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WASHINGTON – Just as Israel is concerned about U.S. efforts to engage Shiite Iran in negotiations over its nuclear enrichment program, sources say Saudi Arabia is “deeply upset” by what it sees as a rapprochement between Tehran and Washington and is seeking ways to “sabotage the trend.”
Saudi alarm became more vocal after President Barack Obama announced his intent to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program. Obama later told the United Nations General Assembly the U.S. wants to resolve the nuclear issue through peaceful means.
In his U.N. address, Obama said that the U.S. does not seek regime change in Iran and respects the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.
“Instead, we insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Obama said.
Iran insists that its nuclear program is only for energy and other peaceful purposes, but the U.S. and Israel believe the Islamic regime is developing a weapon system.
Saudi concern about Washington-Tehran relations is so great that high levels of the Saudi royal family met in late September to discuss a strategy. Their dilemma is finding an effective way to respond to Washington, which Saudi Arabia sees as a guarantor of its security, while the U.S. seeks to talk with a country Riyadh regards as its main enemy.
The source said the Saudis decided to use all of their diplomatic and intelligence capabilities as well as work with U.S. lobby groups to block the effort.
“The meeting also decided that any plan developed in this regard should be coordinated with the Israeli lobbies, which are also angry at the positive atmosphere created between Iran and the U.S.,” the source said.
While Israel and Saudi Arabia have neither diplomatic relations nor a great love for each other, each has a mutual interest in opposing Iran and in removing Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad due to its alliance with Iran.
Saudi Arabia is not as determined as Israel to launch an outright military attack on Iran, but both countries share a loss of confidence in Washington to tackle what Riyadh regards as Tehran’s efforts to extend Iranian influence over the Arab world.
Nevertheless, there are leaked documents that reveal Saudi King Abdullah would take military action against Iran. The king had encouraged the U.S. to “cut off the snake’s head” to end what Riyadh perceives as a nuclear threat from Tehran.
Saudi apprehension with Washington first began in January 2011 when the U.S. decided not to protect the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the beginning of the Arab Spring.
The closeness of the Saudi regime with Egypt and Jordan has been part of a 30-year security arrangement underwritten by the U.S. that not only guaranteed Israel’s security but also provided the U.S. nuclear umbrella to protect Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Arab countries.
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