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

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7