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The significance of open relations between the Gulf states and Israel

Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia [Saudi Press Agency]
Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia [Saudi Press Agency]

Simple logic dictates that the Arab regimes associated with the US are engaged in an objective alliance with Israel given Israel’s close relationship with Washington. Anwar Sadat realised this obvious fact and therefore decided to establish a direct and open relationship with Israel to complement his decision to sever Egyptian ties with the Soviet Union and move the country to the American camp. This is because he knew that trying to establish secret relations between Cairo and Tel Aviv and to keep this relationship under wraps is almost impossible, as Egypt is a country that cannot establish such relations without news of this being leaks and causing it great political embarrassment.

As for Saudi Arabia, the nature of its governance is based on hypocrisy in all its forms. This has made it easy for the country to keep its decades-long relationship with Israel secret. This relationship emerged as a result of the aforementioned simple logic when the US decided to rely on Israel as a major ally in confronting the rise of the Arab nationalist movement and its establishment under Abdel Nasser’s Egypt. This occurred in the mid-1960’s, not with the birth of Israel, as many who are accustomed to the special strategic relationship between the US and Israel believe. They do not know that this relationship only became what it is today over 20 years after the establishment of Israel. For its first 20 years, Israel relied on West Germany and France for funding and arms more than on the US.

Washington condemned the tripartite attack against Egypt following Gamal Abdel Nasser’s declaration of the nationalisation of the Suez Canal in 1956, and ordered the three countries, Israel, Britain and France, to withdraw from Egyptian territory. However, the rise of the Nasserite influence and the deep-rooted establishment of the Arab Nationalist Movement in the 1960’s, despite the separation between Egypt and Syria at the beginning of the era, led to a severe decline in America’s regional presence. This forced Washington to withdraw from its air base in Dhahran, thus weakening Washington’s ability to protect its interests in the region, particularly protecting the regime that embodied those interests at their highest levels, i.e. the Saudi regime. Therefore, Israel became a valuable ally of Washington, which relied on it as a “guard dog” for its regional interests (as was commonly said during the Nasserist era). The 1967 war was the first war waged by Israel, with America’s support, which targeted the US and Saudi Arabia’s archenemies Abdel Nasser’s Egypt and Salah Jadid’s Syria. The Israeli aggression came to fruition three years later, in 1970, when Abdel Nasser died, and Anwar Sadat succeeded him and when Hafez Al-Assad overthrew Salah Jadid.

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A secret relationship between the Saudi kingdom and Israel has been established since the mid-1960’s. On the Saudi side, it was initially handled by Kamal Adham, the founder of the Saudi General Intelligence and its first president, and the special adviser to King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz. None of the successive men who ascended to the Saudi throne dared to declare their relations with Israel out of fear of what would result from such an announcement, including extreme hostility towards the Saudi monarchy, whose dependency on Washington became a major source of resentment towards it. The situation remained the same until Mohammad Bin Salman was officially declared Crown Prince to his father and began to manage the Kingdom’s affairs practically. The new Crown Prince’s recklessness and conviction that he is politically immune to everything has allowed him to go farther than any other Saudi ruler in his relationship with Israel. In addition to this, he is also preparing to announce this relationship as soon as US President Donald Trump’s Zionist son-in-law, Jared Kushner, completes planning his plot against the Palestinian people and moves to the implementation stage.

It is certainly no coincidence that we see an escalation in the exchange of open relations between Saudi Arabia’s Gulf allies, including the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the Sultanate of Oman and Israel. It is also no coincidence that it is occurring at this particular point in time, while the Saudi Crown Prince is being subjected to an intense campaign led by the American media to remove him from power as punishment for his responsibility for the death of Jamal Khashoggi. Mohammed bin Salman’s fate is currently dependent on the success of Kushner’ vehement quest to save him, which I have already mentioned before. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is enthusiastically supporting this effort. With the acceleration of Gulf normalisation with the State of Israel, the Saudi Crown Prince wants to emphasise his willingness to engage in the Zionist scheme and achieve the objective of the Trump administration in establishing an open Arab-Israeli alliance in the face of Iran. He thought that the more he showed his willingness to go into that policy, the higher his value and uniqueness in the eyes of Kushner and Netanyahu and increased their pressure on Trump to keep him in office.

By hastening the pace of Gulf normalisation with Israel, MBS wants to stress his willingness to be involved in the Israeli plots and to achieve the Trump administration’s wish to establish an open Arab-Israeli alliance to confront Iran. He believes that the more he displays his willingness to adopt this policy, the more his value and distinction in the eyes of Kushner and Netanyahu grows, and therefore they will pressure Trump, even more, to keep him in his position.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Quds Al-Arabi on 13 November 2018

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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