Washington Needs a Different Approach to Communicate the Dangers of China to Its Middle Eastern Allies

While Israel has taken important steps to address American concerns about its diplomatic and economic relations with China, other U.S. allies in the region—especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—have appeared to move even closer to Beijing. Michael Singh argues that differing perspectives are part of the problem, and that Washington’s current policies are likely only to exacerbate it. In his view, both the U.S. and the Gulf states are being shortsighted:

Despite demarche after demarche, even America’s closest partners in the Middle East simply do not see China as a threat to their interests (apart from the friction that their Chinese ties are creating with Washington, perhaps). This is not to say they are blindly trusting of Beijing’s intentions, merely that they do not view its actions as threatening. In fact, they see China’s desire to be more active in the Middle East as an opportunity, whether in terms of attracting trade and investment or balancing their dependence on the United States.

Yet this threat perception is deeply mistaken. For example, if China attempts to take Taiwan by force or other methods, the resulting crisis would likely entail enormous disruptions in global trade that wreak severe economic damage in the Middle East. Even short of that drastic scenario, Beijing could weaponize its economic leverage over the region at any time for political purposes, as it has already attempted to do against Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and others. Chinese cooperation with Iran remains deeply problematic as well—despite Beijing’s efforts to frame it in positive terms (e.g., the recent Iran-Saudi rapprochement), such activity has helped shield Tehran from economic and diplomatic isolation while enhancing the threat it poses to neighbors.

U.S. officials should emphasize these threats rather than rehashing messages about democracy vs. autocracy or risks to the international order, which do not resonate among most U.S. partners in the Middle East. Much like China, the majority of these partners see themselves as rising powers who have not been accorded their fair share of global influence.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: China, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, United Arab Emirates

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security