Watch Live: The Washington Ideas Forum 2014

'By Whatever Means Necessary': Arab Leaders Want Iran Stopped

LONDON -- Rather than prosecuting Julian Assange for what he calls his "outrageous, reckless, and despicable" action in leaking thousands of sensitive government cables, Joe Lieberman might want to consider praising the head of WikiLeaks. He might find a chorus of support from all the ardent Israel supporters, whether Republican, Democrat, or Tea Party, arch conservative or screaming leftist. For one thing that emerges from the latest WikiLeaks cache is that Israel is, as Jeffrey Goldberg notes, not alone in wanting decisive action to stop Iran's nuclear program.

Sure, we knew that Middle East governments were concerned about Iran. But we didn't know to what degree. The cumulative impact of these cables is profound.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the largest, wealthiest, and among the most conservative Middle East nations, made "frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear weapons program," the American embassy in Riyadh reported in April 2008. "He told you to cut off the head of the snake," one of the King's aides reminded the American ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus when they were in the kingdom for a two day visit.

From tiny Bahrain, King Hamid, in a meeting with Gen. Petraeus seven months later, said that Iran was the source for much of the trouble in Iraq and Afghanistan. "He argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their nuclear program, by whatever means necessary," according to a leaked cable from the American embassy there. "That program must be stopped," the King told Gen. Petraeus. "The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it."

This the same chilling language, which the American public is accustomed to hearing from hardline Israeli officials. Hearing it expressed by Muslim leaders in the Middle East might now have a profound effect on American public opinion.

And it goes on.

Invaded by Iraq in 1990, Kuwait is not stranger to threat from its larger neighbors. Its Interior Minister sounded the alarm about Iran, telling the American ambassador that Iran is intent on exporting Islamic extremism, "and will only be deterred from achieving its objectives -- including a nuclear weapons capability -- by force," the embassy reported. "The U.S. will not be able to avoid a military conflict with Iran, if it is serious in its intention to prevent Tehran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability."

Back during the Bush Administration, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, in a meeting with CENTCOM Commander General Abizaid, said he "was strongly in favor of taking action against Iran and its president sooner rather than later," the embassy reported. "I believe this guy is going to take us to war .... It's a matter of time," the embassy reported bin Zayed said. He wanted action "this year or next year." It didn't happen, of course, at least not in a public way. (One assumes, and maybe even hopes, that the CIA is earning its pay these days, with covert programs designed to slow down, if not halt, Iran's nuclear program).

In Iran on Monday, a nuclear physicist was killed and another badly injured in an attack by men on motorcycles. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promptly blamed "the hand of the Zionist regime and Western governments."

The attack was predictable -- and prior to today, we'd have easily accepted Ahmadinejad's explanation. But what we know now, after the WikiLeaks drop, raises the real possibility that it could have been Saudi Arabia, or UAE, or Kuwait. In many ways, those governments are more likely suspects: easier for one of those countries to have infiltrated, or recruited, and less likely to be caught, because they could be confident Iran would blame Israel or the United States.
Presented by

Raymond Bonner is an investigative reporter living in London. He was previously a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and a staff writer at The New Yorker, and is the author of Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong.

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Maine's Underground Street Art

"Graffiti is the farthest thing from anarchy."

Video

The Joy of Running in a Beautiful Place

A love letter to California's Marin Headlands

Video

'I Didn't Even Know What I Was Going Through'

A 17-year-old describes his struggles with depression.

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

More in Global

From This Author

Just In