Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon assumed the role of unofficial spokesman for the Sunni Arab states on Sunday, telling the Munich Security Conference that they are “frustrated and furious” at the West for a “lack of support” in dealing with Iran.
Yaalon also used the opportunity to criticize the Western approach to stopping the fighting in Syria. The West needs a “grand strategy” and “moral clarity” and “this is absent,” he said. “I claim that you are lacking a grand strategy.”
Russia was not spared the defense minister’s sharp tongue. Referring to the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s threat of world war if Saudi Arabia or other states send ground troops to Syria, Yaalon said:
“For war you need two parties. There is one, very active, very proactive in the region today, Russia. On the other side, it is missing — whether it is the United States or Europe.”
Yaalon touted Israel’s improved relations with the Sunni Arabs, which enabled him to speak about the views. However, he acknowledged that the “sensitive” situation prevents him from shaking Arab officials’ hands in public, though he later publicly shook the hand of Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud.
Israel’s ties with Sunni Arab states are such that while they cannot display signs of cordiality in public, “we can meet in closed rooms,” said Yaalon.