By Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Rice University | –
Since then, thousands have died in Gaza and in Israel. And fears of the conflict spreading across the region form the backdrop to frenzied diplomacy across the region, including a visit to Israel by U.S. President Joe Biden on Oct. 18.
It also threatens to undermine a key pillar of Saudi Arabia’s foreign and domestic agenda: the “de-risking” of the region. With Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman set on implementing “Vision 2030” – an ambitious economic, social and cultural program – and developing the kingdom as a destination for tourism and investment, a renewal of regional instability is the last thing the crown prince needs.
Certainly, the escalating violence in the Middle East presents a challenge to the shift toward de-escalation of tensions across much of the broader region in recent years.
This has included the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020, which established diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco. But it goes further, including multiple-state treaties that have healed rifts across the Gulf, culminating in the signing of a deal in March 2023 to restore Saudi-Iranian relations.