This essay examines how and why Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have pursued policies that have aligned closer to Israel since 2011. The disruptive impact of the Arab Spring and its turbulent aftermath altered threat perceptions in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, which increasingly saw Islamism and Iran as the major sources of regional instability. For Saudi and Emirati leaders committed to adopting a more forceful approach to shaping the post-Arab Spring landscape, Israel no longer represented the primary fissure in Middle Eastern politics. Although the process of creating informal ties between the Gulf states and Israel has been decades in the making, the nature of the post-2011 connections between Saudi Arabia and the UAE with Israel have greater strategic depth and are taking place in a far more open setting than ever before.

This content is only available via PDF.