RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran in order to halt its suspected nuclear weapons program, according to one diplomatic cable released among thousands of others by WikiLeaks on Sunday.
During an April 2008 conversation with a diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi ambassador to Washington Adel Al Jubeir “recalled the King's frequent exhortations to the U.S. to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear weapons program,” according to the cable.
"He told you to cut off the head of the snake," Al Jubeir told the U.S. officer.
The cables make clear that the Saudi king is just as alarmed about Iran’s nuclear weapons program as Israel. His concern gives some credence to media reports earlier this year that Riyadh has secretly agreed to give over-flight rights to Israeli warplanes in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran. Saudi Arabia has denied those reports.
Today, foreign ministry spokesman Osama Al Nugali issued a statement about the WikiLeaks cables, saying: "These documents have nothing to do with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Nor did the kingdom have any role in producing them. Nor is it aware of their authenticity. Therefore Saudi Arabia cannot comment on them. The kingdom's policies and positions have always been clear."
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The king’s anger about Iran’s meddling in Arab affairs was also evident in another cable a year later, describing a March 2009 meeting with White House counter-terrorism chief John Brennan.
“The King noted that Iranian [Foreign Minister Manouchehr] Mottaki had been sitting in that same seat (as Brennan) a few moments ago," the cable stated, adding that the king described their conversation as “a heated exchange, frankly discussing Iran's interference in Arab affairs."
The monarch related, the cable continued, that he had told Mottaki, “You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters."
The King also told Brennan that he had given Mottaki one year to improve relations but “after that, it will be the end."
The cable went on: “[The King] said the Iranians launch missiles with the hope of putting fear in people and the world. A solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict would be a great achievement, the King said, but Iran would find other ways to cause trouble. Iran's goal is to cause problems … There is no doubt something unstable about them ... May God prevent us from falling victim to their evil.”
In the same meeting with Brennan, the king suggested that released Guantanamo detainees might have electronic devices implanted in their bodies so that their whereabouts could be tracked.
When the king noted that “this was done with horses and falcons,” Brennan replied that “‘horses don’t have good lawyers,’" according to the cable.
As for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, King Abdullah told Brennan he did not trust him because he is “an Iranian agent.”
One Saudi analyst today sought to put a positive spin on what could be potentially embarrassing descriptions of the king’s confidential conversations. The cables, the analyst said, are “the most positive exposure of the king's way and character. He is frank and straightforward with” both Brennan and Mottaki.