A British newspaper has claimed that Saudi Arabia intends to allow Israeli fighter jets to use its airspace in any bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The Times newspaper reported on Saturday that Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences for Israel for such a scenario.
“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” a US defence source in the area was quoted as saying.
“They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] state department.”
Israel, which regards Iran as its principal threat, has refused to rule out using military action to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Iran says its nuclear programme is aimed solely at power generation.
The Times said Riyadh, which views Iran as a regional threat, had agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance in the event of any bombing raid on Iran.
A source in Saudi Arabia was quoted by the newspaper as saying that the arrangement was common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom.
“We all know this. We will let them (the Israelis) through and see nothing,” he said.
Discussing the Times report, Hussein Shobokshi, a columnist for Al-Sharq al-Awsat, a pan-Arab newspaper, rejected the possibility of Saudi acquiescence in any Israeli plan to attack Iran’s nuclear installations.
“I can deny with full force that there is no such thing as ‘Saudi circles’. Any Saudi official will deny this,” he told Al Jazeera.
“The Israelis are good at changing subjects. They are trying to refocus the attention to another subject, to shift away the focus from the massacre that took place in the flotilla ship, and Gaza.
“This is a smear campaign by the Israeli government [which is] trying to divert the attention away from Gaza.”
Al Jazeera, June 12, 2010