(photo credit: Associated Press)
Based on the trove of diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks on Sunday, the
United States is clearly listening to and recording what Middle Eastern leaders
have to say about Iran. The question left unanswered is what the US is willing
to do about it.
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For years now, top Israeli political and defense leaders
have warned the world that a nuclear Iran is not just a threat to the Jewish
state but is a threat to the entire region.
“If only we could say
publicly what we hear behind closed doors,” Israeli officials would comment,
following off-record talks they held with Arab leaders throughout the Middle
Well, now they can. According to one cable published by WikiLeaks
on Sunday, Saudi King Abdullah “frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put
an end to its nuclear weapons program” and to cut off the head of the
According to another cable, King Hamad of Bahrain, a country with
a majority Shi’ite population, urged in a meeting with former CENTCOM commander
David Petraeus that action be taken to terminate Iran’s nuclear
“That program must be stopped,” Hamad said, according to the
cable. “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping
Jordan, another country that voiced concern, is uncomfortable with
the possibility that a nuclear Iran would provide an umbrella for opposition
groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt is also challenged by Iran’s
continued nuclear development, as shown by the conviction in April of 26 men who
were spying for Hizbullah and plotting attacks in Egypt.
From an Israeli
perspective, therefore, it would not be an exaggeration to say that WikiLeaks
may have done the country a service on Sunday. By presenting the Arab leaders as
more extreme in their remarks than Israeli leaders, the cables show the
dissonance in the region and the danger involved in allowing Iran to continue
with its nuclear program.
While there were some comments made by Mossad
director Meir Dagan regarding leaders in the Middle East – the emir of Qatar is
“annoying,” and the king of Morocco is not interested in governing – that are
slightly embarrassing, Israeli politicians were spared the more embarrassing
analyses of their personalities that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi received.
revealed in the cables is vast and informative, providing an unprecedented
insight into the way some of Israel’s top intelligence officials and politicians
view the region and its challenges.
Dagan, for example, comes out looking
much more than just the head of a spy agency, and according to the cables, is
sought after by almost every senior US official visiting Israel. In one cable he
met with a Homeland Security official, in another with the undersecretary of
state. In another he met with officials from the Treasury Department and in
another, Mossad officials met with US military officers.
In general and
contrary to earlier predictions, the cables did not appear to contain
information that could significantly harm Israeli national security.
Israeli officials, such as Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Dagan and Military
Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen.
Amos Yadlin, appear to be careful in what
they say in the meetings, which are clearly being documented by American aides
in the room. In one cable, while Yadlin said that covert means needed to be used
to stop Iran, he was quoted as refusing to elaborate.
At the end of the
day, though, none of this has changed the state of affairs regarding global
efforts to stop Iran. While the UN has ratcheted up sanctions and the US is
threatening more and tougher ones, the Teheran regime is continuing to defy the
international community and to enrich uranium, making it today just a jump away
from creating a nuclear weapon whenever it wants.