An explosive Israeli-Saudi nexus has emerged!



"There they were, sitting around the dinner table, knocking off a bottle of Cotes-du-Rbone and blathering about the Middle East-you’ve never beard such shallow, simplistic reasoning in your life-and one of them turns to me and says, ‘And what do you think, Barney? What do you think we should do? and all I could come up with was ‘Woof.’ I felt like such an ass."

by Selvam Canagaratna

"He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare, / And he who has one enemy shall meet him everywhere."

– Ali-Ibn-Abi-Talib (7th C.), Quoted in Emerson’s Conduct of Life.

If there was no mistaking Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s ‘charm offensive’ when he addressed the UN General Assembly in late September, there was also no mistaking his polite firmness on Iran’s long-held position on the crucial point of nuclear negotiations: that "equal footing and mutual respect should govern the talks."

Writing on the Rouhani performance, Pepe Escobar noted how the Iranian President cleverly set the stage for his very own freshly-minted punch line, laying the groundwork thus:"Of course, we expect to hear a consistent voice from Washington," he had said, adding, "the dominant voice in recent years has been for a military option." 

But now, said Rouhani, he had another idea: "It’s WAVE time," he announced. "WAVE as in World Against Violence and Extremism. Not in Farsi, lost in translation; in English."

"I propose as a starting step . . . I invite all states . . . to undertake a new effort to guide the world in this direction . . . we should start thinking about a coalition for peace all across the globe instead of the ineffective coalitions for war."

Commented Escobar: "So the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has just invited the whole planet to join the WAVE. How come no ‘coalition of the willing’ leader ever thought about that?"

Addressing the General Assembly the next day, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose to completely ignore Rouhani’s boldly novel invitation, but could do no better than merely reach out once more for the ‘military option’, which Rouhani had already dubbed as "Washington’s dominant voice in recent years".

Netanyahu indulged in one continuous harangue against Iran, ending with the threat "to go it alone if necessary" in attacking Iran’s nuclear facility. [A ‘threat’ as transparently devoid of seriousness as was his entire address to the General Assembly.]

Natanyahu’s fulminations against Iran aside, his address to the General Assembly was only noteworthy for his allusion to Israel’s budding relationships in the region – a point largely missed by corporate media commentators but dwelt on by Robert Parry, Editor of the online in his report on Netanyahu’s UN performance.

Parry recalled that his early disclosure, published on August 29 titled The Saudi-Israeli Superpower, and describing an "emerging odd-couple alliance between those two traditional enemies" had been met with skepticism in some quarters. Then on October 1st Netanyahu himself hinted broadly, in the midst of his broadside against Iran, thus: "The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbours to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy. And this affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes."

One day later, Israel’s Channel 2 TV news reported that senior Israeli security officials met with a high-level Gulf state counterpart in Jerusalem – believed to be Prince Bandar ‘Bush’ bin Sultan – the former Saudi Ambassador to the United States during George W. Bush’s presidency [so nicknamed because of his cozy relationship with the Bush family, including Papa B]. Prince Bandar is now head of Saudi intelligence.

Wrote Parry: "Besides the shared Saudi-Israeli animosity toward Iran, the growing behind-the-scenes collaboration also revolves around mutual interests in supporting the military coup in Egypt that removed the elected Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi and in seeking to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria.

"In mid-September, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren even embraced the Saudi strategy in Syria when he announced that Israel would prefer to see the Saudi-backed jihadists prevail in Syria over the continuation of the Iran-backed government of President Bashar al-Assad."

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Ambassador Oren was unusually forthright. "The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc. We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran."

In Parry’s view, the emerging Saudi-Israeli alliance also reflects a recognition that the two countries have complementary ‘soft power’ strengths that – when combined – could create a new superpower in the Middle East and arguably the world. "While the Israelis are masters of propaganda and political lobbying (especially in the United States), Saudi Arabia can pull strings through its extraordinary access to oil and money."

Indeed, Israel and Saudi Arabia showed how their new tag-team approach worked when they supported the Egyptian military in its bloody coup against the elected Morsi government in Egypt. While Saudi Arabia assured the coup regime a steady flow of money and oil, the Israelis went to work through their lobby in Washington to ensure that President Barack Obama and Congress would not declare the coup a coup, thus triggering a cutoff of US military aid. Parry quotes from a leaked diplomatic document relating to a stormy July meeting in the Kremlin between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prince Bandar bin Sultan. The discussion was about Syria, Egypt and other regional issues.

Prince Bandar was seeking Russian cooperation with the Saudi position on Syria, and reportedly offered guarantees of protection from Chechen terror attacks on next year’s Winter Olympic Games hosted by Russia in the city of Sochi. Bandar reportedly said. Chechen groups that threaten the security of the Games are controlled by us."

According to this account, Putin responded, "We know that you have supported the Chechen terrorist groups for a decade. And that support, which you have frankly talked about just now, is completely incompatible with the common objectives of fighting global terrorism."

Comments Parry: "Bandar’s Mafia-like threat toward the Sochi games failed to intimidate Putin. Indeed, I was told that Putin’s anger fueled his decision to intervene in the Syrian crisis to head off a threatened US military strike designed to ‘degrade’ the Syrian military. The Saudi-backed rebels had planned to mount an offensive timed with the US bombing in a final drive to topple the Assad regime – and were furious when Russian diplomacy averted the US attack. As the near US intervention in the Syrian civil war shows, the Israeli-Saudi alliance can be problematic to US interests.

"Saudi oil billionaires can reach into both Wall Street boardrooms and the corporate offices of Texas energy giants, while Israel has unparalleled lobbying power with Congress and can deploy its network of neocon propagandists to shape any American foreign policy debate.

"The new Israeli-Saudi alliance can threaten US-Russian strategies for negotiating settlements to Middle East crises. When both Israeli and Saudi leaders say no, it’s hard to fashion an effective strategy for addressing the loss of democracy in Egypt, for instance, or pursuing negotiations to resolve the crises with Syria and Iran.

"The only possible counterforce strong enough to take on this new Israeli-Saudi powerhouse would be a coordinated – and determined – effort by the United States and Russia. Thus, the odd-couple bonding of Netanyahu and Bandar might have the ironic consequence of pushing together another odd couple, Barack and Vlad."

As Pepe Escobar noted about Iranian President Rouhani’s delightful ‘punch line’ in his United Nations address: "So yes, the stakes could not be higher. What the world needs now, is WAVE after WAVE after WAVE."

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