South Asia and Beyond

One Step Forward Two Back For Saudis, But Achievement For Trump, Netanyahu: Analyst Kamran Bokhari

NEW DELHI: Was there a secret Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that was outed by Israeli media? The Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud may have denied it in a tweet, but Netanyahu himself hasn’t, saying, “I never comment on those issues and I will not start now. I’ll just say that I am working on broadening the circle of peace.” Dr Kamran Bokhari, Director, Analytical Development, Centre for Global Policy in Washington, D.C., sees developments as the Kingdom taking “one step forward, two steps backward”, “being caught off guard”, because they “needed to keep this quiet” and “too much too soon”, adding, ” things like this, you can’t keep under wraps and therefore, they should have had a plan.” He says, “there was a lot of criticism of Secretary Pompeo, making these frivolous trips” instead of President Donald Trump “conceding the election”, pointing out “now we know what was going on.” Dr Bukhari sees the move to normalise Israel-Saudi relations as” THE achievement of the Trump administration” and as PM Netanyahu “creating his own legacy.” The Israeli PM is” basically telegraphing to the world, Yes, I’m a hawk. But, I’m the one who can actually do diplomacy because I’m a hawk, ” Dr Bokhari adds.

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Speaking to StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi, the geo-political analyst says “the chessboard is being set up by the Trump administration, working with the Israelis and the Saudis to shape the operating environment of the Biden administration, because they know there will be some form of negotiation with Iran.” Separately, he says, the “Iranians are also trying to shape American perceptions, especially ahead of coming negotiations” and because they “want to be able to get some form of deal done before their June elections,” he adds. On Saudi Arabia pressuring Pakistan on Israel, Dr Bokhari points to Prime Minister Imran Khan “referencing the peace treaty between the Prophet and his adversaries in Mecca, the tribes of Quraysh” as a sign of things to come. In this interview, he also talks about whether the Palestinian cause has been thrown under the bus and what Indian foreign policy priorities will be.

Amitabh P. Revi

Russian language speaker and conflict journalist. Amitabh Revi has been there, done that—from the battlefields of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to sublime Russia, Australia and the United States. Along the way he's picked up the Dag Hammarskjöld Distinguished Journalist Fellowship, the Ramnath Goenka award for coverage of the Iraq War and RT's Khaled Alkhateb Award for his reporting from Palmyra, Syria.