Obama's 1st Major Foreign Policy Achievement: Israel, 'Sunni Arab Allies' Unite Against His Iran Deal

Jeffdunetz | July 30, 2015
Font Size


After a little more than six and a half years in office, President Obama finally has a major foreign policy achievement - and after sixty-seven years, peace in the Middle East may finally be at hand (sort of), thanks to the president.

One indication of the detente' occurred when a car with Saudi license plates was seen in Tel Aviv on Friday 7/24. Since, technically Saudi Arabia and Israel are still at war (and have been since 1948), the presence of an auto with Saudi tags is a major big dea.

Another indication that Israel and some of its neighbors are getting friendly happened in New York City this Thursday as the Director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry Dore Gold was speaking to a Jewish organization and twice publicly referred to the Sunni Gulf States as "allies."

“What we have is a regime on a roll that is trying to conquer the Middle East,” Gold said of Iran, “and it’s not Israel talking, that is our Sunni Arab neighbors — and you know what? I’ll use another expression – that is our Sunni Arab allies talking.”

Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and a longtime adviser to Israeli prime ministers from the right-wing Likud Party, is also the author of a 2003 book on Saudi Arabia called “Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism.” Saudi Arabia has been one of the most vocal Arab opponents of US-Iran rapprochement and the Iran nuclear agreement.

The fact that Gold used the word "allies" is big - but, the fact that he said it in public is even bigger.

The reason for the new-found friendship is the president's P5+1 agreement with Iran. The Israelis and the Gulf allies are united in their opposition to Obama's deal because they fear Iran will have $150 billion freed up to spend on terrorism (from the lifting of sanctions) and attain nuclear weapons - either during the deal if they cheat or after the restrictions end in 10 years. 

Over the past year, since the P5+1 negotiations began to heat up, there have been reports of Saudi and Israeli officials holding secret meetings regarding how to deal with the Iranian threat.  In June, Bloomberg's Eli Lake reported that there had been five covert meetings between the two countries since early 2014:

It's no coincidence that the meetings between Gold,  [retired Saudi General  Anwar Majed] Eshki and a few other former officials from both sides took place in the shadow of the nuclear talks among Iran, the U.S. and other major powers. Saudi Arabia and Israel are arguably the two countries most threatened by Iran's nuclear program, but neither has a seat at the negotiations scheduled to wrap up at the end of the month.

The five bilateral meetings over the last 17 months occurred in India, Italy and the Czech Republic. One participant, Shimon Shapira, a retired Israeli general and an expert on the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, told me: "We discovered we have the same problems and same challenges and some of the same answers." Shapira described the problem as Iran's activities in the region, and said both sides had discussed political and economic ways to blunt them, but wouldn't get into any further specifics.

​There has also been other contact between Israel and its Sunni Arab  neighbors.

The United Arab Emirates, another country that officially has no diplomatic ties with Israel, was revealed by Middle East Eye last year to be allowing regular semi-covert flights between the two countries. Middle East Eye later revealed that Abu Dhabi has a mass civil surveillance system installed by an Israeli-owned company. Public relations between Israel and Sunni Arab states are sensitive because of the latter’s stated opposition to the occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

Not all unintended consequences are bad.  Thanks to the president's negotiations with Iran and a Sunni Arab Gulf united in their mistrust of Obama's policies regarding the rogue regime, there are ties with Israel that have never been seen before giving the president an accidental first major foreign policy victory.