News from the Arab Press

Is Israel The Biggest Loser?

By Asaf Zilberfarb | The Media Line

November 6, 2018

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Al-Anba, Kuwait, November 1

Those who know a thing or two about Middle East politics couldn’t have helped but be surprised by the Israeli silence in the aftermath of the Khashoggi scandal. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, who is usually the first to comment on the dire conditions of democracy in the Middle East, completely refrained from commenting on the incident. This was not coincidental. According to high-level officials in Tel Aviv, Israel is truly wary of the repercussions of the Khashoggi debacle on its own interests in the region. Therefore, the Israeli government decided to remain silent about the incident in an effort to back Saudi Arabia and cut its losses. Israel’s biggest loss is on the intelligence front. Saudi Arabia’s security strongman, Major General Ahmed al-Asiri, who has been Israel’s point-person in the kingdom, was recently sacked in response to the affair, bringing an end to Israel’s backdoor conduit to the Saudi royal family. Attempts to communicate effectively with the Saudi leadership will now become more difficult for Israeli officials, as al-Asiri is not an easy person to replace. Not only did Israel witness the weakening of an ally, but it also experienced the strengthening of an enemy. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is Netanyahu’s arch-nemesis, emerged as a true victor from this affair, after Turkish authorities carried out an exceptionally nimble and thorough investigation into Khashoggi’s death, and provided evidence tying Saudi diplomats to his murder. Israeli officials are particularly bitter about this. Many of them would only wish that Erdogan would one day order similarly effective investigations against Hamas’ and Hizbullah’s terror cells in Turkey. To Israelis, witnessing one of their closest backers in the Arab world become ostracized, and its biggest adversary receive praise, is a painful sight. Whether it intended for this or not, Israel found itself at the core of the Khashoggi affair. Much has been said and written about Saudi Arabia’s losses as a result of the scandal, but could it be possible that Tel Aviv is, actually, the biggest loser of this scandal? –Abd al-Nasser Essa

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