Hamas attack: A message from Iran to Saudi Arabia | International

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There will be those who interpret Hamas's attack on Israel on Saturday as a response to Israel's cruel policy towards the Palestinians in the face of the indifference of the rest of the world. Beyond the fact that the killing of civilians is never justified, the magnitude and timing chosen for the spectacular and surprising operation point to a geopolitical factor of crucial importance: the eventual establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Such a possibility raises the hackles of Iran and its allies in the resistance axisHamas included.

Few know at what point the talks/negotiations between Tel Aviv and Riyadh are. “The United States is doing everything possible and more for the kingdom to take the step,” a former senior Saudi official confided to this journalist a few days ago. According to leaks published in Anglo-Saxon media, the hook is a Defense pact that would raise the United States alliance with Saudi Arabia to the same level as that with Israel (“major non-NATO ally”, or main ally outside NATO), above the declared Saudi desire to have a civil nuclear program that includes uranium enrichment.

Israel has always sought recognition from its Arab neighbors and achieved an important diplomatic success with the Abraham Accords (2020) and the subsequent normalization of relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco. Behind Saudi interest is its historical distrust of Iran, which it blamed for the attacks on its oil facilities in 2019, and which the recent reopening of embassies has not mitigated. The limited depth of those ties was evident last Monday when the Saudi soccer team Al Ittihad traveled to Isfahan to face the Iranian Sepahan in an Asian Champions League match. The visitors left the stadium without playing when they discovered in the exit tunnel to the field three busts of Qasem Soleimani, a Revolutionary Guard general assassinated by the United States in Baghdad, whom the Iranians consider a hero and the Saudis a terrorist. For Riyadh it was a provocation.

Still, taking the step of establishing relations with Israel is not easy. Not even for the kingdom's strongman, Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salmán, who since taking the reins of power has shown signs of great audacity. “It would be his riskiest decision, especially with the current Government.” [israelí] ultra”, assures the aforementioned source, in the absence of minimal concessions to the Palestinians. In the opinion of this qualified observer, the heir's recent statements that the agreement with Israel "is getting closer every day" are a way of keeping the door open while weighing the cost-benefit.

In any case, the Hamas attack, a blow to that project, does not respond to Prince Mohammed's last words. Its complexity points to long prior planning. And the support of his main ally, Iran, who has not even bothered to hide his sympathies on the matter. “We support Al Aqsa's commendable Storm operations,” General Rahim Safavi, top military advisor to the Iranian supreme leader, was quick to declare. If there was any doubt.

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Nathan Rivera
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