Andrew Korybko |
Nobody’s disputing that Saudi Arabia and “Israel” have cooperated before in sowing regional chaos and trying to “contain” Iran, but this time it might be a stretch too far to assume that Mohammed Bin Salman coordinated his “deep state” coup and subsequent actions with Netanyahu.
Saudi Arabia and “Israel” are very close with one another behind the scenes despite each actor’s public rhetoric to the contrary, and Riyadh might in all likelihood end up recognizing the Ummah’s hated foe due to the strategic-economic imperatives of the NEOM future city project, but none of this means that they coordinate each and every policy maneuver with one another.
To explain but by no means defend the Kingdom’s actions, Saudi Arabia – whether rightly or wrongly – believes or has been led to believe that Iran constitutes an existential threat to it because of the Monarchy’s fear that the Islamic Republican model could spread across the Persian Gulf in eventually deposing the royal family and removing their cherished custodianship over the Two Holy Mosques.
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For as cunning and destructive as “Israel” has proven itself to be ever since its “Weapons of Mass Migration”-related “founding” shortly after the end of the Second World War, Saudi Arabia doesn’t consider it to be as immediate or existential of a threat to the Kingdom as post-revolutionary Iran is subjectively identified as being.
Part of the reason for this is that Saudi Arabia and “Israel” have been under the same US “security umbrella” since the beginning of the Old Cold War, the former because of its energy significance and the latter due to its geopolitical one in functioning as an anti-Arab “wedge”, so neither ever seriously viewed the other as a pressing danger.
This understanding made it all the easier for them to come together (likely through the US’ encouragement and facilitative efforts) in order to oppose the post-revolutionary Iranian government that they both saw as a “threat”. To reiterate once more, the aforementioned explanation isn’t to “justify” or “defend” this arrangement, but to merely describe its origins in showing the reader why it objectively exists as a factor in modern-day International Relations.
If anyone actually read the leaked “embassy” cable, however, they’d see that it’s a stretch to report it as being a “smoking gun” purportedly confirming that the Crown Prince is the Zionist leader’s puppet.
Saudi Arabia and “Israel” are indeed tacit allies with one another, especially when it comes to anything that can be even remotely interpreted as “anti-Iranian”, so this contextual background served to convince many information consumers that the latest leaks alleging Saudi-“Israeli” collusion were proof that Mohammed Bin Salman was doing Netanyahu’s bidding when he went on his post-coup spree of regional bellicosity.
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If anyone actually read the leaked “embassy” cable, however, they’d see that it’s a stretch to report it as being a “smoking gun” purportedly confirming that the Crown Prince is the Zionist leader’s puppet. The document in question doesn’t contain any evidence within it that the Saudis’ geopolitical bluster is due to any sort of coordination with “Israel”, but rather reads like a straight-forward plan for opportunistically capitalizing on this “advantageous” event in order to advance the overlapping interests that Tel Aviv shares with Riyadh vis-à-vis Tehran, Sanaa, and Beirut.
To allege that expedient exploitation of one or another actor’s political decisions is “proof” of “collusion” is the same as saying that any speculated cable that Russia might have sent to its embassy staff before or after the 2016 election about the Neo-Realist self-interested benefits of Trump’s victory automatically makes the US President a Kremlin puppet, which isn’t true.
Just because two actors share the same interests doesn’t necessarily mean that one of them is being controlled by the other, even if one makes a move that’s to this pair’s collective benefit in that given Neo-Realist context. Saudi Arabia’s war-mongering statements against Iran, Yemen, and Lebanon perfectly align with “Israeli” interests, just like Trump’s campaign promises to restore pragmatic relations with Moscow also served Russia’s interests, though in neither case was the Crown Prince or the current President saying what they did for any other reason than to advance what they subjectively believed to be their country’s national interests.
That said, there are indeed actors who stand to gain by purposely misportraying the Saudi-“Israeli” leaks in the previously described inaccurate manner, and it’s here where another argument interestingly emerges to debunk the “collusion” narrative.
Mohammed Bin Salman preemptively moved to thwart a pro-US royalist coup against him when he executed his anti-oligarchic Bolshevik plan over the weekend, staving off what had hitherto been rising conspiratorial resistance to his socio-economic and religious reforms initiated through the ambitious Vision 2030 project, as well as his country’s game-changing Great Power partnerships with China and Russia.
For this reason, it’s understandable why the US would be opposed to the Crown Prince’s “deep state” coup, even if Trump tweeted otherwise in order to save face after having earlier demanded that the Kingdom “drive out” all corrupt terrorist-supporting individuals such as the pro-American ones who Mohammed Bin Salman ironically just detained.
Nevertheless, the future King reportedly compelled “imprisoned” Prince Alwaleed to sell his shares in 21st Century Fox, thereby endangering anti-Trump tycoon Robert Murdoch’s control over the media group, so Trump might indeed see something of a “silver lining” in what just happened.
In any case, the securing of Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision 2030-related reforms and multipolar Great Power partnerships is comparatively more to the US’ grand strategic disadvantage than whatever benefits its President might reap from Murdoch’s potential weakening, so it’s plausible to assert that the US has a clear interest in undermining the Crown Prince.
So too, however, does Iran, which considers the Saudi monarchy to be its archnemesis for the reasons that were previously explained, whether due to its own initiative to spread the Islamic (Republican) Revolution across the Gulf in liberating the land of the Two Holy Mosques from the monarchy, or in reaction to the Saudis’ paranoia that this might have been the case and their subsequent hostile actions against the country since 1979.
It’s very likely that the document is authentic, but the point to focus on here is the reason behind its disclosure, which like all leaks in history had more than an inadvertent coincidental reason behind it.
It’s therefore conceivable that either of these two rival Great powers might have intercepted and indirectly leaked the “Israeli” cable to the said polity’s journalist who then naturally shared it with the public.
It’s very likely that the document is authentic, but the point to focus on here is the reason behind its disclosure, which like all leaks in history had more than an inadvertent coincidental reason behind it. In this instance, the whole point is to discredit Mohammed Bin Salman in the eyes of his countrymen, thereby weakening his newly assertive grip on power and creating space for his citizens to have “second doubts” about what’s really going on in the royal halls of power.
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Far from being a populist coup against the pro-American oligarchy, the deliberately misleading reporting surrounding these leaks is designed to make it seems like it was actually a Zionist coup against religious patriots, the weaponized narrative of which works to both US and Iranian interests by seeking to foment a Color Revolution and potentially even a military coup against the Crown Prince.
Tel Aviv is known for, though that does not say that the two sides haven’t collaborated in the past and won’t do so again in the future, but just that it’s inaccurate to report that the latest events are another example of this.
Even though Washington and Tehran both stand to strategically gain for different reasons if this happens, and one of these two Great Powers might have even been responsible for intercepting and indirectly leaking the cable, that doesn’t mean that they colluded in this, the same as Mohammed Bin Salman’s “deep state” coup and regional bellicosity don’t mean that he’s acting under Netanyahu’s order even though “Israel” benefits from both. As the clichéd saying goes, “correlation isn’t causation”, and the same cautionary logic can and should be applied to International Studies just as much as it is to statistics.
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The so-called “collusion” between Saudi Arabia and “Israel”, as supposedly “proven” through the weaponized cable leak, is nothing more than the typical opportunism that Tel Aviv is known for, though that does not say that the two sides haven’t collaborated in the past and won’t do so again in the future, but just that it’s inaccurate to report that the latest events are another example of this.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.
Andrew Korybko is a political analyst, journalist and a regular contributor to several online journals, as well as a member of the expert council for the Institute of Strategic Studies and Predictions at the People’s Friendship University of Russia. He specializes in Russian affairs and geopolitics, specifically the US strategy in Eurasia.The views expressed in this article are author’s own. It does not reflect Global Village Space Editorial policy.