Having recently returned from a weeklong visit to Saudi Arabia, during which he met with various prominent persons, Robert Satloff comments on the mood in the country, the rapid social and political changes, attitudes toward the U.S., and the possibility of normalization with Israel:
Five years ago, . . . we heard senior leadership characterize Israel as a “potential ally.” Now we see evidence of creeping normalization all around, with businesspeople, bankers, and athletes beginning to visit the kingdom in their professional capacities.
Yet one would be mistaken to conclude that full normalization is right around the corner. This is not due to lack of progress on the Palestinian issue, but rather to the fact that normalization—while certainly beneficial to the Saudis—is less important to them than it was to the states that signed onto the Abraham Accords. For one thing, the kingdom will be grappling with other major political, social, and economic reforms and has to consider carefully the manner and order in which they are implemented. . . . A society can only take so much reform at any one time.
Satloff’s remarks can be heard in full here, and a detailed written summary can be read at the link below. (Moderated by David Schenker. Video, 76 minutes.)