Skip to comments.DID THE SAUDI CROWN PRINCE MAKE A COVERT VISIT TO ISRAEL?
Posted on 09/11/2017 11:44:28 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made a discreet visit to Israel despite the fact that the Jewish state and Saudi Arabia do not have official diplomatic ties, Israeli and Arab media speculated earlier in the week.
Rumors about the momentous visit, which was not confirmed by Israel, started swirling when Israel Radio's diplomatic correspondent covering Arab affairs, Simon Aran, took to Twitter to announce the visit. Aran tweeted that a senior Arab figure from the Gulf region paid a visit to Tel Aviv last week, stirring immense interest in the Arab media.
Israel Radio's Arabic-language broadcast reported that the the senior figure was a "Saudi prince" who met with senior Israelis to discuss regional peace. According to the report, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry refused to comment on the news.
One Arab media outlet reported that the senior official was Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Qatari media and other affiliated news outlets such as the London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper, used the reports as a further opportunity to attack the Saudi royal family which is heading Arab intervention in Yemen, Syria and other locations.
Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, affiliated with Hezbollah and Syria, and London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, both published the news reported by Israel Radio.
The Saudi response came shortly thereafter, with Saudi website Elaph (which often interviews senior Israeli officials) reporting on Friday that there was a visit by a senior Arab official but, rather than Saudi, it was a Qatari official who visited.
"A senior Elaph source told the newspaper that a high-level Qatari official quietly visited Tel Aviv midweek and discussed security issues with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," wrote the newspaper.
(Excerpt) Read more at jpost.com ...
The timing of the meeting also seems more than just coincidental in relation to last week's Israeli airstrike on a Syrian military facility, which took place in the middle of the night Wednesday (or more precisely Thursday morning at 3:00 am). As we reported at the time, Israel's brazen act of aggression was designed to provoke a response from Syria. As the Syrian government stands poised to be victorious in the more than 6-year long conflict while rapidly regaining more and more territory, Israel seems desperate to keep the war going and is still making last ditch efforts to draw external powers deeper into Syria, though framing its aggression as "humanitarian".
Could the two powers have been engaged in face to face talks over renewed efforts at ramping up the stalled war for regime change in Syria? After all, Israel's declarations of its willingness to do anything to prevent an enduring Iranian presence in Syria have reached a new erratic pitch of late. During Netanyahu's recent contentious summit with Vladimir Putin in Sochi, the Israeli leader reportedly warned Putin that Israel would not tolerate an enlarged and stronger Shia sphere of influence along Israel's border. Yet the current trajectory of the war in Syria ensures just that, especially after the US-Russia brokered Astana agreement seemed to give tacit approval of Iranian troop presence in parts of Syria, while placing Russia in the driver's seat. It was further revealed that a senior Israeli official accompanying Netanyahu on the trip threatened to assassinate Syrian President Assad by bombing his palace in Damascus, while further adding that Israel will seek to derail the Astana de-escalation deal.
As for Saudi Arabia, while its deep embroilment in inter-GCC diplomatic war with Qatar seems to have tempered what used to be routine calls for Assad's departure, it must be remembered that the current unraveling of the GCC is ultimately benefiting Iran. It is entirely possible that the Iran issue alone might drive the kingdom into direct engagement with Israel no matter the risks and political embarrassment (for example, news of the visit hands Iran a propaganda victory and likely more influence on the so-called Arab street, even perhaps within Saudi's own domestic population).
Saudi Arabia could also be worried about future blowback from its well-documented actions in Syria. A WikiLeaks cable released in 2015 as part of the "Saudi Leaks" trove of internal leaked Saudi diplomatic memos speaks to just this scenario. Though the memo's exact date is unknown, it was drafted sometime in early 2012 based on internal references in the Arabic text. It spells out the kingdom's internal long term rationale on Syria: that should the Syrian regime "be able to pass through its current crisis in any shape or form" then increased "danger for the Kingdom" means Saudi Arabia must "seek by all means available and all possible ways to overthrow the current regime in Syria." A full translation of the key passage reads as follows:
"In what pertains to the Syrian crisis, the Kingdom is resolute in its position and there is no longer any room to back down. The fact must be stressed that in the case where the Syrian regime is able to pass through its current crisis in any shape or form, the primary goal that it will pursue is taking revenge on the countries that stood against it, with the Kingdom and some of the countries of the Gulf coming at the top of the list. If we take into account the extent of this regime’s brutality and viciousness and its lack of hesitancy to resort to any means to realize its aims, then the situation will reach a high degree of danger for the Kingdom, which must seek by all means available and all possible ways to overthrow the current regime in Syria."
I’d say this has something to do with Iran and Obama enabling them to develop Nukes.
They have been allies for quite a while, even if they don't like to advertise.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend...........as long as I don’t tell anybody...............
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Interesting. A couple of weeks ago I saw a huge jet being escorted by military jets (I cannot ID military jets, but I can ID helos by sound :) and my sister said it was the Saudis going home...LOL
Really despise those Wahhabi Snakes. They created terrorism and helped created the Palestinian Mess.
There is a lot going on in the ME. Saudi Arabia had a revolution. New people in charge. Turns out they hate these fanatics as much as we do. They have a lot of money and spent it on the most modern weaponry and the best trained commandos in the world.
The US, Israel, and a coalition of Arab nations are destroying all terrorist organizations in the middle east.
A minister from Saudi Arabia just paid a visit to South Korea. It most likely was an offer to take care of the NK “problem”.
Thank God Egypt got fairly well straightened out.
“Saudi Arabia had a revolution. New people in charge.”
New people are in charge - but from the same family. In the typical Gulf Arab view, they would be foolish if they did not try to take some advantage of other peoples’ hopes for change - to play them to gain some advantage.
No doubt some policy beliefs are different, but we have to be careful about projecting our hopes onto the new guys, until they are proven at least three times over.
Definitely, they face a different situation, with Iran growing so powerful and aggressive, and the Saudi budget under such pressure. They may just need to pull in their surrogate jihadi horns for a while, and focus on protecting their own rears, until conditions improve for them.
There was a silent coup in June.
I read those articles and a few others on this topic independently of this thread.
I am not sure I believe any of it. The ZeroHedge stuff veers off into conspiracy about Netanyahu being in a blind panic about Russia enabling Syria to station Iranian troops, and about a Saudi+Israeli alliance. I am not minimizing the threat of Iranian forces deployed in Syria. But I don’t see that the threat has escalated into panic.
The reports of the Saudi Royal Prince flying into Israel is also odd. Of course Israel and KSA have plenty of back-channels to communicate - and I am sure a number of direct communications.
But if they wanted to meet in person, I find it hard to believe the Crown Prince would fly into Tel Aviv. They could have met on neutral ground; the KSA entourage would arrange a trip to countries XYZ and the Israeli delegation would meet them at one stop, to throw off the scent. They have done it before.
The only thing I can think of is that this was a trial balloon. For example, suppose they are working towards some kind of mutual diplomatic recognition (which I think they should do). So he flew in and they leaked his trip to Jerusalem to see the reaction. A trip here, a trip there, then an open meet on neutral ground, then some multi-lateral agreements that don’t appear on surface to be about direct relations, then some direct deal, and then a formal process would be made public.
But there is a lot going on. It is not just about Iran and Syria though those may be very pressing. There will soon be a change in the Palestinian leadership - Abbas will either step down due to health or die within a few years if not sooner. None of the parties - especially Egypt - wants to see Hamas rise. There is jockeying to elevate Marwan Barghouti though that is uncertain. The Saudis had a saying “they cannot be more Palestinian than the Palestinians” which means do not expect the Saudis to take a harder line on the Palestinian question than the Palestinians themselves. Since the PA has a deal (dying as it is) with Israel, and negotiate often on many day to day matters, then the Saudis can approach that same line.
The Saudis also have many internal issues to resolve. Oil is still the vast majority of their economy. There is a growing merchant class. And with a lot of oil wealth, consumerism is growing rapidly. But they are way behind on so many other areas. They have no agriculture to speak of. They are way behind on water resource management and desalination. Israel has developed some very advanced desalination techniques. Water was one of the major issues of the I/P conflict but Israel is rendering that mute.
I marvel at what Israel has accomplished. Instead of letting the Palestinians use the water issue as a political weapon, they neutralize it (pun!) with desal plants. Instead of being victims of rocket attacks that could draw them into conflict, they develop (with US help) defensive weapons that read the trajectories of incoming fire and knock out any of the missiles that appear headed towards population centers or infrastructure - and the let those rockets that will land in the desert. This allows them to have a cooler head, and no be forced into direct conflict every time some militia decides to fire on them. One by one they are taking the weapons away from their enemies.
So I can see where KSA would benefit greatly by open cooperation with Israel. Egypt and Jordan have paved the way. The PA, at least on paper, wants to make peace. So why not the Saudis too?
In the next few years Israel will be bringing a massive stock of natural gas online. First they will meet their internal needs but they plan to export to Europe. That will give Europe a second source and reduce dependence on Russia. Russia I am sure is unhappy about it. But this also plays into the recent scuttlebut with Qatar. Qatar is the #1 regional player in natural gas. They are in a heated diplomatic row with the gulf states. They are moving to closer relations with Iran. Qatar wants to build a pipeline to Europe too. There are many different plans from competing nations. So I could also see where if the KSA is really turning against Qatar they would want to at least secretly help prop up Israeli opportunities - as it is the most likely alternative and is going to happen anyway. So KSA has the choice to either cooperate with Israel to get their own beak wet, or ignore Israel and gain nothing.
So many issues in this region, that the stories that portray this as some kind of military alliance born from a panic appear very narrow minded. Some of that may be true, but it surely isn’t the only thing going on - and panic may not be the driver. I think in part Israel wanted Russia to see the massive explosion, to show Russia they are capable of a lot of damage without even entering Syrian airspace or having to deal with Russian military opposition. If Israel flew over Syria, Russia might try to push them back. And Russian anti-aircraft equipment could shoot at Israeli jets but only if they fly over Syria. They cannot shoot at Israeli jets over Lebanon or Iraq or Jordan. So rather than a panic, I think it could be more about Israel making its capabilities known - “checking” Russia’s play.
“There was a silent coup in June.”
Do you mean the new Prince consolidating his position by sidelining/replacing (even restricting) some of the old guard, like Prince Nayef?
If so, it is still just factions within the Saudi Royal Family competing internally. The new ruling clique still has to manage the same large and powerful domestic constituencies, who are wedded to the Wahabbi faith, with its imperative to forcibly take over the world for their version of islam. King Faisal was assassinated by another family memeber for not being strict enough on religious/cultural issues (allowing television broadcasts).
I certainly hope that the new Prince will secularize/open the country, but I would not trust any of them to do so. They wouuld have to risk their lives, risk a coup, and might not be able to do it anyhow.
If it ever is going to happen though, current economic and security conditions provide a strong stimulus to support such big changes. So we can hope - but let’s verify.
I agree with you that this story seems like a bit of diplomatic testing of the waters, or floating of a trial balloon - a gradual step toward improving open relations between Israel and the KSA. There are a lot of common interests and opportunities (such as Iran, hydrocarbons, Iran, technology, Iran, etc.)
After decades of the official Saudi media spewing the most vile anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic propaganda to the Arab speaking public, it would require a managed climb down process of some sort, even though Saudi citizens are trained to turn on dime with the latest Party Line change.
If I recall correctly, the Russians already have their fingers involved in Israel’s off-shore gas field developments - a bit of protection, a bit of capital up front, a bit of know how, and a good dose of geo-political leverage.
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