Brace Yourselves for Kushner's Full-of-Surprises Visit to the Middle East

Published November 30th, 2020 - 07:04 GMT
Brace Yourselves for Kushner's Full-of-Surprises Visit to the Middle East
The visit comes amid heightened tensions in the region, following the assignation of Iranian top nuclear scientist and a secret visit of the Israeli Prime Minister to the Saudi city of Neom. (Shutterstock: Alexandros Michailidis)

Only less than two months before having to leave the White House, Trump's chief Mideast Advisor Jared Kushner and his son-in-law who's reportedly best friends with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, is expected to pay the Middle East one last visit as a US senior official, and the visit is expected to bring the region too many changes.

This morning, Reuters and several other US sources have reported news of a Middle East trip Kushner is making to at least Saudi Arabia and Qatar, unleashing numerous speculations over the outcome of his visit.

Kushner is reportedly headed to the Middle East accompanied by former policy advisor Brian Hook, the CEO of the newly created international development finance corporation Adam Boehler, in addition to the special representative for international negotiations Avi Berkowitz.

The visit comes amid heightened tensions in the region, following the assignation of Iranian top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh near Tehran and a secret visit of the Israeli Prime Minister to the Saudi city of Neom, one that was only reported by the press with no Israeli official comments yet.

However, the fact that the announcement included both Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the agenda suggested that the US delegation is probably crafting an agreement between Saudi Arabia and its regional allies with Qatar, after more than three years of their major dispute that resulted in cutting all ties between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt on one side, and Qatar on the other.

The 2017 Gulf crack had been linked to the Trump administration's efforts to indirectly encourage Saudi Arabia and the UAE towards isolating Qatar in exchange for $1 billion worth of business contracts with Saudi and the UAE. Additionally, the timing of the GCC rift was linked to Trump's only visit to the Middle East in May 2017, during which he met with leaders of many countries in the region, including those of GCC states.

While many experts are expecting Kushner's visit to witness the signing of an agreement to end the GCC crisis, some also linked the fact that Kushner's visit is scheduled to the Saudi city of Neom, the closest geographical spot to Israel and the city that hosted the most recent 'secret' meeting between the Israeli Prime Minister and the Saudi heir to the throne last week, to possible US efforts to include Israel in the upcoming agreement.

Despite it being mere speculations, political analysts are referring to the Trump administration's efforts to score a major Middle East breakthrough before leaving the White House next January, to boost their chances in case President Donald Trump or other members of his family decide to run again for office in upcoming races.

Last September, the Trump administration brokered the Abraham Accords between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain, which paved the way for full diplomatic ties between them. In October, he also announced plans to sign a similar agreement between Israel and Sudan. Since then, Trump has talked about "several other Arab states interested in normalization with Israel."

 


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