[Strategic Intel] Israeli defense minister urges cooperation with Saudi Arabia against Iran

Israeli officials are increasingly urging the country to align more closely with Arab partners in the Middle East as a bulwark against Iranian influence and aggression, and that includes partnering with Saudi Arabia.

Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is openly calling for a closer alliance with Riyadh as a counterbalance to Iran and its militant proxies whose presence is spreading throughout Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.

“Sunni Arab terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State group, al-Qaida and Hamas have far more in common with the Shiite regime of Iran and its Shia Arab proxy, Hezbollah, than with the governments and societies of most Sunni Arab states,” he wrote in a column for Defense News. “While the former uphold a violent, medieval, anti-Western worldview, the latter have a pro-Western approach, prioritizing stability, economic growth and security.”

He further noted that there is “much evidence of sober thinking” among Gulf states, with the Saudis representing “perhaps the clearest example” of that trend.

Saudi leaders are also spearheading “a bold and visionary policy that doesn’t balk from identifying Iran as the overall regional threat and is forthrightly confronting its terrorist affiliates — the Houthis, Hezbollah and Hamas,” he said.

“The more we, the region’s pragmatic forces, combine our energies to defeat our fanatic enemies, the better able we will be to provide for the region’s security and stability and to advance our respective national interests,” Lieberman concluded. [source]

(Analyst comment: This kind of cooperation between an Arab state and Israel in the not-too-distant past would have been unthinkable, let alone something that was suggested publicly, by either side. And yet, here we are. This is the best example yet of how seriously regional powers are taking the rise of Iranian military strength and influence. Also, it shows that these countries are moving closer to the U.S. orbit and not Russia’s, as Moscow aligns with U.S., Israeli and Saudi nemeses Iran, Hezbollah and the newest anti-American faction in the Middle East, NATO member Turkey.)

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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