Saudi Arabia’s role in a consequential region


[18-07-2022 10:47 AM]

BY Fares Braizat

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is consequential for the region in the same way the Middle East is consequential for the world. Whatever happens in or to Saudi Arabia has consequential outcomes that reverberate in the Gulf, MENA ,region and beyond. It is for this reason that US President Joe Biden came to Saudi Arabia and got off his high horse, to paraphrase one of Prince Turki Al–Faisal eloquent statements.

Biden’s goal is to protect and boost the interests of the US — the global superpower for now. Its supremacy is being challenged and it needs more partners than adversaries to cling to its position.

The Jeddah “Security and Development” summit came as a solidification of a partnership that has been marred by negative framing. The outcome sets the tone and stage for consequential cooperative regional security.

The organization and the successful conclusion of the summit placed Saudi Arabia higher on the ladder of being consequential politically and economically. The summit was the place where Biden made known the priorities of US policy: China, Russia and Iran. The US cannot do much about these priorities without the summit attendees. In Biden’s words “we will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia, or Iran”.

That is where GCC + Jordan, Iraq and Egypt can make a difference, as partners of the US that are willing and able to steer the ship of peace and stability. From “I2U2” to the integrated early warning and air defense systems across the region, food and maritime security, countering the terrorism of non-state actors, and energy supply security, the US needs partners, not extortionists. Extortion is also consequential, but in a very negative way, as exemplified by Iran’s regional destabilizing behavior.

Constructive engagement, as opposed to extortion, is exemplified by Saudi Arabia, which has a lot to gain and preserve in terms of it's economic prosperity through such approach. Saudi Arabia is the economic powerhouse of the region for now and will be the leading regional economy in 2030, with a GDP that is estimated to grow form $830 billion in 2021 to nearly $1.8 trillion in 2030, according to the Saudi Arabia 2030 vision. In this sense, Saudi Arabia is similar to California for the US’ economy, which has been the powerhouse of the global economy.

Saudi Arabia has been using its economic and political clout to establish a peaceful and prosperous region, promote constructive engagement with partners and delegitimize extortion as an approach to international law and order. As much as the US needs Saudi Arabia to achieve its objectives vis-à-vis the challenges posed by China, Russia and Iran in the region, Saudi Arabia and the US need GCC + 3 to demonstrate that constructive engagement works and delivers to the peoples of the region.




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