Saudi writer Abdullah Hamidaddin, interviewed on Rotana Khalijiyya TV on November 16, 2014, said that Iran, which is "trying to gain regional hegemony with its nuclear weapon project," poses the most serious threat to Saudi Arabia today. Israel "does not pose a threat to the Saudi state or the Saudi citizens," he said.
Following are excerpts:
Interviewer: What are the real security threats that Saudi Arabia faces?
Abdullah Hamidaddin: The most serious threat is Iran. Iran is trying to gain regional hegemony with its nuclear weapon project. This is a latent threat. Iran is still economically weak, but it poses the most serious threat to our security. The other threats stem from the anarchy that has taken over the region. Take Egypt, for example. If matters had not been set right with the ousting of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt could have become a threat to the national security of Saudi Arabia. But, thank God, things unfolded as they did.
Interviewer: Does Israel pose a threat?
Abdullah Hamidaddin: No. Israel is a troublemaker in the region, but it poses a threat to the Palestinians, not to the Saudis. This has nothing to do with the fact that the Palestinians have rights. Israel is an aggressor on many levels. It is an unjust country. We condemn the violence that we witness day and day out. I am not talking about Israel's injustice towards the Palestinians…
Interviewer: Right, we are talking about whether it threatens Saudi Arabia…
Abdullah Hamidaddin: It is imperative to distinguish between the two. The pan-Arabists and the Islamists believe that because Israel occupied an Arab or Muslim country, it must be annihilated as a matter of principle.
Interviewer: They see in their mind's eye an Arab alliance, even though such an alliance does not exist. They believe that if Israel attacked an Arab land, it is as if it attacked all the Arabs.
Abdullah Hamidaddin: I have a different perspective. There is no doubt that Israel plundered [Arab] land, but today the region is divided into countries, one of which is Saudi Arabia. Israel attacked the land of others, not my own land. By no means am I justifying this attack, but with all its evils, it does not pose a threat to the Saudi state or the Saudi citizens.
Interviewer: But according to the official and declared Saudi position, the Palestinian cause is the cause of all the Arabs.
Abdullah Hamidaddin: There are two reasons for this. First, there is a real problem. Israel's crisis with the Palestinians has generated a regional problem. This crisis has ramifications – although, by the way, these ramifications are highly exaggerated.
The second reason is the need to align with the general [Arab] position. King Abdullah's 2003 initiative involved complete normalization, and it was signed by all the Arabs, including Syria. People were convinced that relations with Israel could be normalized, and that we could have coexistence with it, on condition that the problem in the West Bank and Gaza was resolved.
It is in Israel's interest for the problem to remain unresolved. Israel is not a peaceful country. It is a very oppressive country towards its Palestinian neighbors, and it does whatever it can do to prolong the problem, because it benefits from it.
Interviewer: But do you expect us to live in isolation from all that is going around us?
Abdullah Hamidaddin: No, but I want to focus on the issues that affect me. If Israel does not pose a strategic national threat, we should not treat it as if it does.
Interviewer: Others say that it was Israel, along with America, that created the threats coming from Iraq or from Iran…
Abdullah Hamidaddin: No, it was us. Sine the 1960s, when we turned Israel into a problem, we have wasted our resources. Sine the 1950s, the Arabs have spent billions on the conflict with Israel, and have sacrificed hundreds of thousands of lives. The outcome is that we are in decline, whereas Israel is on the rise. If we had treated the Palestinian cause differently right from the start, we would have been today stronger and more capable than Israel, and the Palestinians would have been better off.