While all eyes have been focused on the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention, much has gone unreported about what has been happening in the Middle East.
In what is being dubbed a rare visit to Israel, former Saudi Arabian Gen. Anwar Eshki met with Israel’s Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold in Jerusalem recently to discuss the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative which would resume the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Eshki elaborated, saying countries who “exploit the Palestinian issue, namely Iran” would no longer be able to “capitalize” on the conflict if Israel and Palestine settle their differences. Eshki acknowledges the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the source of terrorism but it does create a fertile ground for acts of terrorism in the region.”
Palestinians wave national and PFLP flags during a protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah Sunday, July 28, 2013.
“It is true that Israel is fighting terrorism, but we want to put an end to the reasons that gave rise to this terrorism: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have had enough of bloodshed and war... The Saudi people want peace,” Eshki said.
But not everyone is pleased with the visit.
Lebanese Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah and strong supporter of Palestine, recently criticized Saudi Arabia for what he sees as Saudi Arabia’s attempt at “normalizing relations” and “acknowledging the existence of Israel.”
“We [Arab states] are currently in the worst official state the Arab League has known in the last 100 years. There are in fact no nations, countries, Arab League or national Arab security,” Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah went on to say that Saudi Arabia “has taken advantage of the ailing Arab situation, only to build relations with Israel. The price will be at the account of the Palestinians.” Nasrallah called it “the current worst development in the Arab sphere.”
Nasrallah claims that Saudi Arabia is “creating contact (with Israel), normalizing relations, acknowledging the existence of Israel – and then cooperating with it…this is free normalization with Israel and this will open the doors to other states then Saudi Arabia to follow suit.”
Eshki, however, denies Nasrallah’s claim that Saudi Arabia has built a relationship with Israel.
“There will not be any kind of peace with Arabs first ... First must be peace with the Palestinian brothers. If the Arab peace initiative is implemented, the Saudi Kingdom and other Arab nations would normalize relations with Israel,” Eshki said.
Demonstrators wave Israeli flags as they participate in an pro-Israeli demonstration outside of the Israeli embassy in central London on November 15, 2012.
Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Nasrallah’s growing mistrust of Saudi Arabia stems from actions the Saudi government took earlier this year when it slashed billions of dollars in aid to Lebanon, $3 billion of which was to go to the Lebanese Army. The govenrment also told Saudi tourists not to go to Lebanon because it was unsafe and declared Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization.
The ongoing battle in Syria has also increased tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Arabia supports the ouster of Syrian’s President Bashar al-Assad, while Iran supports keeping al-Assad in power.
Hezbollah agrees with Iran and backs its decision to keep al-Assad in power. It also believes the Saudi government is an enemy of Iran.
Last year, Nasrallah, who has never hidden the fact he believes Saudi Arabia is one of Iran’s enemies, claims the Saudis created a false narrative about the fight between Saudi Sunnis and Iran’s Shia Muslims in the region, in an attempt to take the focus off of Israel.
Also, Nasrallah has long been on the side of Iran because of Iran’s support of the Palestinian people. He believes Saudi Arabia’s stance against Iran signifies an abandonment of Palestine.
“You can’t be a supporter of Palestine unless you support Iran,” Nasrallah said.
More recently, Nasrallah has blamed the Saudis for terror in “Germany, France, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, and Syria.”
It would appear that Eshki attempted to calm a rising feud between Hezbollah and the Saudis and put to rest any speculation that Israel and Saudi Arabia may be joining forces potentially against Iran when he said, “As far as I know there is no cooperation between the Saudi kingdom and Israel on the topic of combating terrorism.”
Will there be repercussions arising out of Hezbollah’s growing disdain for its friend, Iran’s foe, Saudi Arabia? Should Israel be concerned because of Nasrallah’s objection to the recent meeting in Israel with a former Saudi official?
Early last week, according to the Times of Israel, Iranian Deputy Chief of Staff Brigadier General Ali Shadmani said, “If the enemy makes a small mistake, we will shut the Strait of Hormuz, kill their sedition in the bud and endanger the arrogant powers’ interest.”
Iran considers Israel to be its enemy and frequently calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. Since Iran’s close friend, Hezbollah’s Nasrallah feels a growing aversion for those whom it considers to be Iran’s enemy, perhaps Saudi Arabia and Israel should prepare for a new wave of threats.
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