The alliance between the apartheid state of Israel and the absolutist monarchy of the Saudi royal dictatorship is no longer merely tacit.
After recent diplomatic moves to cool tensions with Iran by the administration of US President Barack Obama, the Saudi royals seem to be engaging in a collective freak-out.
It’s a display we haven’t seen since the heady days of early 2011. Back then it seemed that every day in the Israeli press there were new reports of collective Zionist freak-outs over the impending departure of their favourite Arab dictator Hosni Mubarak.
In a friendly interview with former Israeli prison guard Jeffrey Goldberg last month, Prince al-Waleed bin Talal was blunt.
He criticised the Obama administration for its promise of (only very mild) easing of sanctions against Iran: “Iran is a huge threat … especially against the Sunnis. The threat is from Persia, not from Israel”.
This is the same man who boasts to the western press about Jordan, Palestine and Yemen being “under our hegemony,” with the rule of his chequebook. Put aside that hypocrisy, as well as the open sectarian agitation for the moment and note how brazen this alliance now is.
The Israeli and and Saudi regimes find themselves in the same trench across the region.
Hassan Nasrallah recently accused the Saudis of being behind the bombing of the Iranian embassy in Lebanon. This was unusually frank language for the Hizballah leader, who normally masks such criticisms with veiled references – “some Arab states”.
The spate of car bombs against mostly Shia Muslim targets in Lebanon this year are in all likelihood a Saudi attempt to goad Hizballah into a sectarian war – something it has so far resisted.
Israeli spies are operating in Syria under the cover of the civil war. There have been many signs of this, but the latest came Sunday in Seymour Hersh’s explosive new article about the Obama administration’s use of politicized intelligence – a deception that almost led to an American war on Syria this year.
In the piece Hersh mentions in passing that evidence of chemical weapons use was gathered “with the help of an Israeli agent”.
On Sunday, the anonymous Saudi Twitter activist (who has over 1.2 million online followers) known as “Mujtahidd” claimed that Saudi spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan had met with his Israeli opposite number in Vienna last month. The identity of Mujtahidd is unknown, so this claim must be treated with some scepticism. But the tweeter does have something of a track record, and seems to have insider knowledge.
According to Mujtahidd, the two spy chiefs mainly discussed Iran, Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood. This fits in well with al-Waleed’s stated agenda, and with the well-known influence the Saudis wield in the region. The al-Saud family reportedly gave $5 billion to the generals of Egypt’s coup regime, for example. Prince Bandar is often suspected to be the funder behind recent bombings in Lebanon.
A mutual fear and loathing of the prospect of peace with Iran has brought the Wahhabist regime and the Zionist regime together in an alliance of convenience. Both will continue to push the Americans to start or fund wars against their regional enemies.
While the two states are very different in some ways, something Israel and Saudi Arabia both share is sectarian hatred. Indeed, in Israel, sectarianism was fundamental to the establishment of the state, established on the ruins of Palestine in 1948.
While the Saudi royals continue to wield unchecked power in the region, the hope for real democratic change in the Arab world seems remote. That the permanent counter-revolution represented by Israel and Saudi Arabia should now be so open does not come as much of a surprise.
If America and Britain were really serious about “democracy promotion” they would cut all ties with both of these oppressive states.
An associate editor with The Electronic Intifada, Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.