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Secret Ties Between Riyadh And Tel Aviv
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud attends the Arab League summit in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on March 28, 2015. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Secret Ties Between Riyadh And Tel Aviv

Al-Khaleej al-Jadid, UAE, October 24

Media reports recently revealed the details of a dramatic event in the Middle East: a secret visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to Israel. According to several Israeli sources, the prince embarked on the two-day trip last month in order strengthen the growing partnership between Riyadh and Tel Aviv. Nor is it the first meeting of its kind—several Israeli intelligence officials, army officers, and even cabinet members previously met with Saudi delegates. So what is at the core of these warming ties? Why has Saudi Arabia suddenly shifted its attitude towards Israel? The answer is multifaceted. First and foremost, Iran is a common enemy of both Riyadh and Tel Aviv. The two countries see eye to eye on almost all matters pertaining to Tehran; namely, the need to curb its activity in the region, tame its regime, and limit the spread of the Revolutionary Guard Corps throughout the Middle East. But there are other motivations for this rapprochement that might be less obvious. For example, both nations face a growing threat of terrorism and Saudi armed forces have a lot to learn from their Israeli counterparts in this regard. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, much to Israel’s pleasure, has publicly denounced Hamas as a terrorist group. By working closer with Israel, the Saudis are also hoping to revamp their police and military forces. According to several reports, Israel has already agreed to export weaponry to Riyadh, including advanced missile warning systems. Finally, there is the most important motivation: Prince Salman is determined to reinvent Saudi Arabia’s image and rid the Kingdom of its ties to terrorism. By aligning with Israel, he is hoping to win over leading members of the U.S. Congress and even Jewish organizations in America. In other words, the two countries seem to have entered a new era in their bilateral relationship. While the rapprochement is still kept under the table, it is becoming less of a secret than in the past. One day, in the not-so-distant future, the growing ties might even be made public. – Saleh al-Noami

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