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Iran-Saudi rapprochement a serious breach in Israel's anti-Iran front, study says

May 7, 2021 at 9:56 am

On the eve of renewed sanctions by Washington, Iranian protesters carry placards that mock President Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a demonstration outside the former US embassy in the Iranian capital Tehran on November 4, 2018 [ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images]

An Israeli research centre has addressed the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, stressing that this step constitutes a significant breach in the anti-Iran front that Israel seeks to form.

The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), affiliated with Tel Aviv University, revealed in its strategic assessment that the meetings reported in recent weeks between Iran and Saudi Arabia are a new development since relations between the two countries were severed in 2016.

The INSS study indicated that the new US administration of Joe Biden initiated a dialogue with Tehran to return to the nuclear agreement and directed severe criticism towards Saudi Arabia at the same time. The change in the White House’s positions encouraged Riyadh to make adjustments in its foreign policy, including reconciliation with Qatar, a ceasefire with Yemen’s Houthis, and dialogue with Tehran.

The Israeli research centre confirmed that “a real Iranian-Saudi rapprochement would lead to a significant rupture in the anti-Iran front that Israel sought to present, and more importantly, it will eliminate a key element of the opposition front to the US’ return to the nuclear agreement.”

The study also stressed that Saudi Arabia is worried about Tehran’s influence and its loyalist forces in Yemen, in addition to the Iranians’ achievements in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Conversely, Iran still regards Saudi Arabia as a rival and key factor in encouraging Washington to extend its anti-Iran policy; and considers that the normalisation agreements signed by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with the occupation state of Israel as a negative development, while believing that even though Riyadh has not taken similar steps, the two sides are maintaining covert ties, focused primarily in intelligence exchanges.

READ: Iran welcomes ‘change of tone’ from Saudi Arabia, signalling shift in relations

The study explained that despite the massive arms purchases made by the Saudi authorities over the years, the kingdom lacks adequate defence capabilities, not to mention offensive capabilities, at a time when the war in Yemen has become a bone of contention with Washington.

The INSS warned: “At this early stage, it is difficult to estimate the talks’ prospects for success. As it happened before, the rapprochement attempt may fail, and even if the ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran get better, the shift in that direction will not be substantial, as the enmity between both sides runs deep and the basic reasons for hostility did disappear, even if the changing circumstances in the region may prompt Tehran and Riyadh to reposition and lessen the tension, at least to some extent.”

“The competition for regional influence is mainly expressed via struggle in different arenas and through allies and envoys from both sides.”

The research centre, which is considered as an academic reference for decision-makers in the Zionist state, stressed that concrete Iranian-Saudi rapprochement will constitute an important crack in the anti-Iran front that Israel seeks to preserve.