Islamic State (ISIS) aggression, the prospect of a nuclear Iran,Â andÂ President Barack Obama’s policies are changing the face of Mideast alliances, potentially creating covert or multinational Saudi ties with Israel, an expert of Saudi political and security affairs says.
Dr. Michal Yaari of the Britain-based Open University told the Israeli news service ArutzÂ ShevaÂ that Israel and Saudi Arabia share security concerns but impediments block any open collaboration.
“There are definitely people who oppose the relationship.Â For them the issues over Israelâ€™s occupation [of Judea and Samaria] and the Temple Mount are too much,” said Yaari,Â referringÂ to Israel’s presence on the holiest site in Judaism.
As the custodian of Islamâ€™s two holiest citiesâ€“Mecca andÂ Medinaâ€“it apparently would seem odd for Saudi Arabia to be lenient about Israeli control over Jerusalem, which IslamÂ sees as its third holiestÂ city.
â€œSaudi Arabia is very limited in what they can do.Â Things can change in the context of a regional agreement [dealing with an Iranian threat]; not a bilateral agreement but a multilateralÂ one,â€ Yaari says.
â€œSaudi Arabia is very angry with the United States for hurting the Kingdomâ€™s interests: the way itÂ supported Mohammed Morsi and opposed Hosni Mubarak; the way it did not follow through [withÂ military action] against Syria over chemical weapons, and now how it is leaving Iran as a nuclearÂ threshold state.”
Â â€”Dr. Michal Yaari of the Open University
The newspaper says: â€œMost experts feel the relationship between the two countriesÂ on the security side is steady even if well out of the publicâ€™s view. In Israel, the rumors of such aÂ relationship tend to offer some excitement. Take for instance Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahuâ€™s effort toÂ invite Arab ambassadors to his recentÂ CongressÂ addressÂ in Washington.
Those invitations apparently wereÂ a bit too overreaching, but there was some very public agreement, atÂ least with the ideas expressed in his speech,Â by Saudi newspapers. That support does not reflect publicÂ sentiment givingÂ Israel some benefit of the doubt, but it doesÂ showÂ the Saudi government is willingÂ to let a newspaper publish something positive about Netanyahu in order to make a point about Iran.â€
â€œSaudi Arabia is very angry with the United States for hurting the Kingdomâ€™s interests: the way itÂ supported Mohammed Morsi and opposed Hosni Mubarak; the way it did not follow through [withÂ military action] against Syria over chemical weapons, and now how it is leaving Iran as a nuclearÂ threshold state,” says Yaari.
She notes that theÂ two nations cannot have open relations but are unitedÂ against Tehran and upset with theÂ policiesÂ of theÂ President BarackÂ Obama’s administration.
According to Yaari, Saudi Arabia is going to the beat of their own drum right now, but that does notÂ mean Saudi Arabia can really punish the United States when it is so dependent on security ties withÂ it.
â€œThere is no other country that can protect Saudi Arabia like the United States. None. The SaudiÂ experience with the United States recently has been a bad one. They are particularly concerned aboutÂ Americaâ€™s power being compromised,” she notes. “If the United States were to send more forces to Iraq to fight ISIS [Islamic State], then the Saudis might take AmericanÂ policy more seriously.â€
The Saudis are stockpiling armaments in case of incursions by ISIS and Islamic militants in Yemen and the threat of a nuclear Iran.
In response to recent reports aboutÂ Saudi Arabia permitting Israel use of its airspace toÂ attackÂ Iranian nuclearÂ installations, Yaari speculated that such a move would not necessarily spark direct military retaliationÂ from Tehran against Saudi Arabia.
She says,Â “Saudi Arabia is not particularly concerned about an Iranian attackÂ per se. They are more worried about their reputation.â€
â€œTheir primary concern is a Shi’ite bomb that strengthens Iranâ€™s regional aspirations,” Yaari explained.