Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency “reveals” that Saudi Arabia and Israel’s Mossad are “co-conspiring to produce a computer worm more destructive than the Stuxnet malware to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program.” The report appeared Monday, Dec. 2, during foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s tour of Arabian Gulf capitals,with the object of easing tensions between the emirates and Tehran. Riyadh was not on his itinerary.
The Iranian agency now claims that Saudi intelligence director Prince Bandar Bin Sultan and the head of Israel’s Mossad Tamir Pardo met in Vienna on Nov. 24, shortly after the six world powers signed their first interim nuclear agreement with Iran in Geneva. Continue reading
Riyadh reported to give Jerusalem okay to use Saudi airspace and to cooperate on other tactical support, according to Sunday Times
Israel is working on coordinating plans for a possible military strike with Saudi Arabia, with Riyadh prepared to provide tactical support to Jerusalem, a British newspaper reported early Sunday. Continue reading
Israel’s most painful lesson from the two-day Geneva conference on Iran’s nuclear program is that the man who guaranteed to defend Israel’s security, President Barack Obama, is now marching hand in hand with Tehran towards a nuclear-armed Iran.
President Obama broke the news to NBC Thursday night: “There is a possibility of a phased agreement, the first part of which would stop Iran from further expanding its nuclear program. We are offering modest relief from the sanctions, but keeping the core sanctions in place, so that if it turned out during the course of the six months when we’re trying to resolve some bigger issues that they’re backing out of the deal or… not giving us assurances that they’re not developing a nuclear weapon, we can crank that dial back up,” the US president said. Continue reading
Should the allegation be true, see you in December. Should the allegation be true, expect Israel to be discouraged from an attack on Iran until roughly that time as well. Then once the said deal goes through, Israel will likely see it for the farce it is and once again be faced with the inevitable decision to strike or risk annihilation by a suicidal nuclear neighbor, allowing for both Obama and Iran to portray the Jewish state as the aggressor. As a rule of thumb in these times, if you want to guage somewhat which direction the situation will turn in the Middle East, usually whatever chosen option is worse for Israel will be the most accurate. War is still on the horizon simply because Israel cannot be forced into not defending its very existence.
Spy services world wide have been mystified by the unusual absence from public view of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for nearly three weeks. He was last seen in public on Oct. 5 visiting the military college in Tehran with army chiefs.
According to one theory, he suffered a relapse from a chronic ailment and was secretly treated in the small hospital installed at his home. Another suggested he had gone into seclusion to escape the furor raging in his regime over the future of Iran’s nuclear program and relations wit the United States.
This dissonance erupted most recently in conflicting statements issued Friday, Oct. 26: One official reported that 20 percent uranium enrichment had been halted – only to be contradicted by another. Continue reading
In his four-day trip to Tehran, Russian Air Force Chief Gen. Viktor Bondarev and his hosts, Brig. Gen. Hassan Shasafi and other senior Iranian military chiefs, laid the groundwork for a series of agreements to upgrade their military ties to a level unprecedented in their past relations. debkafile’s military and Iranian sources report that Iran is deliberately accentuating those ties as a message to the Western powers that if they give the Islamic Republic a hard time over its nuclear program, it will go all the way to a full-dress defense pact with Russia. Continue reading
BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 8 (UPI) – Saudi Arabia, exasperated with U.S. vacillation related to Syria’s chemical arsenal and now its effort to reconcile with Iran, Riyadh’s foremost adversary, is forging a new alliance of Islamist rebels in Syria under a pro-Saudi warlord to supersede the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army.
Riyadh also wants to foment an Iraq-style “Sunni Awakening” to unite Syria’s majority sect to topple the minority Damascus regime of President Bashar Assad.
Middle East analyst Michael Weiss, writing in the Beirut Web portal Now Lebanon, observed Riyadh has “taken substantive measures to circumvent Washington altogether on Syria by activating a cadre of new clients in the form of a hard-line Salafist rebels who are now united under the umbrella of the army of Islam. Continue reading
King Abdullah names Prince Bandar, director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency, on top of his post as secretary-general of the National Security Council.
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar bin Sultan fell in love with the United States when he was still an air force pilot and took aerobatics training on an American air base. The romance was renewed several years later when he was named the Saudi ambassador to Washington, a tenure that lasted 22 years. He was a regular guest of George H.W. Bush and later his son, and was the only ambassador guarded by the U.S. Secret Service. Continue reading
Despite massive spending on Western weapons, the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf are “unable to secure themselves from any external threat” — meaning Iran — and are running up huge public and foreign debt, a Gulf think tank says.
Omar al-Shehabi, director of the Gulf Center for Development Policies in Kuwait, said that even though the defense expenditure of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states is the highest in the world, exceeding the combined military spending of Israel and Britain, they still have to “rely on Western countries to provide military protection and security.” Continue reading
Saudi Arabia is buying an armed drone from South Africa after the Obama administration declined to sell the oil-rich kingdom U.S. Predator or Reaper missile-firing unmanned aircraft.
The state-owned South African company Denel Dynamics is working covertly with the Saudis to develop the Seeker 400 drone into an armed combat system for the Saudi military, the Paris-based newsletter Intelligence Online reported March 27.
The Seeker 400 is an advanced version of the company’s Seeker II unarmed surveillance aircraft. Continue reading
The motive for this is three-fold:
- Frustration with the unwillingness of the Obama administration.
- A regional threat that continues to grow out of Iran and past remarks of wanting to go nuclear should Ahmadinejad’s regime continue along the nuclear proliferation path.
- Although there’s peace/stability between the two, they’re still not truly allies of Israel.
debkafile’s military sources report that Saudi Arabia has set its feet on the path to a nuclear weapon capability and is negotiating in Beijng the purchase of Chinese nuclear-capable Dong-Fen 21 ((NATO-codenamed CSS-5) ballistic missile.
China, which has agreed to the transaction in principle, would also build a base of operations near Riyadh for the new Saudi purchases.
As we reported last year, Saudi Arabia has struck a deal with Pakistan for the availability on demand of a nuclear warhead from Islamabad’s arsenal for fitting onto a ballistic missile.
Riyadh owns a direct interest in the two most active Middle East issues: Iran and Syria.
Iran’s nuclear weapons program has been advancing for two decades regardless of countless attempts at restraint by every diplomatic tool under the sun and a rising scale of sanctions – to no avail.
Tehran marches on regardless of impediments. In Istanbul, Tuesday, July 3, the six powers and Iran failed the fourth attempt to reach an accommodation on Iran’s nuclear program.
On July 1, they redoubled their military preparedness when the European Union clamped down an oil embargo on Iran. The Saudis, the US Fifth Fleet and the entire Gulf region are since braced for Iranian reprisals which could come in the form of closure by Tehran of the vital Straits of Hormuz to shipping or strikes against the Gulf emirates’ oil exporting facilities.
Tension shot up again when Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launched a three-day missile drill against simulated enemy bases in the region – expanding its threats to include US forces and bases in the region, Israel and Turkey.
Full article: Saudis are buying nuclear-capable missiles from China (DEBKAfile)
It should be no secret that the Saudis are both fed up with the Obama administration and seek an end to the Iranian regime. They have even threatened to go nuclear should Iran be allowed to continue its nuclear program.
Hardly a day goes by without the Obama administration pointing out in some US media outlet the futility, wrongheadedness, hazards, superfluity etc. of Israel military action for pre-empting a nuclear Iran. The public has been informed, for instance, that it would only set Iran’s program back by a year, and that the ayatollahs have put their nuclear bomb program on hold. So what’s the hurry?
But about the equally strenuous White House effort to hold Saudi Arabia back from attacking Syria as well as Iran – hardly a word sees the light of day.
The fuss and pother about Israel’s intentions distract attention from the very real fears in Washington about the Saudi royal family’s plans for military action against Iran and its allies, Syria and Hizballah, and Riyadh’s efforts to draw the heads of the Gulf oil emirates into the action.
Riyadh puts no trust in the sanctions and embargo Washington and its Western allies have put in place to curb Iran’s nuclear aspirations. Instead, they see sanctions becoming a boon for Tehran
Tuesday, March 20, oil fell by only 1 percent after the Saudis announced their most detailed steps yet to make good on any shortfalls generated by the embargo on Iranian oil and the cutoff from March 17 of Iran’s banks from transactions through the Belgian-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT), which facilitates most of the world’s bank transfers.
Money in Iran’s pocket from sanctions-boosting oil prices
Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi announced the kingdom was pumping 9.9 million barrels per day – the highest level in decades – and was willing to turn the taps up to a maximum capacity of 12.5 million bpd to meet its customers’ every request.
Iraq, too, added 30,000 barrels per day to its production of 2.1 million bpd.
But these steps failed to reverse the upward price trend.
And the sanctions’ deleterious impact on Tehran was offset by profits from skyrocketing oil prices: Not only were the extra costs of circuitous trade routes covered, but the declining value of the Iranian rial flattened.
“We are ready and willing to put more oil on the market, but you need a buyer,” Al-Naimi said bitterly, aware that no matter how much more oil Saudi Arabia may pump, Tehran is still ahead of the sanctions game. Only if China, Japan and India can be persuaded to line up behind the Obama administration and make genuine cutbacks in their oil purchases from Iran, would the topped-up Saudi oil production come into play.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources in the Gulf report that the Saudis suspect the Obama administration of publicly talking up the latest round of sanctions (Barack Obama: “We’ve applied the toughest sanctions ever on Iran”), while assuring Tehran in quiet talks (See the item in this issue about secret US-Iranian talks), that, so long as they keep the dialogue going, sanctions will put Iran in the black.
US stalls British-Saudi arms sales
This week, US acted to stymie Saudi operations in two key arenas:
1. Iran was the first: They suspect the White House of ordering US International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) to stall the sale of British precision-guided Paveway IV bombs developed by Raytheon UK, a weapon that would enable Saudi Arabia to attack key Iranian Persian Gulf sites, such as its naval bases on the Sirri, Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb islands around the strategic Strait of Hormuz, and strategic locations on Iran’s Persian Gulf coast.
The Saudis believe the US administration is deliberately keeping those assault weapons out of their hands to frustrate a potential attack on Iran.
They had pinned their hopes on British Prime Minister David Cameron interceding on their behalf with President Barack Obama during his visit to Washington in mid-March and getting the weapons released to Riyadh.
But the bonhomie and shared jokes aside, Cameron made no headway in budging the US president from his opposition to the sale, although British interests are also at stake. The sale to Saudi Arabia of 72 Eurofighter Typhoons delivered by BAE Systems (the combination of British Aerospace and Marconi Electronic Systems), is still up in the air because without the precision-guided bombs, those bomber jets are not much use to the Saudis.
Washington stops Jordan allowing Saudi troops transit to Syria
2. The Obama administration is firing every stratagem in its quiver to hold Saudi Arabia back from military intervention in the Syria crisis.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources in the Persian Gulf disclose exclusively that, two weeks ago, SaudiKing Abdullah secretly asked Jordan’sKing Abdullah for permission to send Saudi military forces into Syria by way of the Hashemite Kingdom.
Senior Saudi princes, including Saudi Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, had already been in touch with their Jordanian counterparts to discuss detailed plans which designated the routes Saudi forces would take, the Jordanian bases they would use and the Saudi Air Force’s tactics for covering the advancing Saudi troops and shielding the Kingdom of Jordan against potential Syrian air force action.
The Saudis plan to send troops in to the Syrian Druze Mountains and Horan regions for setting up safe havens to protect the beleaguered civilian population from Syrian military and security forces.
On March 15, Prince Salman attended a military parade on the grounds of the Eighth King Fahd Brigade in Tabuk in northern Saudia near the Jordanian border.
It was attended by a high-powered lineup: Chief of Staff Gen. Hussein Al-Qubail, Gen. Abdul Rahman Al-Binyan, Director General of the Prime Minister’s office, Gen. Prince Khaled bin Bandar, commander of Land Forces, and Maj. Gen. Eid Al-Shalawi, Commander of the Northern Region.
The parade of military prowess and resolve was mean to impress on Jordan that the Saudis were serious about getting a force into Syria through its territory.
The two Abdullahs in deep discord
This Saudi plan was soon nipped in the bud.
Riyadh was informed that US officials had warned the Jordanian monarch against acceding to the Saudi request. Stuck in an impasse, the Hashemite king stopped answering insistent Saudi calls for clarifications.
Seeing their plans for intervention in Syria in ruins, the Saudis decided to get their own back.
In an unprecedented move against a fellow Arab ruler, they arranged for an Arab diplomat, who remained anonymous, to inform the Omani Gulf News agency that Saudi arms were being pumped to the anti-Assad Syrian rebels and the first shipment was on its way to destination through Jordan.
By spilling the beans about Jordan’s clandestine role in this traffic, Riyadh exposed the kingdom to Syrian punitive action.
This maneuver brought the Jordanian king hurrying over to Riyadh for a secret visit.
Our sources report that when he tried explaining to the Saudi king that if Assad was toppled his successors would be worse, he was brusquely brushed aside. Saudi King Abdullah, who is twice the age of the Hashemite royal, reproved him sharply and told him it was time to make up his mind on which side he was in the Middle East.
The two kings Abdullah parted in deep discord.
Saudis are gunning for the US and Turkey
As for Syria, Bashar Assad will have understood by now that Riyadh is rolling up its sleeves for military action against him as soon as a way can be found. Four complications are unfolding:
First: The disclosure that weapon shipments to anti-Assad rebels were passing through Jordan has revived the Saudi pledge of a military and air shield for the Hashemite Kingdom against Syrian aggression. This may lead to military and aerial clashes between Syria and Saudi Arabia on Jordanian soil very near the sensitive junction of Jordanian, Lebanese and Israeli borders.
With this eventuality in mind, Riyadh is reported by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources to have selected the Druze Mountains and Horan region as potential safe havens for persecuted Syrians.
Second: Saudi-US relations are in sharp decline: Riyadh’s Syrian initiative is an act of protest against Washington’s decision to refrain from military intervention to stop Assad’s brutal suppression of the revolt in Syria – even after at least 8,000 Syrian civilian deaths.
The encounter three weeks ago in Tunis between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, ended with Faisal angrily stalking out with words to the effect of: if you don’t take action against Bashar Assad, we will.
The Saudis fully intend now to make good on that threat.
Third: The Saudis are gunning for Turkey. They intend to show up Ankara’s toothlessness in the fight against Assad in contrast to its leaders’ high rhetoric about their prowess as a Middle East Muslim superpower.
Most of all, they can’t abide Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s pretensions as go-between for the back-channel dialogue the Obama administration is conducting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (See a separate item in this issue.)
Fourth: Riyadh finds it essential to counteract Iran’s airlift of arms and equipment into Syria through Iraqi airspace. The Saudis refuse to stand by idly while Iran enhances its position in Syria and Iraq.
Full article: Obama Holds Saudis Back from Striking Iran – and Syria Too (DEBKAfile)
Western powers have entered into a tense endgame with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. In the second part of this new report from the Globalist Reseach Center, energy expert Matthew Hulbert explores the critical role the China-Saudi relationship might play in its resolution.
The sanctions strategy that Western nations is enacting against Iran’s oil weath depends on more than just those Western nations. The interest (and actions) of the Gulf states and Asian nations also matters critically. Only East-West cohesion can seriously undermine Iran’s hydrocarbon economy. But getting the Saudis to wield such a brutal oil weapon to shoot down Persian nuclear plans will not be quick or easy given the stakes involved.
The al Saud are well aware of the other (more credible) hedges Iran has up its sleeve (beyond cutting off oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz). At the top of the list is stirring Shia schisms in Iraq, Bahrain, Syria, Lebanon and in Saudi Arabia itself.
The “Arab Awakening” is still sufficiently fresh in the minds of Gulf region leaders to set them on edge. Iran has dropped hints that it could have played much tougher with Riyadh over its intervention in Bahrain.
Full article: Iranian Endgame: Part II — The Saudi Dimension (The Globalist)
See also: Iranian Endgame: Part I — Sanctions and Asia (The Globalist)