Why is the Israeli-Saudi meeting so important?


The writer Henry Olsen indicated that the meeting that was reported between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – despite Saudi sources officially denying this – and with the participation of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday, will be consistent with the recent trend of rapprochement between the two historical enemies. And that this development, which is a de facto anti-Iranian alliance between Israel and the Gulf states, is likely to significantly change the way the Biden administration’s future policy in the Middle East will look.

Olsen commented in his article in the Washington Post:Washington PostThat the eternal hostility between the Jewish state and the Arab Islamic world has changed and is now based on the oldest diplomatic justification, namely “self-interest.”

The Iranian regime – as the writer says – views Israel and the Sunni Gulf states as illegitimate and works tirelessly to bring them down. This system also funds terrorist groups like Hezbollah and rebel groups like those in Yemen to put military pressure on Saudi Arabia and Israel, and this alone is enough to bring them together.

He adds that Iran’s attempt to fully subjugate Iraq to its influence represents a threat to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. And if Iranian-backed forces were to station in Shiite areas in southern Iraq, they could easily launch an invasion of Saudi Arabia at any moment. The eastern region of the kingdom, which lies directly south of Kuwait, is rich in the kingdom’s oil wealth, in addition to its population being mainly Shiites, and all the oil-rich Gulf states are located on the borders of the eastern region. Therefore, it is important for the security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to keep Iranian forces as far away as possible.

The eternal hostility between the Jewish state and the Arab Islamic world has changed and is now based on the oldest diplomatic justification, which is self-interest

It is against this background, Olsen said, that Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon must be understood. If it possesses such a weapon, its ballistic missile technology would expose Israel and the Arabs to the risk of nuclear blackmail. This, in turn, amplifies the conventional military strength of Iran and its proxies.

The writer believes that changes in US policy during the Obama administration caused shock waves in the region. Israel, which has its nuclear deterrent, and Saudi Arabia have long relied on the United States to protect them from Iranian subversion. It is clear that the Iran nuclear deal made this implicit guarantee in doubt. For the Israelis, this has meant that they are no longer sure of the deployment of US forces to help them in any crisis. For the Gulf states, this meant that they needed a strong nuclear-armed ally, whose commitment to opposing Iran was undoubtedly.

He added that the recent dramatic changes in Arab policy towards Israel make sense when viewed in this light. For Israel, the alliance with the Arab Gulf states provides a military force that can be deployed on its behalf in the event of a mutual threat. It also provides, in theory, geographic proximity to Iran to launch any covert raids that US ships or bases may currently provide. As for the Arabs, it ensures that a nuclear armed force stands behind them if Iran ever acquires a nuclear weapon, and establishes contact with Israeli intelligence agencies.

Also, an actual alliance would reduce dependence on the United States and its domestic political whims, to replace the American mediation with direct relations between the security services in the two countries. It is clear that abandoning the Palestinians with such advantages, if done cleverly, would serve the security interests of the Saudis and other Gulf states.

Olsen said the national security appointments announced by President-elect Joe Biden on Monday were unlikely to give more comfort to either side.

He concluded his article that Israel and some Arab countries know that Iran is seeking to destroy it. The Biden administration will likely find that this alliance of fellow strangers will force its Middle East policy to look more like the Trump administration than it currently imagines.


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