It appears that Israeli-Saudi ties are one of the casualties of the Jamal Khashoggi affair.
As a result of the outcry in the U.S. media and Congress following the recent murder of Saudi journalist and Muslim Brotherhood supporter Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to the Wall Street Journal, two key advisors to Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS) who were responsible for carrying out direct contacts with Israel were sacked. Moreover, MBS’s power to navigate a new course for Saudi domestic and foreign policy has been cut.
The Khashoggi affair has been a major setback for the Trump administration. The administration seized on MBS’s desire to reform the Kingdom’s economy and realign its domestic and foreign policies towards Israel and the U.S., and away from the Muslim Brotherhood and other Sunni extremist groups and regimes.
The President and his senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner have viewed MBS as the linchpin for a new U.S. led alliance of moderate Sunni states and Israel against Iran. MBS’s diminished status in the Kingdom following the Khashoggi affair has harmed these efforts, at least in the short term.
In the long term, as the Journal noted, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shares key strategic interests with Israel in relation to blocking Iran’s bid to acquire nuclear weapons and achieve regional hegemony. And as a consequence, even if in the short term, the growing ties become less intensive, the general drift of the two states towards each other is unlikely to change.