Saudi public being prepared for alliance with Israel?
Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, chief of the general staff of the IDF, gave an unprecedented interview to an online Saudi news site where he said Israel is prepared to share intelligence on Iran with Saudi Arabia if the need arises.
Eisenkot also called Iran the "real and largest threat to the region," echoing sentiments expressed by Saudi Arabia recently.
A Saudi newspaper published an unprecedented interview on Thursday with the Israeli military chief, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. It marks the first time any senior Israel Defense Forces officer, let alone the chief of staff, has been interviewed by a media organization in Saudi Arabia, which does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.
In the interview to the Saudi online newspaper Elaph, Eisenkot called Iran the "real and largest threat to the region." He said Israel and Saudi Arabia are in complete agreement about Iran's intentions.
He also noted that Israel and Saudi Arabia have never fought each other.
Eisenkot said that Israel's military situation has never been better. He said that was why it is "highly regarded by the moderate countries in the region."
Israel's military chief accused Iran of trying to destabilize the region by building weapons factories and supplying advanced arms to guerilla and terrorist organizations across the Middle East.
"Iran seeks to take control of the Middle East, creating a Shi'ite crescent from Lebanon to Iran and then from the [Persian] Gulf to the Red Sea."
"We must prevent this from happening," he added.
For years now, Saudi Arabia and Israel have, by necessity, been drawing closer together. There were rumors – never confirmed – that Israel had struck a deal to use Saudi bases if it decided to attack Iran's nuclear program. Ever since the Saudis intervened in Yemen to battle Iranian-sponsored Houthi rebels, the strategic interests of both countries appeared to merge. Since President Obama gave Iran tens of billions of dollars in frozen assets, the Iranians have become emboldened all across the region, using their proxy armies of Houthis and Hezb'allah to advance their goal of creating a "crescent" of influence. One need only look at a map of the Middle East to see how both Israel and Saudi Arabia – Iran's two main foes – would be threatened by this goal.
Eisenkot also mentioned President Trump's policies as "hope for the region."
"With President Trump. there is an opportunity to build a new international coalition in the region. We need to carry out a large and inclusive strategic plan to stop the Iranian danger. We are willing to exchange information with moderate Arab countries, including intelligence information in order to deal with Iran," added Eisenkot.
As to whether Israel has already shared such information with Saudi Arabia, Eisenkot said: "We are willing to share information if there is a need. We have many shared interests between us."
The Sunni Arab Gulf states are on the front line of this struggle with Iran, while Israel's proximity to Syria will be a continuous threat to their security for the foreseeable future. Iranian support for Hezb'allah will continue to grow, as will the threat from the terrorists to destabilize Lebanon. A de facto alliance between the Saudis and Israelis changes Iran's strategic calculations considerably. But as fanatical as the Iranians are, it probably won't moderate their behavior.