On the sidelines of the VII Moscow conference on international security, Yakov Kedmi, an Israeli politician, former head of the Nativ intelligence service and member of the Israeli security service committee on Iranian forces issues, had given his take on the future of the ties between three Middle Eastern countries – Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Sputnik: One can’t call the relations between Iran and Israel amiable. It strongly affects a whole range of issues in the Middle East. A great deal of analysts suppose that if Iran and Israel could come to terms, then a compromise could be reached over a number of issues in the Middle East. Do you think there will peace between Israel and Iran? Can Israel be the first to demonstrate wisdom?
Yakov Kedmi: There will be peace between Iran and Israel, if the present authorities of the Islamic republic change their attitude to us. We had never had any troubles with this country before the incumbent authorities took office.
We recognize Iran, we appreciate Iranian people and their culture. Iran’s present authorities interpret Islam in a rather original way, as compared to other Muslim and Arabic countries, even Shiite ones. This is a real handicap. In general, if we justify the saying that Israel is a wise state, there will certainly be peace.
Sputnik: On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and Iran are now in a very complicated relationship regarding the Middle East. Is there a solution to this standoff?
Yakov Kedmi: I think Saudi Arabia and Iran have an opportunity to get [their] relationship back on track and lift the tension. Everything depends on Iran in this respect. The Saudi kingdom proceeds from the fact that Tehran would like to displace the Sunni authorities from Mecca and Medina and lay its hands on everything, namely the major Muslim holy sites.
These actions are views by Saudi Arabia as aggressive. It is it that prevents a healthy relationship between these two countries. If Iran is ready to ease the kingdom’s concerns, then this will change the situation, as Riyadh has no claims with regard to Tehran and their Shiite territory in particular.
Iran deems itself as a guardian of all the Shiite sanctuaries, both in Iraq and Lebanon. Meanwhile, there are many Shiites among the Saudi population, like in Kuwait and Bahrain.
So, when it all happens due to some threats and danger, we see the corresponding reaction. But I think, Russia, which boasts good relations with both Tehran and Riyadh, can play a big part in the resolution of the crisis.
Sputnik: There is information circulating in the media that Israel has reached a covert agreement with Saudi Arabia against Iran. Is it really so? What are the prospects of rapprochement between Tel-Aviv and Riyadh?
Yakov Kedmi: There is an old Latin saying: “My foe’s enemy is my friend.” Israel is clearly wary about Iran, deeming the Iranian threat as supportive of terror against Israel and an attempt to obtain nuclear weapons.
Nearly the same is true for Saudis. Hence common interests to better coordinate our policies, to defend ourselves against the threat. However, unless the Palestinian issue is resolved, our relations with the Islamic world and Arab countries will be tense.
As soon as the Palestinian problem ceases to exist, we will have completely different ties with Saudi Arabia and other states of the Muslim and Arabic world.
The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.