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November 16, 2017 8:57 am

In First-Ever Interview With Saudi Newspaper, IDF Chief Says Israel in ‘Complete Agreement’ With Riyadh About Need to Thwart Iran’s Regional Ambitions in Middle East

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot (center, holding binoculars). Photo: IDF via Wikimedia Commons.

Israel and Saudi Arabia share a common interest in thwarting Iran’s regional ambitions, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said in a first-ever interview with a Saudi newspaper that was published on Thursday.

Speaking with the Elaph newspaper, the head of the Israeli military said Iran’s goal was to seize control of the Middle East by establishing two “Shia crescents” — “the first from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon and the second through the Gulf from Bahrain to Yemen to the Red Sea.”

Eizenkot went on to say that Israel and Saudi Arabia were in “complete agreement” about the need to prevent such a scenario.

Asked about his view of the Trump administration’s approach to the Middle East, Eizenkot replied, “With President Donald Trump, there is an opportunity for a new international alliance in the region and a broad strategic plan to stop the Iranian threat.”

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Israel, Eizenkot continued, was willing to exchange intelligence with moderate Arab nations — including Saudi Arabia — as part of an effort to confront Iran.

Regarding the situation in Syria, Eizenkot reiterated Israel’s policy of non-interference in the ongoing civil war there that has drawn in numerous regional players. He also emphasized Israel’s demand that Iran — as well as Hezbollah and other Tehran-backed Shia militias — not be allowed to establish a permanent presence in the country.

Furthermore, Eizenkot said the IDF had no intention of launching an attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon, and accused Iran of seeking to escalate tensions there.

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