Arab Street Shocked as Saudi Delegation Visits Israel

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The Egyptian news site the Arab Observer Network reports that the visit to Israel of a former Saudi military intelligence officer, Gen. Anwar Eshki, came as a body blow to the Arab in the street. He conducted several meetings with Israeli officials last week, along with a “high level” Saudi delegation.

Saudi Arabia and Israel, the old hegemons in the Middle East, are increasingly coordinating to confront a rising Iran.

Eshki met with Dore Gold, the general director of the Israeli foreign ministry, as well as Israeli members of parliament. On his agenda was restarting the Israel-Palestine peace process on the basis of the 2002 Saudi/ Arab League plan, which calls for a two-state solution on the basis of 1967 borders.

Eshki now heads the Saudi Institute for Strategic Studies, but had held a number of jobs in the Saudi military, retiring as a general, as well as having served in the Saudi ministry of foreign affairs.

The Iranian press lambasted the visit,

The Lebanese newspaper “al-Akhbar” (The News) said that Saudi Arabia now appears ready to move to open relations with Israel, and to recognize Israel as an ally, without those moves any longer requiring Israel to make any concessions to the Palestinians.

The left-leaning newspaper al-Safir (The Ambassador) said that the lack of any Saudi government reprimand of Eshki suggests that the visit was approved by Riyadh.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine accused the Saudis of normalizing the Israeli occupation and of giving cover and legitimacy to Israel’s crimes in the West Bank and Gaza.

The current leadership of Saudi Arabia has taken a number of bold steps to confront a rising Iran, including intervention in Syria on the side of radical Salafi groups and making war on the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Now Riyadh seems poised publicly to embrace Israel. Given the unpopularity of Israel in the Arab street, however, this step could backfire.


Releated video:

France 24: “Middle-East: Israel’s former military intelligence chief sheds lights on Israel-Saudi cooperation” – -FRANCE 24 English”

23 Responses

  1. it is a typical “virgin” shock.the two religiousely fanatic, disrespective to any aspect of human rights, alined allies, and the regions biggest villains, hide their marriage all these years with the lack of official ties. but everybody knows that they bear love to each other and that secretely they have common plans (of fear and destruction) for the region. it is just hard for them to sell this love to their public opinion and pretend to be enemies. but this mask is really very transparent,so maybe its time to make things official

    • The US made Israel and the Kingdom the suzerains of the Middle East. What united them? They all worship the one God: money.
      However, I don’t doubt those two countries would betray and destroy each other in an instant. Richard Clarke claimed in his book that in the mid 1980s his office caught the Saudis building a perfect replica of a Chinese ballistic missile base in the remote desert, presumably with nuclear warheads and missiles being imported from China. Reagan dealt with it somehow. There was no need for Saudi to point nuclear missiles at Iran, the US had that covered. The target had to be Israel, and it had to be unveiled as a fait accompli so the US couldn’t stop it.

  2. There is nothing wrong with Middle Eastern countries wishing to have normal relations with Israel. However, at a time when Israel refuses to budge an inch in its occupation and oppression of the Palestinians and is even expanding its illegal settlements, it is the height of hypocrisy by the Saudi regime that calls itself the defender of Muslims and the Saudi king who calls himself “the custodian of the two holy places” to enter into a covert relationship with Israel. The new ultra-rightwing Israeli defense minister openly says that he intends to crush and uproot HAMAS, which was elected by the people of Gaza when President Bush, trying to weaken Yasser Arafat, demanded that the Palestinians had fresh elections.

    It has been known for a long time that the Saudis have had covert relations with Israeli officials below the radar, and now the former head of the Israeli military intelligence even confirms that the Saudis provided strategic intelligence assistance to Israel during the disastrous 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. It is no wonder that now the Saudis are forcing the rest of the Arab states to declare Hezbollah, which has been the only Arab force which has successfully forced the Israelis to end their occupation of Lebanon, a terrorist organization in order to support their new-found allies the Israelis, who also regard Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

    I share your view that the Arab street will be shocked by such hypocrisy and collusion with the regime that oppresses their fellow Arabs in Lebanon and Palestine. It seems that the whole Arab world has forsaken the cause of the Palestinians in obedience to US and Israeli demands. This trend will be sadly accelerated under the next US Administration.

    • “It seems that the whole Arab world has forsaken the cause of the Palestinians in obedience to US and Israeli demands. This trend will be sadly accelerated under the next US Administration.”

      General Anwar Eshki’s visit to Israel and increasing Israeli-Saudi coordination have absolutely nothing to do with “obedience to US and Israeli demands.” Such a superficial interpretation ignores the true motive of both the Saudis and the Israelis which is to stem the hegemonic rise of Iran in the Near East. It is the same motive that drove the US and USSR to ally against Germany in World War II.

      That Saudi Arabia and Israel may coordinate actions to halt Iran’s goal of hegemony in the region is simply a matter of “realpolitik.” A solid grounding in history teaches that a nation’s perceived national interest trumps ideological differences when it comes to alliances against a common adversary. Nothing unusual here.

      • 200+ Israeli nuclear weapons = hegemony already settled.
        Israel covering it up and claiming an Iranian “threat” = needing an excuse to drive more Palestinians off their land.

        • A non-sequitur. The question is not whether or not Israel possesses nuclear weapons. The question concerns the original poster’s totally unfounded assumption that the Israelis and Saudis are cooperating as a result of “obedience to US and Israeli demands.” They are operating on the basis of their own perceived national interests vis-a-vis Iran. The US is not the puppet-master of either the Israelis or the Saudis. Very poor analysis and conclusions in the original article.

      • “Hegemonic rise” of Iran is total hyperbole. Where are the Iranian counterparts to Nazi Germany’s subjugation of Czechoslovakia, its Anschluss in Austria, the invasions of Poland, Denmark & Norway?

        Unlike the Nazis, or the recent US for that matter, Iran has not invaded or even threatened to invade other countries. Iran does not dictate events anywhere other than within its own borders.

        • Hegemony does not necessarily involve the equivalent of “Nazi Germany” (an overused analogy in any case). Nor does it necessarily involve invasion. Hegemony can be accomplished by simply becoming the dominant influence in a region, and this is what Iran aspires to. Becoming the dominant influence in the Near East.

    • Your first two sentences needs to be sent to everyone in America so that they can understand the impossible position the increasingly Zionist US put Saudi Arabia in, and why the Saudis have to “prove” their devoutness by supporting terrorism against somebody. Which in turn has put the US into an impossible position of looking the other way. Monarchs derive their consent from God or His spokesmen, not the citizenry.

    • Now, combine this news with the release of the 28 pages hidden from the 9/11 report, and see if anyone realizes that America has no true friends in the Middle East. Prince Bandar, once nicknamed “Bandar Bush” for his ties to the a certain family, had his fingerprints all over a network supporting two of the hijackers in San Diego.

  3. I am not certain why anyone would be shocked over this. All they lacked was Pakistani participation.
    Anyone who could not figure this out years ago is, IMHO, not paying attention.

  4. This report treats the same visit but from a very different perspective.

    A retired Saudi general visiting Israel this week to promote the Arab Peace Initiative said on Sunday that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would eliminate Iran’s excuse for supporting regional terrorist groups.

    link to

    • Both PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman have in recent months expressed degrees of support for the Arab Peace Initiative endorsed by the Arab League – which former PM Ariel Sharon decried as a “non-starter” when initially announced in 2002:

      link to

      PM Netanyahu faces intense international pressure from BDS and declining U.S. and European Union support as well as domestically from right-wing extremist elements fueled by Palestinian violence to seek a solution to the political impasse between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.

      This current visit by Eshki to engage in discussions with Gold is a very positive sign that could lead to a possible breakthrough on the Palestinian question – although it may not lead to anything, either.

  5. The lack of genuine Saudi Royal concern for Palestinians is an old story. (An Islamic absolute monarchy is challenged by democratic secular movements. And, like any country, its first priority is regime survival.) Consider: “Dealing with Arab and Israeli leaders on the Palestinian issue must have been eye-opening for…president [Obama]. Publicly Arab rulers pressed him on Palestine, but privately all they wanted to talk about was defanging Iran (the same is true of the Israelis)….When Obama met Abdullah in Riyadh in June 2009, most of the hour-long meeting was taken up with a royal lecture on the Iranian threat. The Saudi king wanted America to fix the Iranian problem, not the Palestinian one, and he did not want any linkages between the two issues. In that, the king and Netanyahu were on the same page.” link to

    • “The lack of genuine Saudi Royal concern for Palestinians is an old story.”

      That’s not true. They care a great deal about Palestinians. They’re an important source of menial labor.

  6. Backfire how? Virtually all Arab govts will fall behind KSA. The Arab people don’t matter, already preoccupied with their own Israel-Iran-US conspiracy theory due to the Syrian and Iraqi conflict.

  7. Iran is not the problem in the world, Israel and Saudi Arabia have always been the problem. Is the world starting to recognize that now?

  8. My Lebanese Arabic instructor back in 1975 informed me and the class that Arab nations really wished that the Palestinians would just go away so they could concentrate on their own economic development. Actions of the Arab governments have proven that he was correct.

  9. Dear Professor Cole

    Fisk this morning reminds us of the war in Lebanon ten years ago and finishes up with a warning that a rerun is imminent

    “A veteran Irish UN officer, Commandant Kevin McDonald, has now published his own detailed account of the events of 25 July 2006, Peacekeeping on the Edge. “Throughout the day,” he writes, “complaints were raised by Untso [United Nations Truce Supervisory Organisation], Unifil [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] and the highest levels of UNHQ New York to the IDF and the Israeli authorities … Despite assurances from the IDF, the intensity [of strikes around PB Khiam] never decreased.”

    By the time the UN had decided to evacuate their men, they were already under Israeli air attack. There was then “no response from HF [high frequency], VHF Sat phone or the individual cell phones”.

    So what is left to be said? Only, I suppose, that the Israelis and Hezbollah are now boasting about another, even more ferocious war between them.

    With more Hezbollah weapons in the south of Lebanon, Major General “Herzi” Halevy, the head of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate, warned last month, the next war would turn Lebanon into “a country of refugees”. And, of course, the UN’s unarmed observers will still be there on the Lebanese border to record it all again.”

    link to

    Professor Etzioni already gave the game away with his article on the use of thermobaric weapons against Beirut which should have got him indicted for incitement in contravention of the Genocide Convention

    “Assuming it is true, the American scholar argues, if Israeli soldiers were to try to take the missiles out of these homes one at a time, it “would very likely result in many Israeli casualties.”

    In order to avoid Israeli casualties, Etzioni writes: “I asked two American military officers what other options Israel has. They both pointed to Fuel-Air Explosives (FAE). These are bombs that disperse an aerosol cloud of fuel which is ignited by a detonator, producing massive explosions. The resulting rapidly expanding wave flattens all buildings within a considerable range.”

    “Such weapons obviously would be used only after the population was given a chance to evacuate the area. Still, as we saw in Gaza, there are going to be civilian casualties,” Etzioni adds. “The time to raise this issue is long before Israel may be forced to use FAEs.”

    Etzioni concludes his piece implying Israel has no other option but to bomb the city of Beirut. “In this way, one hopes, that there be a greater understanding, if not outright acceptance, of the use of these powerful weapons, given that nothing else will do,” he writes.

    Lebanese journalists and activists have expressed outrage at the article.”

    link to

    If the Saudis sell their soul to the devil by coordinating an attack on Hizb Allah in Lebanon with the Israelis it must surely be kiss of death for the destitute Sisi government in Egypt and his Saudi paymasters

    As time goes on more people will come round to Osama bin Laden’s view “Third, if the Americans’ aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews’ petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel’s survival and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula.”

    link to

    His subsequent admonition to kill Americans and their allies both military and civilian will be bad news for me if I am in North Africa.

    Not a hope of either candidate for US president discouraging the attack on Lebanon. Wikileaks tells us that at one of them will be cheerleader in chief in her blind concern to protect Israel.

    Let us pray that the Russians deter them from any moves against Lebanon.

  10. I think from the beginning Saudi Arabia is working on agenda of anti-muslim forces and now masks are coming out from the face. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libiya, Syria and Yemen have been destroyed but no real pain observed in Saudi Arabia. Now Turkey and Pakistan are the next targets but Saudi Arabia pretending as muslim brother and supporting enimies of Islam. USA and Saudi Arabia have joint venture in destruction of muslim countries. They have one GOD which is called MONEY. At the end Saudi will not get any thing for sure.

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