US foreign policy shifts to favor Islamists, Iran & Saudi Arabia, away from Israel

The Bush administration, vying for American financial hegemony over the oil-rich Persian Gulf against Russia or China, is reported to have turned against democratic Israel in the hopes of appeasing Islamist-imperialists, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
DEBKAfile reports that "DEBKA-Net Weekly first revealed on Dec. 7 that a Washington-Tehran understanding is in the making, brokered by Saudi Arabia. According to Washington and intelligence sources, the first steps of the dialogue were made possible by the US National Intelligence Estimate of Dec. 3 affirming that Iran’s nuclear weapons program had been put on hold in 2003. This public statement effectively took the US military option off the table, as stipulated by Riyadh and Tehran (and binding Israel).
Shortly thereafter (our) exclusive disclosure, the well-connected Saudi journalist Jihad El-Khazen gave his version of the course of events in the Arab newspaper Al-Hayat :

"Here is what happened: The rate of violent acts dropped in Iraq; therefore the American intelligence services discovered that Iran had halted its military nuclear program in 2003. This means that the resumption of violence will make American intelligence services find out that there is a secret military program that is different from the peaceful and famous one.

The Saudi reporter went on to ask: "Is there a deal between the Bush administration and Iran? I cannot categorically assert that a deal was concluded between the two parties through direct negotiations; however, there is an understanding resulting in the 2007 national intelligence report.”
Saudi and American sources told DEBKAfile that President George W. Bush used the Annapolis conference as a piece of theater, which presented a sham moderate Arab front against Iran to disguise the intense work underway on a Saudi-mediated accommodation between Washington and Tehran.

The Bush administration appears to be in the midst of developing a new foreign strategy. Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the joint US Chiefs of Staff arrived in Israel for a one day visit. Admiral Mullen met with Chief of General Staff Lt.Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The Israelis announced they would provide the Americans their proof of Iran's nuclear weapons development, in contradiction to the U.S.' National Intelligence Estimate. Israeli leaders are appealing for America to take pre-emptive action against Iran so that Israel won't have to act unilaterally. The Americans may be there to explain that under the new terms of their relationship, Israel will not be tolerated to act unilaterally.

U.S. defense officials said they did not believe the briefings Mullen received would change America's stance on Iran, but they could help him understand the way Israel views the threat.

During their meetings, Mullen and Ashkenazi discussed the Iranian threat. Israel believes Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon and will be ready to manufacture such a device as early as the end of 2009.

Mullen and Ashkenazi also discussed the Hizbullah and Hamas threats.

Mullen briefed the IDF generals on ongoing American operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The IDF is concerned of the consequences a premature US withdrawal from Iraq could have on the region. Nehushtan presented Mullen with the IDF's multiyear plan that, for the first time in a decade, includes ways for dealing with a potential threat from Iraq if the US pulls out prematurely.

The radical Washington about-face has in the last ten days touched off a chain of repercussions:

  1. DEBKAfile's sources disclose that Iran’s extremist president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began purging the Iranian leadership of his opponents, emboldened by what he perceived as the victory of the intransigent nuclear policy he and the Revolutionary Guards had pursued.

  2. Still in crowing mode, Iran’s oil minister Gholam Hossein Nozari announced Saturday, Dec. 8, the cessation of oil transactions in US dollars. He labeled the greenbacks an “unreliable” currency.

  3. Less than 24 hours after the NIE was released, the Kremlin announced resumption of Russian work to finish Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr and the consignment of nuclear fuel.

  4. In Lebanon, the Hizballah opened the door for the election of chief of staff Gen. Michel Suleiman as president. To buy a stable Beirut government, Washington accepted a pro-Syrian Hizballah sympathizer as president.

  5. The prospects of tough UN sanctions against Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium dimmed dramatically. The Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said there is no point in the light of the US intelligence reassessment. Saturday, the Iranian ambassador in Tokyo invited Japanese investors to put their money in Iranian oil production which he said could be expanded by 30 percent. Tehran has clearly lost its fear of international economic sanctions.

  6. Moscow has dispatched war fleets to the Mediterranean and the northeast Atlantic.
    A flotilla of six Russian warships including an aircraft carrier will dock at Syria’s Tartous port for the first time.

President Vladimir Putin and defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov decided to send a sortie of six Russian warships, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and the Moskva guided missile cruiser, to the Mediterranean. This will be the first prolonged stay of a Russian carrier to the eastern Mediterranean vicinity of Israel’s shores and waters patrolled by the US Sixth Fleet. On its decks are 47 warplanes and 10 helicopters. The Moskva is the Russian Navy’s Black Sea flagship.

According to our Moscow sources, the Kremlin is determined not to be left lagging behind the new Bush administration’s steps towards an accommodation with Iran, which were signaled by the US National Intelligence Estimate absolving Tehran of running a military nuclear program from 2003.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Russian fleet, which has already set out for its new mission from the North and Black Seas, will have the use of naval facilities at Syria’s Tartous port. Its presence for several months will be a complication for the Israel navy’s operations opposite the Lebanese and Syrian coasts, especially if the Russians are joined at Tartous by Iranian submarines or warships.

The Kremlin also decided to send a sortie of ships to the northeastern Atlantic.

Meanwhile, the AP reports that "Iranian and UN nuclear officials began a new round of talks in Teheran on Monday, this time to probe the source of traces of weapons-grade uranium that were found at a university in Teheran, the official IRNA news agency reported.

It was not clear from the report how or when the weapons-grade uranium contamination was discovered at the Technology Faculty of a state university."

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