Carefully watching the growing tensions between Iran and the U.S. are Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. Since October 7, there has been much speculation that the Israeli counterattack on Hamas would strain Jerusalem’s still-new relations with the former two countries, and render impossible the forging of friendly relations with the last—which, on October 6, seemed very much on the horizon. Ilan Zalayat and Yoel Guzansky, however, conclude that these worries are overstated. In fact, much as Evelyn Gordon wrote in Mosaic, the Gulf states are hoping Israel succeeds in eliminating Hamas:
Abu Dhabi in particular is worried about any achievement linked to Hamas’s ideological identification with the Muslim Brotherhood. In a statement at the United Nations, Reem al-Hashimy, the United Arab Emirates Minister of International Cooperation, described the Hamas attacks as “barbaric and cruel.” The Foreign Ministry in Abu Dhabi blamed Hamas exclusively for the escalation and said that it was “appalled” that Israeli civilians were abducted as hostages.
[W]hile Saudi Arabia is highly critical of Israel, it has also not spared Hamas. For example, Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former head of Saudi intelligence, said that the Hamas atrocities opposed the principles of Islam and were not “heroic.” In Saudi-controlled media outlets, the dominant line is to accuse Iran of being behind the barbaric Hamas attacks and to describe the Palestinians as victims of the Islamic Republic—in sharp contrast to Riyadh itself, which has sought to improve the lives of the Palestinian people by means of normalization talks.
In addition, while it is impossible to imagine Israel and Saudi Arabia moving any closer to normalization while the war continues, Riyadh has left the door to normalization open. . . . Saudi Arabia and the UAE see how Iran has no problem using its proxies and how the United States is mustering its military force to defend Israel. These developments could encourage it to move closer to Israel and the U.S.