|The fact that this story was purposely thrown into the public arena yesterday, can only be seen as a trial balloon. So far, no outrage in the Arab/Muslim world.|
Israelis and Saudis Reveal Secret Talks to Thwart Iran - Eli Lake
Since the beginning of 2014, representatives from Israel and Saudi Arabia have had five secret meetings to discuss a common foe, Iran. On Thursday, the two countries came out of the closet by revealing this covert diplomacy at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. Anwar Eshki and Dore Gold presented identical messages: Iran is trying to take over the Middle East and it must be stopped. Saudi Arabia and Israel are arguably the two countries most threatened by Iran's nuclear program, but neither has a seat at the negotiations.
Gold said, "Our standing today on this stage does not mean we have resolved all the differences that our countries have shared over the years, but our hope is we will be able to address them fully in the years ahead." The five bilateral meetings over the last 17 months occurred in India, Italy and the Czech Republic. One participant, Shimon Shapira, a retired Israeli general and an expert on the Lebanese militant group Hizbullah, told me: "We discovered we have the same problems and same challenges and some of the same answers."
Saudi Gen. Eshki notably called for an independent Kurdistan to be made up of territory now belonging to Iraq, Turkey and Iran.
Saudis Consider Iran Their Top Enemy, Not Israel
The Saudi public is far more concerned about the threats of Iran and the Islamic State than Israel, an opinion poll conducted by the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, has found.
53% of Saudis named Iran as their main adversary, while 22% said it is the Islamic State and 18% said Israel.
A quarter of the poll's respondents said Israel and Saudi Arabia should join forces to fight Iran together.
(AP-New York Times)
Saudi Arabia and Israel Share a Common Opposition - David E. Sanger
A new merging of strategic interests between Saudi Arabia and Israel was on display on Thursday as two former officials from those countries appeared on the same stage to discuss their concerns about Iran's actions across the Middle East. In an appearance at the Washington office of the Council on Foreign Relations, a retired major general in the Saudi armed forces, Anwar Eshki, and a former Israeli ambassador close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Dore Gold, described their common interests in opposing Iran.
"We're both allies of the United States," Gold said after the presentation. "I hope this is the beginning of more discussion about our common strategic problems." Gold will become the director general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday.
(New York Times)
If Not for Israel, ISIS Would Control Nuke Reactor - Guy Bechor
I received a message from a man who lives in Iraq and wanted to thank Israel for destroying Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in 1981. If it were not for that, he wrote, Iraq would have been filled with nuclear facilities; Israel saved the Iraqi people.
Indeed, Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor, had it remained, would now be in the area occupied by the Islamic State in Anbar province.
The writer heads the Middle East Division at the Lauder School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
Iran Is Here - Alex Fishman
Assad has been defeated in battle and has become a marionette. Hizbullah has lost thousands of soldiers and is fighting for its very existence. The Iranians have entered the vacuum that has been created. Their generals are deployed in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and up to Lebanon. Now they are waiting for the removal of sanctions from the U.S. in order to deliver the final blow.
In Israel there is an attempt to persuade the Americans and the Europeans to delay as much as possible the removal of sanctions on Iran. In Israel there is a fear that this money will shoot adrenaline immediately into the ranks of Hizbullah and the Iranian fighters in Syria.
Contextualizing Concerns about the Iran Deal - Michael Herzog
Instead of deterrence, Israel and the Sunni Arab states see that, for the sake of reaching a nuclear deal, the U.S. has granted Iran considerable room to pursue destabilizing policies toward its goal of regional hegemony.
Regional actors give no credence to Washington's optimistic assessment that in a post-deal era Iran will change priorities and overwhelmingly direct the significant funds released as sanctions are relaxed toward fixing the economy and other internal reforms.
Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog, an International Fellow at The Washington Institute, served as head of IDF strategic planning and as senior military aide and chief of staff to four Israeli ministers of defense.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)