Home Covid-19 Covid-19 News Spurned by allies, Saudi rethinks chequebook diplomacy

Spurned by allies, Saudi rethinks chequebook diplomacy

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From Pakistan to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia is scaling again its famed chequebook diplomacy, a longstanding coverage of splashing petro-dollars in trade for affect, which observers say has yielded few tangible beneficial properties.

For many years, the rich kingdom funnelled billions in assist to its allies — and to its enemies’ enemies — in a bid to bolster its place as an Arab powerhouse and chief of the Muslim world.

But as plummeting demand has sapped its oil revenues, the dominion is rethinking previous alliances that Saudi observers say have swallowed their money whereas providing little in return, at a time when its quest for regional supremacy is more and more challenged by rivals Iran, Turkey and Qatar.

A swathe of regional international locations, from Jordan and Lebanon to Egypt, Palestine and Pakistan, have been the highest recipients of Saudi assist over the previous decade, stated Middle East knowledgeable Yasmine Farouk.

“The dual economic impact of the coronavirus and low oil prices, however, may lead Saudi Arabia to restructure and rationalise its aid,” stated Farouk, from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“The country is already seeking to end the perception of being ‘an ATM’.”

The kingdom has contributed billions to Lebanon’s post-civil battle reconstruction, however it has voiced frustration over its failure to rein in Hezbollah, a strong group backed by its arch-enemy Iran.

“Saudi Arabia will not continue to pay Hezbollah’s bills, and the Lebanese have to shoulder their responsibilities towards their country,” Saudi columnist Khalid al-Sulaiman wrote lately for the pro-government Okaz newspaper.

“It is now not potential for Saudi Arabia to proceed paying billions to Lebanon within the morning and obtain insults at evening. 

“This scenario is now not appropriate with the brand new Saudi overseas coverage, as Saudi cash doesn’t fall from the sky or develop within the desert.”

– ‘Party is over’ –

Saudi Arabia additionally seems annoyed with Pakistan after the longstanding ally pushed Riyadh to take a firm stand on the disputed area of Kashmir and threatened to take the problem to different Muslim boards.

Such a risk is especially disconcerting for Saudi Arabia, which is dwelling to Islam’s holiest websites and views itself because the chief of the Muslim world.

The kingdom lately recalled $1 billion of a $3 billion mortgage from cash-strapped Pakistan, and an expired multi-billion greenback oil credit score facility to Islamabad has not been renewed, a diplomatic supply instructed AFP.

“Pakistani elites have a foul behavior of taking Saudi assist as a right, given what Saudi has performed for Pakistan over the many years,” tweeted Ali Shihabi, a Saudi creator and analyst.

“Well the occasion is over, and Pakistan must ship worth to this relationship. It’s now not a free lunch or a one-way avenue.”

Riyadh’s ties with Pakistan have traditionally been “very heat” however the relationship has been lopsided, stated Saudi prince Talal bin Mohammad al-Faisal.

“It (has) solely benefited one facet in ‘actual world’ phrases,” he tweeted.

“That facet is Pakistan.”

– ‘Take their cash’ –

Pakistan and Egypt, one other ally which has obtained billions in assist, rebuffed requires floor troops to assist the Saudi-led army marketing campaign in Yemen in opposition to Iran-linked Huthi rebels.

Further stirring consternation in Riyadh, a leaked 2015 audio recording confirmed Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi allegedly mocking Gulf powers together with Saudi Arabia, saying they had been rolling in cash “like rice”.

That sentiment was echoed in 2018 by US President Donald Trump when he hosted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman within the Oval Office and held up a chart itemizing army {hardware} gross sales price billions to Riyadh.

“Take their cash,” Trump instructed NBC News the next 12 months, justifying backing the dominion’s rulers after journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s homicide sparked world uproar.

With so a lot of its relationships rendered transactional, Riyadh is struggling to win respect and its once-leading function within the Muslim world is more and more challenged by its rivals, observers say.

The Saudis are more and more resentful of “ungrateful” allies, stated Farouk.

States which have historically benefited from Saudi largesse, together with Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine, have “already seen situations during which assist was frozen, decreased or lower off”, she added.

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