise that regime and who are our real partners for a better future.”

This week marks a year since the Iranian regime murdered Mahsa Amini for failing to cover her hair in accordance with the regime’s misogynistic regulations. Amini’s torture and death sparked a massive protest movement by Iran’s youth. At great risk—and ultimately great cost—those brave young people brought the regime to the brink of collapse as military units broke ranks and joined the protesters demanding freedom.

Rather than grab the opportunity to free Iran and the world from the Islamic regime, the Biden administration doubled down on its nuclear appeasement. On Monday, the administration paid the regime a $6 billion bribe. It released Iranian terrorists and nuclear proliferators held in U.S. prisons in exchange for five American hostages held in Iran. More billions are said to be on their way.

Iran repaid the U.S. for its appeasement by doubling down on its aggression. In his U.N. speech on Tuesday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi didn’t thank the U.S. for its generosity and good faith. He renewed the regime’s commitment to murdering U.S. officials, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for their role in the 2020 assassination of Iran’s terror chief Qassem Soleimani.<

How Biden and his team will respond to MBS’s challenge is difficult to determine. To date, they have shown no willingness to shift course. But however they proceed, after MBS’s interview they will do so without the advantage of ambiguity. Everyone now knows where their policy is leading.

Iran isn’t the only policy area where MBS directed a warning to the administration. His admission that Saudi Arabia will get nuclear weapons if Iran does went along with his argument for a mutual security treaty with the U.S.

Noting that Saudi Arabia is by far the largest purchaser of American military platforms, he explained that the purpose of a security guarantee is both to assure supply for the Saudis and protect American military industries. It would be a shame to buy from others, MBS said, but we will if the U.S. won’t commit to selling us what we want.

This brings us to Saudi Arabia’s demand for a civil nuclear program. There’s a lot of talk about what the U.S. and Israel might accept and what they cannot accept. But MBS’s statement rendered all of it a bit beside the point. The cat is out of the bag. No, Riyadh doesn’t want to develop radioactive isotopes for medical research. It wants the bomb if Iran gets it.<

If the U.S. is prepared to let Iran go nuclear, then it needs to be prepared for Saudi Arabia (and everyone else) to follow suit. In addition, the U.S. will lose the Saudi arms market. So, either the U.S. stands with Saudi Arabia and blocks Iran from going nuclear or Saudi Arabia will find other weapons suppliers and get the bomb itself.

This brings us to the third major issue MBS discussed: A U.S.-brokered peace with Israel. Here too, MBS’s statements were nothing less than extraordinary. It isn’t that MBS promised a peace deal imminently. Indeed, it’s possible that it won’t happen for a long time. It’s far from clear that his father King Salman sees Israel as MBS does. But MBS made no effort to hide how he sees Israel.

The first concrete topic MBS raised was the rail and communications link from India through the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel that will reduce shipping from Asia to Europe by three to six days. The project, officially launched last week at the G20, is being presented as an Indian-Saudi-European project, and it is. But more momentous than a logistics train, the infrastructure link spells the effective end of the Arab-Israeli conflict. When the project becomes operational, Israel will be the hub of the transcontinental network. Israel’s security and stability will become a regional and global interest.

The most interesting aspect of MBS’s statements about the prospect for peace with Israel was how he presented Israel on the one hand and the Palestinian Arabs on the other.

The Biden administration and the Israeli left have presented the prospects of a U.S.-brokered peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia as a means to advance the Palestinians at Israel’s expense or, at a minimum, the expense of Netanyahu’s right-religious coalition. The deal as they have telegraphed it would require Israel to make massive territorial concessions to the Palestinian Arabs.

The basic idea behind the administration’s discourse on a Saudi-Israel deal is that Israel is the problem and the Palestinian Arabs are the solution. To get to peace with Saudi Arabia, Israel first has to placate the Palestinian Arabs. This is the opposite of the vision behind the Saudi-backed Abraham Accords, which removed the Palestinians’ veto over Arab-Israel peace. It viewed the Palestinians as an obstacle to peace and Israel as the goal.

Given the U.S.’s position, MBS could have been expected to talk about a “two-state solution,” as Biden and his advisers do incessantly. He might have been expected to set out precisely where Israel is supposed to surrender territory to the Palestinian Arabs.

Baier pressed MBS on the Palestinian issue. MBS’s responses signaled strongly that he is adhering to the Abraham Accords framework.<

MBS, to be sure, insisted that “the Palestinian issue is very important.” But notably, he never mentioned a Palestinian state or a two-state solution. He never mentioned Israeli territorial concessions. He certainly didn’t portray Israel as an obstacle to peace. Instead, he focused on Israel. [THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN POINTING OUT.]

MBS said that the Saudis “hope to reach a peace where it will ease the lives of the Palestinians and get Israel as a player in the Middle East.”

Israel is the “player,” the sought-after partner. The Palestinian Arabs need to be helped.

By the time MBS’s interview was broadcast, Netanyahu’s visit was already a massive and, in many ways, shocking success. As he prepared for his trip, Netanyahu faced two major challenges: A hostile Biden administration and a massively funded group of Israeli anarchists who hoped to capitalize on his visit to escalate their now ten-month political war against him and his government. When Netanyahu flew to San Francisco on Sunday night, it was far from clear that he would survive their multi-million-dollar campaign to demonize and discredit him.<

By Thursday morning, it was fairly clear that the anarchists were a spent force, even if they didn’t realize it. Netanyahu had restored his position in the first row of global statesmen.

Baier asked MBS twice if he believed that he can do a deal with Netanyahu. The question was not explicit. But it was obvious that Baier was asking MBS what he thought of the left’s efforts to sow domestic chaos by claiming that Netanyahu’s electoral victory is unacceptable. MBS wouldn’t take the bait. He responded that he will deal with whoever is the leader of Israel. In other words: Of course he can make a deal with Netanyahu. That’s who he’s negotiating with.

During Israel’s 2014 war against the Hamas terror state in Gaza, Obama tried to force Netanyahu to succumb to Hamas’ ceasefire demands. He was blindsided when Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt all stood with Israel against Hamas (and Obama) and rejected Hamas’ stipulations.

Wednesday may be remembered as the day the MBS-Netanyahu partnership came into full view. With Netanyahu at Biden’s side in New York and MBS on American television, the two leaders explained what can happen if the U.S. stands with its allies and what will happen if America stands instead with Iran.

Caroline B. Glick is the senior contributing editor of Jewish News Syndicate and host of the “Caroline Glick Show” on JNS. She is also the diplomatic commentator for Israel’s Channel 14, as well as a columnist for Newsweek. Glick is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington and a lecturer at Israel’s College of Statesmanship.

September 22, 2023 | 3 Comments »

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  1. PELONI-

    Just a comment with little reference to your post. I recall that one of Ibn Saud’s elder sons, (I think the 2-3th) who became King Feisal, sometime arounf the lat 1960s said that he will never relent in his attitute towards Israel and Jews,
    “until I can unroll my prayer mat at Al Aksa in Jerusalem”.

    Right there I KNEW that it would take many decades-if ever- before there would be a Peace Agreement, signed sealed and delivered, beterrn Saudia and Israel.

    At that time they were murdering women who were caught outside with men not their relatives, or not dressed according to law, and chopping off hands, feet and heads with obvious relish.

    I do not admire anything about them. Quite to the contrary.

  2. You really have to admire the steadfast dedication with which the Saudi’s always pursue their own interests above all others. It is very telling that in doing so, they have clearly demonstrated an interest in improving the lives of the Pals, while forgoing any comment on pursuing the American desire of restarting the TSS. Empowering the PA with a new Pal state would in fact conflict with the very purpose of their hoped for alliance with Israel. MBS needs a strong, reliable ally to protect their interests, and over the past 10yrs the US has well demonstrated a fickled faithfulness for its many allies in the region, as first Obama and now Obiden have fostered Iran’s nuclear program while funding their terror war against America’s former allies in the region. With the return of the Obama acolytes along with Obama’s Iran First policy, the Saudi’s have every reason to raise their already unofficial arrangement with Israel to a state of normalization and formal recognition with which to face the Iranian menace. Consequently, MBS has no interest in weakening Israel, and certainly not to the betterment of those who are in fact enemies of SA, as the Islamic terrorists in the PA remain. The Saudi’s are simply looking to their own interests and those interests require Israel to be as strong as she can be, at least until the Iranian threat is neutralized, at which time the Saudi’s will likely reconsider where their interests lie in a post nuclear Iran period. This is the Saudi way.

  3. Thank you for this article. It is quite a tour de force. Caroline Glick has such a comprehensive understanding of the geostrategic forces involved.

    The Biden/Obama junta is single-mindedly focused on empowering Iran and the Palestinians at Israel’s expense, and they are trying to use MBS as a chess piece to accomplish this. But as Caroline Glick pointed out MBS doesn’t want to be a Biden/Obama chess piece.

    The people that stand to lose the most now are the American people. It seems clear that Netanyahu realizes he has more in common with MBS than he has with the Biden junta.

    What is of concern is that ever since Obama entered the Oval office he has never wavered in his commitment to treason against the United States and his animus against Israel. It isn’t about “balancing nuclear powers.” That would make some geostrategic sense. It’s about wiping Israel off the map but telling the world “our relationship with Israel is iron clad.”

    We must watch what the Biden junta does, not listen to their words.

    It appears as if those in control of the US government are making decisions as if the end of US sovereignty and power, and the end of the US dollar are their goals.

    Otherwise, why keep spending billions of dollars week after week when the US debt is larger than ever in history? Why empower a nuclear Iran that openly threatens to destroy the US and our ally Israel? Why provoke nuclear war with Putin? Why double down on COVID vaccines/boosters when we now know that the leading cause of medical illness in the US is the vaccines?

    These are not the actions of sane, strategic thinkers, unless their aim is the destruction of the US.