Singing Hatikvah in Riyadh
Much has been made of late of the recent alignment of Israeli and Saudi Arabian interests and positions vis-Ã -vis, Iran, Egypt, Syria and other unfolding Middle Eastern dramas.
One deeply offensive article published by Iran’s government-backed, oft-farcical English language news outlet, Press TV, even went so far as to suggest that the two countries should merge and become “Saudi Israelia” establishing the state religion as “Zio-Wahabbism.”
Of course, despite the temporary alignment of interests the Saudis are no friends of the Jewish state. Maintaining no diplomatic relations with Israel, an effective Saudi ban on Israeli goods remains in place.
As Iran’s neighbors, there is much at stake for both countries which have been on the receiving end of Iranian threats and proxy attacks.
While both Israel and Saudi Arabia have openly expressed opposition to the U.S. approach to diplomacy with Iran, Israel has been far less publicly confrontational over the issue.
“We are learning from our enemies now, how to treat the United States,” Mustafa Alani, a veteran Saudi security analyst with the Geneva-based Gulf Research Center told The Wall Street Journal.
But although the discussion today is focused on tactics, and nuclear talks between Iran and world powers are ongoing, it is becoming increasingly clear that both Saudi Arabia and Israel have little faith in the possibility that diplomacy will yield the desired results.
It is at this point that Israel and Saudi Arabia part ways. For the Kingdom, there is little more that can be done, but for Israel the military option remains.
Though doubted by some, Israeli defense officials have made it clear that the Jewish state has the wherewithal to effectively bring an end to the Iranian nuclear program.
As such, for Saudi Arabia and others, when it comes to thwarting the Iranian threat, it is emerging that Israel now stands as their last line of defense; the great white hope of the region.
Late last week, Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported that it was told off the record, that Persian Gulf countries are secretly counting on Israel to strike Iran if necessary.
It was a mere 15 months ago however, that reports came via Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper that Saudi Arabia planned to intercept any Israeli aircraft that attempted to cross its territory on the way to striking Iran.
The message was conveyed by Obama administration officials, Yediot claimed. Israeli Defense Minister at the time Ehud Barak denied the reports.
“Senior Israeli officials reportedly see the move as a warning message from the U.S. not to launch a unilateral strike, according to the paper,” The Times of Israel reported at the time.
Today Saudi Arabia is making its objections heard diplomatically and declined a coveted seat at the United Nations Security Council in protest.
Perhaps if the Saudis conveyed to Washington that they have reconsidered their prior position, and have resolved to permit Israel unfettered access to the Kingdom’s airspace in the event of an Iran strike, the U.S. would come to understand that the clock for diplomacy is not set to American time.
In Riyadh’s halls of power the sound of Hatikvah can be heard.