Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Saudis: Green Light for Israeli Attack on Iran

Ryan Mauro

The Iranian regime does not just seek the destruction of Israel, but seeks to overthrow the pro-American Sunni Arab regimes, ushering in an era of Shiite dominance of the region. These Arab countries, despite their public denials, are wishing for the very scenario that the Obama Administration is trying to prevent: An Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. And there are growing signs that such a strike is being prepared for. The call for a “Greater Iran” stretching from Palestine to Afghanistan and vanquishing Saudi Wahhabism by the head of Hezbollah in Iran shocked the media, but the entire Middle East was already well-aware of this objective. The Iranians waged a proxy war against Yemen and Saudi Arabia last year, providing a tremendous amount of support to the radical Shiite Houthi rebels. The regime has been trying to dominate Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories via proxies, and the governments of the Arabian Peninsula have accused Iran of stirring up unrest in their lands for years.

“The Saudis are as threatened as Israel by Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” Aaron Klein, the Jerusalem Bureau Chief of, told FrontPage. He has broken numerous stories about the fear of Iran expressed by Arab officials behind the scenes.

“Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia secretly back an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Saudis are particularly active in coordinating with Israel since their oil interests are at stake in a major war,” Klein said.

The Saudis have been sharing intelligence with Israel about Iran and they reportedly told the head of Mossad in early 2009 that Saudi air space could be used to carry out an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. There have been consistent reports of secret high-level meetings between Israeli and Saudi officials over the past two years, and the Saudis have just simulated a scenario where Israeli aircraft pass over a thin stretch of their territory to attack Iran to make sure there is not a confrontation. Predictably, the Saudis have denied the arrangement, saying they’ll never allow their nation to be used to attack another country.

The panic over Iran’s activities in the region and pursuit of nuclear weapons capabilities can be clearly seen in the Saudi media and Saudi officials are increasing the tempo of the warnings. The former Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Prince Turki al-Faisal, spoke in Beirut last month and said that the Arabs must do everything they can to stop Iran from going nuclear. He said that if Iran succeeds in doing so, the situation is irreversible and the Arabs will face an increasing danger. Of course, he combined his call to stop Iran with criticism of Israel’s own nuclear stockpile, as is to be expected.

Egyptian officials are also taking a stronger line, particularly since the arrest of 49 Hezbollah members in the country planning attacks on Israeli targets. Hezbollah reacted to the arrests by calling for the overthrow of the more moderate regimes in the region, including that of Egypt. The Egyptian Prime Minister accurately said that Hezbollah had “virtually declared war.” On May 3, the former ambassador to Israel clearly stated on Egyptian television that Iran is not a friend. Last July, the Egyptians publicly allowed Israel to send two missile boats and a Dolphin-class nuclear-capable submarine to transit the Suez Canal, practicing a potential deployment for a strike on Iran. And last week, over a dozen U.S. ships and at least one Israeli warship transited the Suez Canal with Egyptian forces providing security. This comes as a senior Egyptian security official anonymously said that his government sees an Israeli strike on Iran happening as early as this July.

There are more countries than just Egypt and Saudi Arabia supporting an Israeli strike. A member of Israel’s parliament from the Likud Party said in March that a “wall-to-wall coalition” of Muslim countries had secretly contacted Israel, some of whom the Israelis do not even have diplomatic relations with, expressing their support for any measure taken to stop Iran.

In January, for the first time, an Israeli minister visited the United Arab Emirates to participate in an energy conference and the UAE teamed up with the Saudis to pressure China into supporting sanctions on Iran. Algeria has accused Iran of supporting terrorists fighting the government, and Morocco cut off ties with Iran in March 2009 because of their promotion of extremist Shiite Islam through non-governmental organizations.

Ethiopia is an opponent of two of Iran’s allies, Sudan and Eritrea, and has accused the latter of supporting Somali terrorists that they have gone to war with. Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has frequently called Hamas a puppet of the Iranians and has blamed them for Israel’s 2009 offensive into Gaza. The other countries in the Arabian Peninsula have had their own problems with Iranian meddling. The Israeli MP’s claim is not far-fetched.

This doesn’t mean that an Israeli strike on Iran doesn’t bring serious risks to the Sunni Arabs, though. Iran has repeatedly stated that Arab countries hosting U.S. military bases will be retaliated against if an attack happens. The Arabs, however, feel they have no other choice but to support Israel, especially considering they will likely be attacked regardless of whether they permit the strikes.

“There’s too much at stake for them,” Klein said. “They are betting an Israeli strike, as dangerous as it is, will be successful.”

The Arab countries also have to be concerned about domestic unrest in the aftermath of an attack. However, a recent poll indicates this will not significantly affect the stability of their governments. They were able to remain in power when the U.S. invaded Iraq, an action more infuriating to their populations because of their shared Arab identity.

A Pew Research Center poll dated June 17, 2010 found that strong majorities of the people in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt view Iran negatively, lack confidence in Ahmadinejad and oppose Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. A majority of those in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon opposing a nuclear-armed Iran actually favor the use of military force if necessary to stop them. The popular backlash resulting from an Israeli strike may not be as much of a threat as is assumed.

Ironically, these Arab countries appear to be actually promoting Israeli military action against Iran while the U.S. is trying to stop it. If Israel ultimately decides to strike Iran, the Arabs will join the Obama Administration in condemning them—but privately, they will be thanking their Jewish adversaries for saving them from having to handle a nuclear Iran, an enemy far more threatening to them than Israel ever was.

This article was sponsored by Stand Up America.


No comments: