July 13, 2015 | Quote

Iran Deal Could Lead to Improved Covert Arab-Israel Cooperation

If a nuclear deal is reached between world powers and Shi’ite Iran, it could stimulate covert cooperation between Israel and Sunni Arab states.

However, such improved coordination would not come as a result of any real inherent change in relations between Israel and Arab countries, but because of realpolitik.

There have also been meetings between recently appointed director-general of Israel's foreign ministry Dore Gold, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and retired Saudi general Anwar Eshki, an informal effort to see where the two countries' interests coincide, especially on Iran.

They appeared together at a Washington conference last month, but took no questions.

Referring to this public announcement, David Andrew Weinberg, a specialist on Gulf affairs and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Post on Monday that his understanding from news reports is that it was totally unofficial.

“It was woefully underreported in Saudi Arabia compared to the coverage in Israel and the US and appears to have had no measurable impact upon policy,” said Weinberg.

“Saudi Arabia’s state news wire still calls Israel an ‘enemy’ and hardline religious preachers embraced at the highest levels in places like Saudi Arabia and Qatar continue to preach absolutely vile hatred toward Jews and toward Israel and yet receive state perks,” he noted.

“Even Israel’s public interest sections in the Gulf are today a thing of the past. So in that regard, the relationship has taken a step backwards in the last two decades, not a step forwards.”

“Sure, there is security coordination and intel sharing behind the scenes, specifically on the issue of Iran and its regional proxies, but that’s been going on for at least a decade,” he continued.

“And who knows, maybe the Saudis would let Israel use its airspace for strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites if it ever came to that, but there’s no secret broader alliance at play here,” said Weinberg.


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