The enemy of my enemy is my friend

Israel would “be in big trouble” if not for Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump asserted last week. He made the remark while responding to a question after a Thanksgiving Day phone call with members of the U.S. military.

“Saudi Arabia is tremendously helpful in the Middle East,” the president explained. “They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, of Israel and all other partners in the region.”

While many in the world criticized the president for not imposing harsher punishment on Saudi Arabia for the October murder of Washington Postjournalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Trump said a strong alliance with Saudi Arabia is vital for keeping the U.S., Israel and the region safe from Iran. It’s also key to gaining wide acceptance of the Trump administration’s proposed peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.

Thawing of the Israel-Saudi Relationship

Israel and Saudi Arabia have no diplomatic ties, but the BBC reported in April that relations between the two countries have been thawing because of Iran, their common enemy.

“The warming has been under way for some time,” BBC’s defense and diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus wrote. “Both countries were alarmed at what their governments saw as the Obama administration’s weakness in the region in the face of a rising Iran. Both opposed the Iran nuclear agreement. And both want to see much tougher action taken against Tehran’s spreading influence.

The relationship might be thawing, but there’s still ice.

Saudi Arabia initially supported the Trump administration’s soon-to-be-unveiled peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians. However, Haaretz reported last month that, “Saudi Arabia has informed U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration that it will not be able to support its peace plan between Israel and (the Palestinians) – known in the media as the ‘Deal of the Century’ – if it does not state that East Jerusalem would be the capital of a Palestinian state.”

Meanwhile, the CIA has determined that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have ordered Khashoggi’s execution. And Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have played a role in convincing President Trump to take it easy on the prince despite global calls for harsh sanctions.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month, “Netanyahu told Trump administration officials that the crown prince was a key strategic partner and a linchpin of the alliance against Iranian encroachment in the region. Netanyahu’s comments drew swift praise from Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa, the foreign minister of Bahrain, which is a strong ally of Saudi Arabia. In a message posted to Twitter, Khalid said that the Israeli prime minister had ‘a clear vision to the stability of the region and the role of Saudi Arabia to keep that stability.’”

Iran Calls on Arabs to Unite Against Israel and the U.S.

Days after Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz hosted an international conference to combat Europe’s escalating anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, Iran hosted a conference with the opposite goals. 

The Times of Israel reported last week on the annual Islamic Unity Conference in Teheran.

“Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday called Israel a ‘cancerous tumor’ established by Western countries to advance their interests in the Middle East,” The Times wrote.

“Submitting to the West headed by America would be treason against our religion ... and against the future generations of this region,” Rouhani said at the conference. “We have a choice to either roll out red carpets for criminals, or to forcefully stand against injustice and remain faithful to our Prophet, our Koran and our Islam.”

The Times quoted the Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh as he slammed Gulf states with ties to Israel. “There is no future for this enemy (Israel) …. And there is no future for these efforts at normalization.”

Naim Qassem, a leader of the Hezbollah terror group, called for a unified “resistance against Israel, and against concessions on the land of Palestine.”

Referring to Saudi Arabia’s contracts with the U.S., Rouhini said, “We are ready to defend the interests of the Saudi people against terrorism, aggression and the superpowers ... and we don't ask for $450 billion to do it.”

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