by Gareth Porter and Jim Lobe
WASHINGTON, Dec 6, 2010
The dominant theme that emerged in U.S. media coverage of the first round of Wikileaks diplomatic cables last week was that Arab regimes in the Gulf – led by Saudi Arabia – shared Israel’s view that Iran’s nuclear programme had to be stopped by military force, if necessary.
The New York Times generated that narrative with a front- page story featuring an alleged quote by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia urging the United States to “cut off the head of the snake”, as well as other statements by Gulf Arab leaders suggesting support for military action.
But a careful reading of all the diplomatic cables reporting the views of Saudi and other Gulf Arab regimes on Iran shows that the Times’ account seriously distorted the content – and in the case of the Saudis, ignored the context – of the cables released by Wikileaks.
In fact, the cables show that most Gulf Arab regimes – including Saudi Arabia itself – have been seriously concerned about the consequences of a strike against Iran for their own security, in sharp contrast to Israel’s open advocacy of such a strike. They also show the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait expressing that concern with greater urgency in the past two years than previously.