Gates clarifies US Iran policy in Riyadh after Biden fails in Israel
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrived in Riyadh Wednesday, March 10, flying in unexpectedly from Kabul in Afghanistan, after the Saudis demanded urgent clarifications of the Obama administration's Iran policy. debkafile's military sources report that the demand followed the failure of US Vice President Joe Biden's talks with Israeli leaders to resolve their differences on Iran.
As a result, two senior US officials are visiting to Middle East capitals at the same to under pressure to deal with the Iranian nuclear question.
Gates was closeted with Saudi rulers although it was as recently as Feb. 15 that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Riyadh and explained Washington's strategy on Iran to King Abdullah and several senior Saudi princes. But she failed to allay her hosts' intense concerns that the US was doing enough to abort Iran's nuclear weapons program..
Then on Sunday, March 7, US Centcom Commander Gen. David Petraeus, asked by a CNN interviewer, whether countries in the Persian Gulf wish to see a US military attack on Iran, said: “…there are countries that would like to see a strike, us or perhaps Israel, even…”
In Israel, where the media are obsessed with the slightest Arab or Palestinian utterance, none cited the US general's comments.
debkafile's military sources report that Petraeus' comments referred mainly to the two main Persian Gulf state, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In fact, the UAE foreign minister, referring to the assassination of Hamas member al-Mabhouh, noted this week that his country and Israel see eye to eye on the Iranian issue.
Reports of the Biden conversations in Jerusalem Tuesday have reached Riyadh. They reveal that not only is the Obama administration leaning hard on Israel to abstain from attacking Iran, but is even retreating from harsh sanctions. Such penalties have no been put on hold for five months.
The Saudis are as deeply alarmed by the latest American stance on Iran is as the Israelis.
US sources reported that no sooner did the US defense secretary land in Riyadh from Kabul when he was summoned to dinner with King Abdullah and the Saudi defense minister, Crown Prince Sultan. They admitted that he would be required "to present an update to Saudi officials who are intensely concerned about Iran's nuclear program and the fate of the American-led effort to impose new sanctions on Tehran."