Middle East

ex-Saudi Military Intelligence Officer Visit to Israel Startled Arabs Across Middle East

Former Saudi military intelligence officer General Anwar Eshki visit to Israel last week baffled Arabs across the region as he conducted several ‘High level’ meetings with Israeli officials, apparently at The Kingdom’s will.

Saudi Arabia has put his apparent enmity aside strengthening relations with Israel, in a wake to confront a rising Iran.

Eshki met with Dore Gold, the general director of the Israeli foreign ministry, as well as Israeli members of parliament.

Eshki heads the Saudi Institute for Strategic Studies, but had held a number of jobs in the Saudi military, retiring as a general, as well as having served in the Saudi ministry of foreign affairs.

The Lebanese newspaper “al-Akhbar” (The News) said that Saudi Arabia now appears ready to move to open relations with Israel, and to recognize Israel as an ally against Iran.

The left-leaning newspaper al-Safir (The Ambassador) said that the lack of any Saudi government reprimand of Eshki suggests that the visit was approved by Riyadh.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine accused the Saudis of normalizing the Israeli occupation and of giving cover and legitimacy to Israel’s crimes in the West Bank and Gaza.

The current leadership of Saudi Arabia has taken a number of bold steps to confront a rising Iran, including intervention in Syria on the side of radical Salafi groups and making war on the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Now Riyadh seems poised publicly to embrace Israel. Given the unpopularity of Israel in the Arab street, however, this step could backfire.

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