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The US mainstream media is ignoring the Israel-Saudi Arabia de facto alliance

on 34 Comments

Over the past week or so, Saudi Arabia has gotten more U.S. mainstream media coverage than at any time in decades. But conspicuously missing has been any reporting on the kingdom’s growing friendship with Israel — a de facto alliance that may help explain why Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman thought he could get away with ordering the murder of the dissident journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Madawi Al-Rasheed is a Saudi Arabian woman professor, presently at King’s College London, who has written or edited more than 13 books on her home nation. Particularly valuable is her recently edited (2018) collection about the kingdom’s new leadership, entitled Salman’s Legacy: The Dilemmas of a New Era in Saudi Arabia. 

In that book, she is clear about the growing Saudi rapprochement with Israel. She writes that the Crown Prince “has continued to clandestinely cooperate with Israel on security and economic matters,” adding

In July 2016 a delegation of Saudi academics and businessmen visited Israel with a view to establishing discreet relations, aimed at strengthening Saudi Arabia’s military capabilities and enlisting Israel in any armed confrontation with Iran.

Further evidence of this Saudi-Israel connection is the absence of any official criticism from Tel Aviv about the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi. Once upon a time, the Israeli government promptly denounced any crimes anywhere in the Arab or Muslim world. But the recent Twitter feeds of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren include not a word about the murder of Khashoggi.

The mainstream U.S. press is also ignoring this Saudi-Israel connection. Here’s just one example: in the Atlantic, Aaron David Miller analyzed the U.S.-Saudi relationship at some length but he only mentioned Israel in passing — an odd omission for a Professional Peace Processor like himself who knows Israel inside out. 

By contrast, the British media had started to report on the budding Israel-Saudi Arabia relationship. In November 2017, the BBC said that “to all intents and purposes, Saudi Arabia and Israel are de facto allies against Iran’s rising influence in the region.” The BBC report cited an interview with the UK-based Saudi newspaper Elaph, in which Israel’s Chief of Staff, General Gadi Eisenkot, revealed that “Israel was ready to exchange intelligence with the Saudis in order to confront Iran.”

Nearly a year ago, this site had suggested that “an alliance of Saudi Arabia and Benjamin Netanyahu, urged on privately by the Trump administration, is deliberately moving toward starting a much wider ‘New War in the Mideast.’” Our source was the distinguished veteran journalist Béchir Ben Yahmed, the founder and still editor of the respected French-language Jeune Afrique (Young Africa), who warned that the Saudi-Netanyahu partnership might aim at Iran’s ally, the Hezbollah political/military movement in Lebanon.

The de facto Israel-Saudi Arabia alliance is another nail in the coffin of the ludicrous Clash of Civilizations theory. Samuel Huntington, one of the theory’s two main advocates, famously wrote that “Islam has bloody borders.” As Islamic Saudi Arabia and Jewish/Western Israel collaborate against Islamic Hezbollah, where is this “fault line”?

Of course, even if Israel had never existed, the United States (and Europe) would support Saudi Arabia. Fracking in the U.S. may have reduced dependence on Saudi oil exports, but the kingdom could still trigger a world recession if it wanted to. And the shameful spectacle of all the U.S. businesses that had planned to participate in the upcoming “Future Investment Initiative” in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, (the New York Times was a co-sponsor) proves that not just weapons manufacturers planned to keep making money in the repressive medieval desert kingdom. 

Still, the Israel-Saudi connection surely strengthens the U.S. zeal to protect and excuse Saudi crimes. When will the U.S. mainstream media start reporting on it?

James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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34 Responses

  1. Kay24 on October 16, 2018, 12:34 pm

    Those are very good points. Israel has been conspiring with Saudi Arabia, and you can bet that the axis of evil would be plotting, and planning, to cause mischief in the region.

    I wish the US media and politicians would be just as outraged when Israel mows the lawn, or kills unarmed children when they protest. Once again the hypocrisy in the US is obvious.

  2. HarryLaw on October 16, 2018, 1:16 pm

    Trump want’s a NATO style partnership in the middle east to confront Iran, the problem is other GCC countries are weary of both Saudi Arabian and Iranian hegemonic ambitions, there is of course the issue of Qatar who are more in the Iranian camp than the Saudi one. The countries surrounding the Persian Gulf overall have a Shia majority and are far more motivated than the Sunni ones, who, in the event of war, and their close proximity to Iran would see their economies and infrastructure obliterated. Israel is also treating Hezbollah with the utmost respect, and while Israel could cause terrible damage to Lebanon, so Hezbollah could do the same to Israel with their reported stock of 120,000 missiles, some of which are very accurate. In theory Hezbollah could destroy Metropolitan Tel Aviv and most of their ports, gas rigs and installations. This is in effect a mutual assured destruction scenario [MAD] one which the Israelis will not want to test. Of course as time goes by the technological balance of power will shift to the ‘arc of resistance’ Iran, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon with the backing of Russia [witness the new Anti air missile system the Iranians are producing the Bavar 373 which are much improved copies of the Russian S300’s hence Netanyahu’s frequent and panicky trips to Russia.

    • Rob Roy on October 17, 2018, 9:27 am

      Harry Law,
      “other GCC countries are weary of both Saudi Arabian and Iranian hegemonic ambitions”
      Please don’t lump Saudi Arabian and Iran together. They are complete opposites in all ways, Iran having a highly educated citizenry (close to 100% literacy) and an astonishing artistic and rich cultural Persian background that the Saudis have stolen and claimed as their own whenever possible. No, the hegemonic mania in the area belongs, not to Iran, nor Syria, but to Israel and Saudi Arabia. The axis of evil is the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia (you can throw in the sycophant UK, too.)
      (BTW, Khashoggi was a Saudi sycophant himself before his sponsoring princes were blackened by the crown.)

      • HarryLaw on October 17, 2018, 12:33 pm

        Rob Roy, “Please don’t lump Saudi Arabian and Iran together”. I think you misunderstood my meaning, most GCC states led by Saudi Arabia are weary of Iran, but are also weary of Saudi Arabia but for different reasons, they resent playing second fiddle to Saudi Arabia who would lead that group because of its economic power, I agree with the rest of your comment.
        This video of Col Gaddafi speaking in Syria in 2008 sums up how various Arab regimes hate each other, very prescient and worth listening to…
        Gaddafi… We are the enemies of one another, I’m sad to say.
        We all hate one another, we deceive one another, we gloat at the misfortune of one another, and we conspire against one another etc, etc.

    • Misterioso on October 17, 2018, 12:19 pm

      @HarryLaw, et al:

      New York Times, Oct. 16/18
      “The Jamal Khashoggi Case: Suspects Had Ties to Saudi Crown Prince”

      By David D. Kirkpatrick, Malachy Browne, Ben Hubbard and David Botti
      Oct. 16, 2018

      “ISTANBUL — One of the suspects identified by Turkey in the disappearance of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was a frequent companion of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — seen disembarking from airplanes with him in Paris and Madrid and photographed standing guard during his visits this year to Houston, Boston and the United Nations.

      “Three others are linked by witnesses and other records to the Saudi crown prince’s security detail.

      “A fifth is a forensic doctor who holds senior positions in the Saudi Interior Ministry and medical establishment, a figure of such stature that he could be directed only by a high-ranking Saudi authority.

      “If, as the Turkish authorities say, these men were present at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul where Mr. Khashoggi disappeared on Oct. 2, they might provide a direct link between what happened and Prince Mohammed. That would undercut any suggestion that Mr. Khashoggi died in a rogue operation unsanctioned by the crown prince. Their connection to him could also make it more difficult for the White House and Congress to accept such an explanation.

      “The New York Times has confirmed independently that at least nine of 15 suspects identified by Turkish authorities worked for the Saudi security services, military or other government ministries. One of them, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, was a diplomat assigned to the Saudi Embassy in London in 2007, according to a British diplomatic roster. He traveled extensively with the crown prince, perhaps as a bodyguard.”

  3. Ossinev on October 16, 2018, 1:20 pm

    The latest Daft Donald comment on the Khashoggi disappearance (aka extra judicial murder) is his laughable suggestion that “rogue elements” may have been to blame ie 15 Saudi “rogues” including a forensics expert arrive in Istanbul and depart within 24 hours -the same day that he “disappeared”. All without the knowledge or approval of Salman and co. Like the two Russian Novichock”tourists” totally coincidental 24 hr visit to Salisbury to see the Cathedral. I am surprised that there hasn`t been a claim that they were tourists simply coming to see the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.

    The latest news emerging is that the Saudis may admit to Khashoggi having been accidentally killed during interrogation (presumably no bone was used in the “interrogation”). So looks like some sort of weird “manslaughter” plea bargain may well be in the offing.

    Of course behind this bizarre Trump + Saudi cover up it all if you follow the smell is likely to be the Yahoo and co desperately trying to maintain the grotesque alliance which they have been building with Salman in their eternal war against the savage and barbaric evil Iran(not). Trump is simply a pawn in Zioland`s game courtesy of Adelson/AIPAC et al..

    Genocide in Yemen ! What genocide? Fake news! Bigly fake news !

  4. Steve Grover on October 16, 2018, 1:51 pm

    “Once upon a time, the Israeli government promptly denounced any crimes anywhere in the Arab or Muslim world.”
    Since Saudi Arabia has toned down the hostilities so has Israel . Maybe Iran should try that? But the Mondocreeps wouldn’t want that because it don’t fit their desire of destroying Israel.

    • James North on October 16, 2018, 1:56 pm

      Mooser: Brilliant. Even Hasbara Central couldn’t have come up with this silly argument. But your sock-puppet “Grover” did — of course with your help! I’m speechless with admiration for you.

      • Mooser on October 16, 2018, 2:39 pm

        ” I’m speechless with admiration for you.”

        Me? I thank you for the compliment, but I don’t think I deserve it. Frankly, as Zionist parody sock-puppets go, “Steve Grover” is, well, third-rate. And as you point out, anybody can see he is not a real person. He’s much too obvious a caricature.

        But once again, I appreciate your gracious encouragement, and keeping the Mods off my back. I can’t say I like posting as “Steve Grover” but, damn it, if Zionists won’t make fools of themselves on Mondo, somebody has got to do it for them!

      • Steve Grover on October 16, 2018, 6:43 pm

        I guess North doesn’t think Iran should tone down their hostilities towards Israel. North must be a warmonger.

      • James North on October 16, 2018, 6:45 pm

        Mooser: More brilliance! Just when no one would have thought that your sock-puppet “Grover” could become any more foolish you make him come out with this!

      • Mooser on October 16, 2018, 11:59 pm

        ” More brilliance!”

        James” you are too kind. But let’s face it, “Grover” is third-rate stuff. He’s too over-the-top, too obviously invented to validate certain stereotypes and prejudices .

    • Misterioso on October 17, 2018, 10:36 am

      @Steve Grover

      “Maybe Iran should try that?”

      Reality: Iran has in fact tried “that” repeatedly. Furthermore, Iran has never threatened to initiate a war against the entity known as “Israel.” “Israel,” however, has repeatedly threatened to attack Iran.

      I also remind you of the 2002 Arab League Beirut Summit Peace Initiative, which offers Israel full recognition as a sovereign state (per UNSC Res. 242, i.e., within its June 4/67 boundaries with possible minor, equal and mutually agreed land swaps), exchange of ambassadors, trade, tourism, etc., if Israel complies with international law and its previous commitments. Fully aware of Israel’s demographic concerns, the Beirut initiative does not demand the return of all Palestinian refugees. In accordance with Israel’s pledge given to the UNGA in 1949 and by signing the 1949 Lausanne Peace Conference Protocol to abide by UNGA Res. 194 regarding the then 800,000 Palestinian refugees as a precondition for admittance to the UN (after being rejected twice), the Arab League’s Initiative “calls upon Israel to affirm” that it agrees to help pursue the “achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem…”

      “[Hezbollah’s Sheikh] Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has made it clear that Hezbollah would not disrupt such an agreement if it is accepted by Palestinians and Hamas has repeatedly indicated its willingness to negotiate in these terms.” (“On the US-Israeli Invasion of Lebanon” by Noam Chomsky, Znet, August 23, 2006 –

      Notably, the Beirut Arab Summit Initiative has also been adopted by the Organization of Islamic States which includes Iran. (Akiva Eldar, “What will happen if Israel ‘defeats’ Obama?” – Haaretz, 1 June 2009)

      “…in May 2003, a conference of the member states’ foreign ministers [of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation] in Tehran ‘reaffirmed its support to, and adoption of, the Arab peace initiative for resolving the issue of Palestine and the Middle-East.’ Indeed, an information leaflet about the peace initiative posted on the Arab League’s official website shows the flags of all countries that endorse the proposal, including those of Libya, Syria — and Iran.” (“Why is Israel so afraid of the Arab Peace Initiative?, by Raphael Ahren, The Times of Israel, 18 June 2013)

      • Eva Smagacz on October 17, 2018, 12:56 pm

        Arab Summit Initiative was reconfirmed in 2017, so that offer is on the table, and yet Israel is not interested. I wonder why?


      • RoHa on October 18, 2018, 1:24 am

        “Israel is not interested. I wonder why?”

        You know why. That would mean that Israel could not drive the Palestinians out of the West Bank and make it part of the Jewish State.

  5. Tuyzentfloot on October 16, 2018, 3:53 pm

    I have learned a lot about the state of affairs in Saudi Arabia and its neighbours by listening to two interviews with Isa Blumi on the radio show ‘Around the Empire (in fact I only learned about the show through these interviews. They’re about Yemen and the war there. Recommended because of the depth and insight , and because it’s important. Yemenites have been suffering for years with little attention, and it’s escalating now.
    But it’s very long, 2 hours and 1 hour. Audio only

    But after it you’ll see a lot of news through different glasses. For instance this:
    Follow the money. I think the real reason JP Morgan cancelled is KSA is seriously broke with no prospect of improvement. Those who are informed are no longer interested in working with the Saudis.
    That’s the big story about the Saudis. Bin Salman made things worse but he’s not the cause of the problems.

    • gamal on October 16, 2018, 5:58 pm

      i had not heard of Isa thanks that was interesting.

      listening to people argue about Yemen is how i learned language, i recall a lot of heated stuff about the prsy (peoples republic of south yemen) when Arabs were communists, i still recall my father being exasperated that the prsy extended British admin methods throughout their state and for their opting for a Marxist- Leninist model and abandoning the emancipatory anti-colonial project that is based on extending rights and developing a political discourse based on the peoples input (like Libya was) as he saw it….and the Imamate in the north which Isa discusses, it was ruled by the Raj for a longtime, you can check but i think a guy ceded from the Ottomans and then the British got to work on him..but its vague, and still they fight to free themselves from foreign domination and Saudi plunder..happy Arabia.

      there is a woman Miriam Muller who writes about that history, its very complicated like Somalia very very complicated.

      anyway thanks

      • Tuyzentfloot on October 17, 2018, 4:03 am

        You already listened ! I listened to the whole set several times (in the car) because there is so much to process. I knew very little about Yemen’s history so it was a revelation. I bought his last book as well recently. I was aware of the recent history. Scott Horton (libertarian radio host)has been interviewing people about Yemen since early in the war. Which I also put on in the car.

        Miriam Mueller must be this person:

      • gamal on October 17, 2018, 8:12 am

        Yes T that is her, i not too clear the titles of hers I read something like how the GDR exported its communism to Yemen, a book chapter or something like it, anyway I liked her style very to the point.

        I didn’t know about the German-Yemeni society, I wish I spoke German, but I can’t so there’s an end of it.

    • Rob Roy on October 17, 2018, 11:18 am

      Thank you for this link. I listened to the discussion and will listen to it again….so much to absorb. The more we know………

  6. pjdude on October 17, 2018, 3:37 pm

    its not really surprising saudi arabia and israel are the two biggest state sponsors of terrorism in the world.

  7. Maghlawatan on October 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    I have zero respect for Israel but I can’t see why the coverage of Saudi would have anything to do with it. Bin Salman murdered Khashoggi because he is a thug and in order to intimidate others. Nothing to do with Israel even though
    Israel is full of thugs and state sanctioned murder too.

    • annie on October 18, 2018, 1:27 pm

      Nothing to do with Israel even though Israel is full of thugs and state sanctioned murder too.

      i’m not so sure about that, let’s see how it plays out. wapo reported Khashoggi “U.S. intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture him”…” It was not clear whether the Saudis intended to arrest and interrogate Khashoggi or to kill him, or if the United States warned Khashoggi that he was a target, this person said.” so it begs the question where US intel got this information, if in fact they did. and if so, did they get it on their own, or from an ally.

      moon of alabama notes this w/a link to “Intelligence Community Directive 191 – Duty to Warn ”

      if they did know about it and they didn’t warn it could mean that they are covering something up, hence, trumps reluctance to excuse mbs might not be solely for the profit. also, as moa points out, the intercept reported last spring that kushner, in cozying up SA, gave mbs a list of enemies. kushner’s (like adelson) likely 1st priority at this juncture, like that of israel, and SA, is war on iran. there could have been some sort of quid pro quo ‘you can trust us’ benefit in passing over that list of enemies. where did kushner get it? was Khashoggi on that list and was there information beyond what Khashoggi had already written publicly for wapo, of the behind the scenes work he was doing.

      so putting all these considerations into a basket, US intel perhaps knowing he was a target, whether he was warned, or purposely not warned, whether he may have been set up as some quid pro quo, the seemingly expectation by mbs he could get away with it, the lack of denunciation by trump, and israel, the priority of attacking iran and SA being not just on board with that, with israel, but being a main driver, (something grover completely ignores as if israel and SA are now buddy buddy because SA is being nice to them or something, as if their overriding goals are not identical in terms of iran), kushner’s list as well as kushner’s close association w/israelis, as well as israel’s propensity for spying and all these black cuber types, i would not throw the possibility of israel playing a hand in this out the window anymore than i would considering elements of the US gov might be involved. and, it explains trumps (and israel’s) reluctance to call a spade a spade.

      a cover up could involve all 3 countries. think quid pro quo.

  8. CHUCKMAN on October 18, 2018, 3:08 pm

    Yes, and it’s all part of American efforts to reshape the entire Middle East, an effort which so far has cost about 2 million lives.

    The Crown Prince is regarded as a key part of the effort.

    He serves the hyper-aggressive new American drive for empire worldwide.

    And, of course, Israel really is a de facto American colony in the Mideast.

    Actually, the Saudis and Israelis have always had a lot in common, contrary to popular notions.

    Both represent privilege in the region, extreme privilege.

    Both represent forms of wealth. The Saudis, oil. The Israel’s, American and British dual-citizen investors.

    Both want to have a lot of “clout” in the region. That’s the problem with Iran for both of them. Its size -about the population of Germany – and oil wealth make it the “natural” dominant country in the region.

    Israel’s problems with Iran have nothing to do with anti-Semitism. That accusation is just another weapon for beating down an unwelcome competitor for influence.

    Importantly, both represent outsider interests. The House of Saud only goes back a little while, a decade or so, before re-created Israel. It is not an ancient kingdom, although they like to create that impression.

    Israel was re-created and is run by Ashkenazim, a group of Germanic origin whose native language is Yiddish, a derivative of German. The word Ashkenazi means “German.” Nothing Middle Eastern about it, except a sentimental attachment to the land of the Bible for believers, but belief gives you no legitimate real estate claims. If it did, the world would be an even bigger mess than it is.

    After 9/11, the Saudis were desperately looking for ways to improve their standing in Washington’s eyes.

    They did not “do” 9/11 but there were lots of shady matters that made them look bad. Payments to Osama intended only to keep him out of Saudi Arabia. Saudi citizens in the hijack crowd.

    After all, from almost any point of view, America’s invading Saudi Arabia, even though they weren’t guilty, would have made immensely more sense than the pointless invasion of Afghanistan. So, the Saudis felt keenly the need to please.

    Cozying up to Israel was one of their main methods of attacking the problem. They’ve been working on it now for years. The tone of all press and publicity coming out of Saudi Arabia is unrecognizable from, say, 15 years ago.

    And the Crown “usurper” Prince takes things even further, just what Washington wants.

    Washington loves men with highly flexible morals and principles. They are useful to the cause of empire. A version of Hitler’s willing helpers, if you will.

    The Saudis won creds for covertly supporting the slaughter in Syria, a pet project of Israel’s.

    Bombing the crap out of Yemen gave them some gold stars too.

    As did their internal assaults on a small Shia minority, Shia Islam being identified with some of Israel’s most hated states.

    The Khashoggi Affair is an embarrassment, but they’re doing their best to work around it.

    The extra couple of days Pompeo gave them for a “thorough” investigation is for them to get their story straight and decide on the fall guys.

    Interestingly, Turkey keeps revealing grisly details to pressure for things they want. They do know exactly what happened.

    Readers may enjoy:

  9. Bumblebye on October 18, 2018, 5:44 pm

    This reader *doesn’t* “enjoy”.

    This reader, then sharing a 30 ft party wall with a neighbor, speculated that the annoyingly loud sawing noises were located in his bathroom, so he must be constructing a vanity unit.
    This reader was puzzled (when we exited our adjacent front doors at the same time) that the heavily wrapped trash bags the neighbor carried contained no angular or plank-like shapes.
    This reader later discovered the horrific truth.

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