How Obama Made Peace Between Israel and the Saudis
Making the Middle East worse succeeded where trying to make it better failed.
In Washington D.C., the new director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and a former Saudi Major General, both of whom run think tanks with close ties to their respective governments, shook hands.
It wasn’t their first time.
Obama wasn’t there when it happened, but in a way he was responsible for it.
Both men are foreign policy experts who help shape the foreign policies of their countries and had conducted five previous meetings. The topic of the meetings was Iran.
Obama wouldn’t have been pleased by their meeting or by what it represented, but he had brought them together. While Dore Gold, the Israeli, insisted that they had common ground because “We’re both allies of the United States”, it was Obama’s betrayal of both countries that had led them here.
While Obama likes to talk about making peace in the region, his only successful peace effort was this accidental byproduct of his disastrous policies. He had unintentionally managed to bring the Israelis and the Saudis together by alienating both countries with his permission slip for a nuclear Iran.
It was not a peace that he was likely to claim credit for.
Saudi Arabia was Israel’s oldest and most venomous enemy. Ibn Saud had called the Jews, “a race accursed by Allah according to his Koran, and destined to final destruction.” He had vowed to be content eating nothing but “camel’s meat” rather than give up hating the Jews.
“The word of Allah teaches us, and we implicitly believe this O Dickson, that for a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew ensures him an immediate entry into Paradise and into the august presence of Allah. What more then can a Muslim want in this hard world,” he had added.
And he meant it.
The origins of most of the anti-Israel activities in the Muslim world and the West can be found in Saudi Arabia. The poisoning of academia was funded by Saudi Arabia. The diplomatic and military leaders of the United States and the United Kingdom were turned against Israel by the Saudis. Anti-Israel narratives wound their way into the press and the public forums courtesy of their hired gun PR agencies.
Even BDS has its heavily disguised origins in the boycott of Israel promoted and enforced by the Saudis.
The Saudis haven’t stopped any of this. They are still waging Ibn Saud’s Koranic war against the Jews using academics, retired politicians, diplomats and generals, along with think tanks and PR agencies as their fronts, but they have found something that they hate and fear even more than the Jews.
The Sunni hatred of Shiites is nearly as old as the Islamic hatred of Jews and the Wahhabi forces of the Saudis had conducted massacres of Shiites that closely resemble ISIS actions today.
But this is more than hatred. The Saudis are afraid.
Obama’s appeasement of Iran has already led to the fall of Yemen and Iranian naval attacks in international waters in the Persian Gulf. And everyone knows that worse is yet to come.
While the Saudis rush to frantically go nuclear before Iran does, their military, despite its billions in American equipment is unreliable. Obama has aligned with the Iran-Syria-Russia axis despite its members being even more hostile to the United States than the Saudis.
The Saudis have far more influence in Washington than the Israelis ever did, though their influence is subtle and understated, without the gaucherie of an AIPAC dinner. But Obama won’t be moved by the slow infusion of subtle narratives from think tanks, retired diplomats and assorted insiders that the Saudis have ably used to turn American politicians around on issues like the War on Terror or Israel.
Obama has decided what he wants to do and the Saudi-orchestrated drumbeat of criticism, like Netanyahu’s speeches, is an irritant that won’t change his worldview.
The Saudis have tried to play a variety of cards. They tried and failed to cut a deal with Putin. They likely played a significant role in removing Morsi from power in Egypt after his flirtation with Iran. That gave them access to a more reliable military than their own force of princes, but the best proven air force in the region still belongs to Israel.
If there is to be any non-American action against Iran’s nuclear program, it will come from Israel.
The United States has spent generations trying to push for peace between Sunni Muslim states and Israel. Perversely, Obama has come closest to achieving that peace by abandoning both sides while backing Jihadist groups and states hostile to both Israel and Sunni Muslim governments.
Obama’s backing for the Muslim Brotherhood ended up bringing Egypt and Israel closer together. Now his backing for Iran is bringing Israel and the Saudis together.
These relationships are not the final and ultimate peace solutions rhapsodized over by naïve crowds and politicians. Those will never come as long as tribalism and theocracy rule the day. They are pragmatic and temporary interactions made necessary by Obama’s transformation of American foreign policy.
The wave of instability created by Obama’s backing for Muslim Brotherhood regime change and then Iranian expansionism has made even formerly stable countries feel insecure. Israel’s best asset in this crisis is its invulnerability to the sectarian waves of Shiite and Sunni conflicts and the rising tide of the Muslim Brotherhood’s brand of political Islamism. While there are a few Muslim Brotherhood members in Israel’s Knesset under the United Arab List banner, there is no risk of them taking over the country.
Even Netanyahu’s reelection has improved Israel’s standing in the Middle East by demonstrating that it has a reliable and steady government that is publicly at odds with Barack Obama.
For the Saudis, the Israeli option is the final option. And it’s not clear that they are doing anything more than exploring it to send a very particular message to Obama and Iran. But in a region swiftly being divided between Iran and various Muslim Brotherhood splinter groups, including Al Qaeda and ISIS, the Jewish State may have become the most reliable counterweight to Iran and Obama.
The old American strategy had sought to create peace between Jew and Muslim under the security umbrella of the Pax Americana. Instead it’s the collapse of the umbrella that has come closest to bringing peace through war against common enemies. By destabilizing the Middle East and turning on the Saudis and Egyptians, Obama accidentally made Israel seem like a more credible partner.
Making the Middle East worse succeeded where trying to make it better had failed.
The post-American world that Obama has been building is a very different place. It is a world in which aggressors like Russia and China are reshaping regions to their liking through conquest and intimidation, but it is also a world in which former allies of the United States are trying to build dams against the tide.
If Hillary succeeds Obama, the resulting post-American world will be a very dangerous place, but like the countryside after the flood waters have washed much of it away, it may also be an interesting place.
Obama has destroyed the international accomplishments of Wilson, FDR, Eisenhower and Reagan while claiming to be their rightful successor. The world is returning to where it was a century ago. And on this new map of the world, an alliance between Israel and the Saudis is only one more strange new territory.
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