It's time to exploit Saudi fear of Hamas

By John R Bradley, August 8, 2014
Barack Obama with Saudi leader Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud on arrival in Riyadh

Barack Obama with Saudi leader Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud on arrival in Riyadh

If politics makes for strange bedfellows, warfare can create a veritable orgy of seemingly unfathomable diplomatic dalliances.

One such apparent secret tryst, between Israeli and Saudi diplomats, is now under the spotlight, as supporters of Hamas in the West accuse the Al-Sauds of treachery by snuggling up to the Jewish state.

Hamas cheerleader David Hearst, who edits the website Middle East Eye, last week accused the Al-Sauds of shedding "crocodile tears" over Palestinian civilian deaths while doing everything it could diplomatically to help the IDF crush the Islamist militia.

In a cutting retort, the Saudi ambassador to London, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf , denied any such meetings were taking place, outside of region-wide efforts to attain a ceasefire.

And, unlike Mr Hearst, he emphasised the Wahhabi kingdom's support for the Palestinians without singling out Hamas, drawing a sensible distinction.

Emir of Qatar, who backs Hamas

Emir of Qatar, who backs Hamas

He even stated that Saudi outrage was on behalf of ordinary Christian and Muslim Palestinians - thus subtly reminding us that Hamas itself has given its support to the jihadists in Iraq and Syria who have morphed into the Islamic State. The latter group is presently shooting, beaheading and crucifying every Arab Christian they can get their grubby hands on.

There are, of course, a million reasons for Israel to loathe the Saudi ruling family; but realpolitik means they currently have a common enemy.

The Islamic State is determined to destroy Israel, and massacre not only all the Jews who live there but, based on its track record, the Christian Palestinian Arabs too. Meanwhile, it wants the Arab oil monarchies overthrown.

Unlike Qatar, which Israeli officials recently singled out as the main sponsor of Islamist terrorism in the Middle East, the Wahhabi kingdom has at last begun to learn the error of its historic ways. It recently banned its nationals from flighting abroad, or expressing sympathy for the Islamic State at home, under threat of public beaheading.

Better, then, to exploit the pressure the Al-Sauds are under so they can to keep in check the crazier elements of the Wahhabi religious establishment. As the upheavals in Libya, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Iraq have clearly demonstrated, revolution in Saudi Arabia would lead only to inter-tribal bloodshed and the emergence of an even more insane group of Salafi rulers.

The Western allies had no problem fighting alongside the Soviet Union against the Nazis - an apt analogy, given that Hamas and its jihadist allies are nothing if not toadying fascists whose anti-Israel propaganda is creating a wave of antisemitism in Europe not seen since the build-up to the Holocaust.

In short, the Islamic State, Hamas and its sponsor Qatar have achieved what countless paid-off former Western diplomats to Riyadh never quite managed to: make what the Al-Sauds have to say seem worth listening to.

John R Bradley's books include 'Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis'

Last updated: 9:45am, August 8 2014