Unlikely Allies: Has Iran’s Nuclear Threat Forged a Secret Israeli Saudi Détente?
Denials abound, but so do the many causal links & leaks..
Signs: Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia align
When Obama’s administration first tabled the ideology behind its mid east peace efforts, a core argument was the driving need to take advantage of what was termed ‘a rare opportunity for consensus’. The argument was that the Iranian rush to nuclear technology which must be stopped, had created a rare spot of common ground for often feuding parties all around the Middle East. I recall Senator Kerry, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee waxing lyrically about it at the time, and the need to urgently re-examine the Saudi Peace Plan as a result.
A policy of convenient linkage was put forward by the White House quite publically - The peace process was key to solving the Iranian riddle, and as such a massive effort toward Palestinian Israeli engagement was necessary. The Saudi’s weren’t all that interested however, they rejected the notion that forging Palestinian peace was a pre-requisite to stopping Iran. They further quickly doused any talk of concessions to Israel, a key component of Obama’s linkage plan.
Israel also rejected the notion, Netanyahu in fact argued the opposite linkage. The only way to facilitate an eventual peace he said was to remove a main instigator preventing peace, Iran – World’s most prolific sponsor of terror, and patron of the Hezbollah & Hamas radical Islamic terror groups. All three openly sworn to Israel’s destruction.
Thus, in a most backhand manner, it appeared that there was indeed Saudi Israeli consensus. Consensus which was shared with Egypt as well, that Iran must be stopped and more effort toward that goal was needed. The quiet consensus seemingly emerged that America was not being aggressive enough toward that goal. We heard rumblings about it after expansive tours of the Gulf by Sec Def. Gates & Admiral Mullen, the senior US defense officials sent by Obama to brief Gulf leaders.
Signs: The Saudi Strike Path
Not once, but twice now we have heard rumors involving the Saudis spill over into the international press. Rumors regarding possible overflights Israel might employ to cut the distance involved striking the Iranian nuclear weapons programs. Both rumors linked talks with Israel’s Mossad chief Meir Dagan, and the Sauds possibly turning a blind eye to any Israeli aircraft which might be headed to Iran across the vast Saudi deserts & kingdom.
On both occasions, these rumors were flatly denied by both the Saudis & Israel. Of course, that would be the case whether they were based in reality or not. If anything even in the best case scenario this would be a marriage of convenience, not love or lust that is for certain. But, against the odds another compelling sign has emerged.
Signs: Saudi Largess
The House of Saud is on a military spending binge, a world leading one at that. They are buying up tens of billions of dollars worth of military hardware, a lot of it is advanced US equipment. Israel doth protest, but not all that loudly which suggests a tacit understanding on the international level of sorts that these weapons and systems are not aimed at the holy land. This last point I am arguing may seem somewhat weak in the signs department, but I’ll up the ante and solidify the link by bringing in Russia.
Israel, assisted somewhat by the USA has been vigorously petitioning Russia not to sell Iran advanced Russian S-300 Anti Aircraft missile systems. This has been ongoing for a few years. Escalating to the point where Israel has in its own leaks & rumors threatened that such a weapons system delivery to Iran, could spur an immediate Israeli strike. Clearly, the issue is regarded with the utmost of seriousness as such weapons in Iran could remove a strike option from the table entirely. Thankfully we can suddenly add Russia to the pot of Israeli & Saudi interests seemingly converging.
The Saudi S-400s
When Israel most recently petitioned the Russians (again) about the S-300, the Ruskies were rumored to have replied something along the lines of.. ‘If you don’t want us delivering these S-300s to Iran, why don’t you buy them from us instead?‘
The implication being clear enough. The Iranian contract was lucrative, but the Russians might be prepared to take the billion plus dollars such a sale would ring up for them someplace else. That sticker price however is a bit steep for Israel to absorb, especially since such a system cannot be integrated into Israel’s defenses which are based entirely on Israeli & American design.
Video: Saudis Buying S-400s?
Which brings us oddly enough back to the Saudis. Their systems and the many billions of dollars more they have pledged to purchase are also mostly American designs. Which makes their recent moves to purchase a big S-400 order from Russia quite interesting. Unlike Israel, the Saudis can afford a billion here or there to prevent the delivery of said missiles to Iran. Maybe the offer was to Israel, but in the interests of détente in the face of a common threat - the Saudis have yet again come in to close the deal on keeping the pressure on Iran.