Crossfire War – TEHRAN WATCH – Middle East Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Beirut – Damascus/Jerusalem – Cairo; Tehran – Riyadh Issue Statements Critical of Israel in Preparation for Regional War
Night Watch: RIYADH – In preparing their respective populations for war with Jerusalem both Riyadh and Tehran issued official statements strongly critical of Israel. The Saudis spoke first and right after their Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal met with President George W. Bush. The Palace issued an official statement from King Abdullah, “If the peace option fails, because of Israeli arrogance, there will be no option but a war in the region.” Tehran then had President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad follow, “A Middle East storm is brewing and will strike violently. The use of force in Lebanon could trigger a hurricane.” [DEBKA]
That does not sound like a King or a Riyadh frightened of Tehran but instead one that will support the war against “Israeli arrogance” and perhaps commit some units in a show of support for Palestinian people. Riyadh may also wish to show the Islamic world that they can act independently of Washington. That is why I have never entertained the myth that Riyadh was frigthened of Tehran, which is still an essential part of the thinking and planning you hear on the news from established analysts and from Washington. The Saudis support the Jihad just as much as Tehran just not as obviously.
Their support was revealed when 15 of the 19 who carried out 9/11 were found to be from Saudi Arabia and they had the blessing of the House of Saud. Their Ambassador at the time was on Meet the Press right afterward laughing at the explanation that is was Osama Bin Laden who carried it out. Their current Ambassador Prince Turki al-Faisal was head of Saudi Intelligence until August 2001. That is not a position of ignorance. But in order to deceive the West they still pose as an ally but when the war expands Riyadh will by no means condemn any Islamic government that commits troops against Israel. Do not be surprised if Riyadh commits some also. It will be in reponse to popular demand.
However geniunely worried about the regional war and its popularity is Egypt President Hosni Mubarak. Debka reports that it is rumored he is enroute to Damascus to meet with Syria President Bashar al-Assad to discuss the crisis. Mubarak sees the support the war against Israel is generating among the Islamic population, the Islamic street, which is demanding Islamic governments support Lebanon and with more than humanitarian assistance and speeches. Mubarak knows that any Islamic government that refuses to join the war will be seen as unrepresentative and therefore should be overthrown. But that would destroy his administration’s standing with the West, which Cairo has maintained proudly for 30 years.
What is worse for Mubarak is that he would have to agree with Islamic radicals whose beliefs he has always hated. They were the ones who assassinated his predecessor Anwar Sadat in 1981 and with the complete support of Tehran who named a street after the assassin. Mubarak is about to realize when he arrives in Damascus, if not already, that he is definitely isloated and alone in his refusal to come to Lebanon’s assistance. His occasional criticism of Israel will not be seen as doing enough. No Islamic capital will mind seeing him replaced.
The war against Israel will have more impact on Mubarak and Egypt than on Israel. Debka reported earlier this year that Iran had moved a brigade and its armor into a secret military base outside Khartoum. It was reported during all the meetings Sudan’s head of state was holding with Iran.