The political developments in Gulf-region are leaving no scope to imagination  that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is now working as an extended-arm of US, which is what is an extension of Israel.  Israel is the new super-power of the Gulf-region and has successfully raised a false-hoax of ‘rising-Iran’, to squeeze Arab-states into submission to Israel, after the Arab-states had bled each other since the last forty-years as Iran-Iraq war, then Gulf-war I&II, Syria, Libya, Yemen and the latest Lebanon is all in flames. No more the kingpin KSA, seems to be involved into guarding its constituency i.e. monarchy or even its leadership inside the Gulf-states or Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) , but is scouting ‘more’ to take-on with the adversaries of US.  Perhaps, never in its history KSA has been on such a dangerous liaison. The reason is a USA court summoning the KSA crown prince MbS into allegations that he had sent death squads to get his intelligence official killed Saad Al Jabri 1 the same way he had allegedly got done to Jamal Khashogi. This specter is now to loom large on the entire career of MbS as this ‘stick-and-carrot’ will go-on for him, in terms of US, for his whole life.

The latest, in the turn of events to concur, since the entire polity of Gulf-region has gone berserk, as Iran-China, after India was ousted, has entered into a 400 billion USD deal 2, was that US got KSA to declare an annulment of the 10 billion USD it had to invest in oil refinery and petrochemicals complex in China 3  on August 21, 2020. The reason forwarded is that due to the spread of COVID-19, KSA has been hit by economic upheavals and oil processes have also drastically gone down too, hence, the deal is scrapped. It is also learnt that KSA has also terminated its 20 billion USD investment in Pakistan as well.   There are already reports that Pakistan-KSA 4 relations have dipped to all time low as KSA had taken back its 1 billion USD loan from Pakistan and also has stopped oil supplies to Pakistan on deferred loan.

But, as if the slap on Pakistan was not that enough that KSA announced it would invest 15 billion in India’s Reliance 5 , ‘World’s largest oil company Aramco (KSA) remains committed on its investment plan in India, including a $15 billion deal with Reliance Industries, even though Covid-19 pandemic has made life difficult for oil companies with suppressed demand and falling oil prices and wide scale erosion in valuations. Doubts were raised about investment plan of Aramco after the oil giant reported a 50 per cent fall in net income for the first half of its financial year, reflecting a devastating year for oil markets and the global economy at large as the world continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic’ 6 . The plan of KSA is to take its investment into for the next level as in the same report ( in The Economic Times) , it is stated, ‘Indian government is also looking at Aramco’s investment in $60 billion oil refinery proposed in Maharashtra as well get its investment oil marketing and retailing in the country. The oil giant is also exploring options to put some of its oil in India’s strategic oil reserve’.

The pathetic Pakistan position has been such that when KSA sought its loan back, it took Pakistan unawares, and hence, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmud Qureshi  gave an alibi (satired) that owing to economic meltdown in KSA,  in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, it wanted its loan back.  But, as if a slap was not enough that a still tighter came as the loan which Pakistan returned is now to be invested in Jio Fiber of Mukesh Ambani, India  on August 21, 20207 . It is of course Pakistan could return the money when China provided to it .  This is the part of quid pro quo which KSA is so eagerly to comply to the US tunes as US wants KSA not only to withdraw from China but to invest where China is a foe.  In this whole jigsaw Pakistan does not fit anywhere as firstly it is no more required for US to carry-out its beleaguered army ‘out’ from Afghanistan and for KSA to trample Pakistan is of no consequence.

This reaction was quite on the expected lines as Pakistan foreign minister Qureshi was on a visit to China, a day earlier, where his counterpart Wang Yi, received him with ‘open-arms’, literally for the world to see, which was a personal blow to KSA and KSA had directed to Pakistan to walk-out-of-CPEC  etc which Pakistan did not pay heed to, thus KSA has decided to discard Pakistan to be with US, India, Israel for the days ahead.  Already, KSA is jubilant with the opening of Israel embassy in UAE and it is expected that Israel is now to provide Iron Dome missile system to UAE apart from Laser defense system so as to safeguard UAE against Iran which will thwart any drone coming into the airspace of UAE.  This Iron Dome is of the stature of S-400 anti-ballistic missile system and Iran is also plying for S-400 missile from Russia, on the lines of Turkey.  Israel has, despite, its bonhomie with UAE opposed US selling F-35 to UAE and this posturing of Israel has sounded some alert in KSA, but in the times to come the world is all likely to find the KSA-Israel collision, as very soon Israel would be selling its weapons to KSA too.

Iran , has been quite taken aback from UAE-Israel gesture as accordingly there is a lot of skepticism in Tehran. ‘Unsurprisingly, the Iranian government reacted angrily to the news. Iranian President Rouhani warned that “if the agreement leads to expanded Israeli influence in the region, things will change and they will be dealt with in a different manner.” Chief of Iran’s Armed Forces General Staff (AFGS), Major General Mohammad Baqeri also warned that “if anything happens in the Persian Gulf and the national security of  Islamic Republic of Iran is endangered—even slightly—we will blame the UAE, and will not tolerate it.” However, the UAE’s Foreign Minister has publicly announced that the agreement with Israel is not “about Iran,” but a matter of sovereignty decision.   More ominous for Tehran are the reports that an increasing number of Arab countries, presumably Bahrain and Oman, would soon follow UAE’s path in normalizing relations with Israel’, said an article published in Atlantic Council 8 on August 20, 2020. Going by the rhetoric it seems UAE-Iran conflict might be on the cards?

The KSA gesture vis-à-vis Pakistan, however, was just to humiliate Pakistan more as a mere 1 billion USD loan is peanuts! Remember once US President Donald Trump saying to KSA crown prince MbS , “But if you look, in terms of dollars, $3 billion, $533 million, $525 million — that’s peanuts for you (MbS) 9 on March 20, 2018, and isn’t it a fact that KSA is building a Neom City, which is a project of more than 500 billion USD as the city is going to be 33% bigger than New York City 10 . How KSA is now to further come to the rescue of India, in comparison to Pakistan, is only time can foretell,  but India on its side is pretty much tied-up, as while it is faces a tough China externally , internally it has been fractured,  as 19 million of salaried Indians have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 spreadout.

Let’s see how scenario tends to develop around UAE-Iran, India-China, India-Pakistan, Turkey-Greece, China-US or for that matter an all out war of US against Iran.

The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner. He is also a lawyer based in Lucknow.

References:

1-https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/court-issues-summons-saudi-arabia-mohammed-bin-salman-200810081311989.html

2-https://countercurrents.org/2020/08/through-sanctions-on-iran-us-to-target-cpec-and-bri/

3-https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/saudi-aramco-suspends-us-10b-china-oil-refinery-venture-1.1483132

4-https://countercurrents.org/2020/08/israel-threatens-pakistan-and-saudi-arabia-ditches-pakistan-on-kashmir/

5-https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/business/saudi-aramco-still-aims-for-15-billion-investment-in-indias-reliance/articleshow/77455757.cms?from=mdr

6-https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/oil-and-gas/saudi-aramco-continues-to-explore-its-india-investment-plan/77690318#:~:text=Read%20This%20Story-,New%20Delhi%3A%20World’s%20largest%20oil%20company%20Aramco%20remains%20committed%20on,wide%20scale%20erosion%20in%20valuations.

7-https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/saudi-arabias-public-investment-fund-looks-to-invest-up-to-1-billion-in-jios-fibre-assets/articleshow/77665968.cms

8-https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/iransource/why-is-iran-concerned-about-the-peace-agreement-between-the-uae-and-israel/

9-https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-kingdom-saudi-arabia-bilateral-meeting/

10-https://www.businessinsider.in/advertising/everything-we-know-about-neom-a-mega-city-project-in-saudi-arabia-with-plans-for-flying-cars-and-robot-dinosaurs/articleshow/71232439.cms

11-DH Toon | 19 million salaried people lost jobs during Covid-19 lockdown


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