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Re-arranging the deckchairs. Converging interests.....

Oh, how politics, and pragmatism, can change things.    Perhaps no better current re-arranging of the deckchairs, and re-alignments, is underway in the Middle East - as The New York Times explains.

"Looking for a potential bright spot in the roiling upheaval of the Middle East, American and Israeli officials meeting in Jerusalem on Monday held out the hope of growing security cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf.

That idea, basically unthinkable a few years ago, could be more plausible now because of widespread worry over Iran’s nuclear program, coupled with chaos in Syria and turmoil in Egypt. Even though Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries have long viewed Israel as the Arab world’s biggest adversary, the rise of threats they all share in common is creating a new urgency to find common ground, the officials said."


"When asked about common goals between Israel and the Gulf, Yousef al-Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States, notably did not mention the word “Israel” in his response: “The U.S. and the regional allies cannot find a solution to Syria, stabilize Egypt and halt the Iranian threat without the other,” Mr. al-Otaiba said. “There is simply no way around working together to resolve these issues.”

Still, American officials note that since the Arab Spring uprisings began more than three years ago, Israel and the Gulf countries have increasingly been voicing similar concerns.

For instance, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates share comparable views on the rise and fall of Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. They all were far more comfortable with the government of President Hosni Mubarak, and were dismayed at what they viewed as an abandonment of Mr. Mubarak by the United States in the face of the initial Tahrir Square uprising. The Saudis encouraged the Egyptian military’s ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood from power last year, and the subsequent crackdown on its supporters, despite American diplomatic efforts to avert both moves. Israel, for its part, is satisfied to have the Egyptian military back at the country’s helm.

The Egyptian-Israeli “peace treaty and its architecture is part of the overarching strategy of the ruling elite in Egypt,” a senior Israeli military official said on Monday, though he noted that the treaty is still not popular with much of the Egyptian public, the military government is “committed to that for many good reasons.” He spoke of an “alignment of interests, coupled with common enemies” like Al Qaeda and global jihadists that could change longstanding alliances in the region.

Another thing potentially bringing Israel and Gulf states together is their intensifying criticism of American foreign policy. When President Obama met in Riyadh with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, for example, he heard the same disquiet over the continuing talks on Iran’s nuclear program that General Dempsey heard on Monday in Jerusalem."


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