Qatar-Saudi Deal A Pushback Against Iranian-Chinese Dominance

The recently concluded Qatar-Saudi deal to end the blockade on Qatar has once again changed the equation and calibration of peace in the Middle East. There are those naysayers who believe the deal was concluded in time for a potential Biden administration, but that is improbable.

Remember the embargo on Qatar was led by Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States precisely because of Qatar’s connections to Iran and its funding of the Muslim Brotherhood.

A Biden administration that is ready to cozy up to the Mullah’s in Iran would elicit a continuing of the present Saudi led embargo.

Most likely, Qatar has realized which way the wind is blowing in the Middle East when it comes to their Sunni friends. Qatar’s strength has always come from its ability to play all sides – the embargo proved to its leadership in Doha that this strategy is no longer an option.

Qatar Wants In On A Potential UAE-Israel Pipeline

With a reported pipeline between the UAE and Israel in the works, Qatar’s reliance and drive to build one with Turkey has now become obsolete. The main reason for its support for Turkey’s pro ISIS policies during Obama’s tenure was due to the building of this joint Turkey-Qatar pipeline.

Without the ability to build a secure pipeline and the UAE-Israel potentially being far more lucrative, Qatar has less reasons to hold back from returning to the Sunni block.

True, Biden’s team views things differently and this is the reason for Qatar’s decision to pick sides now. With the White House’s foreign policy potentially being run through Beijing, Qatar’s historic “neutrality” in the region is not longer relevant after Jan. 20th.

A Different Middle East – New Opportunities

President Trump’s team has left the region in a very different situation. The Muslim Brotherhood is fast being pushed out after the signing of the Abraham Accords and with it Qatar’s reason and ability to push against its Sunni neighbors and more importantly Israel.

Qatar’s choice to rejoin the Saudi led block also means that it accepts the centrality and necessity of Israel’s role within that block. Biden can certainly try to partner with Iran. However, the block’s strength is its ability to utilize Israel’s innovation economy, military prowess, and geopolitical connections around the world to sidestep a hapless Biden administration and a rising China without losing ground to Iran.

Qatar’s growing communication with Israel concerning Gaza has also made it less obstinate in dealing with the Jewish state on other issues. It also has a working relationship with Jerusalem and will now benefit from the Abraham Accords in an indirect way.

The Qatar-Saudi deal may appear to have come out of nowhere, but it needed to be done before Biden takes over in order to ensure that Iranian influence does not pollute the negotiations. Qatar wants to keep its revenues rising and influence steady and sees the Sunni block as the key to doing it.

This agreement will make it harder for Biden and company to push for rejoining the already broken Iran nuclear deal. More than that, it is a message for China who recently upgraded their military pact with Iran, that the Abraham Accords and the Sunni block will not be broken up.

J Street Uses A Pro-Terrorist EU Bureaucrat To Malign Jewish Neighborhoods

J Street, in a mid-November email appeal, quoted an unnamed “top EU diplomat” in its tirade against an Israeli government call for bids for new homes in a nearly 30 year-old Jerusalem neighborhood where Ethiopian Jewish and Russian immigrants live. What’s more than J Street’s vitriol against the construction of Jewish homes is that the name of the EU functionary was intentionally left off of J Street’s rant because he is an anti-Israel extremist who earlier this year gave outright support for terrorists according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry when he stated that Palestinian Arabs affiliated with blacklisted groups remain eligible to participate in projects funded by the EU.

J Street is the controversial Washington, D.C., based Jewish pressure group that was created specifically, and almost exclusively, to lobby for an independent Palestinian state. J Street maintains, as a central theme of its propaganda, that Jews do not have a right to live wherever they choose and must be transferred out of their homes and neighborhoods in wide swaths of Judea-Samaria where Israeli citizens have lived for nearly fifty years.

The EU bureaucrat who opposes Jewish homes in Givat Hamatos, and was quoted by J Street, is a German named Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff.

von Burgsdorff previously was the head of the EU’s delegation to South Sudan and in a May 8, 2020 JTA article [] he was identified as heading the “EU mission to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

The Times of Israel news website reported on May 7, 2020 [] that an Israeli Foreign Ministry official stated that the letter by “von Burgsdorff, constituted a ‘violation of all our agreements with the European Union’.”

The Times also reported that explicitly due to von Burgsdorff’s letter, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz harshly rebuked the EU saying “we demand that the EU immediately end all support, financial or otherwise, for any entities that support terrorism whether directly or indirectly.”
Debra Shushan, J Street’s Director of Government Affairs signed the email that was titled “BREAKING: Outrageous steps by Netanyahu to expand settlements.” In the email J Street made the wild claim that “this week the Netanyahu government announced it will begin the tender process for the major new settlement of Givat Hamatos — a move which a top EU diplomat branded a “de facto annexation attempt.” Construction in Givat Hamatos is part of a deliberate settlement movement strategy to cut off Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem from the West Bank Palestinian city of Bethlehem.”

The reason why J Street’s Shushan left out von Burgsdorff’s name should be clear: he has been widely discredited as a supporter of anti-Israel terrorism.

Another issue with J Street’s email that must be confronted is the use of a place named “East Jerusalem” when no such place has ever actually existed in history. The name “East Jerusalem” is an artificial construct that supporters of the Arab cause use in their propaganda in order to make it appear as if that part of the city is an intrinsically Arab area that Jews are illegally entering. In reality, there are Jewish neighborhoods throughout the eastern, western, northern, and southern parts of Jerusalem. It’s a shameful thing when Jewish organizations choose to use such geographically inaccurate, and politically loaded, language. At the time anti-Israel extremists created the name “East Jerusalem” it was for one reason: they sought to rip Israel’s capital apart in order to defeat Israel. “East Jerusalem” does not actually exist and what they are really saying is that Jerusalem’s Old City and its surrounding neighborhoods are not part of Israel or part of Israeli Jerusalem itself. The original and oldest parts of Jerusalem are what they falsely label “East Jerusalem.”

J Street needs to be honest with Americans. If it opposes Jews living in certain places because they are Jews then why obfuscate on this? If they want to quote an extremist diplomat J Street should at least name that diplomat and not hide his identity due to the fact that he has been accused of supporting terrorists.

The political climate of the Middle East has changed remarkably in the last several years and J Street doesn’t seem to like it at all. The United Arab Emirates has two synagogues and yet if J Street would get their way, synagogues in Judea and Samaria would be dismantled and the Jews in these neighborhoods would be forced from their homes. Haven’t we had enough of Jews being told where they can and cannot live? What was gained by the Israeli government destroying Jewish homes and synagogues in Gush Katif in Gaza in 2005 to hand over Israeli held land in the name of a “peace” that never came about? The Judean Hills, since the times of antiquity considered to be the heart of the Land of Israel, should, especially, be an area where Jewish families feel secure in the idea that their homes will never be destroyed.


Fatah’s surrender to Hamas.

On Tuesday, a delegation of 400 Fatah officials from Ramallah, led by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, arrived in Gaza to officially surrender to Hamas.

No, the ceremony isn’t being portrayed as a Fatah surrender to Hamas. But it is. It’s also an Egyptian surrender to Hamas.

How is this the case? Ten years ago this past June, after a very brief and deadly assault by Hamas terrorists against US-trained Fatah forces in Gaza, the Fatah forces cut and ran to Israel for protection. Fatah politicians also headed for the border and then scurried into Fatah-controlled (and Israeli protected) Ramallah. Ever since, Hamas has served as the official authority on the ground in Gaza. Its personnel have been responsible for internal security and for Gaza’s borders with Egypt and Israel.

Despite their humiliating defeat and removal from Gaza, Fatah and its PA government in Ramallah continued to fund Hamas-controlled Gaza. They paid Gaza’s bills, including the salaries of all the PA security forces that were either no longer working or working double shifts as stay at home Fatah gunmen and up and coming Hamas terrorist forces.

The PA paid Hamas’s electricity bills to Israel and it paid Israeli hospitals which continued to serve Gaza.

Internationally, the PA defended Hamas and its constant wars against Israel. The PA and Fatah, led by President-for-life Mahmoud Abbas, continued to use Israel’s defensive operations against Hamas as a means to ratchet up their political war against Israel. The latest victory in that war came last week with Interpol’s decision to permit the PA to join the organization despite its open support for and finance of terrorism.

For most of the past decade, the PA-Fatah has allocated more than half of its EU- and US-underwritten budget to Hamas-controlled Gaza. It has defended its actions to successive delegations of US lawmakers and three US administrations. It has defended its actions to EU watchdog groups. No amount of congressional pressure or statements from presidential envoys ever made a dent on Abbas’s strident devotion to paying the salaries of Hamas terrorists and functionaries.

But then, in April, Abbas cut them off.

Ostensibly he cut them off because he was under pressure from the US Congress, which is now in the end stages of passing the Taylor Force Act. Once passed, the law will make it a bit more difficult for the State Department to continue funding the terror- financing PA.

While the Taylor Force Act is the ostensible reason for Abbas’s move, Palestinian sources openly acknowledge that congressional pressure had nothing to do with his decision.

Abbas abruptly ended PA financing of Hamas in retaliation for Hamas’s decision to open relations with Abbas’s archrival in Fatah, Muhammad Dahlan.

From 1994, when the PA was established, until 2007, when Hamas ousted his US-trained forces from Gaza, Dahlan was the Gaza strongman.

Once one of Abbas’s closest cronies, since 2011 Dahlan has been his archenemy. Abbas, now in the twelfth year of his four-year term in office, views Dahlan as the primary threat to his continued reign.

As a consequence, he ousted Dahlan from Fatah and forced him to decamp with his sizable retinue to the UAE. There Dahlan enjoys exceedingly close ties with the Nahyan regime.

The UAE is allied with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi. Both view Hamas’s mother organization the Muslim Brotherhood as their mortal foe. As a result, Sisi and the UAE as well as Saudi Arabia sided with Israel in its 2014 war with Hamas.

Since May, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been in open conflict with Qatar. Qatar, which sponsors the Muslim Brotherhood, has long sponsored Hamas as well.

Since the start of the year, the UAE has been interested in prying Hamas away from Qatar. And so with the blessing of his UAE hosts, Dahlan began building ties with Hamas.

Recognizing Dahlan’s close ties to the UAE and through it, with Sisi, Hamas, which has been stricken by Sisi’s war against it, and particularly Sisi’s enforcement of the closure of Gaza’s border with Egypt’s Sinai, was quick to seize on Dahlan’s initiative.

The talks between Dahlan and Sisi on the one hand and Hamas on the other were ratcheted up in April after Abbas cut his funding to Gaza.

In May, Hamas formally cut its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.

In exchange, Sisi permitted the Rafah border crossing with Gaza to open for longer hours and permitted Gazans to transit Egypt en route to their religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, among other things.

To build its leverage against Abbas, beginning in the spring, Hamas began describing Dahlan as a viable alternative to Abbas. The UAE agreed to begin financing Hamas’s budget and to help pay for electricity.

Against this backdrop, it is self-evident that Abbas didn’t send his own representatives to Cairo to negotiate a surrender deal with Hamas because his aid cut-off brought Hamas to its knees. Abbas sent his people to Cairo because Hamas’s double dealing with Dahlan brought Abbas to his knees.

As for Sisi, Hamas has also played him – and the UAE.

Over the past few months, Hamas has been rebuilding its client relationship with Iran. A senior Hamas delegation visited Tehran last month for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s swearing-in ceremony.

They met there with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and with senior Revolutionary Guards commanders.

A month earlier, senior Hamas terrorist Salah Arouri, who lives under Hezbollah protection in Beirut, paved the way for the reconciliation in a meeting under Hezbollah sponsorship with senior Revolutionary Guards commander Amir Abdollahian.

Following the meeting in Tehran, Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar extolled Hamas’s relations with Iran as “fantastic.” Sinwar also said that Iran is “the largest backer financially and militarily” of Hamas’s terrorism apparatus.

Concerned about Tehran’s growing influence in Gaza, and through it, the Sinai, where Sisi continues to fight against an Islamic State-backed insurgency, Sisi has an interest in tempering Hamas’s client-ties to Tehran.

So just as Abbas has decided to restore financing to Hamas to keep Dahlan at bay, so Sisi has decided to embrace Hamas to keep Iran at bay.

In all cases, of course, Hamas wins.

The fact that Hamas has just won is obvious when we consider the unity deal it just concluded with Fatah.

Hamas made one concession. It agreed to break up its civil governing authority – a body it formed in response to Abbas’s decision to cut off funding in April. In exchange for agreeing to disband a body it only formed because Abbas cut off its funding, Hamas receives a full restoration of PA funding. The PA will fund all civil service operations in Gaza. It will pay the salaries of all civil servants and security personnel in Gaza. It will pay salaries to all Hamas terrorists Israel freed from its jails.

In other words, the PA will now be responsible for keeping the lights on and picking up the garbage.

And Hamas will be free to concentrate on preparing for and initiating its next terror war against Israel. It can dig tunnels. It can build missiles. It can expand its operational ties with Hezbollah, Islamic State, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and Fatah.

In the wake of Hamas’s leadership’s meetings in Tehran, Sinwar told reporters that Hamas is now moving full speed ahead toward doing all of these things. Sinwar said that Hamas is “developing our military strength in order to liberate Palestine.” He added, “Every day we build missiles and continue military training.”

Thousands of people, he said, are working “day and night” to prepare Hamas’s next terror war against Israel. And indeed, two weeks ago, two Hamas terrorists were killed when the tunnels they were digging collapsed on them.

Tuesday’s surrender ceremonies tell us two things.

First, the notion that Fatah is even remotely interested in defeating Hamas is complete nonsense. For 10 years since its forces were humiliated and routed in Gaza, Fatah has faithfully funded and defended Hamas. Abbas’s only concern is staying in charge of his Israeli-protected fiefdom in Ramallah. To this end, he will finance – with US and EU taxpayer monies – and defend another 10 Hamas wars with Israel.

The second lesson we learn from Hamas’s victory is that we need to curb our enthusiasm for Sisi and his regime in Egypt, and for his backers in the UAE. Sisi’s decision to facilitate and mediate Hamas’s newest victory over Fatah shows that his alliance with Israel is tactical and limited in scope. His decision to side with Israel against Hamas during Operation Protective Edge three years ago may not repeat itself in the next war.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

Is Turkey Bank Rolling the Clashes Over the Temple Mount?

For days, the Palestinian Arabs have been rioting over what is a simple security precaution involving metal detectors at all entrances to the Temple Mount. Metal detectors have long been installed at the Western Wall and at the entrance to the Temple Mount permited for Jews and tourists.

With the murder of two Druze policemen nearly ten days ago the government made a simple decision to install metal detectors at all the entrances.  Since that decision the Palestinian Arab population in Jerusalem has rioted, with Abbas not only continuing to incite violence, but going as far as breaking off security coordination with Israel.

“Relations with Israel are frozen at all levels until Israel announces that it is revoking its steps against the Palestinian people as a whole and against Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque in particular,” Abbas said in a brief televised speech after a meeting with his aides.

Surprisingly enough many Arab countries have remained neutral on the issue.  It is clear the Saudis would like nothing more than to see the Hashemite control over the mount be scaled back as they want to push back on Jordan for their partnership with the Qatar supported Muslim Brotherhood.

Sensing a Saudi move to push them off of the Temple Mount, Jordan agreed to meet Israel over the Temple Mount wthout the Palestinian Authority. The main reason behind the PA’s exclusion, was Abbas’ assistance that Turkey become involved.

Israel HaYom reported:

“Israel and Jordan are planning to form a joint committee to devise security arrangements on the Temple Mount that would be acceptable to all sides.”

The report continued:

“The committee will deal with a wide range of issues beyond the metal detectors installed at the entrances to the compound. Among these is the implementation of an arrangement Jordan and Israel agreed upon previously to install a closed circuit security camera system in sections of the Temple Mount complex. The arrangement has not yet been implemented because the Waqf has yet to begin the installation stipulated in the arrangement.”

“A senior Palestinian official in Ramallah confirmed these reports. He said that in response to Jordan’s snub, Abbas called for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to take part in the talks to resolve the crisis. This in turn angered the Jordanian king and his supporters, the official said, as they view the Jordanian royal family as the sole custodians Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.”

Turkey has been itching to gain a foothold in Jerusalem for over a year as part of Erdogan’s dream of rebuilding the Ottoman empire. He has urged thousands of Muslims to descend on the Jerusalem ascent the Temple Mount in order to “protect it.”

In connection to the most recent tension, Erdogan said the following Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin:

“Within the framework of freedom of religion and worship there can be no impediment for Muslims” entering the holy site, the Anadolu news agency quoted Erdogan as telling Rivlin.

“Given the importance that Haram al-Sharif carries for the whole Islamic world, the metal detectors put in place by Israel should be removed in the shortest possible time and an end put to the tension,” Erdogan added.

With Turkey and Qatar getting pushed out of Gaza by the UAE and Egypt, the most natural move is to start a rumble over the Temple Mount. Jordan has acted cautiously and stepped back from the brink by reaching out to Israel. With a fading Abbas getting bankrolled by Turkey, the riots are sure to continue unless Jordan can reach a true compromise with Israel.


Will America Move CENTCOM from Qatar?

As the Qatar crisis heads into its second week another shoe is evidently about to drop.  The AP reported that the U.A.E.’s ambassador in Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba, urged the Trump administration to consider moving its air base out of Qatar.

“Maybe someone in Congress should have a hearing and just say, you know, ‘Should we consider moving it?’” the ambassador said in Washington on Tuesday. “And maybe not moving the entire base. Maybe just distribute to various countries so you don’t have all your eggs in one basket.”

The airbase is home to CENTCOM the hub for the US military in the region.  If the US would move the enormaous base Qatar would lose the last piece of leverage it has with the West.

Although behind the scenes the US has been supporting the Saudi led maneuvers against Qatar, it was not until recently that President Trump iterated his support for the Saudi blockade.

“One of the big things that we did, and you are seeing it now in Qatar and all of the things that are actually going on in a very positive fashion, we are stopping the funding of terrorism,” Trump said. “We are going to stop the funding of terrorism. It’s not an easy fight but that is a fight that we are going to win. We are going to starve the beast.”

Although moving CENTCOM is highly unlikely at this point, nothing should be ruled out. With Saudi Arabia moving fast agianst radical Jihad, the time for action is clearly now. If the US does indeed move CENTCOM, it may be the trigger that will start the next round of war in the region.

IRAN RISING: Will Israel and the Arab World Finally Make Peace to Stave Off Persian Aggression?


A few months ago, a Saudi delegation led by Maj.Gen. (ret.) Anwar Eshki, chairman of Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, visited Israel. He was photographed with Israeli politicians. These pictures sparked a debate within the Saudi kingdom and Eshki was harshly criticised for his visit by the Saudi Foreign Ministry who declared, “people like Anwar Eshki do not represent us, have no ties to any governmental elements, and do not reflect the positions of the Saudi government.” (Al-Hayat (London), July 27, 2016.)

Despite the harsh public backlash at such an attempt to normalise relations with Israel, many Saudi newspapers ran articles criticising the anti-Semitic views held by many in the Muslim world.

Saudi columnist Siham Al-Qahtani wrote in Al-Jazirah in July of 2016 that the Koranic depiction of the Jews applied only to certain Jews at certain times and cannot be applied to all Jews; “The [collective] memory of Arab culture continues to preserve the stereotypical image of Jews to this day. Some see this stereotype as the product of Koranic texts, [which depict the Jews] as killers of prophets, infidels, warmongers, and usurers. [However,] it is improper to blame the Koran for the creation of Jewish stereotypes. When the Koran depicts a certain people, it does so in accordance with [this people’s] behavior and thought during a specific time period. This description is valid in the context of [those particular] circumstances and [that particular] behavior, and does not refer to a unique and permanent trait.” 

Yasser Hijazi wrote in Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), July 30, 2016, that hatred of the Jews must be abandoned; “We must eradicate the remnants of racism and religious ethnic struggles embedded in our cultural, religious, and institutional discourse. This will be a step on the path towards coexistence with the world, and will close a massive loophole that is exploited by Western extremism [against us]. Our only response to this [extremism] should be to distance ourselves from [this discourse] and instead export an official pluralistic civilized discourse; one that accepts the world, both in its interpretation of texts and its actions on the ground.”  

Hijazi wrote in a different  article “…in order to eventually create a different discourse based on the principles of international relations and human rights… which will lead to a creative and professional discourse that speaks of the other/the Jew in a way that is devoid of racism; a way that respects his humanity and right to live without becoming a symbol of betrayal, evil, and deception. This is a step on the way to the coexistence we desire; a step [on the way] to drying out the sources of terrorism, if we so desire…” 

In a similar vein, in an April 9, 2016 article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, Kuwaiti media personality Yousuf ‘Abd Al-Karim Al-Zinkawi called on all Arab and Muslim states to recognize Israel, openly and without delay, and to stop calling it “the Zionist Entity” or “the Israeli occupation.” He argued that by sitting alongside Israel in UN institutions these states already effectively recognize it, and they should take a lesson from countries like Qatar and Oman that take a pragmatic approach to Israel and maintain ties with it openly. He wondered why certain Arab and Muslim countries take a more hardline approach to Israel than the Palestinian Authority itself, which does maintain ties with it. 

Particularly in Kuwait there are calls for normalisation of  relations with Israel. Saleh Al-Shayeji, journalist for Al-Anba, The Kuwaiti Government Daily, writes; “Whose enemy is Israel? Is it the enemy of all Arab countries? The Palestinians have a right to be hostile to Israel, for they believe it has occupied some of their lands. By their lights, they are justified in their hostility, and we support, help and assist them as much as we can, [but] that is all the Arab countries are required to do – nothing more…

“Who is our real enemy? Do all the Arab states have the same enemy? Or does each country or group of countries have a [different] enemy, who is actually an ally or even a close friend of some other [Arab] country?

“The first step towards Arab reform is discarding the idea of pan-Arabism or of [a single Arab] nation, which reality has proven false and invalid, and the indications of its invalidity are [much] more numerous than the illusionary [proof] of its validity… Let’s take our own country, Kuwait, as an example. Is Israel an enemy [of Kuwait]? Has it [ever] invaded it, fought it, or killed its citizens? The answer to all these questions is no!! So why does Kuwait regard Israel as an enemy, while it regards Iraq – which did invade and occupy it – as a friend, an ally, a [good] neighbour and a sister!? I don’t mean [to say] that Kuwait [should have] remained an enemy of Iraq. On the contrary, it made the right decision [in reconciling with it], because enmity is not a permanent [reality] but a dynamic one, especially in the world of politics, [where] yesterday’s enemy is today’s friend, and today’s friend may be tomorrow’s enemy. That is a fact and no illusion of mine.

“In sum, Israel is not the Arab’s enemy, and the Arabs must all free themselves of the pan-Arab complex and take their own independent steps and decisions, far from the delusion of the single [pan-Arab] nation!!”

In another Kuwaiti government daily Abdallah Al-Hadlaq writes; “To all those who think the Persian state (Iran), and the regime of the Rule of the Imprudent [namely] the dictatorial fascist Persian regime which controls it, is a friendly country, whereas Israel is an enemy country, I say that a prudent enemy is better than an imprudent one. The state of Israel and its various governments have waged more than five wars with the Arabs, yet never in the course of these wars did Israel think to use its nuclear weapons against its Arab enemies. Conversely, if the Persian state, with its stupid, rash and fascist regime that hides behind a religious guise, ever develops nuclear weapons, it will not hesitate to use nuclear bombs against the Arab Gulf states in the first conflict that arises.

“Israel is a friendly state that does not endanger us in the Arab Gulf region and we have nothing to fear from it. The one who threatens us, carries out acts of terror and destruction against us, and aspires to occupy us is the arrogant Persian enemy, represented by the regime of the Persian state (Iran), which is the incubator and supportive environment for global terror.”

Furthermore, on the website Tareq Baddar, a Kuwaiti writer and film producer wrote an article on May 24, 2016 calling for an end to the incitement against Jews in mosques. (

Often, a running theme in these articles is a call for an acknowledgment of the real enemy, Iran, as opposed to Israel.

In the words of Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh: “The Persian enemy is Enemy No. 1, and the Zionist enemy is [only] Enemy No. 2. We must present this truth directly, flattering no one, to all those [who try] to extort us with the tale that Israel is the Arabs’ Enemy No. 1 and that Iran supports us on the Palestinian issue. This tale could still be true vis-à-vis the Arabs to the north [of the Arabian Peninsula], and in Egypt, because Israel threatens [Egypt] and its security and stability. But as for the [Saudi] kingdom and the Gulf states, it is Iran, not Israel, that tops the list of the enemies and the dangers that lie in wait for us, face us and threaten us. Iran is exploiting the issue of the Palestinians and the liberation [of Palestine] as a pretext for infiltrating deep into the Arab [world], shredding its Arab fabric, and dragging Arab [society] into supporting its expansionary plan…”

“Moreover, let me say this bluntly: Any citizen of any of the five Gulf states who prioritizes the Israeli danger over that of the Persian enemy, whether from a pan-Arab or an Islamist perspective, is sacrificing his homeland, its security, its stability and perhaps its very existence for his neighbor’s cause. By any national standard, this is absolute treason.

“This issue has to do with our very existence, and there is no bargaining over it or dismissing or neglecting it. It is a matter on which the Gulf residents, whether Sunni or Shi’ite, agree equally…”

These words sum up a major reason, if not the most predominant reason, for Gulf States relations thawing towards Israel; Iran is a major threat to the Arab-Sunni world as they seek to export globally, but to the Sunni world first, Shiite Islam. Sunni Islam’s bastion is in the Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia, and they are neighbours with Iran, acting as a buffer to the rest of the world, a challenge and competition to Iran’s Shiite Islam. In order to spread Shiite’ism, these countries must be neutralised and preferably converted to Shiite countries. This means Iran must be militarily superior, strengthening and spreading Shiite Islam within these countries. The Gulf States know this and are acutely aware and alarmed that Iran developing a nuclear bomb spells the end of their countries. Israel is the strongest power in the region and has the capability of challenging Iran’s growing might and is even able to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. Therefore, naturally Israel would be the ones to turn to and to start warming up to, in order to counter this threat.  This is particularly evident when we take into account that Israel was the one to daringly face Iraq, totally detroying their nuclear program in 1981 without any casualties.  The dictum of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ is no truer here than ever before, as it has made deadly sworn enemies into collaborative friends. The Gulf States may not have wanted to make peace with Israel but perhaps now they will out of necessity.

Adding to this is the relative side-lining of the Palestinian issue. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is collapsing and does not even have full control of its own city headquarters. Gun battles on the streets of Nablus occur often between the PA security forces and other militant factions, such as Fatah. There are parts of the city where PA security forces cannot enter or risk being fired upon by those who control those areas. This is happening in many parts of the West Bank, where many areas are now independent of the PA and are run day to day by the tribal leaders, such as the Hebron region. Some areas have descended into absolute anarchy and are ruled by armed gangs and factions. The Palestinian elections have been postponed by Mahmud Abbas as he fears losing to his rivals.

The “Arab Quartet”, made up of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, have held up their monthly donation to the Palestinian Authority of $20 million for seven months. This amounts to a third of the P.A. budget. Although there are claims that this is merely a logistical matter, many are reading between the lines that it is an attempt to force Abbas to make peace as they dictate. They have reached out to Fatah as they are also concerned with Abbas recent visit to Iran and want to ensure that Abbas does not get too close. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) support for the Palestinians is now more tactical than anything else and the GCC business leaders have been tacitly expressing their frustration for a while regarding the corruption within the Palestinian Authority.

Others are also beginning to get frustrated and this was made evident when a Saudi editorial took the Palestinian Authority to task for not accepting Netanyahu’s offer to Abbas to speak at the Kenneset.

All of the above has made the Palestinian issue relatively secondary to Iran as they are increasingly viewed by many as a burden, and are unable to behave in a befitting manner.

Another reason that has caused a shift in opinion towards Israel is the Arab Spring.

Hopes of democracy and liberalism were crushed by the Islamists taking over most of the revolutions, steering those countries in to oblivion, specifically in Syria. Numerous atrocities were commited and there are those in the Arab world who have now rethought the whole view point of prevalent within the Arab world, including how they view Israel.

In an interview on the 19 March 2014 with Syrian Orient News TV channel, Dr. Kamal Al-Labwani stated, “Today, it is our huge Syrian Arab army that is attacking us. Hizbullah is attacking us, while Israel treats the wounded. The equation has changed today. Who is our friend, and who is our foe? The things that have happened have completely changed the notions. Who is our enemy? Is our enemy the Lebanese who is fighting us, or the Israeli who live in Jerusalem? I’m just asking. Our Iraqi “brother” who has come to slaughter us in Yabroud – is he our friend or foe? Is he really a brother to us? There are many new questions. Dogmatic thinking is pointless.” 

Dr Kamal’s plan for peace in Syria included making peace with Israel and even relinquishing Syrian rights to the Golan Heights in exchange for Israel’s help in toppling the Assad regime.  He further stated, “I do not want to condemn anyone. I myself worked hard to rid myself of the prevailing dogma that is passed down from generation to generation, and is elevated to the level of sanctity and taboo – a dogma that calls to perpetuate conflicts, as opposed to burying them…”

Although Al-Labwani’s plan drew harsh criticism from many fellow rebel leaders, nevertheless, his thinking is a break from the norm and could be a sign that others also think like him.

This disenchantment with the Arab narrative and willingness to blame Israel for inter-Arab wars was lambasted by Dr. ‘Ali Sa’d Al-Moussa who wrote on the 22 August 2016 in the Saudi daily Al-Watan: 

“[The world outside] the blood-soaked region between Mosul, [Syria] and Sirt, [Libya], and between Idlib, [Syria] and ‘Aden, [Yemen], does not see even a tenth of the strife [that goes on in that region]… not even between the two Koreas or between the Hutu and the Tutsi in Africa. This proves that the world could have been a safer and quieter place had the Middle East not been in its midst. And I ask that none of you place the blame for this on Israel, for that is [just] a shallow excuse. Israel has nothing to do with the struggle between ISIS and [Jabhat] Al-Nusra, or with what is happening between ‘Afash [a nickname for former Yemeni president ‘Ali Abdullah Saleh], [‘Abd Al-Malik] Al-Houthi [head of the Houthi Ansar Allah group in Yemen] and the Yemeni government, and has nothing to do with the ideological war that is raging in the distant deserts of Libya.

“We in this blood-red region on the world map are born [carrying] the gene of an unknown virus in our body, which soon awakens and multiplies, [triggering] destruction and war, hatred, exclusion and the despicable categorizing [of people]. In the last five years of internecine [fighting], we have killed tens of times more people from our own ranks than were killed in 50 years of historical wars with Israel….”

As the saying goes “war makes strange bed fellows”, and there is no stranger bed fellow when Syrian rebels post on twitter saying; “Well done Israeli heroes.” – (account has currently been shut down.)

Syrian opposition figure Omar Alzoubi-Daraa, wrote on Twitter. “Thank you Israel” and “Terrorist Samir Kuntar and other terrorist Hezbollah leaders have been killed by Israeli raids. What a beautiful job”.

This was posted after the death of Samir Kuntar, who was a Hezbollah terrorist who had committed terror attacks against Israel whilst being member of the Palestine Liberation Front. He had been treated by Hezbollah as a hero upon his releases by Israel in a prisoner exchange in 2008. He was deployed by Hezbollah in Syria to rally the Druze community to their cause. He was killed in Damascus in December 2015 supposedly by an Israeli air strike, although the Free Syrian Army took credit for his death. The fact that Syrian rebels have reached a point of hatred for Hezbollah and  call Israel “heroes” shows how the Arab Spring has changed the opinions of many.

This enthusiastic praise for Israel may be partly generated by Syrian’s knowledge that they can find medical treatment in Israel, their supposedly sworn enemy. With hundreds of Syrians having been treated in Israeli hospitals, opinions are bound to start changing when Israel kills such a member of Hezbollah.

Globalisation is playing a big part in this shift. As the world gets smaller because of the internet, specifically due to social media, regular people are able to communicate to the world what is really happening, as opposed to an official media outlet controlled by a tyrannical regime. This also means that extremely graphic and violent material is posted and shared online. A lot of material like this from the Syrian civil war has been shared and these images and videos have sent shock waves throughout the Muslim world and have provoked many to call for liberalism and true adoption for Western democratic values. This call has gotten louder and is seen as the only cure for the Arab world’s downward spiral into a violent abyss. These views call for the changing of Arab mentalities including how Israel and Jews are viewed.

This includes many old doctrines that have been part of the Arab world for almost 100 years, such as pan-Arabism. As was  concluded by Saleh Al-Shayeji,  in the Kuwaiti government daily Al-Anba, November 23, 2015:  

“In sum, Israel is not the Arab’s enemy, and the Arabs must all free themselves of the pan-Arab complex and take their own independent steps and decisions, far from the delusion of the single [pan-Arab] nation!!”

There are differing views on globalization within the Arab World. Generally, it is viewed negatively; as a Western attack on their religious and cultural identity, atempting to control the Arabs and their resources. However, there are those who have embraced the Western ideals and these have seeped in to the Arab discourse and call for more of these values to be part of Arab society. Khaled Montaser, an Egyptian doctor, wrote on September 12 2016 in the daily Al-Watan;  “There is no escape from joining the world while preserving [our] cultural uniqueness. There is no escape from merging and interacting [with the world] without losing [our] identity… We must discard the obsession, the delusion, and the lie of the two camps [perception] and not live as prisoners [of the view] that we are the best, greatest, and most moral… [This view] blinds our eyes from seeing ourselves in the mirror, keeps us from coping [with reality] in times of true danger, and paralyzes us when we are called to participate in the circle of culture and play a constructive role in it [instead of] withdrawing and isolating ourselves, wallowing in our problems and sorrow and reminiscing [about the past], and manufacturing explosive belts in the caves of Tora Bora and the forests of Somalia…” he ended by  saying “…those who refuse to participate, or think they are the only ones with the right to hold a stake, belong outside the camp where there is thunder, lightning, scorpions, snakes, thirst, and hunger – in the desert of isolation without mercy, salvation, or protection.” (
In conclusion, the combined factors of the Iran danger, the sidelining of the Palestinians as well as the Arab Spring  together with globalization, are creating the possibility of a new Middle East where Arabs and Jews will get along and co-operate together to build a stable Middle East. If Israel and others tread carefully this may become the reality.