13.04.2023 Author: Viktor Mikhin

Saudi Arabia in keeping with the Politics of a Multipolar World

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, who is effectively the kingdom’s leader due to his father the king’s late age, has pursued a strong foreign policy, both regionally and globally. China arranged an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, easing long-standing tensions between the two countries. The decision surely validates expectations of an end to the region’s recent volatility, which has been expertly engineered by the West, led by the United States. The agreement was a continuation of previous Saudi-led reconciliation agreements with Qatar and Turkey. In turn, Riyadh’s recent measures have thrown a “stone in the still waters” of regional conflicts, allowing diplomacy to grab opportunities to transition from tension to calm. It could be argued that the multipolar world plan proposed by Russia and its President Vladimir Putin is being actively pursued in the Middle East region.

CIA Director William Burns had nothing to offer on the subject except to express disappointment over the China-brokered agreement for Saudi Arabia to reestablish ties with Iran in March. Burns sadly stated to Saudi officials that the United States was caught off guard after the kingdom agreed to an agreement to normalize relations with Iran. In this way, the CIA director only confirmed that the Crown Prince, in the spirit of creating a new multipolar world, has clearly demonstrated that he and the Kingdom now look out primarily for their own interests, rather than catering to former overseas patrons.

In this context, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud have already held talks in Beijing and issued a joint statement in which they agreed to restore diplomatic relations. It also said that the two countries agreed to work to revitalize a general agreement on cooperation in the economy, trade, investment, technology, science, culture, sports and youth, signed back in 1998, as well as a security cooperation agreement signed in 2001. The agreement also had an impact on other issues: Riyadh has begun negotiations with Syria to resume consular services in exchange for concessions that serve the kingdom’s interests. These successive steps could be followed by others to resolve the complex crises plaguing the region, in a win-win situation for both countries.

Reports have surfaced that Saudi Arabia plans to invite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to an Arab League summit that Riyadh will host next month. According to Reuters, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud will travel to Damascus in the coming weeks to extend a formal invitation to Assad to attend the summit, scheduled for May 19. Quite naturally, the current steps could not have happened without the Crown Prince’s will and determination to adopt a pioneering policy aimed at genuine positive change in the region.

The Kingdom has adopted a new vision to curb disputes and reorient the regional compass in favor of development and cooperation rather than the chaos artificially created by Western countries. The Kingdom’s vision is already in conflict with the interests of the Western powers. Riyadh is moving forward with a more regional foreign policy that is more balanced and independent of the Western powers. Suffice it to say that the gnashing of teeth in the West was caused by the latest OPEC+ decision, in which the Kingdom plays no small part, to cut oil production by an additional 1.1 million barrels per day.

This brilliant plan, which underlies Saudi interests, was articulated by the kingdom’s leader, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, in his “Vision 2030”, which argues that long-term prosperity for the Saudi people is the main driver of the country’s foreign policy as well as the region’s prosperity and stability.  Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud elaborated, adding: “Saudi foreign policy cannot be understood apart from the significant changes occurring within the Kingdom at all levels. The Kingdom has made development at all levels in recent years. It has presented the region with a model of economic, social, and cultural modernization at a time when the region is plagued by disputes, chaos and crises. Saudi Arabia is a paradigm of a nation that is independent of East and West. Its policy is centered on diversifying partnerships and building bridges with the whole world without restrictions or dictate.”

This approach has proven the Kingdom’s determination to take decisive steps to ease tensions in order to prepare the way for a new age based on the creation of a multipolar world, which Russia has clearly justified and suggested. One of the fruits of this very sensible policy is Saudi Arabia’s thriving economy, which has become the fastest growing economy in the world. For the first time, the country’s GDP has reached a trillion dollars, and by 2030 the kingdom aims to be among the 15 largest economies in the world. The Saudis seek to make their model an example for others to emulate in order to achieve a quality regional transformation, free of interventions and rivalries that only fuel disputes.

This model is in line with the forward-looking vision of the region developed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.  It clearly reflects a profoundly beneficial turn, away from the recurrent crises and turmoil generated in the past by Western colonial powers, and toward stability, modernization, and prosperity.

As a result, Saudi Arabia follows two parallel pathways. The first is to boost stability and reduce tensions. This was demonstrated by the resumption of diplomatic relations with Iran and the invitation extended to the Iranian president to visit Saudi Arabia. Subsequently, the country prepared to open a new chapter in relations with the Syrian regime, paving the way for the return of Syria to its Arab sphere, with the Kingdom acting as a “key gateway.” These steps complement mediation and other traditional roles Saudi Arabia has played in the region, such as Riyadh-led mediation efforts that will soon allow Sudan to emerge from its political crisis, not to mention other efforts to defuse crises and promote peace.

The second is the introduction of initiatives to promote regional prosperity. Saudi Arabia’s vision is not limited to resolving crises, it also puts the region on a positive trajectory.  For example, its Green Middle East initiative is not just about combating climate change; its main goal is to prepare the region for a post-oil era. It is a dynamic, forward-looking vision that will make the region a future supplier of renewable energy to the world, as it already is with oil.

There is no doubt that all parties are waiting for Saudi Arabia’s initiative and dynamic foreign policy to push the region toward stability. This includes ending the war in Yemen, restoring stability in Iraq, advancing the political process in Lebanon, resolving differences between parties to the crisis in Sudan, and ending proxy wars — in addition to addressing other threats to regional security and stability.

Saudi Arabia’s vision, Arab News notes, was adopted from a position of strength and the path chosen by the Kingdom is a path of survival for the crisis-ridden countries of the region, allowing them to overcome challenges and crises, and to play a relevant role in the future.

Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.

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