On Aug. 29, when I published entitled "The Saudi Israeli Superpower" describing an emerging odd couple alliance between those two traditional enemies, the story was met with skepicism in some quarters. But, increasingly, this secret alliance is going public. On Oct.2, Israel's Channel 2 TV news reported that senior Israeli security officials met with a high level Gulf State counterpart in Jerusalem, believed to be Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi Ambassador to the United States and head now head of Saudi intelligence. And,, a day before that report, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at the new relationship in his United Nations General Assembly speech, which was largely devoted to excoriating Iran over its nuclear program and threatening a unilateral Israeli military strike. Amid the bellicosity, Netanyahu dropped in a largely missed clue about the evolving power relationships in the Middle East, saying: "the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy. And this affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes." Besides the shared Saudi- Israeli animosity toward Iran, the growing behind-the-scenes collaboration also revolves around mutual interests in supporting the military coup in Egypt that removed the elected Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi and in seeking to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria. In mid-September, Israel's Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren even embraced the Saudi strategy in Syria when he announced that Israel would prefer to see the Saudi-backed jihadists prevail
in Syria when he announced that Israel would prefer to see the Saudi-backed jihadists prevail in Syria over the continuation of the Iran-backed government of President Bashar al-Assad. "The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Teheran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc," Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. "We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren't backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran." Saudi Arabia, which follows the ultraconservative Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam, shares Israeli's strategic view that the Shiite crescent, stretching from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon, must be broken. Further advancing the Saudi-Israeli detente is the presence of the worldly Bandar bin Sultan as Saudi Arabia's new intelligence chief. As the former Saudi ambassador to the United States who worked closely with the neoncon administration of George W. Bush, Bandar doesn't share the crude anti-Semitism and visceral antipathy toward Israel that some earlier Saudi leaders did. He is a savvy player who understands the chess board of global geopolitics. The emerging Saudi-Israeli alliance also reflects a recognition that the two countries have complementary "soft power" strengths that , when combined could could create a new superpower in the Middle East and arguably the world. While the Israelis are masters of propaganda and political lobbying, especially in the United States, Saudi Arabia can pull strings through its extraordinary access to oil and money.