Chris Mitchell

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WikiLeaks, Israel and Iran

The shock waves from WikiLeaks are spreading around the world and especially throughout the Middle East. One of the biggest revelations shows that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states have pressed the United States administration repeatedly and forcefully to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

One cable quoted former Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S., Adel al-Jubeir who said, “... the King’s (Saudi King Abdullah) frequent exhortations to the U.S. to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear program. ‘He told you to cut off the head of the snake.’”

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain "argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their (Iran’s) nuclear program, by whatever means necessary. That program must be stopped. The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it." Zeid Rifai, a Jordanian official told a senior U.S. official, “Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won't matter."

Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed declared, “I believe this guy (Iran’s President Ahmadinejad) is going to take us to war ... It’s a matter of time. Personally, I cannot risk it ... he is young and aggressive."

Ironically this revelation shows that Israel and the Arab Gulf states in the region share a common goal, eliminating Iran’s nuclear program. The Gulf States know Iran’s program threatens them as much, if not more than Israel. Iran aims not only to destroy Israel but also dominate the region including its Islamic neighbors.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu made that point in a briefing to journalists on Monday.

He said: “I don’t think there has ever been an understanding like this in the Middle East before. Generally in the past, there were disputes between us and the Arab leaders regarding the dangers. But this is the first time in modern history that there is not insignificant agreement both in Jerusalem and in countries in the region that the central threat flows from Iran, its hegemonic plans and proliferations steps.”

But why would Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States fear Iran? Aren’t they both Islamic? They are but Iran is Shiite and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are Sunni.

It’s hard for the Western mind to understand but they are bitter religious enemies. Think of the Catholics and Protestants during the height of the conflict in Northern Ireland and you get an idea of the depth of animosity and distrust between those nations. Also, they’re not only religious enemies but strategic rivals. One other difference: Iran is Persian, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are Arab.

This helps explain the report several months ago that stated Saudi Arabia would allow Israeli warplanes to fly over its airspace to attack Iran. Although denied later, it now seems plausible given the way Saudi Arabia sees Iran as a mortal danger.

One final point: It’s interesting to note that the elimination of Iran’s nuclear program was not predicated on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in these diplomatic cables.

Here’s how Barry Rubin, the Director of the Gloria Research in International Affairs analyzed that:

"... Note that Arab leaders did not condition their opposition to Iran or call for a U.S. attack on settling the Arab-Israeli or Israel-Palestinian conflicts. This is contrary to what Administration officials, academia, and parts of the mass media who argue these issues are basically linked and that is why the conflicts must be "solved" before doing much else. As I've told you, the Arab regimes worry first and foremost about Iran and have greatly downgraded their interest in the conflict or antagonism toward Israel."

You can read his entire analysis here:

After these leaks one looming question remains: Will these revelations make it more or less likely Iran’s nuclear program will be the target of a military strike? We’ll see.

Print     Email to a Friend    posted on Tuesday, November 30, 2010 11:35 AM

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