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Social media activists slam Saudi Arabia for joining US Mideast naval wargame alongside Israel

In this file picture, a Saudi border guard watches as he stands in a boat off the coast of the Red Sea on Saudi Arabia’s maritime border with Yemen, near Jizan. (Photo by Reuters)

Activists have taken to the Internet to express their deep resentment over Saudi Arabia’s participation in a US-led naval wargame alongside Israel, despite Riyadh's claims of having no diplomatic relations with the Tel Aviv regime.

According to the US Navy, more than 9,000 people from 60 regional navies take part in the International Maritime Exercise 2022, known by its acronym IMX 22, which focuses on unmanned naval systems and the use of artificial intelligence.

“Israel is our ardent supporter; How weak we are!!!,” a social media activist tweeted.

Another activist wrote on Twitter, “There is no power but that of of God in the face of the humiliation and disgrace that the Arab world has fallen into.”

The exercise kicked off on January 31 during a ceremony at the US 5th Fleet’s headquarters in Bahrain, and will reportedly span the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Red Sea as well as the northern tip of the Indian Ocean.

Participants include a number of countries that Israel does not have formal ties with, such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, Comoros, Djibouti, Somalia and Pakistan, as well as several countries with which the regime recently normalized relations, like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

A US Navy spokesperson said that exercise planners were aware of the geopolitical context of participating countries, but cooperation had been high.

This is while Kuwait and Qatar, Saudi Arabia’s neighbors that have no formal relations with Israel, did not participate, according to US Navy information.

Last month, a high-ranking official at the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs said Tel Aviv is working clandestinely towards normalization of diplomatic relations with Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

 “These are the two countries we want to reach an agreement with, but it is a slow process that takes a lot of time and effort. We hope for the best,” the unnamed official noted at a media briefing.

Even though Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have formal diplomatic relations, Riyadh has taken a number of steps recently toward normalizing relations with the Tel Aviv regime.

Saudi authorities were said to have given a behind-the-scenes green light to the UAE forging ties with Israel in 2020 and have since allowed Israeli aircraft to use the kingdom’s airspace for direct flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. 

On January 6, an independent nongovernmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia said the Riyadh regime is making use of arbitrary arrest to silence vociferous opponents of normalization of diplomatic relations between the kingdom and Israel.

The London-based rights group ALQST said Saudi officials have kept writer and researcher Abdullah al-Yahya behind bars since December 24 last year, after he criticized normalization with the Israeli regime in a series of posts published on Twitter.

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