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Israel and Passing through Saudi Airspace - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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One of our popular proverbs says “how do you know if something is a lie? From its size!” This popular proverb applies to the news that Saudi Arabia has secretly agreed to allow the Israelis to use its airspace to carry out air strikes against Iran.

The news reports that Riyadh has entered into an agreement with Israel [to this effect], while at the same time Israel is facing another problem, namely that US President Barack Obama’s administration will not allow Israel to use Iraqi airspace to attack Iranian nuclear sites!

So is it reasonable that Saudi Arabia – which has no ties with Israel and who the Israeli Foreign Minister has accused of being responsible for an international political and media campaign to distort the image of his country – would agree to allow Israel to use its airspace to strike Iran, while Washington – Israel’s greatest ally – would refuse to allow Netanyahu’s government to use Iraqi airspace to attack Iran?

This is illogical and incorrect, and it is very important that Saudi Arabia was quick to deny this and nip the “news laundering” operation in the bud, which is something that is evident in our region.

It is true that there are a large number of disputes between Saudi Arabia and Iran, this is no secret, but Riyadh does not act recklessly or gamble, for Saudi Arabians are not known for their adventurism or risk-taking in the field of politics or foreign relations. Let us recall an important story which displays the extent of Riyadh’s wisdom and discipline, even in the darkest circumstances. Following the 1996 Khobar Towers bombings, in which a number of US soldiers were killed, and after lengthy investigations into this attack, US President at the time Bill Clinton – who is a friend to Saudi Arabia – send a senior US official to convince Riyadh that Iran was responsible for this bombing. Washington wanted Saudi Arabia to announce this publicly, because the US administration had announced that it would respond to those who were behind this [terrorist] operation, whether it was a state or individuals. However the Saudi Arabians did not comply with Washington’s request, despite the fact that all the information they had obtained independently from their own investigations following this terrorist attack [corroborated this].

The Saudi Arabians could have placed Iran in the cross-hairs, or within the reach of the raging American bull. It is true that at the time relations between Riyadh and Tehran were witnessing something of a détente, but Saudi Arabia was not fooled by what Iran was doing on the ground. Riyadh had not forgotten a history which was full of problems with post-revolutionary Iran; however Saudi Arabia did not respond [to this] and undertake any action that would inflame the region, even to trim Iran’s claws.

This does not mean that it would be possible for Saudi Arabia to tolerate the presence of a nuclear Iran, but the Saudi behavior cannot reach the point of recklessness and inciting wars, not to mention military cooperation with Israel, regardless of the reasons or justifications. Therefore this entire issue is not believable – even to those who believe in conspiracy theories – especially when it is being reported that Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow Israel to use its airspace, while the US is refusing to allow Israel to use Iraqi airspace! Therefore we say that the greatest evidence that this is a lie is from its size!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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