Israel is ready to share “intelligence information” on Iran with Saudi Arabia, the Israel army chief, Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot, said in an interview with the privately owned online Saudi newspaper Elaph.
“We are ready to exchange experiences with Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab countries and exchange intelligence information to confront Iran,” Eisenkot said in his first-ever interview with an Arabic newspaper, adding “there are many shared interests between us and Saudi Arabia.”
“Under US President Donald Trump there is an opportunity to form a new international alliance in the region,” Eisenkont said, “we need to carry out a large, comprehensive strategic plan to stop the Iranian threat.”
“The Iranian plan is to control the Middle East by means of two Shia crescents,” Eisenkot told Elaph, adding: “The first being from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon and the second across the Gulf from Bahrain to Yemen to the Red Sea.”
“We must prevent this from happening,” he stressed.
“In this matter there is complete agreement between us and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has never been our enemy. It has not fought us nor have we fought it,” he added.
Eisenkot, who in October met with military leaders from around the world in Washington, told the Saudi newspaper that what he heard from the Saudi representative about Iranian expansion was “identical” to Israeli concerns.
“I participated in the meeting of chiefs of staff in Washington and heard what the Saudi representative said. It is precisely what I think concerning Iran and the need to deal with it in the region and the need to stop its programme of expansion,” the Israeli official noted.
Saudi Arabia has ratcheted up pressure on Iran, accusing Tehran of trying to expand its influence in Arab countries, often through proxies including Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.
Increased tensions between Tehran and Riyadh have fuelled speculation that shared interests may push Saudi Arabia and Israel to working together against what they see as a common Iranian threat. Saudi Arabia does not have any previous diplomatic ties with Israel.