Assessments

Saudi Arabia and the UAE Consider the Cost of Israeli Ties

Oct 25, 2018 | 10:00 GMT
Medium-range ballistic missiles stand next to a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on Sept. 25, 2017, during commemorations marking the anniversary of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war.

Medium-range ballistic missiles stand next to a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on Sept. 25, 2017, during commemorations marking the anniversary of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war. Iran's rise has fostered a situation in which Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates could work alongside Israel to present a united front against Tehran.

(ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

Threatened by Iran and emboldened by the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are drawing closer to Israel, as the obstacles that have kept Riyadh and Abu Dhabi from contemplating such a radical move fall by the wayside. Indeed, for the first time in many years, Iranian influence has reached the Mediterranean Sea by land, prompting heightened worries in the Gulf states and Israel. But while the overtures between both camps are real, the nascent relationship remains subject to many of the old rules of Arab-Israeli dynamics. And as the Gulf's two biggest powers contemplate a formal transformation of their relations with Israel for pragmatic gain, they must calculate their willingness to endure domestic backlash, the ire of much of the Muslim world and the possibility that some royal rivals may not wholly support such an endeavor....

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