It’s an odd partnership, to say the least, but it’s utterly accurate to say that Israel and Saudi Arabia are happily traveling together along the same path toward a confrontation with Iran. Both countries are bitterly opposed to the growth of Iran’s influence in the region, and both take hawkish positions demanding the shutdown of Iran’s nuclear program.
For decades, in fact, Israel and Saudi Arabia—perhaps America’s two chief allies in the Middle East—have worked as a sort of “tag team” in regional affairs, agreeing to disagree (mostly) on the Palestinian issue but collaborating on many other subjects. During the Cold War, for instance, Israel and Saudi Arabia were unspoken allies against President Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, and when Egypt and Saudi Arabia fought a proxy war in Yemen in the 1960s, Israel covertly aided Saudi Arabia. So it’s no surprise, really, that Israel’s top negotiator in the talks with the Palestinians, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, proclaimed the reality of the Israel-Saudi alliance, according to Reuters:
Saudi Arabia and Israel are united in their opposition to Iran, but they cannot cooperate as long the Palestinian conflict continues, Israel’s chief peace negotiator said on Thursday.
“When you hear the Saudis talking about what needs to be done in order to prevent a (nuclear-armed) Iran, I mean it sounds familiar,” said Tzipi Livni, a former Israeli foreign minister who is leading talks with the Palestinians.
“I think that you can hear that Arabic sounds familiar to Hebrew when it comes to Iran,” she said, making a rare public linkage between the goals of Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have long been enemies and have no diplomatic ties.
She added: “In order to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon, we need to cooperate with those (who) understand that Iran is a threat to them as well.”
Recently, Saudi Arabia has expressed bitter unhappiness with the fact that the United States is talking to Iran, and the kleptocratic kingdom has also stated its extreme disasstifaction with the fact that President Obama, instead of bombing Syria, opted for a diplomatic path there, too. As I wrote earlier this week:
Saudi Arabia, which is fostering the war in Syria as part of what it sees as a regional Sunni vs. Shiite conflict, is in a major snit. Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister canceled his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September, shocking UN members. Then, adding insult to injury, Saudi Arabia turned down a prestigious seat on the UN Security Council—a post the country had long campaigned for—because the Saudi rulers are upset with the UNSC and the United States over what Riyadh considers their insufficient enthusiasm for the kingdom’s Syria policy. Now, according to The Wall Street Journal and other sources, Saudi Arabia is on the verge of a fundamental break with the United States.