Israel Air Force aircraft dropped off large quantities of military gear at a
Saudi Arabian military base a week ago, in preparation for a potential attack on
Iran, a number of Iranian and Israeli news outlets have reported.
unconfirmed report, first published by the semi-official Iranian news agency
Fars and the Islam Times Web site, claimed that on June 18 and 19, Israeli
helicopters unloaded military equipment and built a base just over 8 km. outside
the northwestern city of Tabuk, the closest Saudi city to Israel, located just
south of Jordan. All civilian flights into and out of the city were said to have
been canceled during the Israeli drop-off, and passengers were reportedly
compensated by the Saudi authorities and accommodated in nearby
The claim follows a report two weeks ago in the London Times
Magazine that Saudi Arabia had given Israel permission to fly through a
corridor of airspace in northern Saudi Arabia so as to shorten the
required for Israeli jets to reach Iran. The Times said that Saudi
adjusted its missile defense systems to ensure that Israeli jets are not
down while passing through Saudi airspace on the way to an attack on
Citing an anonymous American defense official, the
report claimed that Mossad director Meir Dagan had been in contact with
officials and briefed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the
Saudi Arabia has adamantly denied it will allow Israel to use its
airspace to attack Iran.
Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf told the
London-based Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that it would be “illogical to
Israeli occupying force, with whom Saudi Arabia has no relations
use its land and airspace.”
Earlier last week, Arab media outlets
reported that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had canceled a
of military cooperation agreements with Israel after Israel’s assault on
flotilla of Gazabound ships, which ended in the death of nine Turkish
The military agreements would have allowed Israeli jets to fly through
airspace to Georgia and on to Iran.
Also last week, Egyptian sources told
London-based Al- Quds Al-Arabi that an American fleet consisting of 11
and an aircraft carrier, believed to be the nuclearpowered aircraft
Harry S. Truman, passed through the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean to
Sea. Eyewitnesses told the paper that an Israeli frigate was among the
ships and that Egyptian authorities had suspended all commercial boat
the canal for several hours to enable the fleet to pass. Thousands of
soldiers and two helicopters were reportedly deployed to the area during
“Obviously there is much fear in the Arab world, and a clear
understanding in Saudi Arabia as well as in Israel that a nuclear Iran
great threat,” said Dr. Ephraim Inbar, director of the Begin- Sadat
Strategic Studies in Ramat Gan.
“This brings us together on a strategic
level in that we have common interests.
Since the Arab world and Saudi
Arabia understand that President Obama is a weak person, maybe they
facilitate this happening,” Inbar said.
“That said, I don’t think the
Saudis want to burden themselves with this type of cooperation with
“They are afraid of Iran and if the Israeli action is not
successful they would be vulnerable to Iranian retaliation.”
interesting that the news first came from Iran,” Inbar added. “Maybe
warning [from Iran] to Saudi that we know what you are doing and we are
happy about it. It’s also possible that Saudi Arabia let the news out as
warning to America that if you don’t do something, we will.”
Pardo, an expert on Iran at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem’s Harry
Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, argued that there was
support in the Arab world for an Israeli attack on Iran.
“If there is
military collaboration between the Israelis and countries that are
conflict with Israel, both sides would be sure to keep it secret,” Pardo
“However, as the Iranian nuclear project becomes more dangerous and the
becomes less tolerant, more and more people across the Middle East are
collaborate their efforts to block this project.
“That makes Israel just
one player in a much larger military, economic and political effort,” he
continued. “There are clearly an intensifying set of signals towards
it’s not just Israel that means business. We saw it in the sanctions,
United Arab Emirates just joined, in the quick reaction to the Turkish
act as a gobetween to resolve the nuclear dispute, in the Russian
to sell the S-300 missiles to Iran and the fact that Arab countries have
come out against reports of a new Israeli satellite and new Israeli
While many regional military and geopolitical analysts
believe the reports of secret Israeli-Saudi military cooperation, others
such claims with intense skepticism.
“Everything is a bluff,” said Dr.
Guy Bechor, head of the Middle East program at Herzliya’s Lauder School
Government, Diplomacy and Strategy.
“What war with Iran? Do you believe
every little report you read? It’s all a bluff.”
“These reports are just
pure fantasy and have no foundation,” said Dr. Mustafa Alani, director
security and defense studies at the Dubaibased Gulf Research Center.
Saudis will never be part of a military action against Iran, never mind
Israeli attack on Iran.
“You have to remember that the Saudis made lots
of protects when Israel used their airspace to attack the Iraqi
said. “Since then the Saudis have enhanced their capabilities to defend
“Furthermore, the Saudis are not needed and there would be no
technical military reason for such cooperation,” he claimed. “The
attack Iran without embarrassing all these Gulf states, not just Saudi
Shafeeq Ghabra, an expert on Gulf geopolitics, a professor of
political science at Kuwait University and the founding president of the
American University of Kuwait, argued that an attack on Iran was not in
“It would be impossible for the Saudis to allow an Israeli
attack on Iran,” he said. “For Saudi[s] to cooperate with a regime that
occupying Jerusalem, laying siege to Gaza and building settlements in
Bank would undermine justice in the way the Saudis see it. It would also
basically be allowing one nuclear power to attack another country that
“Saudi Arabia will not stand for a military showdown because
more than anyone else they know that this will bring chaos to the
increase radicalization and terrorist activity,” Ghabra said.
not in Saudi Arabia’s interest and quite frankly it’s not in Israel’s
The IDF and the Foreign Ministry both declined to comment on the