Dawn over the White House? 1

Our reader ‘roger in florida’ has told us that  DebkaFile , the source of the following information, is generally unreliable, but as this is peculiarly interesting we offer it for what it’s worth:

Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency Leon Panetta visited Israel two weeks ago to explore Israel’s intentions with regard to a raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities and its alignment with Egypt and Saudi Arabia for this shared objective.

On the one hand, Panetta showed Israeli leaders a new US report which estimates first, that Iran lacks adequate military resources to shield its nuclear sites from attack and, second, would pull its punches in responding to an Israeli strike. On the other, it is feared in Washington that by linking up with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Israel would be free to send its warplanes against Iran through the skies of its two Arab partners, without deferring to the United States.

This report was also presented by defense secretary Robert Gates on May 5-6 to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in Cairo and Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh.

None of the three Middle East leaders took the report seriously because –

1. They could not make out if it was meant to encourage or deter an Israeli attack? Surely, the best time to strike would be before Iran acquires adequate defenses for its nuclear sites. Is that what the Obama administration is after?

2. Israel does not believe that Iran would emulate Iraq’s Saddam Hussein who refrained from hitting back after Israel demolished his nuclear reactor in 1981. Iran’s rulers are committed to massive retaliation or else face a degree of popular contempt that would test the regime’s survival.

Panetta and Gates alike returned home convinced that Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and other Gulf emirates are far more fearful of a nuclear-armed Iran than of clashing with the Obama administration over its policy of engaging Iran.

This understanding prompted a policy review in Washington, which is still going on.

One outward symptom of a possible reversal was the sudden announcement on May 8 that President Obama had decided to again address the Muslim world from Egypt on June 4, ten days after Mubarak visits Washington. On the same day, he also renewed sanctions against Syria, which, after weeks of diplomatic pursuit, he accused of sponsoring terror and seeking weapons of mass destruction.

Washington’s dawning appreciation that the rise of a nuclear-armed, terror-sponsoring Iran is the burning preoccupation of Middle East rulers, leaving the Palestinian issue for another day, will certainly make Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s talks in the White House next Monday, May 18, a lot smoother. The clash which otherwise would have been unavoidable may now be averted.

Posted under Commentary, News by Jillian Becker on Thursday, May 14, 2009

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  • roger in florida

    It is true that I am skeptical of reports like this on DebkaFile, and I think with good reason. Debka often seems to act as a “kite flyer” for israel. I would wager there is absolutely no possibility whatsoever that Egypt or Saudi Arabia would cooperate with Israel in attacking Iran, however is doen’t matter what I think but it does matter what Iran thinks. Notice that the two Arab states mentioned are both Sunni, thus Israel exploits the Sunni/Shia divide. What help Egypt could provide is questionable, but, if Saudi Arabia had secretly provided a base for Israel to operate from then the whole picture changes. The reason is that an attack on Iran from Israel would require in-flight refuelling and a long attack route, whereas an attack from Saudi would be straight across the Persian Gulf and could be delivered via multiple routes with aicraft carrying maximum ordnance loads, thusly having a much greater chance of success. Iran has the US over a barrel and has told the US that any Israeli attack over US controlled air space (Iraq) would result in thousands of US and NATO deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that just for a start. Look for more rumours of Saudi complicity, because the best possible result for Israel would be an Iranian pre-emptive attack on Saudi. This would immediately trigger a US response regardless of US troops as Saudi Arabia has it’s man in the White House and also owns the Sec State. This in contrast to what would likely be a tepid response to an Iranian attack on Israel.

    Perhaps the administration is finally waking up to the horrible reality of an Iranian bomb, but I wouldn’t bet on it, there isn’t the talent in this administration.