For entirely different reasons both Israel and Iran have remained unusually silent regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at his birth nation’s consulate in Istanbul. Regarding Iran, the explanation for this silence is quite simple. As the wider world begins to realise that everything the US and Israel have accused Iran of doing is actually done by Saudi Arabia, Tehran’s officials are likely enjoying watching Riyadh’s public image self-destruct. For Israel matters are far more complicated as it is in Israel’s interest to make sure the following things do not happen:
–A meaningful Turko-US rapprochement
–Turkey’s President Erdogan becoming more influential in the wider Ummah (global Muslim community) than he already is
–The replacement of the almost overtly pro-Zionist Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman with a less pro-Israel de-facto Saudi leader
–A weakening of the anti-Iranian axis which presently includes the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia
At this point, any nation speaking in defence of the current leadership in Riyadh will likely be scored due to the inexplicably laughable denials and contradictory bizarre explanations that the Saudis have thus far proffered regarding Jamal Khashoggi’s demise. Therefore, Israel is almost certainly doing its talking behind the scenes.
Beyond this however, the tragi-comical murder of Khashoggi will set off many alarm bells in Tel Aviv. While the Israeli secret intelligence service Mossad has perfected the art of murdering its self-declared enemies throughout the world while almost always getting away with it, the far more crude murder of Khashoggi makes it self-evident that if Mossad is a ferocious and well oiled machine, the oil rich Wahhabi kingdom is operating a killing machine in need of copious lubrication.
Therefore while scrutiny is on the US both from the domestic opposition and from America’s EU allies to tone down the optics of Washington’s close relationship with Riyadh, Israel is the only country with proven expertise in intelligence ops and secret murders of political opponents that is able to assist Saudi Arabia at this particular point in time.
One can therefore logically speculate that highly encrypted conversations between Saudi Crown Prince and de-facto leader Mohammad bin Salman’s most trusted advisers and Benjamin Netanyahu’s inner-circle are currently taking place. In short, the Saudis need help to professionalise their intelligence apparatus and Israel is uniquely able to offer this help.
Of course, none of this can be said publicly by either Riyadh or Tel Aviv. As Saudi Arabia’s increasingly exposed carefree attitude towards Palestine had alienated many Muslims prior to the Khashoggi murder, the fact that a nation on whose soil stand the holy mosques at Mecca and Medina would engage in the un-Islamic murder of Khashoggi would simply be a step too far. Therefore, while Saudi Arabia may try to tone down its own virtue signalling towards Tel Aviv that has become incrasingly common under the de-facto rule of Mohammad bin Salman, the reality is that the close partnership between Riyadh and Tel Aviv will only increase.
Therefore, the clues to understanding the rate at which Saudi Arabia and Israel’s undeclared alliance will intensify will be best garnered from the responses of American officials who are willing to sacrifice global public relations over the Khashoggi murder in order to maintain the Saudi-Israeli anti-Iranian axis in the Middle East. Beyond this, one should also look for further anti-Turkish statements deriving from the Israeli government and pro-Netanyahu publications in both Israel and the west. While the events in Istanbul have served to vidicate much of what Turkey’s President has long been saying about regional affairs, Tel Aviv will be working to try its best to minimise President Erdogan’s public rehabilitation in the US where a coordinated campaign against him has been orchestrated by several US based lobby groups, including the highly influential Israel lobby.
In any state, when public opinion begins encroaching on one’s national prestige, it is natural to rally towards one’s closest allies. What makes the Saudi/Israeli situation unique is that on paper, neither country has any sort of relations with the other. The truth however is that Saudi Arabia and Israel actually have more in common than Syria and Iran and are furthermore much more strategically dependant on one another in order to achieve their mutual regional aspirations than is the case in respect of the Syrian partnership with Iran.
While the Syrian partnership with Iran is fundamentally a defensive one whose aspirations have been partly thwarted due to Russia now taking a view of the war in Syria that veers more towards Turkey than Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia cannot afford to lose their momentum in their anti-Iranian campaign. This is especially true since Qatar is now firmly in the regional orbit of Turkey, a nation that like Russia and China has vowed to continue trading with Iran even after next month’s extreme US sanctions are implemented.
Therefore, as some of Saudi Arabia’s traditional allies abandon ship (however temporarily), Riyadh will find that Israel will be an invaluable lifeline on multiple fronts including not only intelligence training but on convincing the White House not to make any moves against Riyadh’s present leadership.