For Saudi Arabia, Israel is turning from foe to friend

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by ejazr, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Haaretz.Com

    By Amir Oren

    Saudi Defense Minister, Prince Salman, was the guest last week of his American counterpart Leon Panetta and, in an unusual step, was also hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama. On the agenda: Iran and the unrest in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia's neighbor and the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, the American naval power in the Persian Gulf.

    The number 3 man in the Saudi ruling house could soon move to the top. He is young and healthy - everything is relative - compared to his half-brother, King Abdullah, 89, and Crown Prince Nayef, 79. The Americans have been working hard for many years to foster ties with the Saudi security forces. The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, headed from 2001 to 2003 a delegation of advisors to the Saudi National Guard.

    A thin veneer of stability purchased with oil money covers a well that threatens to swallow a thousand wealthy princes. In a population of 27 million people, 5.5 million do not have Saudi citizenship. The unemployment rate among young people in the kingdom is 30 percent and the literacy rate is only 80 percent.

    That is the background to the interesting message directed at Israel through an article published by a Saudi general in the American military magazine Joint Force Quarterly. Since a senior officer, a brigadier general in the royal family, does not pretend not to have the authority to reflect the conservative stand of the regime and does not publish for his own amusement statements and conclusions with diplomatic significance, it seems that Saudi Arabia is thus hesitatingly and conditionally courting Israel. The condition: that there be movement toward an agreement in the spirit of that promoted by Saudi King Abdullah. If Israel moves in this direction, he wrote as long as a decade ago, Saudi Arabia must express willingness for peace with Israel and influence the rest of the Arab world in this direction.

    This time he went one step further. He praised President Shimon Peres and called for "encouraging Israelis, Palestinians and other Arabs to get to know each other at least initially over the Internet while discussing sports, photography and other common interests - including peace prospects."

    The general-prince-Ph.d. is His Royal Highness Naef Bin Ahmed Al-Saud, who holds advanced degrees from Georgetown University and Cambridge. His military expertise: strategic planning and special operations, international diplomacy and cyber warfare. When he studied at the National Defense University in Washington D.C., among his classmates was Israel Air Force officer Zeev Snir, now a brigadier general in the IAF reserves, who, at the end of his studies was appointed the IAF's chief procurement officer and currently heads the security establishment's special means branch.

    Naef is sensitive to the impact of social processes on the Saudi regime. In 2002, also in an article in the Joint Forces Quarterly, he predicted that "Riyadh has found it prudent to modernize its military and acquire advanced weapons. But future increases in population require allocating considerable resources to meet domestic needs such as education, housing and medical services." He also wrote that the Saudi rulers would lose their credibility if they did not take public opinion into consideration.

    This month, in the same quarterly, Naef scrutinizes social protest in Israel from an angle that is of great interest to the kingdom's rulers - the social network's role in organizing protests but also in assisting police and security services in monitoring them.

    Saudi Arabia has prepared itself to push back a wave of the Arab Spring if it comes to its shores, and it wants very much to learn the lessons of last summer's protests in Israel, as well as those of the riots in Britain in August. "The Kingdom's leadership has been observing developments in Israel as a test of social media's effectiveness in organizing non-violent protest to create significant shifts in security and economic policy," he wrote in the Joint Forces Quarterly.

    Naef is trying to persuade his readers that the Saudi government's monitoring of the Internet, Facebook, Twitter and text messages has a legal foundation similar to that in the West and in "the world's largest democracy, India."

    He also justifies Israeli opposition to the arrival of foreign agitators by boat or plane. "Ultimately, Western leaders do not want to see 'social media' sources organize large protests erupting in Riyadh or downtown Beijing," causing chain reactions that would lead to the collapse of Western economies.

    There is a thread here that is begging to be followed. Israel and Saudi Arabia have a mutual enemy, Iran, and a mutual buttress, the United States. Dialogue between them, perhaps beginning with military people like Naef, will help both countries and promote a diplomatic agreement in the region.
     
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  3. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    Israelis are mind ----ing the Arabs.

    Turning their two foes against each other. Classic case of winning war by deception/deceit.
     
  4. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Well if you understand this from the pespective realism instead of a fantasy of ideological or clash of civilisation perspective; Saudis and Israelis have been getting close for a while now and both of their own reasons for doing so.

    Since the Cold War days, Saudis have been the biggest ally of the US. Even in the various Arab-Israeli wars, it was the left leaning arab govts. of Syria, Iraq or Egypt under Nasser that went to war with Israel while the GCC countries offered only token support.

    The GCC countries main area of concenrn has been leftist anti-monarchial movements in the Arab world in Iraq, Yemen and Somalia and more recently after the Islamic revolution - Iran. At present, ofcourse Iran becomes the biggest "threat".

    Wikileaks have shown how most GCC countries have almost a sort of back channel understanding with Israel on many security matters. Bahrain for example privately boasted of its intelligence ties with Israel. (Haaretz Wikileaks exclusive / Bahrain King boasted of intelligence ties with Israel - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News).
    And the reason why Saudis urged force to destroy the Hezbullah and even mouted an all-Arab force to do so because Israelis doing it want gel with pubcli opinion.
    This is also the reason behind the Saudis and the GCC countries publicly lead an Arab Peace Initiative to recognise and normalise relations with Israel and get it endorsed by the Arab League and OIC despite the oppositon from some Arab countries and Iran. (Lost Moments: The Arab Peace Initiative, 10 Years Later - Zvika Krieger - International - The Atlantic)

    In the real world. countires that base their policies based on realism and pragmatism triumph over ideological considerations.
     
  5. devgupt

    devgupt Regular Member

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    Middle East politics is very complex - like a women in veil , it's not apparent what lies beneath.

    For all their public condemnation of Israel, the Arab nations have developed tactic relations with Israel.Only two - Iraq under Saddam, and Iran under Ayatollah were outside this matrix. Arabs are wary of Iran because of historical reasons and its use of proxies as an instrument of foreign policy quite like Pakistan.And Israel has very obvious reasons.

    It's a game of chinese checkers where multiple players are playing individually and in partnership- at the same time
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
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  6. pankaj nema

    pankaj nema Senior Member Senior Member

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    For the Saudis who are the leaders of only the Sunni Islamic World the emerging
    Shia CRESECNT with Iran as its head is the biggest headache

    Some 10 % Saudi population is Shia
    After Saddam Iraq is Shia dominated
    Iraq has huge oil so it will become rich soon

    Bahrain is a shia MAJORITY nation but ruled by a Sunni ruler

    Syria ; Azerbaijan are shia nations ; Hezbollah is shiite

    Shias are in a large number in other Sunni Islamic nations such as Pakistan Turkey

    Saudis are getting insecure with rising Shia strength

    So Saudi wants to crush Iran
     
  7. SADAKHUSH

    SADAKHUSH Senior Member Senior Member

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    It is not a surprise. Finally they have come to realization the importance of Israel in view of Iran's wings spreading into other shia majority area's.
     
  8. Tronic

    Tronic Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Israel has nothing to do with it; Persians and Arabs have never been friends.
     
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  9. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    Also, most of Saudi oil producing regions fall in Shia dominated areas.
     
  10. Blackwater

    Blackwater Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Israel and Saudi Arabia are two side of same coin ,called USA.
     
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  11. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    The israelis helped the ayatollah in the iran-iraq war.

    Thats why those who paint everything as black and white are massive idiots.
     
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  12. devgupt

    devgupt Regular Member

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    Yes, but what I meant by using 'matrix' was that Arabs had tactically accepted Israel as a nation and the focus was on containing violence in middle east.As Ejazr pointed out, Saudis had started a peace initiative in last decade.It must be noted that for past few decades the only arab nation Israel had gone war against in last few decades is Lebanan and thats primarily becuase of Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy
     
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  13. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    The so called House of Saud have always put their interest above everything.

    These so called Sheiks are the byproduct of colonial or League of Nations mandate countries' foisting.

    Therefore, to them they are always grateful to those who have foisted them into power!

    Basically they are evil smelling Bazaar sneaky Arabs!
     
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  14. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    As Tronic mentioned, the Shia-Sunni issue is of a lesse importance than the nationa-state rivalry between them. Every nation state, if it wants to survive in the International system will have to follow policies that are in its interests regardless of any ideological considerations. Those who do follow ideological considerations to an extreme will risk leading their country to risk of collapse eg: Pakistan.

    Fact of the matter is that despite Azerbaijan and Iran being shia majority, both have intense rivalry between them. Infact, in the 1993 war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Iran supported Armenia a Christian orthodox country over shia majority Azerbaijan.
    Again, during the Iran-Iraq war, you had nationalist Arabs soldiers both shia and sunni fight against Iran on the battlefield.
    Then you have HAMAS in Gaza which is a sunni group that has no support from countries in the GCC like Saudi Arabia but have full backing from Iran a shia majority country.

    The reason is because of the powerplay where each country wants to acquire as much influence as possible so as to secure itself in the region.

    It would be helpful if you understand this framework by going through this thread here
    http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/...book-review-tragedy-great-power-politics.html
     
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  15. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    I know...

    I'm just saying that Israel is vitiating the existing divide between the two to make Israel look the "lesser of the foes".

    In other words in this Mexican standoff between Israel,Iran and Arabs with each aiming their guns at the other two...the Israelis are encouraging the Arabs and Persians put the first bullet through themselves before turning to Israel.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012
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  16. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    There is an undeniable idealogical/historical consideration too behind Saudi's unease with Iran...
     
  17. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Ofcourse there is the ideological issues as well as a layer of shia-sunni theological differences, but this is not the main drivers.

    When Iran was ruled by the Shah, they were not as expansionist towards the Gulf Arabs as the Iran after the Islamic revolution. Infact, under the Shah both Iran and the Saudis worked together to keep the left leaning secular Arab nationalists at bay who were a major force in Syria, Iraq and Egypt among others.

    Iran at that time had a secret intelligence sharing treaty under the trident organisation where Turkey, Iran and Israel would share information to keep these Arab states destabilised. The Saudis used to pump their own oil money in keeping leftist movement in check in the Arab world as well as Africa working in co-ordination with the US and Western European countries. While the US/Saudi collaboration in Afghanistan is well known, lesser known is the Saudi, Iran, France and Morocco involment in the Safari Club intelligence operations in Africa to do the same. (Safari Club)
    So the Cold war divide played a much bigger role in the region and ofcouse exacerbated tensions as well. Before the Ayatollas with their hostile rhetoric came to power, the Gulf Arabs and the Saudis in particular had no problem to work with Iran to defeat a common foe - Communist and Leftist popular movements.

    Towards the later years when the Arab nationalist movement started loosing its steam with Egypt under Sadat joining the US side and the fall of the leftist govt. in Yemen, Iran became a bigger concern. In 1971, Iran occupied islands that were under the newly independant UAE control which started the most recent level of hostilities. The 1979 Islamic revolution with its open intention of overthrowing Muslim govt.s and establishing "Islamic govts." was what truly made the "unease" palpable. You had the Iran-Iraq war and then retaliatory militant proxy groups from Iran attacking in Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. during the next two decades.

    Finally when Khatami came to power, he toned down the rhetoric and normalised relations with GCC states. This is also when Iran accepted the Arab peace initiative for recognising Israel as part of a two state solution. However, with Ahmedijinad coming to power, the understanding deteriorated and from the nuclear weapons program issue, to the support to Hamas and Hezbullah as well as the most recent visit to the disputed UAE islands in the Persian Gulf; the GCC-Iran hostility has increased. Wikileaks have also shown how hostile the Saudis are to Iran now and both Israel and GCC states are pushing the US to squeeze Iran as much as possible economically.



    Now what does all this matter to us as Indians. The GCC Iran region is basically part of India's extended neighbourhood. Anything adverse that happens there will affect India as well. So it is imperative that India matches it power and influence and plays an incremantally increasing and important role in the region, including mediation of disputes.
    At present the US ofcourse is the main force here but it is withdrawing. That is why it would make sense for India to partner with the US and work jointly on increasing our influence in this region and gradually replace the US when that happens. If we don't pick up the slack or vacuum created, then expect China to establish its own foothold in this region. It would be a very foolish mistake on our part because of historical, geographical, economic and cultural advanatages in the region that put as ahead of China.

    The GoI and the MEA recognises this and has been quietly working on this. Here are some recently held track 2 dialouges which give an indication on what will be happening on govt. to govt. level in the coming years. In short, Iran, GCC, Israel and Iraq are all important power centeres that India should have good relations with and to maintain a balance of power in the region so that no one entity becomes too powerful or overtly belligerent like what happend with Saddam Hussein and Kuwait for example. And then use that influence to act as a boost for India' International influence at a global level the way it has worked for the US.
    http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/...al-conference-indias-ties-gulf-countries.html
    http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/...-iran-rivalry-challenges-india-gulf-idsa.html
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012
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  18. pack leader

    pack leader Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    a three way Mexican standoff but Israel has the best guns
    we wont trust a Saudi to clean a toilet
    fat stupid useless sheiks that they are
    as long as the oil flows they are immune
    and we will exploit there shia Sunni rift to make a second revolution in Iran
    when the nationalists get the power we will ally with them against the Arabs and secure our position further
    everything is going according to plan
     
  19. pack leader

    pack leader Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    p/s any one taking haarez opinion pieces seriously needs head surgery
    haarez is is left wing propaganda trash
    liked by liberals gays and international news agency
     
  20. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    India wants the nationalists in Iran
     
  21. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    @pack leader

    Obvioulsy there are no real "friends" or "foe" for that matter in International relations. And what Amir Oren is saying is nothing new. Its well known that GCC-Israel-US combine has been working in containing Iran and shutting down its nuclear weapons program all for their own reasons. We see that in Wikileaks as well as private statements and public statements from GCC officials. Refer to post #3 and #16

    Infact, the US actually has the least reason to contain Iran and given the scenario in Afghanistan and Pakistan would be a natural ally to stabilise Afghanistan and establish prescene there. IT would also suit very well for India too.

    Unfortunately, Israel and GCC would not prefer that and will try to influence the US as much as possible to be hostile to Iran for the near future. And the Saudi/GCC would prefer Israel to attack Iran with the US joining in and doing all the dirty work for them while they sit back and watch.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012

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