Expert: China Is Losing Ground In The Middle East
Only the United States can integrate an Arab air defense against Iran, David Schenker, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said during a talk at the Washington-based Jewish Policy Center on “Saudi Arabia in a Period of Change.”
Jewish Policy Center senior director Shoshana Bryen asked Schenker whether the Gulf states will distance themselves from Israel as the Biden administration is unenthusiastic about the Abraham Accords and seeks to revive the Iran nuclear deal.
According to The Times Of Israel, US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multilateral Affairs and for Global China Issues Jung H. Pak told the Sino-Israel Global Network and Academic Leadership’s (SIGNAL) conference that Israel should take further steps to guard its “advanced critical technologies” against Chinese investment.
Pak said the US “does not wish for Israel and others in the region to decouple from China… we want to promote trade in ways that do not threaten our security and human rights values.”
The Biden official told the SIGNAL conference that China does not adhere to widely-respected foreign investment rules: “The principles are not accepted everywhere. On the contrary, in the past they have been used for unfair profits and illiberal purposes by China.”
Schenker, a former principal Middle East adviser to the Secretary of State, replied that the U.S. is an irreplaceable ally for the Gulf.
He also discussed an issue that could harm the progress of the Abraham Accords: technology security issues in light of the Gulf states’ deepening relations with China.
Pak pointed out that China poses a security threat in that it has “entered Israel’s thriving hi-tech sector…investing hundreds of millions of dollars” in areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and robotics, and In through “joint research developed with foreign funds or with foreign universities, but also through theft and financial fraud.”
“Israel has started the process of investment screening. That is a good first step,” Pak said via video link. “We would like to see more action.”
The U.S. cannot sell the United Arab Emirates F-35 jets as promised in the Abraham Accords, he said, because the fighters require 5G communications, and the UAE has in place a Huawei Technologies Co. 5G telecommunications network, which would compromise the security of the joint strike fighter.
Schenker noted that the US has held technology security talks with both the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The recent cancelation by the United States military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) of talks with Riyadh was not in the best interest of the United States, he added.
He was not surprised by Arab fans’ poor treatment of Israeli journalists at the recent FIFA World Cup in Qatar. According to Washington Institute polling, no more than 35% of Emiratis support the Abraham Accords, Schenker said, putting the fans’ behavior in context.
He also mentioned that Saudi Arabia is making revisions to its textbooks, incorporating tolerance of Jews. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman selected an imam who publicly recognized the Holocaust and has advocated for other Arabs to do the same to give the chief sermon during the Hajj, Schenker added.
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate.