How the U.S. Can Make Peace, Give Saudi Arabia Nuclear Power, and Pursue Its Regional Interests

As part of a possible deal that would involve normalization of relations with Israel, the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman has requested that the U.S. aid his kingdom in acquiring the means to enrich uranium and produce nuclear energy. The second part of the request, explain Anthony Ruggiero and Andrea Stricker, is entirely reasonable, but the first would give Riyadh the capacity to produce nuclear fuel both for reactors and for bombs. They suggest a better alternative, which could be part of an improved U.S. approach to the Middle East:

[T]he U.S. should offer to sell the kingdom a fleet of reactors from Westinghouse, an American company. Alternatively, the U.S. and South Korea could undertake a joint reactor venture. Seoul is already bidding on the Saudi reactor project. It has built three reactors in the United Arab Emirates and is working on a fourth. America should also offer its nuclear safety, security, and technical expertise, while assisting Riyadh’s uranium mining and milling endeavors.

Instead of enriching this uranium at home, however, Saudi Arabia would ship out the material to Europe’s Urenco consortium or the United States for nuclear-fuel fabrication. Washington might also offer an assured reactor-fuel supply, should the kingdom require it. . . . In securing these commitments, America would retain its “gold standard” of nonproliferation in the Middle East and prevent the spread of enrichment technology.

To seal the deal, Washington must reimpose United Nations sanctions against Iran, including a prohibition against Tehran’s uranium enrichment. This would mitigate the Saudis’ drive to match Tehran and convince the kingdom of American seriousness about reversing Iran’s proliferation efforts.

If the administration pursues such a plan, America will meet U.S., Saudi, and Israeli security objectives as well as win bipartisan support in a skeptical U.S. Congress, where Riyadh has few consistent friends.

Read more at The Hill

More about: Iran, Israel-Arab relations, Nuclear proliferation, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy