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Saudi Arabia, the Third Way


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Saudi Arabia, the Third Way

Sunday, 25 September, 2022 - 11:00
Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

The success of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz’s humanitarian initiative, which allowed for prisoners from five nations to be exchanged between Russia and Ukraine, means that there is a third way of addressing the war in Ukraine.

The Crown Prince’s efforts were crowned with the freeing of 10 prisoners from Morocco, the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Croatia. This was a humanitarian endeavor, no doubt, but it also sent a clear message that diplomacy and rationality could contribute to paving a way out of this destructive conflict.

The initiative led by the Crown Prince signaled that Saudi Arabia could pave a third way could be taken to lead us out of this crisis or reduce its harm instead of deludedly betting on one side winning and another losing - concepts that are difficult to define in this crisis.

The praise for Saudi Arabia and the efforts of the Crown Prince, from across the globe and by both the Ukrainian and Russian presidents, demonstrates that Saudi Arabia has their trust and can lead international meditation efforts to reach a reasonable solution to this crisis.

Neither Saudi Arabia nor its Crown Prince took this initiative to carve out a role for themselves or promote the image of the country. Rather, this initiative was launched because it is in everyone’s interest to end this war that is wreaking havoc on Ukraine and not only impacting Europe, but the entire world by restricting the supply of food and even energy.

Saudi Arabia and its leadership are keen on ensuring stability and development - that is the Saudi way. One older incident demonstrates just how entrenched this approach is in the Kingdom.

In May 2010, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz visited Norway when he was the Governor of Riyadh. There, the Norwegian foreign minister inquired about Saudi Arabia’s role in Afghanistan and stressed that it is critical for the Kingdom to play a role.

King Salman replied, and I quote: “I say this without arrogance. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not seeking a role; the crisis is crying out for the intervention of the Kingdom.”

I recently asked an official about Saudi foreign policy and its foundation. He replied unequivocally: “The foreign policy of Saudi Arabia is concerned with development… development… development.” This has been obvious since the AlUla Agreement and the regional, Arab, and Gulf rounds of talks that have followed.

It has also been clear since the Kingdom hosted the G20, and it manifested itself again with the summit that brought the countries of the Arab Gulf together with the US.

We are now seeing this approach embodied in the successful humanitarian initiative of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which has generated hope that mediation and rationality can end the crisis in Ukraine and has left the impression that effective mediation can have a real impact.

The crisis in Ukraine is certainly extremely complicated, and resolving it is not merely a simple question of mediation. Ending this crisis will not be easy, but what I mean is that the Saudi Crown Prince has demonstrated that there is a third way of dealing with the crisis and that it could create solutions or even quell the escalation and avoid what could be a catastrophe.

And so, what Saudi Arabia has achieved through this initiative by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman signals to everyone concerned that diplomacy remains the best course and that it could pave the way for the best solutions instead of this destructive war.

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