Saudi Arabia and Israel See Iran as Existential Threat

(Bloomberg) Adm. (ret.) James Stavridis - I was in Saudi Arabia in September 2019 when drone strikes, almost certainly instigated by Iran, hit major Saudi oil facilities. The U.S. ambassador at the time, Gen. (ret.) John Abizaid, and I agreed that the Saudis were facing an existential threat from Tehran. Gen. (ret.) John Allen, a former commander of U.S. Central Command, tells me, "Iran remains the top threat in the region." Iran has no interest in arriving at an accommodation with the Saudis and other Gulf Arab states, as seen in last month's missile attacks on the Kingdom's capital of Riyadh by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Israelis take a similar view of Iran as an existential threat, and fear its gradually increasing military capability (notably in cyber warfare, unmanned vehicles and ballistic missiles). During all of my visits to Israel, the Iranian threat hovered over all other concerns, and justifiably so. The mutual loathing and distrust of Iran by America's two most militarily capable allies in the region has increased quiet cooperation between them. Senior Israelis I talk to reiterate their belief that Iran will eventually successfully build a nuclear arsenal unless it is stopped by direct military intervention. They point to how the world treats North Korea. The writer, former supreme allied commander of NATO, is dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

2021-02-11 00:00:00

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