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October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
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The Saudi-American Rupture

Mustafa Alani, a Saudi foreign policy analyst, said: "We are learning from our enemies now how to treat the United States.”
Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. If the Saudis want to get real, it’s time for them to suck it up and normalize relations with Israel for the same reason they forged an alliance with the United States.

Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. If the Saudis want to get real, it’s time for them to suck it up and normalize relations with Israel for the same reason they forged an alliance with the United States.

Of course, an alliance with Israel would be a little more awkward (to say the least) while the Palestinians are still stateless, but so what? The Jordanian government worked it out and is in far better shape as a result.

The Arab-Israeli conflict has always been stupid and pointless, and at this late date it’s ludicrous. It’s a festering holdover from a previous era, and it makes progress difficult or impossible for just about everyone. If Sunni Arab governments make a peaceful and reasonable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a priority, something might actually happen.

It’s logical, isn’t it? Israel poses no threat whatsoever to Gulf Arabs and never has. Israel poses no threat to any Arab country that doesn’t act with belligerence first. The Jordanians figured that out a long time ago. So did the Egyptian government even if Egypt’s population remains as clueless as ever. The Tunisians figured it out. The Moroccans get along with Israel just fine under the table.

The open secret right now is that the Gulf Arabs have also figured it out even as they’re loath to admit it in public. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is not-so secretly working with all the Arab states in the Gulf region right now based on shared (anti-Iranian) interests.

Don’t be surprised. All the existing Sunni Arab governments moved on from the Arab-Israeli conflict decades ago. Aside from the Palestinian Authority during the Second Intifada, only the Iranian regime and its network of allies and proxies—Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah, and Hamas—have fought Israel at any time during the last thirty years or so. The only exception occurred when Saddam Hussein launched a couple of SCUD missiles at Tel Aviv during the first Persian Gulf War in an attempt to fracture the Arab-Western alliance against him.

The majority of Arab citizens would surely think my analysis is nonsense on stilts, but aside from the (non-Sunni) regime in Damascus, Arab governments are behaving precisely in line with it. They learned quite a while ago that it’s time to set the ridiculous Palestinian conflict aside and deal with real threats for a change. They’ve tried to turn it into a frozen conflict instead of resolving it, but still. At least they haven’t been poking it with a stick.

Washington is adrift at the moment, but we change administrations more often than the Middle East does, and we change policies even faster. We’ll be on the same page sooner or later.

Post-script: Don’t forget. I have books. And I have two more coming out next year. The first is a novel unlike anything I’ve written before, and the other is a collection of dispatches from the Middle East.

I get a royalty check every month that includes money from every single copy that sells, so please, help me pay my mortgage, fatten your bookshelf, and order some for your friends!

 

About the Author: Michael J. Totten is a contributing editor at World Affairs and City Journal and is the prize-winning author of Where the West Ends and The Road to Fatima Gate.


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4 Responses to “The Saudi-American Rupture”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Not to worry. This is just for show. Obama's foreign policy in the Middle East is dictated by his benefactors in the oil rich Arabian Peninsula. His masters may hate the Jews but they are scared to death of the radical Islamic regime in Iran which has threatened them many times. Obama will eventually allow Israel to end the Iranian nuclear program and put the mullahs back in their place. But this won't happen until after he has bled the Jews. That way there will be a much bigger pay off for him.

  2. Allan Enkin says:

    Let us not get into conspiracy theories.

  3. Allan Enkin says:

    Let us not get into conspiracy theories.

  4. Herman Rosen says:

    THE SAUDIS WANT THE U S TO FIGHT FOR WHATEVER THEY BELIEVE IN.
    THE U S SAVED THEIR T- ESES IN THE FIRST GULF WAR FROM SADDAM
    HUSSEIN WHO WAS READY TO TAKE IT TO THEM AFER KUWAIT.
    NOW THEY WANT THE U S TO TO GET RID OF ASSAD AND BACK THE REBELS
    WHO MAY BE MOSTLY AL KAIDA…THEY WILL NOT LIFT A FINGER THEMSELVES. THEY ALSO WANT THE U S TO PUSH ISRAEL INTO AN AGREEMENT WITH THE PALESTINIANS WHICH IS RIGHT NOW GOING NOWHERE AND DAMAGING NETANYAHU WITH THE ISRAELI PUBLIC FOR RELEASING PALESTINIAN ASSASINS…WITHOUT THERE OIL SAUDI ARABIA WOULD JUST BE SOME DESERT NOMADIC SOCIETY…READ YEMEN
    THEY WILL NEVER BREAK WITH WASHINGTON WHO SUPPLIES THEM WITH
    PROTECTION AND TECHNOLOGY …WHICH THEY COULD NEVER GET THEMSELVES

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