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What Mohammed bin Salman’s Presence at the G-20 Means?

What Mohammed bin Salman’s Presence at the G-20 Means?

Thursday, 29 November, 2018 - 07:00
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.
The G-20 summit in Buenos Aires is a global political summit although it bears an economic name. This is where agreements and difficult political matters are concluded.

One of the subjects in its backstage is Saudi Arabia, which found itself under the spotlight as a result of the events of the Yemen war and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Will Saudi Arabia send a low-ranking representative? Does the Saudi crown prince have to miss it?

We’ve seen how the campaign that has been launched for weeks now did not succeed in distancing Saudi Arabia or in preventing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from participating in the summit.

No one can deny that by visiting Argentina and four countries on the way to it, Prince Mohammed bin Salman thwarted the attempts of Saudi Arabia’s rivals and did not leave the arena for them. He did not evade confronting the challenges.

There were speculations that the Saudi Crown Prince will avoid going to Argentina but he did the opposite. He went there before the rest of the leaders and he even finished his program that was planned before the crisis and visited the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia on the way to the G-20 summit, and he will visit the rest of the countries on his way back to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, which is participating in the summit of the world’s largest economies, has this year advanced a rank, and it is ironic that it occupied the rank of Turkey, which has economically slumped behind Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is also participating in the summit following radical reforms it implemented on all legislative and taxation levels and on the role of the government in the market.

Above all that, Saudi Arabia’s request to hold the summit in Riyadh in 2020 was approved and this will anger its rivals, which sought to deprive it of the chance of participating in Argentina’s summit but failed. Riyadh will thus later hold a G-20 summit so how can it be isolated and the Saudi crown prince weakened?

The summit is supposed to be about economy, trade and the market. However, most of the meetings of the leaders of the G-20 countries will be on dealing with political disputes, including the Ukraine crisis between the US and Russia, the US accusations against China of expanding beyond its waters.

The issue of Europeans against the US president’s pressure on them in NATO and Brexit, and what this means in terms of future political and commercial consequences, may also come up for discussion.

With the Saudi Crown Prince, the main subject will be the Yemeni crisis. Everyone agrees on the importance to end it but there is no practical solution for it. As for the crisis of Khashoggi’s murder, there isn’t much that can be talked about.

Turkey has made great effort to politicize the case and serve the Qatari agenda, and Saudi Arabia carried out the measures expected from it with regard to trying the accused.

It was neither a coincidence nor surprising that Qatar’s emir and his father, the former emir of Qatar, appeared in Turkey in the past few days as this is the part of the harmony, which the Turkish president frankly talked about.

The difficult and complicated case is Yemen. How can Saudi Arabia, at the G-20 summit, calm down the countries objecting to the war or that are facing great pressure in their relations with Saudi Arabia due to the war?

This is a thorny issue, and the British now have an important role considering that the international envoy who is tasked with resolving the crisis is British.

There is a new breakthrough after the forces of Yemen’s legitimate government advanced and besieged the Hodeidah Port and entered a number of neighborhoods in the coastal city that’s very important for the Houthis because it funds their budget via fees and looting merchandise from ships.

Saudi Arabia knows that the countries objecting to the war want to stop the war but these countries do not have an alternative solution. This is what American officials echoed few days ago.

What’s the alternative solution to stop the war? The withdrawal of the Coalition’s forces will have horrible consequences. There isn’t a single major country that is willing to send troops to Yemen and manage the situation on the ground.

Therefore, what’s the alternative? Practically, there’s nothing except for expediting the victory of the Coalition’s countries and going back to the political solution which includes all of Yemen’s political components including the Houthis.

The G-20 summit will be a very important opportunity to talk about the Yemeni issue but it’s not among its jurisdictions to make decisions about it.

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