December 14, 2011
Prince Nayef agreed to receive the delegation following a request from the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Moslehi is one of his closest advisers and a leading antagonist of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was not told about the visit.
DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report that the Iranians pushed hard for a partnership with the Saudis on such issues as oil, Iraqi, Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Yemen, on most of which Tehran and Riyadh are in direct collision. Saudi Arabia spearheads the Persian Gulf emirates’ campaign to establish a bloc of Sunni Arab kings and rulers to fight off Iranian expansion and the influence of the Shiite Hizballah and Syria.
The visitors to Riyadh pointed out that a Saudi-Iranian axis in the region would be strong enough to freeze out American and Turkish meddling in the Arab Revolt. It would draw its strength from the combination of Iranian military, intelligence and nuclear capabilities on the one hand and Saudi power and wealth on the other. For the sake of this pact, Moslehi said, Tehran was willing to share its nuclear program with Riyadh.
The Moslehi delegation represented high-ranking Iranian military and intelligence chiefs, while Prince Nayef was attended by the heads of Saudi intelligence services, including Director of General Intelligence Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz.
The two figures conspicuously absent were the top men orchestrating the Arab Revolt and Iraq from opposite sides of the table: Saudi National Security Adviser Prince Bandar bin Sultan and commander of the Iranian Al Qods Brigades, Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Bandar heads the apparatus funneling weapons, money and fighters to the Syrian opposition fighting President Bashar Assad, Tehran’s senior ally, while Soleimani leads the counter-campaign for keeping the Assad regime extant.
Nevertheless, the Iranian visitor is reported by DEBKAfile’s sources as explaining to his Saudi hosts that an understanding between them had been reached before and could be reached again. He referred to the May 2008 agreement on Lebanon known as the “Doha Accord,” under which Iran, the Persian Gulf states and Syria agreed that the Lebanese crisis would end without winners and losers but with a power-sharing arrangement granting representation to all the country’s adversarial forces, including Hizballah.
Tehran saw no reason why the same principle could not be applied to the Syrian crisis. The bloodshed and the horrors of civil war could be saved by bringing the opposition factions into the Damascus government.
In return for these understandings, Moslehi proposed an Iranian-Saudi deal for the future of Iraq following the American withdrawal. Iran, he said, was willing to guarantee the rights of Iraq’s Sunni community and their participation in Nouri al-Maliki’s government in Baghdad.
Turning to the nuclear issue, DEBKAfile’s military sources report the Iranian intelligence minister maintained that Tehran and Riyadh needn’t be rivals or develop separate nuclear programs, as proposed last week by Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal. Turki said that if Iran continued with its weapons of mass destruction program, the Persian Gulf states (including Saudi Arabia) would have no choice but to develop their own. Tehran, said Moslehi, was ready to open up its nuclear program, like its space program, to Saudi participation.
Our sources report that Crown Prince Nayef promised to bring the Iranian proposals before the king and senior princes and have an answer ready soon.
But Riyadh was ready sooner than expected with a response. Before even addressing their overture, Nayef acted to take the Iranians down a peg or two from their self-appointed military and intelligence superpower status.
In a broadcast Tuesday, the day after the Iranian visit, the Saudi television network Al Arabiya attributed the explosion at the Moadarress Iranian missile base in the Malard region west of Tehran on Saturday, December 10, to an assassination plot against Ayatollah Khamenei (which was first reported by DEBKA-Net-Weekly 519 on Dec. 2).
Khamenei’s son Mojtaba and senior Revolutionary Guard officers were described in the broadcast as having been detained and questioned in connection with the plot.
This TV item informed Tehran exactly how high the Saudis rate Iran’s regional standing and the stability of its government.
This article was posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 4:19 am