A Turkish scholar on international relations foresees a new world order following the warming of Saudi Israel Relations.
Huseyin Bagci, a professor at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, said the development was in tandem with Saudi Arabia’s move to shift from its Wahhabi doctrine towards moderation.
He said it remained to be seen how far Malaysia and other countries in the Islamic world would change their value systems to fit into the new dynamics.
Although Saudi Arabia, an ally of the US, does not have official diplomatic relations with Israel, its ties with the Jewish nation have improved due to a shared perception of a threat from Iran.
Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was installed in June, is said to be a reformist with an agenda to move towards close ties with Israel.
In Malaysia, there is an ongoing debate on whether the country’s tightening of bonds with Saudi Arabia would Arabise the country and threaten localised Islamic values and practices to the detriment of the nation’s multi-cultural character.
Bagci said the improving rapport between Saudi Arabia, the US and Israel would have an impact on the relationships of these countries not only with Muslim nations but also with other countries.
“There’ll be a debate among the international community about a new world order,” he told FMT during a break in discussions at the International Security Dialogue in Putrajaya.
He said Saudi Arabia was at an interesting stage because Mohammed’s ambitions appeared to be more intense than his predecessor’s.
“Saudi Arabia is also changing from radical behaviour to one of moderation,” he said.
“I’d say the Saudis are retreating from their Wahabbi position, which started in 1973 as an ideological fight against Nasserism and Arab nationalism,” he said, referring to the socialist ideology based on the thinking of Egypt’s 1952 revolution leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Bagci also said the Saudi shift would not be welcomed by Ankara because Turkey had been the economic leader in the West Asian region since the days of the Ottoman Empire, which lasted from the 14th century until 1922.
“Even today, we’re better than Saudi Arabia economically, and we’re bigger and more influential,” he said.
In October, AFP reported that Mohammed had vowed to restore “moderate, open” Islam in Saudi-Arabia.
The statement by the crown prince, who is also his country’s first deputy prime minister and defence minister, was the most direct attack by a top official on the country’s fundamentalist religious establishment.-AFP