DUBAI: Saudi Arabia, Unites Arab Emirates and Israel have held a secret meeting to work out a plan to weaken Turkey’s position in the region by bringing back Syria to the Arab League.
Middle East Eye claimed in a report that intelligence officials from the three countries – which do not hold formal diplomatic relations – attended a secret meeting in an unnamed Gulf capital last month.
The report while quoting unnamed sources said that the officials gathered for the meeting in order to discuss a number of regional issues. The fallout from the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October also featured an important item of the meeting’s agenda, besides the perceived threat of Turkey and the re-integration of Syria into the Arab League.
According to the report, the participants of the meeting agreed that Turkey should be seen as the major regional threat. As per the report, Director of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, Yosi Cohen, told his Saudi and Emirati counterparts that: “Iranian power is fragile. The real threat comes from Turkey.”
MEE claims it is this which drove the concerned parties to discuss reintegrating Syria into the Arab League – from which it was suspended in 2011 for failing to halt its crackdowns on Arab Spring protesters – seeing Syria as a counterbalance to Turkey’s power.
“They [the intelligence chiefs] did not expect Bashar [Al-Assad] to break relations with Iran, but they wanted Bashar to use the Iranians rather than be used by them. The message was: ‘Return back to how your father [former Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad] treated the Iranians, at least as an equal at the table, rather than subservient to Iranian interests’” the report said.