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(photo credit: Courtesy)
In recent years, prominent pundits of Middle East affairs such as Foreign
Policy’s Marc Lynch, The Nation’s Robert Dreyfuss, and Stephen Walt and John
Mearsheimer, authors of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, have argued that
Israel alone was pushing for a military attack on Iran.
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It was the
ubiquitous “Israel lobby” that would make sure the US continued to threaten Iran
with military strikes, said Walt and Mearsheimer. It was clear to all that “for
Saudi Arabia the worst thing that could happen would be... an Israeli attack on
Iran,” Dreyfuss claimed just this month. Lynch, meanwhile, asserted that “while
Arab leaders would certainly like Iranian influence checked, they generally
strongly oppose military action which could expose them to
Warmongering Israel, ran the thesis, was single-handedly
endangering geopolitical stability by attempting to plunge the Middle East into
a war with the US.
All of these learned gentlemen also posited the
premise of “linkage,” according to which all Middle East pathologies are a
direct outcome of Israeli aggression and obstinacy. Only after the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is solved, they have argued, can other issues, such
as Iran’s belligerence, be addressed.
Sunday’s revelations provided by
WikiLeaks conclusively debunk these risible theories.
From the flood of
classified documents, it has become unequivocally clear that Israel is not alone
in arguing that Iran, rather than perceived Israeli intransigence on the
Palestinian issue, is the principal destabilizing element in the Middle East. We
can read in black on white that a broad coalition of Arab countries,
particularly in the Persian Gulf area, have been articulating to American
leaders for some time, in private and intense conversations, their fear of Iran
and, in some cases, the desperate need to take military action.
documents show that in 2008, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia implored Washington
to “cut off the head of the snake [Iran]” while there was still time.
king of Bahrain, who provides the base for the American Fifth Fleet, told the
Americans that the Iranian nuclear program “must be stopped,” according to
another cable. “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of
stopping it,” he said.
The United Arab Emirates’ defense chief, Crown
Prince Muhammad bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi, told US Gen. John Abizaid that America
needed to take action against Iran “this year or next.”
Hitler,” he declared in July 2009.
For his part, Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak called the Iranians “big fat liars.”
ARAB LEADERS have preferred
to keep their true position on Iran from the masses out of a desire to avoid a
backlash of public opinion. One wonders, far more in hope than expectation,
whether “moderate” Arab leaders will now be prepared to stop separating their
private opinions on Iran from their public statements to their people, and in so
doing set the groundwork for a coalition encompassing Israel against Iran. Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday urged such Arab leaders to speak as
honestly about the Iranian danger in public as they have done in private
contacts with US diplomats.
It is striking that Israel will feel itself
little damaged by the WikiLeaks exposures, which show top officials saying much
the same to the US in private as they say to their people in public. The gulf
between Arab leaders’ private and public positions, by contrast, is now evident
for all to see.
What is also now clear is that some American foreign
policy experts, who may have had significant influence on the Obama
administration, were wrong to single out Likud-led Israel and the neocon “cabal”
in America as the sole driving force behind the military option for Iran. And
their insistence that a Palestinian state is prerequisite to mustering Arab
support for sanctions or military action against Iran is definitively disproved
– revealed as either a severe analytical error or part of a deliberate bid to
prompt unwarranted US pressure on Israel.
Whatever the wider
repercussions of the WikiLeaks cable deluge, it has exposed the hypocrisy of
those Arab leaders who publicly blame Israel for their woes while privately
pleading for military measures to thwart their true enemy, Iran. And it has
exposed the incompetence, too, or malice, of the analysts who took those Arab
leaders’ public utterances at face value, and utilized them in a bid to ratchet
up pressure on, and to besmirch, Israel.