Has Saudia Arabia in effect now given Israel the green light to bomb Iran? A Times of London report suggests it has:
Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times can reveal.
In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.
To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert.
“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a US defence source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”
Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.
The four main targets for any raid on Iran would be the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom, the gas storage development at Isfahan and the heavy-water reactor at Arak. Secondary targets include the lightwater reactor at Bushehr, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium when complete.
How credible is this report? Very. The Times is a solid newspaper. And it’s no secret that Saudia Arabia has had a strained relationship with Iran for many years.
Here’s MSNBC’s report on the Times piece with MSNBC’s military analyst’s reaction:
SOME OTHER VIEWS ON THIS STORY:
The reality is that Tehran’s crazies represent as great a threat to Saudi as they do to Israel. To set back the Iranian nuclear program by a decade is an outcome devoutly wished by the Saudis and the rest of the Sunnis in the region. So is the end of the Iranian regime.
The Times is less than reliable on what is, in fact, going on. It tends to exaggerate. However, this story makes sense within the Islamic world. That world is not a monolith; it has its own old line cleavages. And Sunni/Shia are as strong as strong as Sunni/Jew…stronger in places pray God.
It’s Middle Eastern politics in microcosm. For all the Wahhabist invective towards al-Yahud, the Saudis are more afraid of being nuked by Iran in some insane Sunni/Shiite armaggedon than by Israel, and rightly so. So, just as the local Arab regimes demagogue Israeli nukes for show while worrying privately about Tehran, the Kingdom might lend the IAF some airspace and then lamely pretend afterwards that the incursion was unwanted. Question, though: Will anyone seriously believe their denial that they were involved? It probably won’t spare them some sort of Iranian reprisal, either overt or covert (via Hezbollah or a Quds Force operation inside S.A.), and it’s bound to draw the ire of the many Jew-hating fanatics in their clerical class. The only reason to deny, I assume, is to deprive Iran of a confession it could use to pressure other local Muslim regimes into isolating the Saudis as punishment — although even there, how likely it is that Sunni leaders will side with the great Shiite menace against Riyadh?
—David Katz writing on Comments from Left Field has an extensive post which needs to be read in full. Here’s the beginning and the end of it:
The Times of London is reporting that Saudi Arabia is putting plans in place to allow Israeli jets to fly through a corridor of its airspace in the event they plan to attack any Iranian nuclear facilities. Last year, I heard an extremely interesting speech by a Jordanian diplomat where he said that as Iran gets closer to achieving a nuclear state, Israel and the Arab world will be driven together to unite against them. He added that Iran would do whatever necessary to prevent a pan Arab-Israeli peace. This could be done through their proxy players in the region, primarily Hezbollah, and to a lesser extent, Hamas.
…..However, an attack on Israel by Iran would be beating the wrong end of the mule. Israel will always be working to gain a strategic advantage over Iran, so Tehran may look to go after the Saudi’s. Over the years, I have read that Iran’s true national defense is not its army, but a global network prepared to fight an asymmetric war all over the world. If we see a major attack in Saudi Arabia, then there is a good chance Iran is making a statement of work with Israel, and we will go after you in your soft spots.
I just hope that if Iran does decide to break this up, the IDF or Saudi police can stop them.
Now go to the link and read it in its entirety.
Frankly, this is a more effective deterrent on the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions than anything Obama has done in eighteen months. And it proves how utterly false is Obama’s premise that progress on the ”peace process” is required to gain the Arab states’ co-operation on Iran. Imagine if we had spent the last 18 months rounding up support from the Arab states on a shared defense pact, demonstrating America’s full support of Israel and making clear that the military option is perfectly viable. Instead, we have a tenser Middle East, a withering U.S.-Israel alliance, and an emboldened Iran. It is the greatest foreign-policy miscalculation in memory.
I hope this U.S. defense source wasn’t the Times‘ only source. I also hope that if Israel does conduct an airstrike against Iran, President Obama will side with the Saudis and the Israelis instead of Iran and its enablers. For one of the few times in my life, I’m not sure which side the American government would support.
But at least now we know the old saying is true: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
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Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.