update deskOctober 7

Saudis say Iran instigated Gaza war to sabotage Israel normalization

“Iran is a nation that endorses terrorism, and the world should have curtailed it much earlier," a member of the royal family told Hebrew media.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (second from left) at a meeting with French President Emanuel Macron in Paris, June 16, 2023. Source: Twitter.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (second from left) at a meeting with French President Emanuel Macron in Paris, June 16, 2023. Source: Twitter.

Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of instigating the conflict in Gaza to undermine progress in reaching a normalization agreement between Riyadh and Jerusalem.

In an interview with Israeli public broadcaster Kan News on Sunday, a source from the royal family also said that Tehran promotes terrorism and suggested that Riyadh played a role in thwarting Saturday night’s drone and missile attack against Israel by the Islamic Republic and its proxies.

Notably, a recap of the interview is published prominently on the House of Saud website, which covers the royal family.

“Iran is a nation that endorses terrorism, and the world should have curtailed it much earlier,” the Saudi royal said.

In its first-ever direct attack on the Jewish state, Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles on Saturday night, with the vast majority of them intercepted by Israel and allied militaries. The Kan interview appears to be the first Saudi acknowledgment that it helped fend off the attack, along with the United States, United Kingdom, Jordan and France.

The Iranian attack was in response to an alleged Israeli airstrike in Damascus earlier this month that killed a top Quds Force commander.

In what the article describes as a “subtle” acknowledgment, the source told Kan News that the Saudi air defenses automatically intercept “any suspicious entity” that enters its airspace, which could be a reference to attacks from Iran’s terror proxy the Houthis in Yemen.

“We confront every suspicious object that enters Saudi airspace. This is a matter of sovereignty,” the source said.

The Saudis also shared intelligence with the United States and Israel to help counter the Iranian attack, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal published on Monday. The Emiratis, who forged diplomatic ties with Jerusalem in 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords, also shared intelligence, U.S. and Israeli officials told the Journal.

Arab governments were initially cautious about giving the information due to fears about directly involving themselves in the conflict and opening themselves up to Iranian reprisals. However, according to the report, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi decided to move forward after talks with the Americans.

Amman also agreed to allow the Americans and other countries to fly warplanes through its airspace to intercept Iranian missiles and drones and that the Jordanians themselves would assist in shooting them down, the sources said.

“Two days before the attack, Iranian officials briefed counterparts from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries on the outlines and timing of their plan for the large-scale strikes on Israel so that those countries could safeguard airspace, the officials said. The information was passed along to the U.S., giving Washington and Israel crucial advance warning,” according to the Journal article.

“With an Iranian attack all but certain, the White House ordered the Pentagon to reposition aircraft and missile-defense resources to the region and took the lead in coordinating defensive measures between Israel and Arab governments, according to the senior Israeli official,” the article continued.

“The challenge was to bring all those countries around Israel” at a time when Israel is isolated in the region, the official said. “It was a diplomatic issue.”

On Oct. 7, Hamas led a mass invasion of southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, wounding thousands more and kidnapping some 250 others, of whom more than a hundred remain in captivity.

Riyadh put U.S.-brokered Israeli normalization talks on ice after the Oct. 7 massacre and amid the ensuing war, but has maintained that a deal is still on the table.

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