US Seeks to Shift Iran's Calculus with Saudi-Israel Deal

The US aims to alter Iran's decision-making process by signing a defense deal with Saudi Arabia, conditional on Saudi-Israeli normalization. The proposed deal includes a bilateral US-Saudi defense pact and normalization of Saudi-Israeli relations, pending a Gaza cease-fire and Palestinian statehood pathway.

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Nitish Verma
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US Seeks to Shift Iran's Calculus with Saudi-Israel Deal

US Seeks to Shift Iran's Calculus with Saudi-Israel Deal

The United States is US, Leverages aiming to alter Iran's decision-making process by signing a defense deal with Saudi Arabia, conditional on Saudi-Israeli normalization, in an effort to contain Iran's regional influence and promote Middle East peace.

The proposed security package includes a bilateral U.S.-Saudi defense pact to enhance Saudi Arabia's deterrence capabilities, coupled with the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. However, Saudi Arabia has set conditions for normalization, including the establishment of a cease-fire in Gaza and a credible pathway to Palestinian statehood.

Why this matters: This development has significant implications for the balance of power in the Middle East, as it could lead to a shift in Iran's regional influence and potentially alter the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The success of this strategy could also have far-reaching consequences for global security and stability.

The U.S. administration's goals are twofold: to isolate Iran and make it costly for the Islamic republic to maintain its current regional policies, and to ensure a sustainable peace in the Middle East. A U.S. State Department spokesperson stated, "We continue to work with allies and partners to enhance their capabilities to deter and counter the threats Iran poses, impose costs on Iran for its actions, and seek to shift Iran's decision-making calculus over time."

Analysts have differing views on the potential impact of the proposed deal. Hamidreza Azizi, a fellow at theGerman Institutefor International and Security Affairs, believes that Iran will form counter-coalitions in response to any coalition-building. On the other hand, Anna Jacobs, a senior Gulf analyst at theInternational Crisis Group, suggests that Saudi Arabia can balance relations with Iran and Israel, similar to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) model.

Iran has long opposed Arab normalization with Israel and has criticized the Abraham Accords, which saw Bahrain and the UAE establish diplomatic ties with Israel in 2020. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei implicitly criticized Saudi Arabia's efforts to normalize relations with Israel on May 1.

The proposed U.S.-Saudi defense deal and the potential for Saudi-Israeli normalization represent a significant shift in thegeopolitical landscapeof the Middle East. As the U.S. seeks to counter Iran's regional influence, the success of this strategy will depend on the willingness of Saudi Arabia and Israel to forge closer ties and the response from Iran and its allies in the region.