Is Saudi Arabia Preparing For An Alliance With Israel?

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Just days before Saudi Arabia accused Iran of an "act of war," Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said a nuclear Iran would be “infinitely more dangerous” than North Korea.

Over the past week, the Saudi royal purge wasn't the only significant development in the Middle East that is expected to have profound, long-term consequences in the region.

As Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman arrested members of the royal family, ministers and businessmen, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri suddenly announced his resignation in a televised speech during a trip to Saudi Arabia.

As he quit just 11 months after assuming the office for the second time, Hariri blamed Iran for causing "disorder and destruction" in Lebanon and also slammed Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed movement with a military wing based in southern Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia also accused Iran of carrying out an "act of war," after Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a missile near Riyadh.

All of these abrupt developments seem to be forming a basis for a proxy-war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

However, Saudi Arabia and Iran aren't the only two major stakeholders in the conflict.

It seems Israel has managed to find a common ground with Saudi Arabia in a bid to avert Iran's dominance within the region.

"Israel benefits from an escalation in any Arab conflict. Now, with Hariri's resignation, it is betting on an alliance to confront Iran," Kassem Kassir, a Beirut-based analyst told Al Jazeera. "They are pleased with Hariri's resignation because he headed a government with Hezbollah members. They believe that his resignation strips away from Hezbollah's legitimacy in the government."

Just a few days before Saudi Arabia accused Iran of committing acts of aggression, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a nuclear Iran would be “infinitely more dangerous” than North Korea.

“The one potent force in militant Islam that has emerged is Iran," Netanyahu said while speaking at the Chatham House think-tank in London. "And it is devouring one nation after the other. It is doing so either by direct conflict, or more usually by using proxies."

He didn't just stop there, though. The Israeli leader also hailed a “new alliance” that has apparently emerged between his country and Sunni Arab states to fight against an “irrational and dangerous” Iran.

“There is something that I wouldn’t have expected in my lifetime, but we are working very hard to establish, and that is an affective alliance between Israel and the moderate Sunni states to (combat) the aggression from Iran,” he added.

Although Netanyahu didn't explicitly mention the names of all those "moderate" Sunni states, just a week before his address in London, bin Salman had promised to re-introduce "moderate" Islam in Saudi Arabia. (Saudi Arabia currently follows the austere form of Sunni Islam called "Wahhabism.")

The idea of a likely alliance is strange, for sure, considering they Israel and Saudi Arabia have never had any diplomatic relations. In fact, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies don't even recognize Israel as a state, owing to the Jewish state's intractable conflict with the Palestinian people.

Sure, the arrests of Saudi princes is momentous but even more important is the willingness of initiating of dialogue between Israel and Saudi Arabia since it signals more immediate chances of a full-blown — instead of a proxy — war in the Middle East.

Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters

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