Beware of Saudi Bedfellows
It sounds silly to say this about a regime that engages in egregious human-rights abuses as a matter of course (i.e. treating women as chattel, flogging bloggers, and chopping off the body parts of petty criminals), but Saudi Arabia has got a nerve.
According to a report on Israel’s Channel 2 on Tuesday, an anonymous European official revealed that the “Saudi authorities are completely coordinated with Israel on all matters related to Iran.” So much so, in fact, that they “have declared their readiness for the Israeli Air Force to overfly Saudi airspace en route to attack Iran if an attack is necessary.”
Though Riyadh has yet to confirm or deny this claim, it sounds plausible.
As was spelled out by Jay Solomon in The Wall Street Journal last week, Sunni-Arab governments — among them Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and, of course, Saudi Arabia — have been expressing fears to the Obama administration about the direction in which the P5+1 negotiations with the Islamic republic are going.
“At this stage, we prefer a collapse of the diplomatic process to a bad deal,” one Arab official said, pointing out that a nuclear Iran “would likely drive Saudi Arabia, for one, to try to quickly match Iran’s nuclear capabilities.”
He was referring to the shift in rhetoric from Washington about its aims in the talks. While the West’s initial stated policy was to dismantle all of Tehran’s nuclear capabilities and infrastructure, now American officials are acknowledging that this is no longer feasible, and whispering that it is not even necessary. In addition, rumors have been circulating about a possible 10-year arrangement with Iran, which would guarantee the ayatollahs a stock of atomic bombs.
Despite White House spokesman Josh Earnest’s assertion this week that this is “inaccurate,” nobody believes a word that comes out of his mouth, least of all Sunni Muslims. They have been witnessing President Barack Obama’s leaning toward the Shiites in virtually every Middle East scenario. Even his original idea about fighting Islamic State was to join forces with Iran.
In addition, neither Obama nor Secretary of State John Kerry has been willing to tell the American public or anyone else what the terms of the agreement being cooked up with the mullah-led regime in Tehran actually are.
This brings us back to Saudi Arabia. When King Abdullah died on Jan. 23, Obama and Kerry, along with a slew of past and current American statesmen, went to Riyadh to extend their condolences to his brother and successor, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz.
Ahead of his trip, Obama said he would not be raising the touchy subjects of human-rights abuses or funding of terrorism during his visit. He was going to focus on shared interests with the new king.
Clearly, nothing came of that particular condolence call, because Obama’s mantra about preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons must have rung just as hollow to King Salman as they do to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It is for this reason that Netanyahu is remaining steadfast in his intention to appeal to Congress on Tuesday not to support a dangerous deal with Iran — one that could be reached and signed by the end of March.
It is also why the new Saudi king is continuing on his brother’s path, by securing his own arsenal of nuclear weapons from Pakistan. Yes, the West can be proud of itself for creating a nuclear arms race among all state sponsors of global terrorism, while chastising Netanyahu for making a speech. What an achievement for freedom and democracy.
Speaking of which, the Saudis apparently have made their clandestine cooperation with Israel conditional on — you guessed it — progress in peace talks with the Palestinians.
Are they joking?
In the first place, by its own admission, the Saudi kingdom feels deeply threatened by a nuclearizing Iran. It is therefore in its interest for the problem to be eliminated. This is the sole impetus for allowing Israel use of its airspace. How dare it attach any kind of condition to a move it desperately wants?
Perhaps it has to do with the fact that Iran has stepped up its warnings about wiping Israel off the map in the event of a strike on its “peaceful” nuclear facilities. And Saudi Arabia would shed no tears over the annihilation of the Jewish state.
Secondly, there can be no “progress” with the Palestinians that has not already been attempted again and again by Israel.
Third, Iran is a key backer of Palestinian terrorism. So sidling up to the Palestinians would seem to be counterproductive where curbing the Islamic republic’s tentacles in the region is concerned.
Finally, Saudi Arabia, like the rest of the Muslim world, couldn’t care less about the Palestinians, as it repeatedly proves.
The only question remaining is: How do you say “chutzpah” in Arabic?
Ruthie Blum is the editor of Voice of Israel talk radio (voiceofisrael.com). This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.