Whether or not Iran's nuclear buildup will be stopped is the most urgent topic in the Middle East these days. I note occasional developments here that point to the use of military force against the Iranian nuclear infrastructure.
"Saudi Arabia gives Israel clear skies to attack Iranian nuclear sites": In a sensational report, Hugh Tomlinson writes in the Times (London) that
Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran. To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom's air defences will return to full alert.
Tomlinson quotes a U.S. defense source in the area: "The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way. They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren't scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the State Department."
He explains the logic behind this decision:
Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran's nuclear ambitions. "We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing," said one.
Comment: "Interesting if true" is my response. For reasons outlined in "Some Common Sense in Egypt and Saudi Arabia," I am skeptical that the Saudi leadership will allow Israeli overflights. Hope I am wrong. (June 12, 2010)
Surprising support for a military strike: The Pew Global Attitudes survey asked in 22 countries "Which is more important: Preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action, OR avoiding a military conflict, even if they may develop nuclear weapons?" The results:
There are many surprises here:
Pakistanis, Argentinians, Turks, and Russians the least ready to use military force. (Note that 3 our of 4 of them are neighbors of Iran.)
Chinese and Japanese also shy from use of military force.
Egyptians, Jordanians, and Kenyans have opinions analogous to those of Americans
Nigerians are the most inclined to the use of military force.
(June 17, 2010)
"Report: IAF aircraft land at Saudi base": An Iranian report of dubious credibility claims that Israeli air force aircraft landed on June 19-20 at the Tabuk military base in Saudi Arabia where they unloaded large quantities of military gear. (June 23, 2010)
"U.A.E. diplomat mulls hit on Iran's nukes": Eli Lake reports from Aspen, Colo. that Yousef al-Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States, endorsed bombing Iran's nuclear program.
I think it's a cost-benefit analysis. I think despite the large amount of trade we do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion … there will be consequences, there will be a backlash and there will be problems with people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country; that is going to happen no matter what. If you are asking me, "Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran?" my answer is … "We cannot live with a nuclear Iran." I am willing to absorb what takes place at the expense of the security of the U.A.E.
(July 6, 2010)
"Sen. Lieberman says force may be needed in Iran": U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman says preventing Tehran from becoming a nuclear power will be accomplished "through diplomatic and economic sanctions if we possibly can, through military actions if we must."