Israel, Saudi cooperation
complicates chance of deal
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has staked his presidency on the success of the Geneva negotiations.
WITH NEGOTIATIONS SET to resume in Geneva on Wednesday over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, ominous developments mostly behind the scenes have enormously complicated any chances of a settlement.
Israel’s prime minister continues to insist that no deal is better than a bad one, and has gone even further to assert he will not feel bound to abide by it.
Reports have surfaced about unprecedented cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia over contingency plans to attack Iran.
And a semi-official Iranian source on Monday accused the French of sabotaging the talks.
The outlook for some sort of binding deal this week is bleak, at best.
THE LATEST FUSILLADE from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was reported Monday in the Jersualem Post story Netanyahu to Hollande: Israel will not be bound by ‘bad’ agreement on Iran
The Jerusalem Post story on Netanyahu’s statement at a press conference with French President Francois Hollande. Click image to enlarge.
“Israel will not be bound by a “bad agreement” with Iran, and when it says “never again,” it means it, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday night at a press conference with French President François Hollande,” Herb Keinon reported.
The press conference followed a visit by Hollande to the Holocaust memorial on the edge of Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, and the prime minister evoked the Holocaust in explaining his thinking on Iran.
The report added that Netanyahu praised Hollande for the tough stand he has taken on Iran and said that France has stood up “for what is right, and I appreciate that.”
Hollande said France was demanding that all Iran’s nuclear installations be placed under international controls, the suspension of all uranium enrichment to 20 percent, the reduction of existing stockpiles of enriched uranium, and a complete halt to the construction of the heavy water reactor at Arak.
As if in response, the Iranian news agency Tasnim on Monday published the story Saudi Arabia, Israel Join Hands to Disrupt Iran-G5+1 N. Talks: MP
“A senior Iranian legislator slammed France for its destructive role in derailing the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the six major world powers, saying Paris implemented the Israeli-Saudi scenario to hamper agreement between the sides in Geneva,” the report said.
“France, as an actor, implemented the scenario of Saudi Arabia and the Zionist regime (of Israel), so that the negotiations would reach a dead end.
The Iranian news agency Tasnim’s report about the talks on Monday. Click image to enlarge.
“However, Saudi sheikhs also provided the French government with enormous amounts of money and helped them (the French) to make the talks end without an accord,” Mohammad Hassan Asafari, a member of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission, told Tasnim on Monday.
“France is widely believed to be one of the main reasons behind the lack of a clear consensus among the six major powers involved in nuclear negotiations with Tehran.”
The Iranian report was an oblique reference to an alarming article in the Sunday Times of London hinting at what could be a game-changing development in the geopolitics of the Middle East.
The report on Saudi-Israel cooperation in The Sunday Times of London. Click image to enlarge.
In the story Two old foes unite against Tehran Uzi Mahnaimi reports from Tel Aviv:
“Once they were sworn enemies. Now Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency is working with Saudi officials on contingency plans for a possible attack on Iran if its nuclear program is not significantly curbed in a deal that could be signed in Geneva this week.
“Both the Israeli and Saudi governments are convinced that the international talks to place limits on Tehran’s military nuclear development amount to appeasement and will do little to slow its development of a nuclear warhead,” the Times report said.
“As part of the growing co-operation, Riyadh is understood already to have given the go-ahead for Israeli planes to use its airspace in the event of an attack on Iran.”
This kind of cooperation would be unprecedented, and is indicative of the common ground held by these two sworn enemies against what is perceived as a greater threat.
Netanyahu has been adamant in his opposition to any agreement that maintains the status quo in Iran. With the support of Saudi Arabia – another crucial U.S. ally in the region – and the French, it seems like a solid block is forming in opposition to the current proposals on the table in Geneva.
Combined with moves in the U.S. Congress to actually tighten sanctions on Iran, the outlook for some kind of breakthrough in Geneva this week looks bleak.
The current compromise has the potential to divide America from some of its staunchest allies in the Middle East, and needs to be approached with extreme caution in case it backfires in ways not yet imagined that could change the balance of terror in the volatile region and actually increase the chance of a nuclear conflict.