In last week’s issue, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s article (Rice Chairs a Pivotal US-Arab Intelligence Summit in Amman) covered the guidelines agreed between US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and the two Saudi princes, national security adviser Bandar bin Sultan and head of Saudi intelligence Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, for diplomacy to terminate Iran’s drive for a nuclear bomb, contain its role in Iraq and head off its Middle East expansion.
The two Saudi princes have undertaken the enormous responsibility of executing an agreed US-Saudi political and diplomat program with the potential for bringing Iran’s nuclear weaponization plans to a halt without a military showdown between America and Iran. Its feasibility draws on the successful diplomatic gambits which persuaded Muammar Qaddafi to abandon his weapons of mass destruction program in 2005 and Kim II Jong to dismantle his nuclear arms in Feb. 2007.
American muscle-flexing including a military build-up around Iran’s shores, stirring up Iran’s minorities and tough sanctions are essential elements in the Saudi diplomatic strategy. Bandar and Muqrin warned Rice they believed Iran could be brought around to an accommodation in Iraq, but it would be limited and the price very high. Washington would have to cede many of the strategic, economic and political objectives set by its 2003 invasion and subsequent four years of combat.
A price would also be exacted from Syria and Israel, said the princes. There was no question of the US secretary forewarning Israel and least of all Syria. They would find out in good time if the Saudi princes pulled off their scheme.
Here are some of the home truths the Saudis laid before Rice, as revealed here by DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources:
1. As matters stand today, the United States has no hope of stabilizing the security and political situation in Iraq; President George W. Bush must therefore accept that the new strategy he formulated for Iraq hinging on securing Baghdad is a write-off.
2. The most attainable is the creation of a state entity in Baghdad that approximates to federal government. According to any realistic scenario, Iraq will be divided into three almost independent states, Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni Arab.
3. Even the pared-down objective of a limited federal regime will demand a multibillion American investment. If the current rate of massacre, ethnic expulsions and Sunni flight continues, the Sunni community will almost certainly shrink to the point that it no longer has demographic substance and two-thirds of Iraq will fall under pro-Iranian Shiite domination.
(The last DEBKA-Net-Weekly reported 800,000 Iraqi Sunni refugees in Amman alone, where they now constitute one-fifth of the kingdom’s population.) Another approximately 400,000 have fled to Syria. Altogether two million Iraqis are estimated to have left the country and another 1.7 million are “internally displaced”.
4. There are only two ways to contain Iran’s interference in Iraq, say the Saudis:
One: By stirring up more domestic trouble against the regime in Tehran.
The Americans must step up its support for minority insurgent movements’ military and political attacks targeting central government: the Arab minority of oil-rich Khuzestan, the Balochis in southeast Iran near the Pakistan border, the Kurds and the Azeris, in particular.
In this regard, DEBKA-Net-Weekly lists a number of incidents:
On Feb 15, Balochi guerrillas of the Sunni Jundallah movement blew up a bus in the Balochi capital of Zahedan and killed 18 Revolutionary Guardsmen. Two days later, they clashed with Revolutionary Guards troops in the city. Tehran accused Pakistanis linked to the US with arming the rebels with guns and explosives.
On Feb. 24, an Iranian military helicopter crashed near the Turkish border killing all the 13 soldiers aboard, including two Revolutionary Guards commanders.
The PJAK, the Iranian offshoot of the Turkish Kurdish Workers Party – the PKK, claimed to have shot down the chopper from the ground, the day after Iranian forces claimed to have killed 17 rebels described as “mercenary elements” in clashes near the Turkish border. Those elements were members of the PJAK.
Our sources report the Americans are investing substantial clandestine logistic resources in activating Kurdish rebels against Revolutionary Guards units. American delegates recently mediated a dispute among the various Iranian Kurdish rebel groups to unite them for a subversive campaign against the Islamic regime in Tehran.
Our sources report that CIA agents are also active among Syrian Kurdish insurgents (See separate article on this) as well as Azeris.
All this undercover activity among Iran’s restive minorities is controversial because the movements sponsored by Washington practice terrorist methods against central government.
Two: By deploying more US military strength in the Gulf
The Saudi princes want more American strength poured into the Gulf to toughen the Bush administration’s military posture. The two carriers, the USS Stennis Strike Force, which arrived in the region on Feb. 22 and the USS Eisenhower are judged inadequate as a tough deterrent to impress Iran. Without it, they stress, economic sanctions too will not give Tehran pause.
All in all, extensive and costly subversion domestic campaigns against the Tehran government and a formidable military stance in the Gulf are heavily underlined by Riyadh as essential tools for their drive to bring Iran to the table for substantive negotiations on Iraq and its nuclear program.
To demonstrate to the US secretary how much ground they had already successfully covered as the first tier of their diplomatic enterprise with Iran, Bandar and Muqran reported on their achievements with regard to Lebanon and Syria, as outlined in the next articles.