Did key American ally in the Middle-East – Saudi Arabia knew about the US plot to eliminate top Iranian general in Baghdad.
Saudi Arabia says it was not consulted by the Trump administration over a US drone strike that killed General Qassem Suleimani, an official said on Sunday, as Riyadh attempts to douse the fire which has engulfed the Middle East.
“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not consulted regarding the US strike,” a Saudi official said, requesting anonymity.
Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was killed in an airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport Friday. General Soleimani was apparently on the top-hit list anti-Iran forces and Soleimani himself knew he would be targetted one day.
Another key US ally in the region – Israel reportedly had advance notice of the U.S. plan to eliminate General Qassem Suleimani, Israeli military and diplomatic analysts reported while abstaining from presenting further details.
“In light of the rapid developments, Riyadh stresses the importance of exercising restraint to guard against all acts that may lead to escalation, with severe consequences,” the official added. Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry made a similar call for restraint at the weekend and King Salman emphasised the need for measures to defuse tensions in a phone call on Saturday with Iraqi President Barham Saleh.
The killing of Soleimani, seen as the second most powerful man in Iran, is the most dramatic escalation yet in spiralling tensions between Washington and Tehran and has prompted fears of a major conflagration in the Middle East.
US President Donald Trump, who ordered the drone strike, has warned that Washington will hit Iran “very fast and very hard” if the Islamic republic attacks American personnel or assets. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), both allies of Washington, are also vulnerable to Iranian counter strikes, analysts say.
A series of attacks blamed on Iran has caused anxiety in recent months as Riyadh and Washington pondered over how to react. In particular strikes against Saudi oil installations, last September led Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to adopt a more placatory approach aimed at avoiding confrontation with Tehran.
Analysts warn that pro-Iran groups have the capability to carry out attacks on US bases in Gulf states as well as blocking the Strait of Hormuz — the strategic waterway that Tehran could close at will. The analyst further adds that it is very unlikely that Israel and Saudi Arabia would not have prior information on the attacks, the chances are high that both nations played a vital part in the attacks, especially Israel in providing the intelligence.