Saudi Arabia Would Quietly Welcome the Demise of Hamas

(Unherd) David Rundell - A historic peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel has been put on hold since the outbreak of war in Gaza. And Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has called for an "immediate halt to Israeli military operations in Gaza." In 1948, the Saudis contributed two companies of infantry, which fought under Egyptian command. In the Six-Day War of 1967, a Saudi brigade moved slowly towards Jordan, arriving only when a ceasefire was about to be declared. And during the 1973 Arab-Israel War, Saudi Arabia sent one brigade to join the Arab Foreign Legion with strict instructions not to become involved in the fighting. By the time it reached Damascus, the hostilities were over. In recent years, the benefits for Saudi Arabia of making peace with Israel have significantly increased, while the costs have appeared to decline. Today, Saudis are far more concerned with threats from Iran and its proxies in Yemen and Iraq than they are with Israel. Peace with Israel would be a massive boost to Saudi Arabia's national security and would strengthen its hand against Iran, which since the 1979 Iranian Revolution has challenged Saudi leadership in the Muslim world. Despite the recent Saudi-Iranian rapprochement, Saudi and Israeli leaders still share many reasons to resist Iran's pursuit of regional hegemony and nuclear weapons. The Saudis have another goal in common: suppressing radical Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Many radical Sunni Islamist groups seek to destroy both Israel and the Arab monarchies. The Saudis understand the threat of jihadist militants. They have arrested or deported Hamas supporters in Saudi Arabia and would quietly welcome the organization's demise. The writer is a former chief of mission at the American Embassy in Saudi Arabia.

2023-12-05 00:00:00

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