Under the auspices of China, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic relations on March 10. At the time of the deal’s announcement, U.S. President Joe Biden said better relations between “Israel” and their Arab neighbors are better for everybody rather than relations with Iran. Better for “everybody” depends on what is meant for everybody. If it means the U.S. financial classes and their Arab and Zionist comprador in the region, then Biden is spot on. However, for the masses of the Arab World that experience declining living standards, whether by peace or war, the U.S.-Israeli aggression against them will not stop. What must be understood is that the aggression is necessary for Western wealth-making because it extracts regional resources, which should otherwise better Arab social conditions, and ships them to U.S.-European markets in order to feed exponential growth and profits.
Moreover, the aggression, whether military or ideological, is itself an industry in its own right, which fuels wealth accumulation. At a first-principle level, the policies that dominate the air-waves, all aim to foment wars. To extoll the virtues of the market, erect a cultural identity that aborts the potential of labor as a historical agent, and push down the throat of indebted states policies of privatization and private property, leaves little resources for the peoples of the region and delivers them into inter-communal strife. The case of Sudan is one such blatant example. The wars visited upon the Arabs drive away their resources and are therefore a must for the global financial class.
However, capital or the principal social relation governing the remaking of the global order is a two-pronged process. At first, capital is of the same class fabric, and it initially aims at oppressing workers everywhere. This capital against labor is a first contradiction. A second but not secondary contradiction is the inter-capitalist competition for power, which determines the shares of the various circles of capital. For instance, the U.S. sits atop the capital pyramid and receives a fallout in rent depending on its power standing. It would not want lower suzerains to catch more of the rents. It sometimes sacrifices its bourgeois allies to grab their shares. Saudi Arabia was one such candidate readied to be sacrificed along with some sections of its ruling class.
With the rise of China, the global balance of forces shifted, and bourgeois classes disgruntled with the U.S.’s avarice for rents saw a window of opportunity to save themselves. After years of war with Yemen at the behest of the empire to secure the Mandeb Straits, it was left weakened and alone. Sensing the danger of bourgeois fratricide, the Saudis intelligently decided to maneuver into a position backed by Chinese guarantees of security. China builds capacity and détente abroad, which are measures anathema to U.S. imperialism whose goal is to destabilize in order to snatch resources.
For the U.S., War Masquerades as Peace
In efforts to normalize relations between “Israel” and the Arab world, the U.S. brokered a series of agreements called “The Abraham Accords”. They propose a strategy of forging alliances with “Israel” to counterbalance the Axis of Resistance. They base the rationale for joining Arab and Israeli forces on an alleged Iranian threat. Already, these Arab ruling classes were extensions of and under the purview of the U.S.-Israeli ruling classes. Their coming out is nothing less than a sign of weakness to reposition forces around a strengthening Axis of resistance.
These Abrahamic shenanigans provide new venues for class allies to enhance their own aggressive capabilities through the purchase of arms from “Israel”. “Israel”, by the way, is the largest exporter of arms per capita in the world. So far, “Israel” normalizes with Oman, Bahrain, the UAE, Morocco, and Sudan, in addition to the earlier trophies of peace, Jordan, and Egypt. It shares an informal relationship with Saudi Arabia and Doha. It for instance conducts diamond trade in Doha while Saudi Arabia has recently opened its airspace for Israeli commercial airplanes.
The so-called “Abraham Accords” are an unthinkable ‘promise’ for peace without Palestine and the right of return. They supposedly foster incremental developments with the GCC by precluding even the lowly option of a two-state solution which was endorsed by the Arab Peace Initiative (API). Saudi Arabia maintained that its position remains solely expressed through its commitment to the API, wherein normalization with “Israel” would only be conceivable once the conditions listed in the Arab-brokered initiative are fulfilled. But the fact that UAE, Sudan, Morocco, and Bahrain normalized their relations with “Israel” is indicative of consent by Saudi Arabia. As observed by Israeli writer Henrique Zimmerman, the signatories of the Accords “would not have signed the agreement without the approval of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is the most influential country in the Arab world.” So what would have really prevented an alliance between “Israel” and Saudi Arabia?
In a previous article, I showed how the U.S. failed to fulfill its security commitments toward Saudi Arabia. Whereas Saudi Arabia has boosted the U.S. status as a world hegemon by denominating its oil in dollars, the U.S. has failed to stick to its side of the bargain by ensuring that the Saudi Kingdom has all its security needs, foremost its regime, or ruling class security answered. Fearing the tightening grip of the Axis of resistance around it, normalization with “Israel” went out of the window, while China provided the face-saving arrangement with Iran.
An agreement “Made in China”
Unlike the U.S., China needs peace to expand. The Chinese-brokered agreement emerged in retaliation to the U.S. as the latter continues to wage a series of provocations aimed at destabilizing China’s domestic stability with regard to Taiwan. It is retaliatory because it presents a strategic threat to U.S. interests and its hegemonic influence across the Arab region. It is also retaliatory because it threatens to undermine the petrodollar system upon which the dollar supremacy is based on. Since the Saudi-Iran agreement went into effect, it is only fair to characterize the scale of the changes that ensued following its implementation as unprecedented. Very much like a drop of water falling into a puddle, the agreement rippled across the region, bearing fruits in Yemen and Syria.
First are the developments that ensued between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. For eight years, Yemen endured a U.S.-sponsored war that has claimed the lives of nearly half a million people. On April 9, Saudi officials met with high-ranking officials from the Sanaa government for peace negotiations, and on April 14, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced that a massive prisoner exchange operation had kicked off. On April 29, senior member of the Ansar Allah political bureau Ali Al-Qahoum admitted that China played a pivotal role in the negotiations for restoring regional peace and warding off Western hegemony. Some challenges however remain with regard to U.S. and UK interference in pushing for another escalation. Yet a positive outlook persists as officials from both sides mobilize efforts for dialogue.
Secondly, there has been the push to re-integrate Syria into the Arab League through the collective efforts of several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, which has in spearheaded the move. The U.S. and the UK had on the other hand reaffirmed their commitment to remain opposed to the restoring of ties with Damascus but they would continue to work with Arab states that rekindle diplomatic relations.
Thirdly, there has been news of Saudi Arabia expressing an interest in holding talks with Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia was largely a precursor for designating Hezbollah as a terror organization both at the GCC level as well as in the Arab League. With a shift in policy that appears to be more driven from the Saudi side than from Iran, prospects for political stability in Lebanon are also looming. But the fact remains that Lebanon is sickened with sectarianism fueled by geopolitical rents that easily plays into the hand of “Israel” and the U.S.
Fourthly, prospects for normalization with Hamas are likewise on the horizon as talks were recently held between Hamas and Saudi officials. On April 16, the two parties met in Riyadh to hold discussions on the release of Hamas-affiliated individuals detained in Saudi jails. There are also hopes for relations to improve between Saudi Arabia and Iraq’s movement for resistance, the Kataib Hezbollah.
Finally, whether the deal restores relations between Turkey and Syria is still up for discussion. However, chances are they might broach the issue considering that the project of restoring peace in Syria is part of the wider Iran-Saudi deal agenda. Yet the presence of U.S. troops in Syria remains problematic for two reasons: firstly, U.S. troops are stationed in Syria for the sole purpose of toppling the government of Bashar Al-Assad. To loot Syria’s oil resources in the north is simply a means towards that end; and secondly, because Saudi Arabia’s institutions are closely tied to the U.S., the latter holds much leverage inside the Kingdom. As a key regional player, Saudi Arabia could exert pressure to restore Ankara-Damascus relations, but it is unclear how able it is to do so.
The U.S. has been setback by the China-sponsored peace. Its “rules-based” world order hangs by a thread, while its dollar supremacy wanes. Doubtless, the blow was hard for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who just a month prior to the Iran-Saudi deal said that “Israel” and Saudi Arabia were planning to join forces on the basis of a common goal of stopping Iran. By more sober analysis, normalizing ties with “Israel” for any regime in the region is an act of suicide, unless the march of history eliminates the working classes as subject of history.
After all, the Israeli-Arab war is a war of capital against labor. The principal lesson learnt so far is that regional peace is global-relations-derived peace. The saddest part of this is that Arab progressive forces still prioritize internal demands for higher working-class wages over struggles against imperialism. Without Arab national security, there is no working-class living security. While the region’s future and much of the Third World will depend on how China unseats the U.S. hegemon, the Arab vanguard is fast asleep.