Gaza War Triggers Anti-Iranian Regional Alliance

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel made a surprise move by pulling back forces from parts of Gaza while still vowing to respond against any Hamas attacks.

But the most profound legacy of this military operation may be an emergency regional alliance to combat a nuclear-armed Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a new level of regional cooperation he said would surprise many. It would be a very important asset for the State of Israel, he said, and would open new possibilities when the campaign against Hamas ends.

It's a move that may indicate a major shift in the Middle East.

"It's probably the first time in its history it [Israel] finds itself in a kind of de facto member of one regional camp against another," Middle East expert Jonathan Spyer told CBN News.

Spyer said this unprecedented alliance unites Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel to face their common enemy -- Iran.

"So the sense in which this emergent alliance is an alliance of countries associated or allied with the U.S. but which are nevertheless deeply disappointed or dismayed at the direction that U.S. policy has taken on a number of Middle East files and perhaps most importantly on Iranian nuclear ambitions," he said.

Spyer said Netanyahu and other regional players feel the United States and the West won't stop Iran's nuclear program so they must be ready.

CBN News Senior Editor John Waage said Netanyahu must look beyond the latest conflict with Hamas

"The bigger picture is Netanyahu cannot afford only to concentrate on this terrible problem in Gaza. Hamas is small potatoes compared with Iran," Waage explained. "He does have to deal with the [Hamas] threat because it immediately threatens the citizens of Israel especially but he can't focus just on that."

"He may need to make some regional cooperation with regional allies like Egypt and potentially Saudi Arabia in order to deal with the larger threats like the nuclear one with Iran," Waage said.

Spyer said this new regional alliance sees the United States aligning with the wrong people. One example came when Secretary of State John Kerry tried to broker a ceasefire with Qatar and Turkey, two states that financially support Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

"It's bringing in the very forces that are supporting Hamas, the forces that come from a similar ideology to Hamas, the very forces that are staunchly opposed to Israel and staunchly opposed to Western interests and staunchly in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood," Spyer said.

With or without the United States, this potential alliance appears to feel it may face Iran alone. Hamas may have attacked Israel, but it also may have helped bring a region together to face the Middle East's biggest threat: a nuclear-armed Iran.

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Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

CBN News Middle East Bureau

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