by Dr. Ronen Yitzhak
"We are losing weight and the ship is sinking," said the headline of a cartoon published in the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat last week.
This cartoon was one of many published by the newspaper recently expressing Saudi and other Gulf states' anger and frustration over both U.S. policy in the Middle East since the outbreak of the Arab Spring revolutions and the White House's seeming readiness to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program. Saudi commentators are so similar to their Israeli counterparts that it has become impossible to distinguish between the respective official positions over these issues.
The U.S.'s support of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's ouster -- with Mubarak having been one of Israel's and Saudi Arabia's closest friends in the Middle East -- and its refusal to publicly support the military putsch that brought about President Mohammed Morsi's deposal, illustrated the joint interest Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have in preventing the spread of radical Islam throughout the region.
The war against Iran's nuclear program -- a program that, according to many in the intelligence community, is meant, first and foremost, to create a Shiite hegemony in the Middle East while simultaneously decimating the statuses of Saudi Arabia, the Sunni Gulf states, Jordan and Egypt -- also brought about a secretive, strategic, Sunni-Israeli pact, the goal of which was to thwart the Iranian nuclear program. Additionally, countering the Iranian program opened the door for greater cooperation between the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council, countries where Israeli ministries with similar interests had made limited contacts until 2009, closing those channels after Operation Cast Lead was launched.
The conclusion in Saudi Arabia, Gulf states and Israel in light of the U.S.'s conduct over President Bashar Assad of Syria, U.S. President Barack Obama's limp policy over Iranian nuclearization and the propriety of setting off on negotiations with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani without Rouhani having proved the earnestness of his intentions, is a united one. These countries believe that the U.S. has grown weaker and either does not want to or does not have the ability to play in the Middle East.
All the while, the Iranians, laughing all the way to the nuclear bomb, are on the rise. With Russian backing, Iranian support of the Assad regime has continued (the Saudi's are against Assad and support, as we know, the Syrian opposition). The Shiite subversion creeping through Sunni nations will continue as Middle Eastern terrorism intensifies. Gulf states, disturbed by this reality, are finding themselves absolutely aligned with Israeli interests.
Even though diplomatic relations between Israel and these nations do not openly exist, on a subterranean level, a covert diplomatic-security portal has opened, designed to facilitate coordination and bolster cooperative efforts, which have markedly grown against the backdrop of joint efforts to thwart the Iranian nuclear program. This is in addition to joint security activities with Jordan and Egypt. In one previously leaked piece of news, it was revealed that former Mossad chief Meir Dagan secretly visited Saudi Arabia in 2010 to discuss with its leaders the Iranian nuclear program. The Saudis also agreed, according to foreign sources, to allow Saudi air space to be used by the air force if an attack against Iran was to be launched, expressing a cooperative attitude.
Cozier Israeli-Saudi relations developed without any sort of official diplomatic channel. Given the waning American influence in the region and an increasingly feeble sense of security, it is very likely that this trend will only grow.
Dr. Ronen Yitzhak
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