The Huffington Post refused to run that blog because I only had one source, which I was not allowed to name. Instead, I posted it on my own and other sites.
That blog went viral, particularly in Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia, where it was picked up by several news agencies. Now that claim has received new backing from a reputable Israeli source. But before getting to that, here is my original blog.
A friend, with good sources in the Israeli government, claims that the head of Israel’s Mossad has made several trips to deal with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia—one of the results: an agreement that the Saudis would bankroll the series of assassinations of several of Iran’s top nuclear experts that have occurred over the past couple of years. The amount involved, my friend claims, was $1 billion dollars. A sum, he says, the Saudis considered cheap for the damage done to Iran’s nuclear program.
At first blush, the tale sounds preposterous. On the other hand. it makes eminent sense. The murky swamp of Middle East politics has nothing to do with the easy slogans and 30 second sound bites of presidential debates.
After all, nowhere more than in the Middle East does the maxim hold true: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And both Israel and the Saudis have always detested Iran’s Shiite fundamentalist leaders. The feeling is mutual. Tehran has long been accused of stirring up trouble among Saudi’s restless Shiites.
Israeli and Saudi leaders particularly fear Iran’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons. Thus, it would only be natural that (along with the U.S.) they would back a coordinated program to at least slow up, if not permanently cripple, Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
It also makes perfect sense, that, in retaliation for the cyber attacks on their centrifuges, the Iranians reportedly launched their own cyber attack on a Saudi state-owned target: Saudi Aramco, the world’s most valuable company. Last August 15th, someone with privileged access to Aramco’s computers was able to unleash a virus that wreaked havoc with the company’s systems. U.S. intelligence experts point their finger at Tehran.
Indeed, a report earlier this year by Tel Aviv University cites Saudi Arabia as the last hope and defense line for Israel. With most of Israel’s traditional allies in the region sent packing or undermined by the Arab Spring, the Saudis are the Jewish State’s last chance to protect its political interests in the Arab world.
Now comes further confirmation of that strange alliance, from Richard Silverstein’s excellent blog Tikun Olam. Silverstein gets many of his scoops from Israeli reporters, often confiding information they’re not allowed to report in Israel. Silverstein also closely monitors the Israeli media.
He has been following the close cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia in targeting Syria and Iran. In his latest log he reports,
Saudi Arabia isn’t just coordinating its own intelligence efforts with Israel. It’s actually financing a good deal of Israel’s very expensive campaign against Iran. As you know, this has involved massive sabotage against IRG missile bases, the assassination of five nuclear scientists, the creation of a series of computer cyber weapons like Stuxnet and Flame. It may also conceivably involve an entire class of electronic and conventional weapons that could be used in a full-scale attack on Iran. Who knows, this might even include the sorts of bunker buster bombs only the U.S. currently has access to, which could penetrate the Fordo facility. It might include scores more super-tankers which could provide the fuel necessary for Israeli planes to make it to Iran and return. All of this is expensive. Very expensive.
As background to his story, Yerushalmi, cited a recent speech by Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Nethanyahu, referring to the possibility that Arab states, which privately maintain better relations with Israel today than does the European Union, would do so publicly if peace were to break out.
“Nethanyahu,” wrote the Israeli reporter, “referred almost certainly to Saudi Arabia which finances the expenses of the enormous campaign which we are conducting against Iran.”
“The question” Silverstein writes in his blog, “is how far is Saudi Arabia willing to go. If Bibi ever decided to launch an attack, would the Sunni nation fund that as well? The answer seems clearly to be yes.
The next question is, given there is airtight military censorship in Israel, why did the censor allow Maariv to publish this? Either someone was asleep at the switch or the IDF and Israel’s political and intelligence officials want the world to know of the Saudi-Israeli effort. Who specifically do they want to know? Obama, of course. In the event the nuclear talks go south, Bibi wants Obama to know there’s a new Sugar Daddy in town. No longer will Israel have only the U.S. to rely on if it decides to go to war. Saudi Arabia will be standing right behind….
I don’t think this news substantially alters the military calculus. Israel, even with unlimited funding, still can’t muster the weapons and armaments it would need to do the job properly. That will take time. But Israel isn’t going to war tomorrow. This news reported in Maariv is presumably Bibi playing one card from his hand. It’s an attempt to warn the president that the U.S. is no longer the only game in town. Personally, it’s the sort of huffing and puffing that I can’t imagine plays well in Washington. But it’s the way Bibi plays the game.
Barry Lando has just written a mystery, The Watchman’s File, about an American reporter attempting to unravel Israel’s most closely guarded secret. (It’s not the bomb). Available on Amazon in soft-cover and Kindle format.
Whitehouse.gov photograph, public domain