Yesterday I noted that Israel, its most vocal US cheerleaders, and various neoconservatives such as David Frum were promoting the Wikileaks account of Arab Gulf leaders’ opinions about whether or not the United States ought to attack Iran.
In the wake of the Wikileaks revelations, the Jerusalem Post has taken me to task, along with three other "pundits," for what it calls my "risible" theory that the gulf states don’t want war in the Persian Gulf.
The Jerusalem Post editorial begins:
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."
As I wrote yesterday, the fact that the nervous kleptocrats that rule the gulf would like Iran to go away, and that they would love the United States to make it go away, is hardly a secret. But it’s still true that a war in the Persian Gulf would be the "worst thing that could happen" for Saudi Arabia, too. The Saudis, naturally, fear Iran, don’t like Shiism, and view Ahmadinejad with utter contempt. But they know that an all-out attack on Iran by the United States could lead Iran to respond with attacks on oil facilities and government installations all along the gulf littoral, that it would disrupt oil shipments, provoke unrest in their own countries (especially among Arab Shiites), radicalize the Palestinians and other Arabs and turn Iran from a sullenly hostile country to one actively at war with its Arab neighbors.
A good parallel is Iraq. Before the war with Iraq in 2002–03, nearly all of the Arab Gulf countries were violently hostile to Saddam Hussein. Only a decade earlier, he’d tried to annex one of them, Kuwait, whole hog—even though a strong case can be made that Kuwait is in fact a province of Iraq. Yet, though they hoped and prayed that the United States could topple Saddam, they all opposed war with Iraq. When push came to shove, and when the United States launched the war anyway, the Arab Gulf states for the most part went along, allowing the United States to operate military bases, naval facilities, and command posts from Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. That they went along, and that they hated Saddam, is true. But they didn’t want the war that happened, and now they’re the first to note—as revealed by Wikileaks—that the United States handed Iraq to Iran on a "silver platter."
The fantasy underlying neocon and Jerusalem Post propaganda is that the United States could assemble an Israel-Arab bloc against Iran, if only it tried. True, the Arab Gulf potentates fear that that the Obama administration, by talking to Iran, could eventually create a sort of US-Iranian entente and rapprochement that could work to the supposed detriment of the Arab interests. And the Arab Gulf states are only too happy to spend tens of billions of their kleptocratically stolen oil wealth to buy American weapons, such as the recently announced $60 billion US-Saudi arms deal. And—yes, there’s more—Saudi Arabia and Israel have been secret allies in the past, for instance, back in the 1960s when they worked together against President Nasser of Egypt. But as long as Israel continues to occupy Arab lands, build settlements in the West Bank, and consolidate unilateral control of Jerusalem, the idea of an Israeli-Arab alliance is a mirage.