Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Netanyahu Leaves Moscow 'Empty Handed'

Two updates from the Times of Israel:

President Vladimir Putin, reiterated his demand for the full dismantling of the Iranian nuclear program. Channel 2 news reported, however, that Putin made “no promises” to Netanyahu that Russia would seek stiffer terms for Iran in the interim deal, and said that the prime minister would thus be leaving Moscow empty-handed.
Netanyahu insisted that the international community must demand the closure of Iran’s heavy water facility in Arak, and the cessation of all Iranian uranium enrichment. “We believe it is possible to reach a better agreement, but it requires us to be consistent and persistent,” he said.
During their talks, Netanyahu reportedly praised Putin for Russia’s role in formulating the agreement by which Syria is being stripped of its chemical weapons, and said that just as a deal that left some chemical weapons in the hands of President Bashar Assad would be unacceptable, so too a deal that left any enrichment capability in the hands of the Iranians.
Putin remarked that Moscow was optimistic about the talks in Geneva and hoped a mutually acceptable solution would be found.

The talks resumed in Geneva hours after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had referred to Israel — which he called “the Zionist regime” — as “the rabid dog of the region.” Khamenei said Europe felt pressed to make concessions to the Zionists “because of their economic network,” but said the Zionist entity was doomed to collapse, and that its people “should not be called humans,” according to a Channel 2 translation of his comments.
Speaking to some 50,000 members of a paramilitary militia, Khamenei also said Israel would disappear. “The Zionist regime is a regime whose pillars are extremely shaky and is doomed to collapse,” he said, according to French news agency AFP. “Any phenomenon that is created by force cannot endure.”
TV footage showed the crowd shouting, “Death to Israel.”

Also see another article describing this unexpected 'alliance' between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. This development is so interesting for a variety of reasons (see comments below article):

 When US Secretary of State John Kerry made another stop in the Middle East this month, he received an expected earful over Washington’s outreach to Iran: Don’t trust Tehran, tighten sanctions even more, anything short of complete nuclear concessions is a grave mistake.

Kerry’s meeting wasn’t in Israel, though. It was with in Riyadh, listening to Saudi leaders.

In one of the region’s oddest pairings, Israel and the Gulf Arab states led by Saudi Arabia increasingly are finding common ground — and a common political language — on their mutual dismay over Iran’s history-making overtures to Washington and the prospect of a nuclear deal in Geneva that could curb Tehran’s atomic program but leave the main elements intact, such as uranium enrichment.

“The adage about ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ is playing out over Iran,” said Theodore Karasik, a security and political affairs analyst at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis. “This situation opens up some interesting possibilities as it all shakes out.”
There seems little chance of major diplomatic breakthroughs between Israel and the Gulf’s array of ruling monarchs and sheiks. But their shared worries over Iran’s influence and ambitions already has brought back-channel contacts and “intimate relationships” on defense and other strategic interests through forums such as the UN, said Dan Gillerman, a former Israeli ambassador to the world body.
The stepped-up anxieties on Iran could bring new space for the Gulf-Israel overlap.

It’s not difficult, though, for Middle East commentators to speculate on the meeting of minds between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The roots of their shared fears over Iran are so similar.
Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran — or even if it is near that capability — as a direct threat to its survival after decades anti-Israel remarks by Iranian leaders and attacks by Iranian-backed groups such as Hezbollah. Israel also worries about shifts in the regional balance of power. Israel is believed to have a nuclear arsenal, but neither confirms nor denies its existence.
Iran denies it seeks nuclear weapons. But any deal with world powers seen as easing concerns could later be used by Iran to boost calls to ban nuclear arms across the region — and put pressure on Israel over its presumed nuclear warheads.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that his country was ready to “defend itself” if Iran appeared on course to develop a nuclear weapon.
Saudi Arabia, which generally sets the political tone for the rest of Gulf, also sees Iran as a dangerous neighbor. The Sunni-ruled Gulf states routinely assail Shiite power Iran for allegedly backing revolts such as Bahrain’s Arab Spring-inspired uprising or supporting coup plots — although no clear evidence has ever been made public.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf partners are deep-pocket customers of US weapons and aircraft, but also allow the Pentagon extensive footholds in the region, including the headquarters of the Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain. The arrangement is meant to buy protection from Washington and intimidate Iran.
During Kerry’s visit this month, he assured Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal that Washington’s “deep relationship” is solid and enduring.

Shortly before Kerry’s trip, Saudi Arabia snubbed a seat on the U.N. Security Council in an unprecedented protest mostly aimed at US policies in the Middle East.
“We have a common enemy, Iran, and we have shared disappointments from our allies, mainly the United States, something that created a somewhat strange alliance between Israel and the Gulf states,” said Gillerman, the former diplomat.
Uzi Dayan, a former Israeli deputy chief of staff and national security adviser, said Israel is singled out as the main alarmist over Iran’s nuclear program, but the Sunni Arabs in the Gulf, Egypt and elsewhere are just as galvanized in opposition.

This bolded statement is quite interesting. With Egypt's military/government trying to purge the country of the Muslim Brotherhood, and aligning with Israel over the border and the ongoing problem with terrorist groups, it would be easy to see Egypt covertly allowing Israel to fly over their airspace in route to Iran.  We have already seen at least one article speculating on a similar arrangement in which the Saudis would allow Israel to fly over their country for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. 

The route to Iran has always been listed as a big problem in terms of an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Recent developments may have solved that problem. You can see from the map what a big difference the use of Saudi Arabia would be for these flights to Iran. 

Middle East

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