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January 25, 2016 6:31 am

The US, Israel and Saudi Arabia Can All Unite on Iran

avatar by Ehud Eilam and Sara Miller

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Iran's Arak heavy water facility. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Iran’s Arak heavy water facility. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

There is tension between both Israel and Iran, and between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy in Lebanon, recently tried to attack Israeli forces on the border with Lebanon. At the same time, Saudi Arabia and Iran have experienced growing friction because of the Saudi execution of a Shiite cleric. Therefore, Israel and Saudi Arabia should join forces against Iran.

Israel and Saudi Arabia have both been in a cold war against Iran for some time. Israel has been dealing with Iran indirectly through Hezbollah, and Saudi Arabia has been doing the same with the Houthis, an Iranian proxy, in Yemen — and in other parts of the word.

Saudi Arabia has never recognized Israel and has long supported radical Islamic groups that oppose Israel. Despite these complexities, Iran is the one issue on which the two countries can agree to work together.

For the US, Saudi Arabia is an unreliable ally that still supports terror, suppresses women and minorities, and has shown little interest in updating its outdated worldview to align it with the modern world. Nevertheless, the US should still work with Saudi Arabia on the issue of Iran.

Despite the reputation of Saudi Arabia as a “moderate” Arab world, this term is inaccurate, and Israel cannot expect any other forms of cooperation with the country aside from their shared fear of Iranian hegemony. The Arab Peace Initiative to end the Arab-Israeli conflict, supported by Saudi Arabia, is a nonstarter in part because at the moment there isn’t even the slightest chance that such an agreement could be reached.

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia need US involvement to deal with Iran. The nuclear agreement of July 2015 proved that the Obama Administration only wants to handle the issue only through diplomacy. This lack of will to restrain Iran disappointed both Saudi Arabia and Israel, and pushed them to rely more on themselves and even to work together.

Now Iran is going to get about 150 billion dollars in sanctions relief — even though in October, Iran violated the nuclear deal by test-firing a medium-range ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. If Iran continues breaching the nuclear agreement, eventually Israel might be forced to bomb the Iranian nuclear infrastructure with or without Saudi assistance.

Although the Obama Administration is entering its last year in office, it must increase its efforts to prevent further escalation between both Israel and Iran, and Saudi Arabia and Iran. The US should make it clear to both allies that it will stand not on the sidelines but rather with the two countries. Despite the disputes between the US and its two allies, all three countries must form a joint strategy to prevent Iran from further destabilizing the region and becoming an even greater danger.

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