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Iran’s Nukes

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Israel is Not Alone in Feeling Threatened by Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

December 6th 2010

Iran - Iranian nuclear faciilities

In light of the thousands of secret documents and cables released by the whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks in late November, it is clear that Israel is neither alone in its concern over the Iranian government’s budding nuclear weapons program, nor in its desire to see that program destroyed. Western media outlets have consistently harped on deep concerns over the Iranian march toward becoming a nuclear power, however much of the Arab world also feels threatened by Iran and harbor similar, if not more extreme, views towards confronting Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

While most nations in the Arab world continue to state publicly that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the greatest threat to the region, the WikiLeaks cables tell a different story. The leaked documents, many of which detail meetings between U.S. diplomats and high-ranking officials in Arab governments, expose how many Arab states in the Middle East feel threatened by the prospect of a nuclear Tehran and are advocating for military action. As Mustafa El-Labbad, director of the Al-Sharq Center for Regional and Strategic Studies in Cairo, notes, WikiLeaks unveiled to the world that “the official stance in the Middle East, led by Saudi Arabia and including Egypt, Jordan, UAE, and Bahrain is that Iran—Israel—poses the main threat to the region.”

In a meeting with top U.S. military commanders in 2008, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia allegedly exhorted the U.S. to “cut off the head of the snake” by launching military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.438 Another leaked cable detailed a 2009 meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain in which King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa argued “forcefully for taking action to terminate [Iran’s] nuclear program, by whatever means necessary.” This view is shared by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, who proposed using “ground forces” to “take out all locations of concern” in Iran if air power alone would not be successful.

The Kingdom of Jordan also views Iran as a threat to the entire Middle East. Referring to the Shia Muslim-majority nation, Jordanian officials told the U.S., “It is an octopus whose tentacles reach out insidiously to manipulate, foment, and undermine the best laid plan of regional moderates … Iran’s tentacles include its allies Qatar and Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in the Palestinian territories.”

WikiLeaks documents also revealed that an Egyptian intelligence chief told the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that Egypt would cooperate with the U.S. if they confront Iran, a claim reverberated by Egyptian President Mubarak who said, “No one will accept a nuclear Iran.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed confidence that these revelations will help build momentum for a larger international coalition that can place tougher restrictions on Iran and trusts that “more and more states … believe [Iran] is the fundamental threat.”

Steve Plocker, a leading commentator for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth, echoes Netanyahu’s views and hopes. “The leaked documents show that the entire world, not just Israel, is panicked over the Iranian nuclear program. Iran poses the greatest clear and present danger to the stability of the world, and the world has to act to remove this malignant tumor.”

Cutting Edge commentator Mitchell Bard is the Director of AICE and the Jewish Virtual Library. His latest books are The Arab Lobby; Will Israel Survive?; and 48 Hours of Kristallnacht: Night of Destruction, Dawn of the Holocaust.

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