Friday, November 17, 2017

News from the Saudi-Israeli Entente

News out of Riyadh tells us that Saudi King Salman will resign next week, to be replaced by his son the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Meanwhile, American commentators are horrified by what is happening in Saudi Arabia. As that nation works toward economic modernization and more liberal social policies, the commentariat insists that things can only get worse. Dare we say that their crystal balls are fogged over by their antipathy for the American president.

Two stories caught my attention recently, and I report them without any excessive commentary.

The first, from RT. Since the report quotes a high Israeli military official, in an on the record interview with a Saudi source, we may take that fact, in and of itself, as significant. Since Israel and Saudi Arabia have been getting closer lately, making a gesture toward the Saudis, in a Saudi newspaper, must count as significant outreach. I suspect that it would not have been offered if the Israelis did not have a reason to believe that it would be well received:

The chief of staff of Israel's military (IDF) told Saudi Arabia's Alaf newspaper in an unprecedented interview that his country is ready to share intelligence on Iran with Riyadh.

"With [US] President Donald Trump, there is an opportunity for a new international alliance in the region and a major strategic plan to stop the Iranian threat," Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), told the paper. "We are ready to exchange experiences with moderate Arab countries and exchange intelligence to confront Iran." 

When asked whether Israel had recently shared intelligence with the Saudis, Eisenkot said: "We are ready to share information if necessary. There are many common interests between us..."

The military official added that Iran was the "biggest threat to the region," Haaretz reported, also saying that Tel Aviv and Riyadh were in full agreement about Iran's intentions, and noting that Israel and Saudi Arabia had never fought each other.

Eisenkot went on to say that Israel's security situation had never been as good as it is at present, claiming that was why "we are highly regarded by the moderate countries in the region." He then accused Tehran of trying to destabilize the region by building weapons factories and supplying advanced arms to terrorist groups throughout the Middle East.

"Iran seeks to take control of the Middle East, creating a Shiite crescent from Lebanon to Iran, and then from the Gulf to the Red Sea," Eisenkot said, when asked about Iran's intended goal. "We must prevent this from happening."

Keep in mind, American commentators are gnashing their teeth over the absence of a strategy for dealing with increasing Iranian influence, especially in Syria and Lebanon. Apparently, such a strategy is being developed between Israel and Saudi Arabia... and maybe others. One must applaud the new level of cooperation—often remarked on this blog—between Israel and its Arab neighbors. And we note that the Israeli general even praised President Trump for the work he has done on the problem.

Second, we have this report, which may or may not be true, but which is consistent with the above, from the Jewish Chronicle, through the Small Dead Animals blog, via Maggie's Farm:

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has reportedly ordered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the Middle East peace plan due to be announced by Donald Trump in the coming weeks.

Mr Abbas was summoned to a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh last week and was instructed to accept the Trump vision for peace with Israel or resign, Israel’s Channel 10 reported.

Jared Kushner, the US leader’s son-in-law, is preparing a new effort to secure a deal between Israel and Palestine.

Mr Kushner visited Riyadh two weeks ago where he is said to have discussed several issues with the crown prince, who has forged a close link with Mr Trump’s regime.

The Saudi crown prince and leading figures in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates are understood to be eager for progress to allow for more coordination with Israel over Iran.

There are also concerns in Saudi Arabia over potential collaboration between Hamas and Hezbollah over Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

The Palestinians leadership is known to be keen to improve relations with the Saudi crown prince, but Israel’s settlements in the occupied territories remain a major stumbling block to any White House peace initiative.

About this we shall see. We note the important role played by Jared Kushner in these important negotiations. Today, the United States Senate is in an uproar today about Kushner’s disclosure forms. Have you ever gotten the impression that our august legislative bodies are mired in gossip and bickering because they are afraid to deal with the real business at hand?

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

Encouraging signs for us. Not so, I expect, for the NYT and WaPoo. (And others of that ilk.)