Riyadh signals: Secret Saudi-Israeli meetings on Iran must go on
Riyadh has signaled its intention for the secret Saudi-Israeli meetings on Iran taking place for more than a year to continue after the changing of the guard at the Mossad, debkafile's intelligence sources reveal. This was one of the first messages Tamir Pardo found on his desk as head of Israel's external spy agency when he took over from Meir Dagan this week. The Saudis were clearly not put off by any possible awkwardness from the WikiLeaks disclosure that they had been pressing the US to attack Iran's nuclear sites before it developed a weapon.
The meetings between Saudi General Intelligence Director Prince Muqrin bin Abdaziz and Meir Dagan, most of which were held in the Jordanian capital Amman, dealt extensively with clandestine cooperation between the two agencies and plans for attacking Iran. Arab and Western sources reported that they reached agreement in the course of the year for Israeli fighter-bombers to transit Saudi air space on their way to bombing Iran's nuclear facilities. The Saudis were even willing to build a new landing strip in the desert with refueling facilities for the use of the warplanes en route to their mission.
Western intelligence experts on Saudi Arabia found special significance in the publication by the Saudi Arab News site of Monday, Nov. 29 of a long report on Meir Dagan and his retirement after eight years as head of Israel's external espionage agency. The Saudi official media never, ever report on Israeli military or intelligence affairs. Even Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant's appointment as Chief of Staff, for instance, was not mentioned.
Still more out of character was the tone of the Arab News report.
The outgoing Mossad chief is described as "a hawkish ex-general" and "widely seen as responsible for a wave of covert actions including the sabotage of Iranian nuclear projects."
Western sources found a connection between this comment and the attack 24 hours earlier in the heart of Tehran on two senior Iranian nuclear scientists, killing Prof. Majid Shahriari on the spot and leaving Prof. Feredoun Abbassi-Davani critically injured.
The Saudi publication goes on to say: "Choosing Pardo means the government wants to keep things in the family for the Mossad and let it know things will go on as before", a "source" is quoted as saying. Pardo's job is termed "at the heart of Israel's secret war against Iran."
debkafile's Saudi experts stress that these comments would never have appeared in an official publication unless they were inspired from the highest levels of the royal house. They amount to a strong message that Riyadh wants to keep its intelligence dialogue with the new Israeli Mossad chief going on as before. Our sources do not rule out Meir Dagan attending the introductory encounter between his successor and Prince Muqrin.
Our intelligence sources add: The WikiLeaks disclosure, which also showed the Obama administration rejecting the Gulf Arab rulers' demand for military action against Iran, may even have spurred the Saudis to insist on carrying on with their backdoor meetings with Israel so as to underline their abiding conviction that Iran's nuclear program must be wiped out.