Sometimes, the things that are not said speak the loudest.
This certainly applies to the recently released WikiLeaks documents, which revealed some Arab governments are urging the United States to attack Iran in order to stop its nuclear weapons program. In a meeting in 2008 with American diplomats, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia himself urged America to “cut off the head of the snake,” strong language usually reserved for Israel.
Similar to other WikiLeaks items such as Russia being run by a mafia, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States calling for an invasion of Iran is not a startling revelation. Shiite Iran and the Sunni Saudi kingdom have been locked in a Cold War for supremacy of the Islamic world since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Each regards itself as representing the true Islam, while the despised other represents heresy. It is a religious and political conflict, sometimes violent, that today spans the Islamic world from Nigeria to Pakistan and has even resulted in riots and deaths during the Hajj in Mecca.
“Iran’s goal is to cause problems,” King Abdullah said in a WikiLeaks release. “There is no doubt something unstable about them.”
But AsiaTimes columnist Spengler (a literary pseudonym) maintains the biggest surprise contained in the WikiLeaks documents so far is what was not said. Spengler points out there was no mention by Arab governments of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While Western liberal-leftist media outlets, academics and even President Obama appear obsessed with the “Israeli occupation” and the building of Israeli settlements in Jerusalem, Arab diplomats did not refer to these alleged impasses to Middle Eastern peace even once.
This does not mean that Arab countries do not want the Palestinians to have their own state. Some would undoubtedly even be very happy to see Israel disappear from the map. But Arab governments know the Jewish state represents no threat to them, and never has, unlike Iran, whose aggression, they fear, will only increase if the mullah-run state acquires nuclear weapons. Moreover, a solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict, while desirable, would not stop Iran’s plans for a Shiite block, backed by nuclear weapons, from which it could then intimidate and dominate the rest of the Islamic world.
“There has never been a shred of evidence that an Israeli-Palestinian agreement would help contain Iran’s nuclear threat,” states Spengler.
But whatever gains Iran may hope to accrue from its nuclear weapons program have probably been negated by the fact it has united the Arab world against it. Iran had depended on the Arab countries remaining disunited while it fulfilled its nuclear ambitions. Instead, as one analyst commented, Iran has turned itself into an “Arabian nightmare,” setting off a potentially deadly confrontation with the Arab world.
Iran obviously did not learn from Saddam Hussein’s example. When the Iraqi dictator became too militarily strong and belligerent toward his neighbors, Arab countries like Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia did not hesitate to join an American-led coalition in the first Gulf War to end the Iraqi threat and restore the region’s balance of power. Syria, for example, contributed about 30,000 troops to Desert Storm.
There is, however, one big difference between then and now, and it lies in the White House. In the early 1990s, with the senior George Bush in the president’s office, the Arab states could rely on the United States to pull its chestnuts out of the fire and use its military to restore the status quo. Now, with Obama in charge, it is highly unlikely America will come to the Arabs’ rescue this time and launch an attack on Iran.
Spengler ascribes Obama’s unwillingness to act militarily against Iran to the American president’s emotional ties to the Islamic world. This is reflected, Spengler says, in Obama’s foreign policy, especially in his “vision of outreach to the Muslim world.” His emotional ties are based on the well-known facts that both his father and stepfather were Muslim. His anthropologist mother also “defended traditional Muslim society against globalization” and Obama himself was educated in a Muslim school.
Spengler does not believe Obama is a Muslim; but because of his Muslim roots and his drawing “on deep wells of emotion,” Spengler states he will not attack Iran. Obama, he says, is “the anti-Truman” (Harry S.Truman was the president who recognized Israel in 1948).
“Obama has the same sort of loyalty to the Muslim world that Truman had toward the Jewish people,” Spengler explains. “He cannot bring himself to be the American president who ruins a Muslim land.”
With an American military strike appearing unlikely, the militarily weak Arab states have had to seek help elsewhere. Ironically, to save themselves from the Iranian threat, they are turning to Israel, the state they have always wanted to destroy. Israel also wants Iran’s nuclear weapons program obliterated and is the only country in the region possessing the military power that could possibly do the job.
To this end, the Arab states have been expressing “less hostility” towards Israel and are probably helping with military preparations. The military news publication, Strategy Page, reported that Egypt allowed two Israeli warships to use the Suez Canal earlier this year. The US and Israeli navies are both mapping the Persian Gulf waters. Egypt, which would never let Israeli submarines pass through the Canal, allowed one to do so in 2009. There are also reports that Israel has reached agreements with Arab countries to use their airspace in any attack on Iran. A member of the Israeli Knesset also said there have been talks between Israel and Arab countries, in which the Arabs stated they would back an Israeli military strike.
It is probably no coincidence Strategy Page also reports Saudi Arabia has been on a weapons buying spree, recently acquiring 84 US F-15Es at $100 million each and a new, truck-mounted artillery system from France. Saudi Arabia, Strategy Page says, has ordered $60 billion worth of weapons, having purchased, in comparison, $50 billion in the years since 9⁄11.
It is obvious Israel would like to attack Iran with the United States Air Force. But since that is highly unlikely, she will wind up doing the Arab governments’ dirty work for them and attack the Shiite state as their “unofficial ally.” Staring into a possible valley of death if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, Israel must do so for her own self-preservation. Failure to destroy the Iranian nuclear weapons program may make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict irrelevant – and not just in WikiLeaks.
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