Going my way

It’s a small event, but significant.  Egypt has returned two small islands in the Red Sea, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabia and Israel approves of this action.  Saudi Arabia had transferred the islands to Egypt in 1950 so that they could be used in the war against Israel. The Egyptians used the islands to blockade the Gulf against any ships going to/from the Israeli port of Eilat.  This blockade was against international law, and despite much blustering from Pres. Johnson, not even the Americans did anything about it.  This blockade was one of the causes of the 1967 Six Day War.

Now Egypt is ceding back the islands to Saudi Arabia so that they can build a bridge across the Gulf and join the two countries.  These two Sunni Muslim States are the crux of the alliance that the Saudis are trying to form against the power of Shia Iran.  Israel is both a supporter of this Sunni alliance and in effect a guarantor of their independence.  Under Pres. Obama the US has abrogated its role as guarantor of the independence of the Sunni States.  Even Saudi Arabia that is a major producer of oil and is a strong US ally, like Israel, is no longer sure of American support.

In effect, Israel has to some extent replaced the US in this role.  Israel is in fact the only military power in the region that can challenge and probably defeat Iran if it chooses to develop a nuclear weapon and act aggressively in order to achieve hegemony over the region.  Both the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) and the Shia extremists of Iran would like to do this, and since they are competing and fighting proxy wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, this conflict is already ongoing.   But, of the two, Iran is by far the more dangerous military opponent.

Israel is in effect an ally of the Sunni powers, even though they would not admit it publicly.  But, even PM Netanyahu has let it be known that secret meetings are occurring between Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in relation to their common enemy Iran.  Recently a former Iraqi diplomat Hamid al-Sharifi visited Israel and stated that these meetings should be made public, because the Sunni Arabs have more to gain than to lose by making their common cause with Israel a matter of public record.

At the same time some Sunni Arabs have lost patience with the Palestinians. Saudi Prince Waleed bin-Talal was quoted in a Kuwaiti newspaper as saying that the Arabs would do better to give money to Israel rather than to the Palestinians and let Israel help them solve their problems.  Not a bad idea, although it was later denied and there was a report that the Prince was on drugs at the time (!)

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