By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
The recent enhancement of strategic coordination between Israel and Saudi Arabia highlights Israel's role in bolstering the national security of the House of Saud. This coordination has become particularly critical, for Riyadh, due to the erosion of the US' posture of deterrence, while the clear and present lethal Iran-fueled threats to Saudi Arabia are dramatically exacerbated.
While the blossoming Jerusalem-Riyadh coordination is consistent with short-term, surgical Saudi national security interests, it is inconsistent with the long-term, inherently puritanical Islamic, Wahhabi worldview of the Saudi regime, which considers the Jewish State an illegal, infidel, usurper, provisional entity in "the abode of Islam," as documented by Saudi school textbooks and religious sermons. Could the enemy (Saudi Arabia) of Israel's enemy (Iran) become Israel's friend?
Israel's added strategic value – to Saudi Arabia - has been demonstrated since the 1967 Six Day War. Israel's devastation of the Pan-Arab, radical, pro-USSR, anti-US and anti-Saudi Egyptian President Nasser aborted the latter's military offensive in Yemen, which aimed at invading Saudi Arabia and toppling the House of Saud and other pro-US Arab regimes in the Persian Gulf.
In 1970, Israel mobilized its military to the joint Israeli-Syrian-Jordanian border, forcing a swift rollback of the pro-USSR, anti-US, anti-Saudi Syrian invasion of Jordan, which intended to bring down the pro-US Hashemite regime and proceed to destabilize Saudi Arabia.
In 1981, Israel's destruction of Iraq's nuclear infrastructure – carried out by Israeli planes which flew, unchallenged, through Jordanian and Saudi airspace - snatched Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other pro-US Arab regimes from the lethal jaws of Iraq's Saddam Hussein, also sparing the US a nuclear confrontation (or grave humiliation) in the 1991 First Gulf War.
In 2007, Saudi Arabia cheered the destruction of Syria's nuclear infrastructure, which reduced imminent threats to Saudi stability, and provided a tailwind to Riyadh's efforts to topple the pro-Iran ("apostate," Shi'a) Assad regime.
In 2014, Saudi Arabia, along with all pro-US Arab countries, blamed the July/August Hamas-Israel war in Gaza on the Palestinian Hamas, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood terror organization - which has traditionally challenged the legitimacy of the House of Saud – and an ally of Iran, the arch-enemy of Saudi Arabia. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Saudis do not consider the Palestinian issue to be a crown jewel. They regard Palestinians as a potential subversive element, especially since the 1990 collaboration of Mahmoud Abbas and Arafat with Saddam Hussein's occupation of Kuwait, the triggering of a series of civil wars in Lebanon, and the 1970 Palestinian collaboration with Syria's invasion of Jordan. The $100mn annual Saudi foreign aid to the PLO has been in suspension since the 1990 betrayal of Kuwait.
In 2015, the Saudi regime considers Israel its most effective ally in the face of a potential self-destructive US agreement with the Ayatollahs, concurring with Israel's stance on Iran, as stated by the editor-in-chief of the House of Saud-owned daily, Al Arabiya: "President Obama, listen to Netanyahu on Iran." Like Israel, the Saudis focus on the Ayatollahs walk since 1979 – and not on the moderate talk in Lausanne – which has been rogue, terrorist, subversive, supremacist, megalomaniacal, apocalyptic, anti-US, non-compliant, deceitful and violently intolerant of "apostates" (e.g., Saudi Arabia) and "infidels." Like Israel, the House of Saud is convinced that a constructive agreement must be preconditioned upon a dramatic transformation of the nature of the Ayatollahs, and that the military threat/stick must be on the table as the most effective means to prevent war.
Notwithstanding the expansion of the Iran-oriented Israel-Saudi strategic dialogue and moderate Saudi policy pronouncements, Saudi Arabia's short-term national security interests have yet to impact Saudi Arabia's long-term, inherent Wahhabi worldview, which rejects the "infidel" Christian, Jews and Buddhist, as well as other branches of Islam, considering a Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East an aberration to be decisively uprooted.
According to a multi-year Hudson Institute study of Saudi school textbooks – which are also disseminated to Saudi controlled mosques throughout the globe, including the US - the Saudi education system, K-12, indoctrinates children in religious intolerance and violence, which constitutes an extremely fertile ground for recruits to Islamic terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Chechnya, Syria, Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Africa, Europe and the American continent. Most September 11, 2001 terrorists were Saudi.
Until recently – when overtaken by the Ayatollahs – the Saudi royal family was the leading world banker of Islamic (Sunni) terrorism. Covert ties with terror organizations are still sustained today via Saudi businessmen and "charitable organizations." The Policy Department of the European Parliament concluded: "the risks posed by Salafist/Wahhabi terrorism go far beyond the geographical scope of the Muslim world. The attacks on New York, Washington D.C., London and Madrid remind us of this…."
Saudi children are instructed that "Jews and Christians are enemies of the believers" (Hadith, 9th grade, p. 149), "the struggle against Jews and Christians will endure as long as God wills" (Hadith, 9th grade, p. 148) and that "the apes are the people of the Sabbath and the swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus" (Monotheism, 8th grade, p. 42). They are taught that "the whole Muslim nation is engaged in a Jihad ["holy war"] against international Zionism, manifested by the State of Jewish gangs called Israel, established on Palestinian land" (Islamic History, 8th grade, p. 105) and that "Jews will not leave Palestine except by Jihad" (Islamic World, 12th grade, p. 126).
Could the enemy (Saudi Arabia) of Israel's enemy (Iran) become Israel's friend? Nothing more than a fleeting, tenuous "friend," unless the House of Saud dramatically transforms its core Islamic ideology and hate-education system, which perpetuate the inherent rejection of the Jewish State, while benefitting from short term national security coordination with the "infidel entity."