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Israel and Saudi Arabia: a new partnership?

Paula Slier's blog

Published time: June 28, 2010 17:05

I am reporting today on media reports that Israeli helicopters dropped off large amounts of military gear at a Saudi military base in northern Saudi Arabia.

The story appeared some two weeks ago in the London Times and has been picked up by Arab media. Riyadh allegedly gave permission for Israeli planes to use a narrow corridor of airspace in the north of the country. Both Jerusalem and Riyadh deny the claims and at first take it might seem surprising - the countries are enemy states, have no relations and Riyadh doesn't recognize Israel.

But the two would benefit a lot from mutual cooperation on this issue. Both loathe the regime in Tehran and fear its nuclear ambitions. Some suggest the reports were leaked by Riyadh to show Tehran there are more options on the table than economic sanctions - it wants the United States and Israel to do more to halt Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Others suggest the reports were leaked by Iran - as a message to the Saudis that they're being watched - kind of like “we know what you are doing and we're no happy” response.

There's been a buzz of increased military activity surrounding Iran. The US has its troops in 10 countries on Iran's borders and if it wanted to attack Tehran, it would be in a good position to do so. US troops are in Pakistan, Afghanistan and, according to Iranian state television, are now amassing in large numbers near the Azerbijan-Iranian border. Baku confirms this but says they are part of a peacekeeping mission against armed rebels.

As if that's not enough of a sign that something is afoot underground, Washington has confirmed that 11 of its warships sailed through the Suez Canal a week ago. It says it was routine. But Iran has threatened it could close the waterway in future.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.


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