The Islamic Republic's enemies are many.
WikiLeaks’ release of 250,000 diplomatic cables is a shameful act that will discourage countries from sharing information with the U.S. and officials from having frank discussions. In the shadow of this disgrace, however, one kernel information may rise above the subversions and deliver an unexpected benefit: the world, including the Iranian regime, now knows that many Arab states are secretly entreating the U.S. to strike Iran.
In March, a member of Israel’s parliament claimed that a “wall to wall coalition” of Muslim states had secretly informed the Jewish State that they’d be behind whatever action was necessary to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The files released by WikiLeaks show that the MP was not bluffing. The Sunni Arab states are petrified of the prospect of a nuclear Iran, and an unofficial alliance of necessity between Israel and the Arab states has been forged.
Saudi Arabia, despite its promotion of anti-Semitism and Wahhabism, was reported, on several occasions, to have offered Israel its air space to carry out an attack. Exercises to simulate such an event have taken place. The Saudis deny that any agreement exists, but the private communications revealed by WikiLeaks show that King Abdullah “frequently exhorted the U.S. to attack Iran.” He has told the U.S. that if Iran gets nukes, the rest of the countries in the Middle East, his own in particular, will follow suit. King Abdullah went so far as to tell the Iranians in March of 2009 that they had one year to change their approach. It is not clear from the documents what Abdullah planned to do after that deadline.
In a meeting in April 2008 between General Petraeus and the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., the ambassador said, “He [Abdullah] told you [Petraeus] to cut off the head of the snake,” a remark that could be interpreted as meaning the Saudis support regime change in Iran. If so, then they are on the same page as the Israelis. The director of Mossad, Meir Dagan, was recorded imploring the U.S. in August 2007 to support regime change in Iran by supporting the democracy movement and restive minorities like the Kurds, Baluch, and Azeris. The cable says that Dagan was “sure” the regime could be toppled.
The cables show that Bahrain is also part of the coalition. “The danger of letting it [Iran’s nuke program] go on is greater than the danger of stopping it,” King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa was recorded communicating to the U.S. In November 2009, the U.S. ambassador to Bahrain reported that King al-Khalifa had “argued forcefully for taking action to terminate [Iran's] nuclear program, by whatever means necessary.”
Bahrain has good reason to want to stop Iran. It is a Shiite majority country, and the ruling Sunni government must worry about an uprising from its people. The country is very susceptible to Iranian manipulation, and should the regime aim to create a Hezbollah-type force there, the government could very likely be overthrown. The country has been targeted by terrorists trained in Syria, and so, King al-Khalifa is right to feel that he is seen by the Iranians as prey.
The leadership of the United Arab Emirates is also very vocal in their support for attacking Iran. Like the Saudis, the Foreign Minister explicitly told the U.S. in February 2009 that the rest of the region would be forced to build nukes if Iran is not stopped. The Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed told the U.S. that “I believe this guy is going to take us to war…It’s a matter of time. Personally, I cannot risk it with a guy like Ahmadinejad.” He even asked the U.S. if “all locations of concern” could be hit with air strikes and suggested that ground forces be used if they could not be. The UAE position isn’t news -- the country’s ambassador to the U.S. said in July that Iran should be attacked if sanctions don’t work and that it would be worth the cost to his country.
Jordan appears to be a part of the Arab anti-Iran coalition as well, with the president of the country’s senate saying, “Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb,” according to one of the WikiLeaks documents. In January, Jordan immediately suspected Iranian involvement in a plot to assassinate two Israeli diplomats in its territory. Kuwaiti officials expressed similar alarm about Iran, specifically accusing the regime of supporting the Shiite Houthi militants in Yemen. The country’s military-intelligence chief was also optimistic about regime change, opining that a potential arrest of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi could spark a popular uprising.
Egypt is undoubtedly in the alliance as well. The cables say that President Mubarak has a “visceral hatred” for Iran. Mubarak’s greatest challenge comes from the Muslim Brotherhood inside his country, which is the parent group of Hamas -- a close ally of Iran. In April 2009, Egypt arrested 49 members of Hezbollah plotting attacks on Israeli targets in the country, which prompted the Iranian-backed terrorist group to call on Muslims to replace governments that had allied with the West. The Egyptian Prime Minister flatly stated that Hezbollah had “virtually declared war.”
The central Asian country of Azerbaijan, which borders Iran, did not explicitly support an attack in the files, but President Aliyev was recorded as expressing deep concern. He says that Iranian activity in his country, including the financing of terrorists like Hezbollah, is increasing. He also mentioned to the U.S. that Iranian state media was broadcasting photos of him with a Star of David into Azerbaijan. He condemned the fraudulent “re-election” of Ahmadinejad and said the regime is unstable.
The position of Qatar is less clear. This pro-American ally is described as “the worst in the region” in terms of supporting terrorism and is too fearful of its own population to take action. Qatar has taken a frustratingly pro-Iranian line in recent years, but Prime Minister al-Thani is recorded as saying he doesn’t trust the Islamic republic. “They lie to us, and we lie to them,” he said.
Interestingly, the WikiLeaks cables indicate that the party most opposed to a military strike on Iran’s nuclear sites is the United States. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates believes that the Iranian people would somehow forget how the regime has brutally oppressed them and embrace the regime if an attack occurred. One cable describes Gates as saying that an Israeli strike would only delay the nuclear program by one to three years “while unifying the Iranian people to be forever embittered against the attacker.”
The WikiLeaks document dump indicates a wide range of support for military action against Iran. The files show that Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and probably Kuwait and Azerbaijan support a strike. It is safe to assume that a large number of Muslim and non-Muslim governments not mentioned in the cables are also supportive.
The documents indicate that the Obama administration has all but ruled out military action, but Israel certainly has not. Time has been bought with the success of the Stuxnet cyber attack and sanctions against Iran, but should the time come when a decision to bomb Iran is made, the U.S. and Israel can count on the support of a large but quiet Muslim bloc.