The WikiLeaks effect

Prominent pundits of Mideast affairs have argued Israel alone was pushing for military attack on Iran, WikiLeaks debunked these theories.

By
November 30, 2010 05:45
4 minute read.
(wikileaks.org)

WikiLeaks logo 58. (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.

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 retaliation.”

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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.

The 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.

The 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.”

“Ahmadinejad is Hitler,” he declared in July 2009.

For his part, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called the Iranians “big fat liars.”

Click here for full Jpost coverage of the latest Wikileaks

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.


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