Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Israel’s Divisions and Their Implications

The internal divisions we now see manifest themselves in Israel have significant multifaceted implications for the region. It is these implications that concern us here, and not the domestic developments in Israel that began with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his extremist allies forming a government.

These sharp Israeli divisions call for reflection. What do they mean for US foreign policy in the region? How will they impact the peace process being discussed by the Biden administration? What bearing will they have on the Abraham Accords?

What about Iran’s nuclear program? What repercussions will these divisions have on Israel’s plan to confront it? The most dangerous question for our region is how the Iranians will interpret the developments in Israel, especially with regard to how it will deploy its proxies, like Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Tehran and its proxies misreading Israeli events, by firing missiles or attacking Israel in alternative ways, would give Netanyahu a way out of his domestic crisis. It could even precipitate a war whose ramifications cannot be ascertained beforehand.

With regard to US-Israeli relations, Washington’s position on Netanyahu is clear. Washington almost seems like the first to tell the Israeli prime minister: Leave. Indeed, it is no secret that the Biden administration does not like dealing with Netanyahu.

This is a purely domestic Israeli matter. However, given the fact that Biden’s relationship with all allies in the region is not good, or not as good as it should be, it raises an important question: How will Washington engage with a region where it has no solid alliances?

Washington’s relationship with Riyadh is not ideal, nor is the US close to Cairo. The same is true for Ankara and the other Gulf states, particularly with regard to issues that require categorical stances. This dispute with Netanyahu and Israel’s internal upheaval adds to this.

The countries of the region, especially its moderate ones, are not at fault here. This is not true for Israel, as it is a big part of the problem in the region. It is the Biden administration’s fault. One simple fact tells us everything we need to know: US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that Iran and its proxies have targeted US interests in the region 83 times since Biden was elected; Washington retaliated with only four strikes.

This statement is enough to allow us to understand US foreign policy towards our region and Iran. It tells us everything about how the US has been behaving in the region and why its allies are right to repeat the famous American proverb: “With friends like these, who needs enemies!”

It is clear that the US administration does not understand a fundamental fact about our region. Trying to make your way in this region without allies is like trying to cross the desert alone in the dead of night. At night, deserts are dangerous and brimming with the wicked.

To sum up: the events in Israel have arisen as a result of an alliance of extremists in a country that is responsible for much of the region’s problems. However, it is the repercussions for our region that concerns us, especially the prospect of these developments being misread, especially by Iran and its subordinates.

In addition to all these difficulties, the presidential election campaign that always grips the United States is not far off, and as they say on the famous TV series “The West Wing”: “All people are idiots during election season.” This is to say nothing about the fact that the president is turning into a lame duck.