Saudi Arabia's ministry of defense has placed an order with the U.S. for the delivery of high-tech cruise missiles and aerial bombs totaling 6.8 billion dollars. It is expected that the contract will be signed within a month after the request is approved by Congress. In the opinion of the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the arms shipment will not change the military balance in the region and does not create a threat to neighboring states. But is that true? Now, when Israel and Saudi Arabia are discussing the possibility of a military alliance against Iran, this deal looks like military reinforcement of this Arab-Israeli alliance, the likelihood of whose creation is becoming more realistic…
Tel Aviv and Riyadh perceived the U.S. refusal to make a military strike against Syria and President Obama's first steps toward normalizing relations with Tehran as the White House's commencement of a new stage in transforming the geopolitical structure of the Middle East. The Saudi royal family, displeased with Obama's course, responded to Washington asymmetrically by challenging the United Nations. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) became the first state to reject a seat on the UN Security Council, complaining about the council's activities. Riyadh is displeased that Bashar al-Asad still remains in power, there has been no success in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and furthermore, in the opinion of Saudi diplomats, the UN has not made enough effort to make the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (in reference to Iran's nuclear program).
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the Saudi demarche «strange». It is quite obvious that the reproaches against the Security Council in the context of the Syrian crisis have an anti-Russian orientation. Previously Russia and China blocked Security Council resolutions to toughen sanctions against Syria three times. Arab UN members do not hide their perplexity at Saudi Arabia's rejection of this honored status either, and urge Riyadh to reconsider, at least in order to provide the Arab world with representation in the Security Council. Saudi leaders, however, claim that «the manner, the mechanisms of action and double standards existing in the Security Council prevent it from performing its duties and assuming its responsibilities toward preserving international peace and security as required.» That is the monarchy's reaction to the UN not acting on Saudi Arabia's calls to military intervention in the Syrian conflict and resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem using military force.
Riyadh has more than once declared its claims to dominance in the Middle Eastern region. It has now come to the point where in the days of the Syrian standoff the Saudi government proposed to Barack Obama that the U.S. pay for a military operation against Syria, as if they were talking about the services of a hired killer. The White House's refusal to take punitive military measures against the Syrian government was deeply disappointing to the Arab sheikhs. Washington was criticized for its inability to follow through on its own threats.
Dissatisfaction with Obama's policy was made even plainer in Saudi assessments of the first signs of a thaw in Iranian-American relations. Riyadh has come to the conclusion that the U.S. and Iran are secretly planning a strategic alliance aimed at weakening Saudi influence. There is nothing unexpected in the fact that rapprochement with Iran could serve America's regional interests. The Americans themselves believe that a means of controlling the Middle East such that no one country can become the absolute military leader and lay claim to the role of a regional superpower is advantageous to the U.S. The classic way to reach this goal is to support the balance of powers while preserving constant tension in the relations between rival states, in this case Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Many years of a one-sided orientation toward Saudi Arabia in the Islamic world has caused the U.S. to lose influence among Shiites, while Sunni Islam, which is under Saudi influence, has taken an anti-American course. Not only does Riyadh finance foreign military intervention in Syria, but Saudi intelligence supports Sunnite terrorist groups in countries from Algeria to Pakistan, including the Taliban movement which is now fighting against the Americans in Afghanistan. Further unconditional friendship with Riyadh has become dangerous for the U.S., and the conjecture that Washington's foreign policy will soon cease to serve the interests of Saudi Arabia is looking more and more justified.
Of course, a rapprochement between Washington and Tehran is no guarantee that the position of the U.S. in the world of Shiite Islam will be substantially stronger, but there exists a chance that anti-American sentiment in a number of countries in the «Greater Middle East», such as Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain and Afghanistan, will be reduced. Furthermore, the «reset» of relations with Iran would allow the United States to avoid the risk of being drawn into a war to protect Saudi Arabia through alliance obligations. Nevertheless, Washington still allows for the possibility of «closing» Iran's nuclear dossier by force through making strikes against Iranian nuclear infrastructure sites. Israel categorically insists on this scenario. Saudi Arabia does not hide its interest in the military destruction of the IRI's nuclear sites either.
Tel Aviv has declared that it is prepared to conduct an independent operation against the IRI. Directing strikes against Iran through the territory of the KSA is one of the main options being considered by the Israeli military. Besides enmity toward Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia share the common goal of overthrowing the regime in Syria, Tel Aviv and Riyadh are united in supporting the military government in Egypt, and they have also found common ground with regard to the unacceptability of an increase in the geopolitical role of their common rival Turkey. Information about secret negotiations between Israel and Saudi Arabia stopped being sensational years ago. Despite U.S. plans, the world could become a witness to the appearance of a seemingly unlikely Arab-Israeli alliance which would lay claim to the role of a «collective superpower» in the region.
This autumn has in general brought chaos to the ranks of America's allies. The plans for U.S. military action in Syria was not supported by its most loyal ally, Great Britain; the great majority of NATO countries refused to take part in this venture; the leaders of many other allied countries have shrunk from solidarity with President Obama; and now longstanding Middle Eastern partners are acting independently on the issue of war with Iran.
Examples of Israeli independent action are becoming numerous. Over a quarter of a century ago, in 1981, Israel destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor not long before its commissioning. The Reagan administration officially condemned this attack at the time, but the Israelis consider it one of their most successful military operations. In 2007 Israel made air strikes against the alleged al-Kibar reactor which the Syrians were building in a desert area in the eastern part of the country and about which the IAEA supposedly did not know in order to demonstrate its resolve to destroy nuclear sites in neighboring countries in the early stages. At that time the Bush administration was divided in its assessment of this attack, but many high-ranking politicians in the U.S. feel that the raid was premature. In May of this year Israel made a strike against Damascus' airport, as well as several missile bases in Syria. The true goal of the Israeli air strikes against Syrian military sites was to test the possibility of flying over this Arab country to make a strike against Iranian nuclear sites. Tel Aviv is conducting such rehearsals for the beginning of war without a backward glance at the reaction of the global community. The UN has not reacted properly to a single recent Israeli military action in Syria.
Saudi Arabia, unlike Israel, is now making its public debut as a subverter of UN authority for the first time, but the royal family has been preparing to start out on this dangerous path for many years, closely tying its foreign policy activities to support for international terrorist organizations. No one speaks of the moral principles of Saudi diplomacy anymore, so Saudi Arabia's agreeing to provide the Israelis a military corridor may be considered participation in strikes against Iran.
Temporary basing of aircraft at Saudi air bases is also involved. Transport planes of the Israeli air force have already been seen in Saudi Arabia unloading ammunition, which in the case of war with Iran it will be convenient to have right there nearby. And it will be even better for Israel if the Saudi military pays for the cruise missiles and aerial bombs for these purposes and ships them from the U.S. itself. This is the main reason for the KSA Defense Department's new almost 7-billion-dollar order. 90% of the deliverables are ammunition for American-built fighter planes, which are standard in the air forces of both Israel and Saudi Arabia. By approving this contract, the U.S. Congress will be giving the green light to the dangerous plans of Tel Aviv and Riyadh, and the American troops in the Persian Gulf will be drawn into the dangerous scheme of two out-of-control allies.