Global Independent Analytics

Saudi prince: Getting nukes an option if Iran breaks deal

Rivals in the past, Israel and Saudi Arabia agreed that they will take steps if they see any erosion of the Iran deal they so forcefully opposed

Nicolle Gaouette for CNN reports: n a reflection of the change and churn in the Middle East, former high-level officials from Saudi Arabia and Israel -- nations that have no formal diplomatic ties -- spoke publicly about their shared sense of Iran as a threat, their differences on Palestinians and the role the United States plays in their chaotic region.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's former intelligence chief, and retired Israeli Army Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, a former adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke in Washington Thursday night at a discussion arranged by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

However, Turki warned that their joint appearance does not mean any improvement in their relations; but, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has never formally recognized Israel, the two nations have been quietly cooperating for years, exchanging intelligence on shared threats and in particular on Iran. The prime example of two countries’ bond is their strong security relationship with and dependence on the United States -- and the fact that both have had rocky patches with the Obama administration over the past few years.

They also both opposed the Iran’s nuclear program. Saudi officials spoke about their anger that President Barack Obama didn't follow through on a commitment to punish Syria if it crossed the "red line" of chemical weapons use. Turki said the "strategic relationship with the U.S. will remain, from the Saudi point of view," but suggested it needed rethinking. "There needs to be a re-evaluation and recalibration of the relationship," he added.

Amidror said that while the "Palestinian issue" was a major difference between Israel and the United States, there is "no substitute for the United States of America in the Middle East."

Those "who think other countries can do what the United States used to do is a big mistake," he said. And he indicated that he understood the Obama administration's attempts to recalibrate its ties to the Middle East.

The two men agreed that their countries will do whatever it takes to stop Ira from moving toward a bomb. Amidror added that if the Iranians go nuclear, that will be a threat to existence. Arab cooperation with Israel would improve, Turki said, if it could resolve its decadeslong disagreement with the Palestinians. "Cooperation between Arab countries and Israel in meeting threats, from wherever they come, whether Iran, is better fortified if there is peace between the Arab nations and Israel," he continued.

Gaouette concludes: “Amidror said it was the Palestinians who were sabotaging the process. He argued it was a mistake for the Arab world to give the Palestinians the "key" to unlocking the relationship with Israel, since that effectively blocked progress.

Arab states, Amidror told Turki, should "cooperate with Israel instead of dictating" to it. He urged regional leaders to "think outside the box" and suggested the Arab world form an "umbrella of cooperation" on Palestinian issue to help move negotiations along.”

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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