Clearing the Path

If true this:

INTELLIGENCE chief Sir John Scarlett has been told that Saudi Arabia is ready to allow Israel to bomb Iran’s new nuclear site.

The head of MI6 discussed the issue in London with Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Saudi officials after British intelligence officers helped to uncover the plant, in the side of a mountain near the ancient city of Qom.

would deal with a major problem in the logistics of an attack by Israel on Iran, something I’ve been pointing out for the last four or five years. It still wouldn’t necessarily get the U. S. off the hook since the Israelis would still need to fly through airspace controlled by the U. S. but it would certainly make things easier.

An attack by Israel against Iran would be terribly risk and possibly even counter-productive. However, the combination of Israel’s terrible vulnerability to weapons of mass destruction, Iran’s continuing lies and misdirections, Ahmadinejad’s foolhardy rhetoric, and the international community’s manifest inability to deal with the situation brings us nearer to the brink seemingly with each passing day.

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Dave Schuler
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. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. PD Shaw says:

    Where is the U.S. controlled airspace? The Persian Gulf? I’m not sure that is the same issue as flying over Iraq.

    I wouldn’t be surprised by such an agreement with the Saudis. I’m surprised we would hear about it.

  2. mpw280 says:

    If anything it tells you how fed up the Arabs are becoming with the flipping persians. Its a start and if they add to the “coalition” it could cause a real problem for the crazy dinnerjacket. mpw

  3. John Burgess says:

    I’d be very surprised if there were any truth to this and can think of lots of reasons why the Saudis wouldn’t do it. This rumor is actually recycled from this past summer’s silly season.

    First off, the Saudis loathe the Israelis, they only dislike and fear the Iranians. Second, Saudi oil facilities are five flying-minutes from Iranian airfields, for purely conventional jets. Third, while the Saudi Air Force is pretty good regionally, the Saudis don’t want to put it to a major test when there are other alternatives.

    Finally, a successful Israeli attack would leave it the sole atomic power in the region, something the Saudis, who are looking for a nuclear-free Middle East, would not encourage and certainly not help.

  4. TangoMan says:

    “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

  5. DC Loser says:

    This isn’t new. The Israelis flew over Saudi airspace when they bombed Osirak in 1981, and it was always thought that the Saudis conveniently looked the other way to let the IAF in and out of Iraqi airspace without harm.

  6. PD Shaw says:

    There were reports a week or so ago that the Saudis and other Arab countries were offering Israel fly-over rights for commercial aircraft in exchange for freezing settlements. I wonder if there is confusion on this point, or at least a relationship.

    John Burgess: I assume Ahmadinejad’s design for ending American hegemony and that Zionist entity are centered on nuking the Ghawar Oil Fields. Even given that Ahmadinejad is a figurehead, I’m not sure the Saudis can trust Iran.

  7. TangoMan says:

    First off, the Saudis loathe the Israelis, they only dislike and fear the Iranians. Second, Saudi oil facilities are five flying-minutes from Iranian airfields, for purely conventional jets. Third, while the Saudi Air Force is pretty good regionally, the Saudis don’t want to put it to a major test when there are other alternatives.

    Finally, a successful Israeli attack would leave it the sole atomic power in the region, something the Saudis, who are looking for a nuclear-free Middle East, would not encourage and certainly not help.

    I disagree pretty much disagree with all of your points. The Nuclear Threat Initiative white paper on Saudi nuclear ambitions reports:

    Saudi Arabia and Iran share a history of animosity that has only intensified since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini rose to power and transformed Iran into an anti-western regime ruled by traditionalist Muslims. Since that time, the Saudis have watched the rise of Iran warily, apprehensive of Tehran’s strength, regional influence, and seemingly aggressive intentions. Within Islam, Saudi Arabia and its royal family, the House of Saud, are considered to represent the capital of Sunni Islam, while the Shi’a regime in Iran sits at the center of the rising Shi’a Crescent. The Shi’a Crescent, a region of the Middle East where there is a majority or strong minority of Shi’a Muslims in the general population, expands across several countries. Saudi officials worry that the growing political influence of Shi’a populations in these areas surrounding their kingdom will become an existential threat to their own regime’s survival.[23] Officials in Riyadh worry that Iran is gaining political leverage in places like Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Iraq; and that Tehran will next threaten the physical security of the Saudi kingdom. This could even include banding together with the Shi’a populations in Eastern Saudi Arabia to challenge the authority of the Saudi regime.[24]

    Saudi leaders are particularly concerned with the impact that Iran’s development of nuclear weapons would have on their own country’s security. Mai Yamani, a visiting fellow at the Brooking Institute’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, contends that advances in Iran’s nuclear program are viewed within Saudi Arabia as physical proof of the growing Shi’a threat in the region.[25] Although Iran’s nuclear intentions are presently unclear, Saudis worry that if Iran develops nuclear weapons, Saudi national security would be undermined. A nuclear-armed Iran could cause a domino of proliferation within the Middle East, or use the new weapons to augment Iranian influence in the region.[26] After interviews with mid- to high-level Saudi officials, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations staffer Bradley Bowman has concluded that Saudis are more worried of Iran using the nuclear weapons it developed to “pursue its own, more aggressive hegemonic foreign policy in the region,” instead of Tehran using the weapons to attack Saudi Arabia directly.[27]

    From a Saudi perspective, comparing Israel to Iran, Israel doesn’t have the potential to become a power center in a Muslim dominated Middle East, it doesn’t pose an internal threat to Saudi rule, it doesn’t pose a threat as a competitor for the loyalties of other Muslim nations.

    Secondly, Israel is known to be a nuclear power and this status hasn’t propelled the Saudis to embark on their own nuclear initiative to close the power imbalance, yet there is credible concern that a nuclear weaponized Iran will lead the Saudis to close the power imbalance. If, as you contend, Israel is the real enemy then why are the Saudi’s willing to live under a power imbalance for decades but as soon as the “lesser enemy” Iran achieves nuclear weapons status are the Saudis more inclined to level the power imbalance?

    Lastly, the Saudis have lived with Israel being the sole nuclear power in the region for decades and didn’t see fit to correct the imbalance, so if Israel takes out the Iranian nuclear capability, I find it difficult to accept that all of a sudden Saudi Arabia is going to complain about the “new nuclear status” which is simply a reversion to the “old nuclear status” that they were content to leave in place.

  8. steve says:

    TBH, I thought this was old news. Maybe it is just better substantiated now. There had been rumors circulating about going through Turkey also. Anyone know which Russian anti-aircraft they are using now and if Russian techs are manning them?

    Steve

  9. I hate to agree with Peter on anything, but he’s right: the Arab/Sunni vs. Persian/Shia thing is the main event. Israel’s a useful sideshow for the Saudis. They know who their real enemy is.

  10. Boyd says:

    While it seems like a bit of a digression in light of the subsequent comments, I have to echo PD’s comment: in what alternate universe does a flight path from Israel to Iran via Saudi Arabia require flying through US-controlled airspace?

  11. Furhead says:

    Not necessarily a requirement, but it depends on the aircrafts’ range, does it not? The distance to Qom can be shortened significantly by going over US-controlled airspace.

  12. Brett says:

    in what alternate universe does a flight path from Israel to Iran via Saudi Arabia require flying through US-controlled airspace?

    Have the Saudis actually given permission for the Israelis to fly directly over their airspace into Iran?

    Either way, I don’t see what the benefit it. The mission would already be horrendously difficult, complicated, and risky with Israel taking the shortest possible path (over Iraqi airspace), due to the need for multiple re-fuelings and hitting multiple sites. And that doesn’t take into account Iranian ground-to-air; if they have some of those SAM-3s they got from the Russians set up when the Israelis do their thing, they’re almost guaranteed to lose a chunk of their bombers in the attack.