Who is Anwar Eshki and Why is he Leading a Saudi Delegation to Israel?

In Frontlines, Regional Analysis by Orit ben Tzvi

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Dore Gold, the Foreign Ministry Director General met with a Saudi delegation headed by ex-general Anwar Eshki. Never mind the fact that Saudis were so openly visiting with Israelis in Israel, the fact that such a high-profile and high ranking Saudi was heading the delegation has given buzz to a variety of internet rumors.

Both the Saudis and Israel have not tried to hide their once covert operation against Iran.  What has confused observers is the extent of the cooperation.  The Saudis and other Gulf States know that Israel will never be a danger to their regimes.  Up until now Israel had been an interesting foil for the autocratic leaders throughout the Sunni world, but now that Iran, emboldened by Russia, China, and the Obama administration looms like a menace over the Arabian peninsula, Israel is far more helpful against their mutual threat.

Besides the nuclear threat, Iranian subterfuge and active support for Shiite separatist movements and uprising in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have unnerved Riyadh and its allies. All of this is backdrop on Anwar Eshki’s visit to Jerusalem and burgeoning alliance between Israel and the Sunni states.

As of last year Eshki and Gold spoke together at a CFR sponsored event. Both outlined why it is ultimately necessary to work together against Iranian expansionism.  There were obvious differences, but the two painted a picture of tremendous mutual cooperation.

Anwar Eshki has been the main proponent of reaching out to Israel and seeking their cooperation against the Iranian regime.

“The main project between me and Dore Gold is to bring peace between Arab countries and Israel,” Anwar Eshki said in Wall Street Journal interview published last August. “This is personal, but my government knows about the project. My government isn’t against it, because we need peace. For that reason, I found Dore Gold. He likes his country. I like my country. We need to profit from each other.”

“We didn’t talk much about Iran at first,” he continued, “but I found that our idea and their idea was close together against Iran. We don’t like Iran to destabilize the area. We don’t like for Iran to attack Israel and destroy Israel. And we also don’t like for Israel to attack Iran and destroy Iran. This is my idea. He has another idea. But we are together.”

The meeting between Gold and Eshki come at a time of increasing chaos in the region.  Many observers believe that the Arab world has moved beyond the Palestinian issue as is evidenced in cooperation between Israel and Abu Dubai, Oman, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia on issues beyond security.  The Gulf States have realized that they need to learn how Israel has built an innovation power house in order to diversify their economies.

Israel and Arab Peace A Long Way Off, but Progress is at Hand

The Arab Initiative as a peace plan still exists.  It is floated every once in a while, but it is clear both sides have decided to let their differing contours for peace remain on the sidelines and instead focus on solutions and progress in the security and development spheres.

General Anwar Eshki’s visit is visible proof that peace is not necessary for cooperation, especially when the enemy is at your collective doors.


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