Those of you still cheering the Obama-Kerry foreign policy have a new and even more dramatic reason to applaud.
They have succeeded in creating an alliance that might solve all the problems of the Middle East: between Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
It may not be what was intended, but amateurs occasionally do stumble on to something good while trying something else. The term serendipity, used for a happy accident, may not be exactly right for this case, insofar as it derives from the mutual antipathy to what the United States has been doing .
Moreover, while Israelis may be chuckling quietly about the evolution of mutuality along with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the Arabs in the setting will not be proclaiming an alliance with Israel from their minarets.
What we have comes from the three countries' opposition to US policy, or the signs of policy to come, with respect to Syria, Egypt, and Iran.
The New York Times
report appeared in a prominent article headlined, "Criticism of United States’ Mideast Policy Increasingly Comes From Allies
Israel's Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has been out front in his opposition to signs of US and European softening for the sake of negotiations and the hope of stopping Iran's nuclear program, which he and others (including Saudis) see in Washington's pleasure at the softening of Iranian rhetoric, and the willingness of the US to bend a bit or more with respect to current sanctions as a reward to the Iranians and to encourage them to be even more forthcoming.
Neither the Israelis nor the Saudis who are running their governments are inclined to trust the Iranians, each for their own reasons. Israelis focus on the threats of their own destruction heard from the Iranian leadership, and Saudis focus on the Iranian aspirations to lead Shiite expansion. For the Saudis, this threatens an uprising from their own Shiite minority, the Shiite majority currently governed by the Sunni rulers of the Saudi ally and neighbor Bahrain, and Iranian hands and money in the radicalism in Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Gaza, and Iraq.
Primarily Egypt, but also Israel and Saudi Arabia are troubled by the Obama policy of democratizing Muslims, which first appeared in the Nobel Prize winning speech in Cairo, again when choosing the Muslim Brotherhood over old friend Hosni Mubarak, and most recently by punishing the current Egyptian leadership.
Israel, for obvious reasons, is the quiet partner in all of this. Individual Israelis wondered and snickered about the threats to attack Syria in response to its use of chemical weapons, the turn to Congress for approval, and then going along with the Russian proposal to defuse the whole thing with something less than a rebuke of the Syrian leadership. For the Saudis, this was a failure of major proportions, insofar as they have been a major source of support for the Syrian opposition, despite its flaws in containing Islamic extremists who might embarrass the Saudis.
The Riyad regime has the capacity to live with that embarrassment, as they showed when Saudi money and personnel were apparent in 9-11.
Saudi Arabia has responded to the US reduction of aid to Egypt by increasing their own aid, and by their high profile rejection of the seat on the UN Security Council.
We may view that as a more outspoken scolding of the US than was suffered by the Assad regime for its use of chemical weapons.
There may be more to come, perhaps extending to Saudi-Israeli cooperation (sure to be unspoken) with respect to overflight privileges and other logistic support in the case of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Such prospects are no further outside of the box than what Sheldon Adelson proposed while speaking to students at the Yeshiva University, i.e., a US nuclear attack on Iran
The $100 million Adelson is reported to have spent to defeat Barack Obama will not assure his access to the Oval Office. Adelson provides daily support to Netanyahu and his wife via the free newspaper that has climbed to the top of Israel media in terms of circulation. However, Adelson's comment at YU may not be what Netanyahu wants at this delicate juncture.
Adelson on nuking Iran has gone viral on the Internet and was featured on Israel's major nightly news programs. At least some of the coverage has been closer to ridicule than straight reportage.
Netanyahu is far removed from all other western leaders concerned to nudge, rather than blast the Iranians toward cooperation. Netanyahu, alas, represents the country with the clearest right of feeling threatened by an Iranian nuclear weapon.
Israeli and other analysts say it is already too late. Iran in close enough, perhaps like the Japanese and South Koreans, to be able to produce nuclear weapons quickly when its leadership feels the need.
Is Netanyahu bluffing by his rhetoric, for the purpose of getting as tough a posture as possible from Americans and Europeans?
Ambiguity gets in the way of Israelis and others figuring that out.
With Saudi Arabia being no less annoyed at the Obama-Kerry regime than Israel, and maybe more so, it adds to the problems in calculating what might happen if a US-led alliance continues to be softer with the Iranians than what Israelis and Saudis are willing to accept.
On the same day that Sheldon Adelson was reported to have recommended an American nuclear attack on Iran, a former head of Israeli military intelligence reminded the Americans--via an interview with New Republic
--that an Israeli military strike was still an option if American diplomacy dragged on without resolution
That, too, ought to be factored into however we all choose to read international politics..
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