Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week.
Was it a warning shot to Israel, and neighboring Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates, sanctioned by the Saudi king himself? Was it a more carefully calibrated speech meant to curry favor with the Saudi public, and other countries in the Arab world, by pushing back on the idea of normalization with Israel? Or was it a rogue statement by a once-powerful prince who has since fallen out of favor with the new royal court in Riyadh?
Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief close to King Salman, delivered an unusually blunt address at a security conference in Bahrain on Sunday, calling Israel the “last of the Western colonizing powers in the Middle East” and doubting its commitment to peace with the Palestinians, as well as its democratic bona fides. (The prince didn’t, of course, couch his criticisms in any reflection that the House of Saud rules with absolute authority).