Deal with Iran: Payback for Saudi Role on 9-11? (L'Orient Le Jour, Lebanon)
"We may allow
ourselves to ask whether the accord concluded with Iran is not, in part, American
vengeance for September 11, 2001. Saudi involvement was never publicly
denounced by American officials, but many bits of information (including testimony
from former Senator Bob Graham, who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee
and presided over the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the September 11 Attacks, highlight
the troubling role of Saudi officials at the time."--Dr. Patrice Gourdin,
Professor Emeritus at the French Air Force academy École
interview with Dr. Patrice Gourdin,
Professor Emeritus at École de l'air
[French Air Force academy], conducted by Lina Kennouche
of L'Orient Le Jour.
In an interview granted to French media in December 2011,
the former head of the Saudi intelligence services, Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, would not rule out the
possibility that Riyadh would equip itself with nuclear weapons in the event
that Middle East denuclearization wasn't achieved. “If this [nuclear] race
cannot be put to a stop, one possibility is for us to re-join it.” Nearly four years later and after the historic agreement concluded
with Iran last Tuesday, is it possible to envisage such a Saudi nuclear
initiative? Professor of contemporary history at École
a specialist in defense and geopolitical issues, Patrice Gourdi
reminds us of the complexity of the issues raised by this question.
Le Figaro correspondent Laure Mandeville, quoting an anonymous source close the the U.S. intelligence services, writes...
L'Orient Le Jour: Could Saudi Arabia, a
signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, undertake to develop a military
Dr. Patrice Gourdin: Let us remember the adage that "proliferators
aren't those who want to, but those who can." Obtaining a nuclear weapons capacity
implies much more than financial means, which are necessary but insufficient.
Scientific and technical competence is also required, as well as a specific kind
of industrial base. Saudi Arabia has neither - and it would take it years to
hope to acquire them. Let's not forget that Iran's nuclear program dates back
over 40 years, and that after it was curtailed at the advent of the Islamic
Republic (1979), it resumed following the Iraqi aggression of 1980 [Iran-Iraq War]. At
the time, Riyadh hardly seemed capable of asserting itself as a regional power
- and the difficulties it has encountered in Yemen would tend to attest to that.
How, in this case, can it ignore the regional and international pressure
against proliferation? Let us recall, for example, that Lebanon doesn't owe its
liberation from Syrian occupation to the Taif
Agreement [ending the Lebanese Civil War], but to the combined pressure of
the United States and France.
Posted By Worldmeets.US
L'Orient Le Jour:Do the Americans have an
interest in its Saudi ally arming itself with nuclear weapons?
Dr. Patrice Gourdin: The United States is opposed to any nuclear proliferation.
The consistency with which it has worked against the Iranian program attests to
that. Nothing suggests that eventual Saudi proliferation would be tolerated.
The fact is that now, Riyadh has no capacity to free itself from the American alliance.
The pact between the two counties agreed to aboard the [battle cruiser USS]
Quincy in 1945 (American protection of the Saudi dynasty in return for oil
supplies to the United States … and her Western allies) remains vital to the
Saudi monarchy at a time when it confronts the menace of Daesh] and the regional assertion of Iranian power. The
American guarantee is the principal – if not the sole – asset that allows it to
hope to remain in power. On the other hand, with the diversification of sources
of supply since to first oil shock (1973), shale gas exploitation has allowed
the United States to free itself from dependence on Middle East oil. Also, they
are less obliged to accept deviances from their partners in the region.
L'Orient Le Jour:Do the attacks of September 11
attacks and Saudi involvement still have an impact on this issue?
Dr. Patrice Gourdin: We may allow ourselves to ask whether the accord
concluded with Iran is not, in part, American vengeance for September 11, 2001.
Saudi involvement was never publicly denounced by American officials, but many bits
of information (including testimony from former Senator Bob Graham [video above], who chaired
the Senate Intelligence Committee and presided over the Joint
Congressional Inquiry into the September 11 Attacks) highlight the troubling
role of Saudi officials at the time. Some specialists attribute to George Bush,
Jr. a project to support the secession of the Shiite population in the oil-producing
province of the country, Al-Ahsa,
to punish the Saud dynasty - to deprive it of the source of its wealth. Under
this hypothesis, Washington would have an additional reason not to allow the country
to develop a military nuclear program.
*A doctor of history, Professor
Emeritus Patrice Gourdin teaches at École de l'air. He is also attached
to the Institute of Political Studies at Aix-en-Provence.