A Palestinian move to secure Palestine’s energy needs by tying them to high-stakes Turkish regional gambits constitutes an effort to reduce Palestinian dependence on Israel at a time when the Jewish state is looking at annexing parts of the occupied West Bank.
Already at the core of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Jerusalem is emerging as yet another frontline in the struggle for regional hegemony in the Middle East. With its annexationist policies, Israel is backing Saudi and UAE efforts to counter Turkish activity in the city and weaken Jordan’s position as the custodian of Islam’s third most holy site.
Resolving the tug of war in the Middle East will require a backing away from approaches that treat conflicts as zero-sum games, and engagement by all regional and external players. To achieve that, players would have to recognise that in many ways, perceptions on both sides of the Gulf divide are mirror images of one another: all parties see each other as existential threats.
The hiring by Saudi Arabia of an international public relations firm to counter doubts about Mohammed bin Salman’s $500 billion USD dream of a futuristic city on the Red Sea suggests that the kingdom’s economic and financial crisis has not dampened his penchant for big ticket, high-profile projects.
China was quick to aid coronavirus-stricken Sri Lanka. Chinese magnanimity and speed in responding to the Indian Ocean island’s request contrasted starkly with Beijing’s more measured response to Africa’s needs, widely expected to be the pandemic’s next hotspot.
Geography was but one reason why China favoured the strategic island that straddles one of the Indian Ocean’s busiest shipping routes.
The Trump administration’s quest to curb relationships between its allies in the Middle East and China offers a preview of how big power rivalry in the region is likely to unfold. It also suggests the limits on the United States’ ability to reduce its commitment to regional security.
A Turkish-US business council is projecting Turkey as a trading alternative to China with the help of influential US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a close associate of President Donald J. Trump.
The Turkish effort comes two weeks after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan heralded a new era in long-strained relations with Washington.
A web of relationships between Turkey, Russia, Iran, and China have to a significant degree shaped Middle Eastern and North African geopolitics. The fragility of those relationships, however, begs the question whether fluidity in regional geopolitics rather than paradigm shifts is, at least for now, the name of the game.
Europe is progressively being sucked into the Middle East and North Africa’s myriad conflicts. As if wars on its doorstep in Libya and Syria were not enough, UAE support for an Eastern Mediterranean pipeline that could hurt Qatar economically — combined with Greek, Cypriot and French opposition to Turkish moves — leaves Europe with few, if any, options but to get involved.
China looms large as a potentially key player alongside Russia and Iran in President Bashas al-Assad’s post-war Syria. With Russia and Iran lacking the financial muscle and the United States and Europe refusing to engage with the Al-Assad regime, China is from Syria’s perspective the shining knight on a white horse. Syria could become a key node in China’s infrastructure, telecommunications and energy-driven Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Syria could also bring it closer to being sucked into the Middle East’s multiple conflicts.