Saudi Arabia and Israel: An Axis of Convenience–The Two Colonial Cat’s-Paws Mauling the Middle East

Anti-War.com – By Dan Sanchez – January 13, 2016/Re-posted April 19, 2016

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Geopolitics makes strange bedfellows. Take Israel and Saudi Arabia for instance. The two Middle Eastern powers might be expected to have zero common ground. Israel is the arch-colonizer of Arabs and Muslims, while Saudi Arabia governs the motherland of the Arabs and the two capitals of Islam, Mecca and Medina. The two do not even have formal diplomatic relations.

Yet since 2006, and especially since the 2011 Arab Spring, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been close de facto allies in what might be called the Crescent Wars: a sustained assault against the “Shia Crescent” (Iran, Syria, Yemen, Hezbollah, and to some extent Iraq) by a US-led coalition (including both Western and Sunni Muslim forces).

Today’s Israeli-Saudi axis was facilitated by the Iraq War.

Israel has long loathed any Muslim state not in the pay and orbit of its patron the US as a dangerous potential champion of the occupied Palestinians. After the overthrow of Saddam’s Sunni regime in Iraq, the two remaining intransigently independent Muslim states (Iran and Syria) happened to have Shia regimes. The new Iraqi regime is also Shia-dominated. And, in spite of its sponsorship by the US, it is pro-Iran and not pro-Israel.

Israel also hates Iran and Syria for their support of Hezbollah, a powerful Shia militia based in Lebanon that for decades has frustrated Israeli designs on that neighboring country.

The fact that all of Israel’s chief enemies now happen to be Shia is the reason its interests have become so tightly aligned with anti-Shia Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is anti-Shia because it is a theocracy whose state religion is Wahhabism: a fundamentalist, militant strand of Sunni Islam that is virtually identical to the Salafist creed of Al Qaeda and ISIS. Both the Wahhabis and Salafis embrace the doctrine of Takfir; they consider Shia and other non-Sunnis to be apostates (non-Muslims), and therefore frequently worthy of divinely sanctioned slaughter.

Indeed Saudi wealth has poured into jihadi groups (including the Takfiris of Al Qaeda and ISIS) fighting to “purify” Syria of religious minorities and to overthrow and displace the Shia regime of Bashar al-Assad. For its part, Israel has served as the Takfiris’ air force by bombing the Assad forces fighting Al Qaeda, and has even provided the terrorists with medical care. Israel wants Assad toppled, and Israeli officials have even clearly expressed their preference for Al Qaeda and ISIS over Assad.

The Saudis’ Takfiri bigotry toward the Shia is given even greater weight by economic considerations. The vast majority of Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth sits in land populated by the country’s oppressed Shia minority. The Saudis’ worst nightmare is that the Shia, inspired and supported by the Crescent, will secede, taking the oil with them. Indeed, the Saudis recently beheaded a popular Shia cleric who had called for doing just that unless the regime relented in its sectarian persecution. This execution has led to a total break in diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

And this economic state of affairs is not limited to The Kingdom. The fossil fuel resources of the entire Persian Gulf region are predominantly located under Shia populations. In Bahrain, for example, a minority Sunni government reigns over a majority Shia population and controls the country’s vast oil wealth. When the downtrodden Shia took to the streets during the Arab Spring, the Saudis helped the regime to militarily crush the uprising.

Elsewhere in the peninsula, the Saudis have for months been bombing and blockading the desperately poor people of Yemen in order to reinstall a puppet dictator and to crush the new Shia regime of the Houthis. This war has greatly helped the Saudis’ fellow Takfiris in AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) to conquer much of the country. And Israel has seconded the Saudis’ defense of this war as necessary to counter the Iran/Yemen “axis,” although neither has offered any proof that Iran is significantly supporting the Houthis.

Furthermore, Israel and the Saudis together are the chief opponents of the US-Iran nuclear deal. Israel has even given the green light for the sale of German tanks to the Saudis. In an article on the 2011 tank deal, The New York Times reported the following:

“Once viewed as a potential threat by Jerusalem, the government in Saudi Arabia is increasingly viewed as a guarantor of stability in a region in upheaval, as revolutionary fervor sweeps through the Middle East.”

Yet, the axis of convenience between Israel and Saudi Arabia did not begin only recently with their mutual antipathy for the Shia. It extends back to the pre-origins of both states. This was explained recently in a fascinating essay on Mondoweiss by Nu’man Abd al-Wahid called “How Zionism helped create the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

The axis began then and continues to this day, not because of fleeting strategic alignments, but because of two fundamental similarities. Both states have since their inception been agents of Western colonialism in the Middle East. And both are especially useful for Western aggression because both states are animated by virulent ideologies of bigotry and conquest: militant Wahhabism in the case of Saudi Arabia and militant Zionism in the case of Israel.

Read entire article here

Posted by Teri Perticone

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