The Emerging Realignment

Saudi Arabia recently granted Air India permission to fly over its territory on new routes to and from Israel. The decision to open Saudi airspace to commercial jets bound for the Jewish state ended a 70-year ban on such flights and reflected thawing ties between Israel and the Arab kingdom.

“This is a historic evening,” said Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz when the jet landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. “The Israeli skies are connecting with the Saudi Arabian skies in one direct flight. We are celebrating the strengthening relations with India and the first civilian connection with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.”

A few weeks later, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman publicly recognized Israel’s right to exist. When asked if he believes the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in their ancestral homeland, the 32-year-old de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia replied, “I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation. I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land.”

The remarks, long taboo in a country that was fiercely opposed to Israel’s creation in 1948 and still does not recognize the Jewish state, underscore the important realignment taking place in the Middle East: Iran’s pursuit of regional hegemony is driving strategic convergence between Israel and Saudi Arabia—both of which view Iran as an existential threat.

Iran is on the ascendency. The destruction of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq in 2003, which removed a Sunni Arab strategic counterweight to Shia Iran, created a massive power vacuum that Tehran quickly filled. Since then, Iran has greatly expanded its influence in Syria by aligning with Russia to support the government of Bashar al-Assad.

Tehran’s goal in Syria has been to build a land bridge between Iran and Lebanon, home to Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Iran’s geopolitical ambitions have been aided by a nuclear deal that lifted crippling economic sanctions on Tehran and enabled it to fund proxy wars throughout the Middle East, including in Yemen, from where Iranian-backed rebels have fired missiles into Saudi Arabia.

“Unfortunately, the U.S. left a vacuum in the region which was filled by the Russians in Syria and by the Iranians and their proxies in other parts of the Middle East,” according to Kobi Michael, a research fellow at Tel Aviv University. “Israel,” he said, “is perceived as the most reliable potential ally. Therefore, the Saudis understand pretty well that it is a good time to be good friends with Israel.”

Middle East expert Sebastian Sons concurs. “Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a lot of strong allies left who could confront Iran, which is why Israel has become its second-most important military ally, right after the United States.”

Israel’s Chief of Staff, General Gadi Eisenkot, in a recent interview with UK-based Saudi newspaper Elaph, said Israel was ready to exchange intelligence with the Saudis in order to confront Iran. “There are shared interests and as far as the Iranian axis is concerned we are in full accord with the Saudis,” he said.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said stronger strategic alliances with Arab countries were necessary to confront Iranian expansionism. “There is an alignment of Israel and other countries in the Middle East that would have been unimaginable 10 years ago,” he said. “Certainly in my lifetime, [I’ve never seen] anything like it, and I’m at the age of the State of Israel more or less, so it’s an extraordinary thing.”

1 thought on “The Emerging Realignment

  1. Great news! Now maybe they could work on doing something about the persecution of Christians in Saudia Arabia and India.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Features

From the Editor Jul/Aug 2018

Some things seem almost too absurd to be true. But life is filled with absurdities when it comes to Israel. Do you see the ladder in the photo below? It has leaned against the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem for at least 150 years...

If I Forget You, O Jerusalem

Among the many things God cares about, three stand out: Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple. During my Hebrew-school days, I learned about these things in multiple ways. From the Jewish Scriptures, I learned God set Jerusalem in the midst of the...

Ezekiel: The Times, The Man, The Book

The prophet Ezekiel burst onto the scene during Jerusalem’s darkest days at the end of the sixth century BC. Then, as now, the Middle East was in crisis. In fact, the Middle East had been in crisis for most of the eighth and seventh centuries BC due to the...

The Divine Distribution

When God confirmed a covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12:1), He issued a divine proclamation: He vowed to give all the land He was promising Abraham to both Abraham and his descendants forever (13:15). God bequeathed the land through...

The Best is Yet to Come

Leon Uris’s novel Exodus, about the founding of the State of Israel, captivated the world when it came out in 1958. It became an international sensation, rising quickly to number one on The New York Times best-seller list and staying there for eight months...

The Coming Invasion

Today much of the world despises Israel. All it takes to substantiate this truth is a look at the UN’s overwhelming number of anti-Israel resolutions, the countries that have waged war against Israel in hopes of annihilating it, and the news media’s endless caricature of...

Subscription Options

1 Year Subscription

  • *Unlimited Articles
  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads

$9.99 every year

1 Year with Archive Access

  • *Unlimited Articles
  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Complete Access to Our Growing Archive—Eventually Back Through Our Inaugural Issue In 1942
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads of Current Issues and Select Archives

$19.99 every year

2 Year Subscription

  • *Unlimited Articles
  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads

$19.99 every 2 years

2 Year with Archive Access

  • *Unlimited Articles
  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Complete Access to Our Growing Archive—Eventually Back Through Our Inaugural Issue In 1942
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads of Current Issues and Select Archives

$39.99 every 2 years

3 Year Subscription

  • *Unlimited Articles
  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads

$29.99 every 3 years

3 Year with Archive Access

  • *Unlimited Articles
  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Complete Access to Our Growing Archive—Eventually Back Through Our Inaugural Issue In 1942
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads of Current Issues and Select Archives

$59.99 every 3 years

Free Subscription

Unlimited Articles

Free