The most widely read English-language newspaper in Saudi Arabia published an op-ed by Israeli writers for the first time yesterday. The Arab News carried an article by Dr Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak and Dr Jonathan Spyer.
The article looked at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “increasingly authoritarian” rule and alleged establishment of a private militia network made up of fighters from the Syrian civil war. It was, apparently, the result of joint research with an independent think tank called Trends, based in Abu Dhabi.
“Their [private Syrian militias’] role is to advance [Erdogan’s] grand plan of re-establishing influence over a region roughly ov erlapping the former Ottoman Empire, from the Palestinian territories to Syria and the Caucasus to as far away as Kashmir, according to some reports,” wrote Yanarocak and Spyer. “These proxies provide the Turkish president with a large pool of available, organised, trained, easily deployed and easily disposable foreign manpower as a tool of power projection, which can be used with a degree of plausible deniability.”
They added that the West must pressure Erdogan to end such “nefarious” practices. “This needs to end. Militias, terror groups and Islamist extremism are all elements that the Middle East must outgrow if it is to achieve stability and reconstruction,” they insisted.
Although Saudi Arabia and Israel share a common enemy in Iran, Riyadh has so far declined to normalise ties with the settler-colonial state of Israel, saying that Palestinian statehood goals should be addressed first. The US has been calling for Saudi to follow in the footsteps of its neighbours and allies the UAE and Bahrain, who normalised ties last year. They were followed by Sudan and, most recently, Morocco.
The deals drew widespread condemnation from Palestinians, who say that the so-called “Abraham Accords” ride roughshod over their legitimate rights.