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Guest Column

The US-Related Saudi Predicament
By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
Oct 27, 2013 - 12:17:38 AM

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US House Members and Senators are increasingly approached by panicky leaders of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Oman and Kuwait, who have always considered the US global leadership and unilateral national security action to be their life insurance policy. These leaders are concerned about the adverse ripple effects of the lowered US global profile on their own survival. Moreover, they consider the US engagement with Iran their worst nightmare. They are puzzled by the US lack of awareness that a retreat from the trenches of Islamic terrorism bolsters the presence of terrorists' sleeper cells on the US mainland.

Riyadh is aware that Saudi Arabia and other pro-US Arab oil-producing Gulf states -- and not Israel -- would be the prime target for a nuclear Iran, ravaging the supply and price of oil, which would devastate the economy of the US and the Free World. The Saudis know that -- unlike North Korea -- Iran is driven by an imperialistic vision, encompassing the Persian Gulf as the first stage and then the Sunni Muslim countries.

Riyadh is convinced that a nuclear Iran could trigger a collapse of the pro-US Gulf regimes, by blackmailing and further fueling subversion in the Gulf States, including the Shiite-populated Saudi oil-rich province of Hasa.

Riyadh is mindful of the impact of a nuclear Iran on the intensification of Islamic terrorism, which haunts every pro-US Arab regime in the Middle East.

Eyad Abu Shakra, the managing editor of the Saudi royal family-controlled, prestigious London-based daily, Asharq al Awsat, wrote on October 17, 2013 about "the rapid decline of the US on the stage of world politics: Washington's rhetoric was initially loud, talking of 'red-lines.' However, neither Bashar Al-Assad nor Vladimir Putin and his counterpart in Beijing cared much about this.... America remains strong, despite the narrow-mindedness of its politicians.... Obama is haggling in the regional bazaar as if he were a petty retail trader, not the head of a massive international conglomerate...."

Amir Taheri, a globally-respected Asharq al Awsat columnist, warned on October 4, 2013: "Today, Americans are advised that they may not be safe in more than 40 countries. The Obama retreat could sharply increase that number. The US needs and deserves something better than a 'Fortress America' strategy.... Bully powers may seize the opportunity provided by the US retreat.... The Khomeini regime's heightened activism in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon is yet one more example...."

Riyadh is concerned that the US may ignore President Rouhani's -- and other Iranian leaders' - track record of masterful dissimulations, deception, concealment and non-compliance.

Amir Taheri, who is intimately networked with Saudi leadership, wrote on October 11, 2013: "For more than three decades, the Mullahs and their associates have used [an] arsenal of deception against foreign powers and internal adversaries.... One [example] is taqiyya which means hiding one's true faith in order to deceive others in a hostile environment. Another term is kitman which means keeping an adversary guessing by playing one's hand close to the chest. A third is do-pahlu which means an utterance that could have two opposite meanings at the same time. The closest equivalent in English is double-talk.... In New York, Rouhani tried to seduce the Americans with smiles and sweet words...."

Riyadh knows that a nuclear Iran would generate a tailwind for the Arab Tsunami, which does not provide a transition to democracy, but to exacerbated violence. It recognizes that the Middle East zero-sum-game is not between democracy and tyranny, but between tyrannical military-backed regimes on the one hand and tyrannical anti-US Islamic, terrorist, rogue regimes on the other hand. Riyadh is cognizant of the fact that a nuclear Iran would tilt the Middle East balance, decisively, in favor of anti-US rogue regimes at the expense of military-backed regimes.

The well-connected Saudi managing editor, Eyad Abu Shakra, wrote on October 3, 2013 on "American regional blunders: Washington accepting Iran as a partner in the project of hegemony in the Middle East, including its full control over Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, in exchange for Iran's developing its nuclear capabilities [supposedly] for peaceful purposes only, rather than production of nuclear weapons...."

Riyadh dreads the devastating non-conventional arms race, in the Middle East and beyond, which would follow a nuclear Iran.

Amir Taheri noted on Oct. 19, 2013: "There is consensus that if Iran were to build a nuclear arsenal, it could trigger a regional arms race with incalculable consequences. Over the past two decades, the UN Security Council has unanimously passed six resolutions to force Iran to abandon activities that could lead to a nuclear arsenal. Iran has ignored the resolutions but managed to buy time through dilatory tactics and "talks- about-talks...."

Riyadh is concerned that 28 years of unilateral and multilateral US-led sanctions, accompanied by diplomatic pressure and cyber sabotage, have failed to deter Iran's pursuit of nuclear capabilities; 60 years of sanctions on North Korea have produced a nuclear rogue regime; the US focus on sanctions and engagement has provided Teheran with more time to obtain nuclear capabilities; sanctions have devastated Iran's economy, but have not made a dent on Iran's nuclearization; and, it was the military option -- and not sanctions -- which forced Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait and the granting of independence to the former provinces of Yugoslavia.

Will the US heed the Saudi concern and learn from history by avoiding -- rather than repeating-- past mistakes?


Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
The Ettinger Report
"Second Thought: A US-Israel Initiative"
First published in "Israel Hayom" newsletter, October 25, 2013


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