US or Israeli Military Strike against Iran Hinges on Secret Saudi Diplomacy

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<The New Yorker is only the latest of many publications reporting that the United States and Israel are preparing to attack Iran. Sunday, Feb. 25, the Pentagon spokesman made haste to sharply reject the report of a 24-hour war plan. He stressed Washington is going to work with allies in the region” to address concerns about specific Iranian government activities through diplomatic efforts.”
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice offered to talk with any Iranian representative at any time if Iran will suspend enrichment and reprocessing activities. That should be a signal,” she added.
The military, naval, air and amphibious strength the US has built up around Iranian shores speaks louder than words. Iran has countered that signal by placing its army and the elite Revolutionary Guards Corps on full war footing since September 2006.
Israel, the third element in the war equation (or first, according to the London Daily Telegraph), is in the middle of a concentrated series of combat training and war games. Field officers and troops have been told, contrary to the evaluations submitted by Israel’s intelligence agencies to the government Sunday, Feb. 25, to be ready for a major flare-up on more than one front in the summer.
Behind all this sound and fury, a patient American effort is going forward to secretly cajole Iran into abandoning its nuclear aspirations and so achieve a repeat of the successes of 2005, when Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi gave up his weapons of mass destruction, and again this year, when Kim Jon Il in North Korea agreed to disarm his nuclear weapons.
debkafile‘s military and intelligence sources report that the answers to the pressing questions of if and when America will attack Iran may turn up in the grey areas between US-Iranian-Israeli military preparations and the events in Iraq, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, or between the American war preparations and the quiet haggling over terms going forward with Tehran far from the cameras.
Some of those confidential exchanges were held during the US secretary of state’s three days in Jerusalem from Feb. 17 to 19, when she led an unprofitable initiative to revive the Israel-Palestinian peace track. They continued Feb. 20 in Amman, where Rice led a US-Arab intelligence summit. That week was devoted to the next stage of the military vice the US had clamped down on Iran, but also to the hush-hush diplomacy which Saudi Arabia has been designated to lead.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly 290 revealed on Feb. 23:
In Amman, the US secretary met was a whole galaxy of Arab decision-makers and intelligence chiefs: the two top Saudi security officials, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, national security adviser, and Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, head of the General Intelligence Presidency, as well as a string of secret service chiefs from various Arab countries, Jordan’s King Abdullah and, finally, an off-the-record encounter with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, whom she had met a day earlier at a three-way meeting with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.
According to the official communique, the US secretary met in Amman with the heads of the secret services of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates – nicknamed the Arab Quartet.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources describe the occasion as far more far-reaching in scope, agenda and importance than the laconic statement suggests.
For one thing, a deputy of CIA Director General Michael Hayden, described as the agency’s No. 2, was present. So too were the US military intelligence chief in Iraq and Washington’s Security Coordinator for the Palestinians, Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton, as well as the head of the United Arab Emirates’ intelligence services, who is known as Emir Muhammad, and the head of Jordan’s intelligence services, Gen. Muhammad Zuaibi. There, too, was Egyptian intelligence minister, Gen. Omar Suleiman, alongside high-ranking officials of the Kuwaiti and Moroccan secret services.
The importance of this US-Arab intelligence summit was quickly appreciated in Tehran. No sooner had the participants dispersed Tuesday night, than Iran’s national security adviser, Ali Larijani, was on a special plane to Riyadh and closeted with Princes Bandar and Muqrin to find out what was next on the agenda of the secret exchanges Washington is conducting through Saudi mediation.
debkafile adds:
There is no knowing at this moment where these hectic war preparations by the US, Israel and Iran – joined by Syria, Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas – are leading. Neither can the prospects be weighed of the floating Saudi effort to halt or curtail Iran’s advance towards nuclear armament. However, a rogue factor must be taken into account: an unforeseen military or terrorist act against US targets in Iraq, against Lebanon and Israel – or a clandestine operation inside Iran – may well overload the delicate balance of terror and tip the crisis into dangerous waters.
The outcome would depend on who pulled the wires of such a provocation. Intelligence leading to Tehran would pile up more pressure for an American answer in kind. If it led to Syria, Hizballah or Hamas, Israel would face a hard decision, in consultation with Washington.
The standoff at this stage has too many unknown and changeable elements and is therefore too volatile for responsible predictions one way or the other.

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