In an improbable juxtaposition, two arch foes – Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (seated) and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (standing) – welcomed leaders to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Mecca, side by side Wednesday, Aug. 15.
The oil king apparently made this gesture to appease his prickly guest before the summit moved to suspend Iran’s leading ally, Syria, as a member of the group.
The decision had been taken already at a preparatory meeting of foreign ministers of the 57-member body to punish Bashar Assad for the brutal treatment of his people.
Although Iran took umbrage for this step against its close ally, its president decided to attend the Mecca summit and set aside their differences by joining the monarch in a show of friendship and good will. Both kept up the pretence – as though Tehran’s propaganda machine had not tried to “kill” Saudi intelligence director Prince Bandar bin Sultan by reporting his “death” n a bombing attack in Riyadh on July 27; and as though Saudi agents were not battling Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s Al Quds Brigades gangs in Syria and Lebanon.
Behind their playacting, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s exclusive military and intelligence sources report was some hard bargaining.
Abdullah refused to meet Ahmadinejad one on one and left the negotiations to the Defense Minister, Crown Prince Salman.
Attended only by interpreters, they discussed in strict privacy a deal covering the possible outbreak of war in the region and its potential impact on global oil markets.
Riyadh wants Tehran’s guarantees against attack, or else…
Our sources disclose that top Saudi leaders had drafted a proposal for a non-aggression pact to be signed quietly between the two governments and provide for three extreme contingencies:
1. An Israeli attack on the Iranian nuclear program: .
2. A US attack on Iran, alone or in cooperation with Israel.
3. The outbreak of a Middle East conflict spilling over from the Syrian war.
In all three circumstances, Saudi Arabia must be safeguarded by Iranian guarantees not to retaliate against Saudi Arabia, its oil industry and facilities or its oil tankers. US military and strategic facilities located in Saudi Arabia would also be immune from attack and the Strait of Hormuz kept open for the passage of Saudi oil exports.
Our intelligence sources report that a threat was tagged onto the proposal:
If Iran does attack Saudi Arabia and damage its oil industry as payback for a US or Israeli attack, Riyadh will not hesitate for a moment to unleash the Saudi air force and missiles to destroy Iran’s oil industry and export terminals. Kharg Island, 25 kilometers off the coast of Iran, where Iran stocks its oil reserves and some installations, would go first.
This would be tantamount to the oil kingdom joining the US and Israeli campaign against Iran. While the first two were preoccupied with devastating Iran’s nuclear facilities and military infrastructure, the Saudis would undertake the task of wiping out Iran’s oil industry.
Tehran wants the Saudis to stay neutral and get out of Syria
Ahmadinejad had his answer ready. DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources report that he had no trouble with concluding a non-aggression pact but he had certain stipulations of his own:
Iranian guarantees against attacking Saudi Arabia must be met with the following commitments by Riyadh:
1. Not to let Israel’s air or other forces use Saudi territory, air space or waters to mount an attack on Iran.
2. Not to let US or any other Western forces launch attacks on Iranian targets from Saudi bases.
3. To use its dominant influence in the Gulf Cooperation Council to prevent America from mounting an attack on Iran from any Arab Gulf emirate bases.
4. To withdraw from its military and intelligence involvement in the Syrian conflict. Iran and Saudi Arabia should establish a joint body to settle their diametrically opposed positions on the civil war in Syria and the unrest in Bahrain.
The Saudis are fully aware that President Ahmadinejad is on his way out in Tehran and not empowered officially or personally to make decisions on major issues.
Even at the height of his powers four years ago, he would have deferred to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
So Riyadh will have to wait until the second part of August or even early September for Ahmadinejad to put the draft they negotiated before Khamenei and get his response. As long as it is in abeyance, the US, Israel, Iran, Syria – and Saudi Arabia too – will push forward with their preparations for war.