The Israeli press recently reported on a series of long-rumored, if previously unconfirmed, visits by Israeli officials to Saudi Arabia going back to 2012. Among those who came to the kingdom and met with its senior leaders were then-IDF Chief of Staff, now-Foreign Minister Benny Gantz and, in 2020, then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. To Jonathan Schanzer, shared concerns over the fate of Jordan—which is threatened by the growing Iranian presence in Syria—could encourage Riyadh and Jerusalem to take their relationship out of the shadows:
In recent years, the Israelis have been slugging it out with the Iranians in Syria, in cyberspace, on the high seas, and beyond. It’s an asymmetric campaign that the Israelis call “the war between wars.” It has proved two things to the Arab states. First, Israel is not afraid to battle Riyadh’s mortal enemy. Second, the Islamic Republic is not as strong as many believed.
Part of Iran’s expansion effort, as the Jordanian monarch noted [in a recent interview], includes the destabilization of Jordan from the north, where drug smugglers are already wreaking havoc. Jordan also faces a threat from the south, with Iranian assets reportedly operating in the Red Sea. This all amounts to a direct threat to both Saudi Arabia and Israel. Both view the Hashemite kingdom as a valuable asset. Stability on their respective borders is something both countries will protect at great cost.
Jordan’s security woes can help to cement an emerging alliance between Israel and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These two unlikely partners both view Iran as a mortal enemy that threatens the broader Middle East. They both share borders with Jordan. And they both view Jordanian stability as critical to their national security.