Haggai Carmon: Attorney and Author

It’s Saudi Arabia, Stupid!

With the winds of Israel-Iran war looming, albeit thus far primarily in the media, many observers speculate whether Israel will launch an attack on Iranian nuclear installations. With the Holocaust as a fresh memory, Israelis do not take lightly the Iranian leadership’s repeated threats to wipe Israel off the map. In 1929 Adolph Hitler used the same rhetoric when he called for the annihilation of all European Jews, but his ideas were brushed off as “just talk.”

Are 2012 threats similar to Hitler’s message in 1929? Outside the files of the US top secret files, there could be no safe and sober assessment regarding Iranian intentions and capabilities. The intentions are manifested loud by their leaders. But do they have the capability to produce a nuclear bomb, mount it on a jet or missile to accurately hit Israel? Intelligence sources say, not yet, but soon.

A close review of the geo political situation in the region shows that we have been exposed to a first rate propaganda campaign that fools many with respect to the Iranian intentions. Iranian leaders may be zealots, but they are far from being stupid. They know that if attacked, Israel will deliver Iran a retaliatory strike that would send Iran to the stone age or earlier. Many Israelis are convinced that their government, although sounding thick hints while it rattles the saber, Israel will not attack Iran. There are multiple reasons for that belief: among them is the understanding that nuclear Iran is more an American and European problem than Israeli. Israel’s small size, its mixed Jewish and Arab population, and the location of sites holy to all Muslims make an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel less likely. Apparently, many in Iran do not share the thought that Israel will not attack first. That explains why Israelis enjoy life on the beach and in the caf├ęs, while Iranians are readying themselves for a strike.
There’s little doubt that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Then, if Israel is not the target, who is?

Think of the 1992 U.S. presidential elections when James Carville, Bill Clinton’s strategist created the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Perhaps it’s time we describe the current crisis as, “It’s Saudi Arabia stupid!” Sunni Saudi Arabia is Shiite Iran’s decades old nemesis over the leadership of Islam. It’s Iran major contender for the leadership of Islam. Saudi Arabia is home of the sacred city Mecca and the Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam and the Saudi King is regarded as the patron of the sites holy to Muslims.

Saudi Arabia has the largest oil reserves in the world. It is the world’s top oil exporter and producer. The Saudi Ghawar oil field is the largest in the world and accounts for about half of Saudi’s oil production. Ghawar is estimated to produce 6.25% of global oil production. The problem is that Ghawar is located near the Persian Gulf, just opposite Iran. To hurt the world’s oil supply, Iranians need not block the Strait of Hormuz and face the huge flotilla the U.S., the UK and France are assembling near the Strait. Why engage in a maritime war with no chances of winning when the Iranians can torch the worlds’ largest oil field in a matter of hours with short range missiles? Obviously, such an attack would not be taken lightly by the US 5Th fleet docked close by. However, the immediate damage to world’s economy would be significant. With that attack, the Iranians could send a double message: To the U.S. – if you continue to hurt us with the sanctions, we will hurt your economy by sending oil price to the stratosphere. And to Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States the message would be: the Americans can’t protect you. Therefore, you’d better come under our wings, recognizing that Iran is the leader of the Ummah el Islam, the Islamic Nation. That term was coined by Ayatollah Khomeini when he aspired to crown Iran as the leader of the Islamic world. And the Iranian nuclear bomb? That would be a shield rather than a dagger. Iran will use it as a deterrent against the West from attacking it for subjugating the major oil producers of the world. With the Ayatollah’s hands on the world’s major oil spigots, the Iranians could doom Western economies unless their new conditions are met. Among them, a coveted seat as a permanent member in the UN Security Council with veto powers.

Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister was quoted as saying that he prefers an end of horror rather than endless horror. Which part of his phrase will become a reality in the region? Weeks away we will find out.