Mossad chief Tamir Pardo.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Mossad and Saudi Arabian intelligence agents communicate well, the agency’s former chief indirectly revealed in an interview with Intelligence Matters podcast host and former CIA director Michael Morell Wednesday.
Discussing the strength of cooperation between agents of different countries’ intelligence agencies, Tamir Pardo started rattling off many of the usual suspects with whom the Mossad cooperates, and then unexpectedly tossed in the Saudis.
“Before talking about the relationship between the CIA and Israel and the United States, even to speak to Arab countries that you don’t have any kind of relation, when you meet people from your profession, it’s so easy, okay?” Pardo said.
“You can be an enemy when you are walking from the room, but when you are sitting together, you can share your experience, you can talk a lot, and you can deal with many obstacles,” he continued.
Finally, Pardo said that when intelligence agencies “are looking for certain qualities, and whether you’re serving in the CIA, the MI6, or one of any other country, France, Italy, Saudi Arabia, you need the same people, the same qualities. So it’s quite easy… They can fight each other very well, but they can talk and communicate very well.”
In November and December 2017, there was a flurry of rare public confirmation of contacts between Israel and the Saudis by former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot, minister Yuval Steinitz and then-CIA director Mike Pompeo.
However, Pardo’s statement dated the Israeli-Saudi intelligence cooperation back to an earlier period, since he served as Mossad director from 2011 until March 2016.
Furthermore, Pardo’s statement was a much more personal reflection about his dealings with intelligence agents from Saudi Arabia and other countries – implying that Mossad-Saudi dealings are often similar to dealings with traditional allied intelligence agencies.
Besides cooperation, Pardo reflected on the current tensions between Iran, Israel and the US.
Asked by Morell if Iran sought “the elimination of the State of Israel,” he replied: “Look, that’s what they are stating, okay? I think that they know that that’s an illusion. Maybe it’s good for their own propaganda, and it might serve us if we want to do a few things, but it’s – come on. When they are facing reality, they will never be able to do it. It doesn’t matter which kind of weapon they’re going to hold.”
The reason, he said, is “because I believe that we know how to defend ourselves. We showed it when we were a very young country, against, let’s say, combined forces from all Arab countries. Now we have peace with some of them, and quite good relations with others. So I think that maybe for them, it’s a dream, but it’s more an illusion than a dream.”
Despite Pardo’s confidence that Iran does not endanger Israel’s existence, he did warn of multiple threats from the Islamic Republic.
“One is the nuclear program,” said the former Mossad chief. “The other [is] their vision that they’re going to have a corridor between Tehran and the Mediterranean Sea. And the third thing is [to] be dominant in many other countries by supporting minorities like they’re doing in Yemen, like they did in South America, in certain places in Africa.”
Pardo also told Morell that cyberattacks pose a major concern.
“I believe it’s the biggest threat that the free world, our planet, is dealing with these days,” the spy chief said. “You can compare it to a nuclear threat that we used to see during the Cold War days.”
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