As Relations Between Saudi Arabia, US Cool, The Kingdom Reaches Out To Israel
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction is a truism that is evident when one looks at the disintegrating relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia. As the Obama administration focused most of its attention on moving forward with a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, many Arab allies took umbrage, writes Sohrab Ahmari of the Wall Street Journal.
The frustration with Washington inspired Saudi Arabia to reach out to Russia and even Israel, an effort led by a Saudi Arabian retired major general, Anwar Eshki, who traveled to Jerusalem for talks. In June, Eshki came to Washington to speak at the Council on Foreign Relations and meet with former Israeli ambassador Dore Gold.
“The main project between me and Dore Gold is to bring peace between Arab countries and Israel. This is personal, but my government knows about the project. My government isn’t against it, because we need peace. For that reason, I found Dore Gold. He likes his country. I like my country. We need to profit from each other,” he told the Journal.
The two nations, he added, “don’t want trouble in the region.” And the Iran deal is the latest sign of Iran’s rising influence in the Gulf region, which is of great concern to Saudi Arabia and is one reason behind the kingdom’s unusual outreach. But the interest for Israel and Saudi Arabia to forge a new path extends beyond security.
“That New Order can start with Israel and Saudi Arabia opening formal diplomatic ties. It’s true that nothing brings together old foes like a common enemy. By now, one hopes that Israel and Saudi Arabia have realized that they’re not really foes at all. It’s past time for the Sunni Gulf nations to take the spirited and welcome step of extending formal ties to Israel. And it’s time for Israel to stop acting like a bashful schoolgirl, and, as any relationship expert would council, put its needs on the table by requesting normalization,” wrote columnist Aaron Klein in The Jerusalem Post.
Some, such as Khaled Batarfi, a political analyst and Senior Columnist at the Saudi Gazette newspaper, are skeptical. He told Al-Jazeera television that the regime is simply trying to maintain a balance of power in the Middle East and that despite the deepening of the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Russia, he doubts that the outreach to Israel is real.