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Removing the Fig Leaf from the Sunni Regimes

Doug has already mentioned Wikileaks’s latest round of secret documents posted. According to the Guardian among the revelations in the documents is that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has repeatedly asked the U. S. to bomb Iran:

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear programme, according to leaked US diplomatic cables that describe how other Arab allies have secretly agitated for military action against Tehran.

The revelations, in secret memos from US embassies across the Middle East, expose behind-the-scenes pressures in the scramble to contain the Islamic Republic, which the US, Arab states and Israel suspect is close to acquiring nuclear weapons. Bombing Iranian nuclear facilities has hitherto been viewed as a desperate last resort that could ignite a far wider war.

It isn’t just King Abdullah—the rulers of Jordan, Bahrain, and Abu Dhabi have apparently all made similar requests and leaders in Egypt have stopped just short of that.

IMO were Israel or the United States to eliminate Iran’s nuclear development capability by force Iran’s neighbors would make some outraged noises while being secretly relieved. These leaks have removed the possibility of cloaking their hostility with such a figleaf from the Sunni regimes of the Middle East.

In addition to unmasking the intentions of Iran’s neighbors doesn’t this also cast some doubt over the claims that an attack on Iran would precipitate World War III? Make no mistake: I oppose the use of force against Iran to compel it to end its nuclear development program.

However, such an attack might have consequences far less dire than some are predicting.

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About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging.

Comments

  1. John Burgess says:

    Funny how that works, isn’t it…

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  2. michael reynolds says:

    When I read the leaks on this my first thought was that a military strike against Iran just became more likely.  We all knew that the Saudis would be glad to see us do this, but now they’d be more likely to co-operate openly and less likely to be able to impose face-saving restrictions.  If we could operate openly with minimal b.s. from the Arab gulf states the military puzzle gets easier.  Not easy.  Easier.

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  3. Dave Schuler says:

    When I read the leaks on this my first thought was that a military strike against Iran just became more likely.

     
    Me, too.  Hence this post.
     

     
     
     

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  4. michael reynolds says:

    On other question that may alter the math a bit:  if we postulate that Israel is serious about doing this on their own, and if as we now know the Saudis would like the US to do it, is it better for peace in the region that we do it?  Or that Israel do it?
     
    Put another way, if we know the Arabs want the thing done, would they be able to embrace an Israeli action?  Would they be able to get away with the hypocrisy necessary to denounce the Israelis?  Would any of this end up driving the Israelis and the Gulf Arabs closer together?

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  5. Dave Schuler says:

    I think this makes it more likely that Israel will attack Iran on its own.  The protestations of Iran’s neighbors will sound pretty hollow now and any responses by the people in these countries may well be put down by their own governments.

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  6. Tano says:

    “I think this makes it more likely that Israel will attack Iran on its own.  ”
     
    Just think. If Israel were to renounce its expansionism on the West Bank, forge a reasonable peace with a viable Palestine, and then help to neutralize Iran, it could move from local pariah to leader in short order, and create for itself a secure and well integrated position in the region.

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  7. Davebo says:

    “On other question that may alter the math a bit:  if we postulate that Israel is serious about doing this on their own, and if as we now know the Saudis would like the US to do it, is it better for peace in the region that we do it?  Or that Israel do it?”
     
    There is a reason the Saudis will be furious over these leaks you know.   There are two dynamics here.  What they believe is necessary, and what they believe they need to do to maintain power over their own citizens.

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  8. ponce says:

    “When I read the leaks on this my first thought was that a military strike against Iran just became more likely.”
     
    The chance that the U.S. or Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear program just moved from 0% to 0%.
     
    The job can’t be done without an invasion or the use of nuclear weapons.

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  9. steve says:

    “However, such an attack might have consequences far less dire than some are predicting.”
     
    Difficult to predict. How would the masses in those countries react? Could they be easily manipulated to oppose an attack, or could it be used politically after the fact? WWIII depends more upon what happens if Hamas and Hezbollah decide to act and the Israeli response, along with happens in the Strait of Hormuz.
     
    Assuming that this was going on before 2009, why didn’t Bush attack? He showed no hesitancy about pre-emptive war. Pro-war and pro-Israel.
     
    Steve
     
     

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  10. Eric Florack says:

    Doubtful, Steve, that they’ll do anything but what their leaders urge them to do.
     
    As to that, it’s something of a relief, this confirmation that even other Muslim states consider Iran to be the looney capital of the region.

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  11. [...] Journal, and blog commentary by Moe Lane, Weasel Zippers, Legal Insurrection,  Yid With Lid, Outside the Beltway, Melissa Clouthier, Gateway Pundit, Instapundit and Vodkapundit. Dude, that’s a lot of [...]

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  12. Franklin says:

    When I read the leaks on this my first thought was that a military strike against Iran just became more likely.
     
    Ditto.
     

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  13. Michael says:

    As to that, it’s something of a relief, this confirmation that even other Muslim states consider Iran to be the looney capital of the region.

    I don’t think it’s because they think Iran is crazy,  but because they think Iran is powerful, both militarily and influentially.  They’re worried about Iranian hegemony, not missiles.

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  14. steve says:

    “Doubtful, Steve, that they’ll do anything but what their leaders urge them to do.”
     
    Maybe, but Arab leaders have a long history of saying different things in public than they do in private. After all, these are the same countries financing jihadists. Nothing is simple there.
     
    Steve

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  15. michael reynolds says:

    The chance that the U.S. or Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear program just moved from 0% to 0%. The job can’t be done without an invasion or the use of nuclear weapons.

     
    Sure it can.   I know all about the underground facilities and so on.  That makes it harder, not impossible, and it won’t require nukes.  A nuclear production line is a complicated business:  a supply chain, multiple facilities, key personnel, communications,  all needing to work together.  As it is the Iranians are having trouble.  Start dropping bombs  targeting all levels of a complex system, the system goes down.
     
    The question has never been “can we?” but “should we?”

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  16. Robert C. says:

    ‘Maybe, but Arab leaders have a long history of saying different things in public than they do in private. After all, these are the same countries financing jihadists. Nothing is simple there.’ Steve
    So do American leaders.
    “As to that, it’s something of a relief, this confirmation that even other Muslim states consider Iran to be the looney capital of the region.”
    Wrong.  The Saudis are probably less likely to want action against Iran now.  Iran stands up to the US and Israel and Western hegemony in the ME.  Now we know what the people of SA, Jorden and the other Arab oil states know:  thier leaders kow-tow to the US and Israel.  These leaders are now weakened.
     

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  17. Gustopher says:

    “The chance that the U.S. or Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear program just moved from 0% to 0%. The job can’t be done without an invasion or the use of nuclear weapons.”

    Well, I guess that’s one exit strategy from Afghanistan and Iraq — just go south and east.

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  18. ponce says:

    “Well, I guess that’s one exit strategy from Afghanistan and Iraq — just go south and east.”
     
    Haha, it wouldn’t end well for us., Iran is ringed by mountains.
     
    The U.S. military doesn’t do mountains very well.

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  19. narciso says:

    The most obvious target, as in the Anglo Persian war, Bushehr are not blocked by mountains; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Persian_War, neither is Ahvaz

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  20. [...] weekend continues continues to dominate the headlines. Doug Mataconis first posted on it here and I commented on the potential embarrassments some of the leaked documents might cause to the Arab states of the [...]

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  21. john personna says:

    I haven’t been following this, but it seems we have been taking a more targeted approach:
     
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-29/iranian-physicist-killed-another-escapes-attack-mehr-reports.html

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  22. Mithras says:

    Why so credulous? Just because Sunni regimes secretly urge the U.S. to attack the Iranian nuclear program does not mean those regimes believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons. An attack on Iran by the U.S. commits the U.S. to a long-term conflict with Iran, which is in the interests of the Saudis (especially now that we’ve helpfully removed Iran’s main rival). Of course they make their case by harping on the spectral Iranian nuclear arsenal and the “madman” Ahmedinejad, because these are things a significant chunk of the U.S. elite believe. A con man plays a mark by identifying his blind spots.

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  23. I’m afraid it is rather naive to think that the Wikileak revelations make cooperation with the Gulf countries for an American attack on Iran easier. Rather the contrary. The Gulf Arab states now have almost all plausible deniability removed and their public statements in these areas are good indications of what they can actually get away with – relative to their populations – when such plausible deniability has been removed.
    The assertion supra that the Arab leaderships are financing moujahidin such as Al Qaeda is simply stupid ignorance. No Arab regime has any love for the Al Qaeda movements, they are too dangerous and out of control. American whispering and ranting about the Saudis is misplaced, the Saudi money moves privately, not via official channels, and is about private radicals, not Ibn Saud backed radicals.
     
    Finally, it is worth noting for the naive Americans that it is not that the Arab governments in the neighbourhood of Iran consider Iran to be “looney capital”- it is rather traditional Sunni Arab antagonism toward Persian Shia and political struggle over influence in the Gulf region with its important Shia Arab minorities. This is an older game than your recent and ill-informed interest in the region.

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  24. john personna says:

    What makes you think plausible deniability is removed?  All they need to say is “lying Americans” and at least half the middle east will believe them.

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  25. john personna says:

    (Note that in adjacent threads some Americans are still upset that Al Gore was an early supporter the Internet.  Facts don’t matter.)

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  26. Dave Schuler says:

    Welcome, Col.  I always appreciate your contributions.

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  27. michael reynolds says:

    Lounsbury:
     
    Are you saying that the Gulf States value a deniability they no longer have over solving the real world problem of a Shiite bomb?

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  28. steve says:

    “The assertion supra that the Arab leaderships are financing moujahidin such as Al Qaeda is simply stupid ignorance”
     
    My bad. I should have clarified that this is private giving.
     
    Steve

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  29. Hola Dave, have been submerged in business.

    Re Plausible Deniability: what makes me think that is being a bloody fluent Arabic speaker living in and doing business in the region for more than a decade that’s what. Saying “Lying Americans” when popular prejudice sees you as a stooge of the Americans and where American secret cables as read by the masses confirm that is rather self-evidently a losing strategy. You lot back here might believe it, but it will be transparent there. Deniability works where plausibility works. Thus the phrase. Popular prejudice is already disinclined to believe the denial, the plausibility factor already weak. Now it is gone.

    As for the ‘real world problem’ of a ‘Shiite Bomb’- well against that peculiar American formulation I note the real Shiite bomb of concern to them. Shia demographics, as in Shia Arab demographics in the Gulf (KSA, Bahrian, Iraq) and popular hostility to their own regime. There is no mass hostility as such to the Shia (there is of course a blood-thirsty minority that is willing to kill Shia) and rather more hostility to being stooges of the Americans.

    All so simple when one is thousands of kms away, rather more complex living in it.

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