Diplomacy

IDF Chief of Staff to Saudi Newspaper: Iran Creating Two Shiite Crescents to Control Mideast

In a ground-breaking interview with a Saudi newspaper, the IDF’s chief-of-staff Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said that both Israel and Saudi Arabia were in agreement that Iran was the greatest threat to the Middle East and that the Islamic Republic was seeking control the region by creating two Shiite crescents, Haaretz reported Thursday.

Eisenkot told Elaph, the online Saudi newspaper, that Iran was “real and largest threat to the region,” and that both Israel and Saudi Arabia shared that assessment.

The chief of staff also said that Israel’s security situation was the best its ever been and this led to the Jewish state being “highly regarded by the moderate countries in the region.”

Iran, Eisenkot charged, was destabilizing the Middle East by building arms factories and by smuggling weapons to terrorist groups across the region.

“Iran seeks to take control of the Middle East, creating a Shi’ite crescent from Lebanon to Iran and then from the [Persian] Gulf to the Red Sea,” Eisenkot said, adding that “We must prevent this from happening.”

Eisenkot also explained that while Israel was not looking for an escalation with Hezbollah, it would continue enforcing its red lines of targeting game changing weapons and preventing Iran from establishing a permanent foothold in Syria.

Finally Eisenkot praised United States President Donald Trump for his calls to end Iran’s ballistic missile program and challenge its growing influence in both Syria and Iraq.

“With President Trump. there is an opportunity to build a new international coalition in the region,” Eisenkot said. “We need to carry out a large and inclusive strategic plan to stop the Iranian danger. We are willing to exchange information with moderate Arab countries, including intelligence information in order to deal with Iran.”

When asked if Israel had actually shared any intelligence with Saudi Arabia, Eisenkot replied, ““We are willing to share information if there is a need.   We have many shared interests between us.”

While Eisenkot is the highest ranking Israeli military official to be interviewed by Elaph, other Israeli officials including MK Ze’ev Elkin and Gen. Yoav Mordechai have previously been interviewed by the news website.

The Arabic language interview is here.

[Photo: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Flickr]