MI6 chief paid ‘extremely rare’ secret visit to Israel: newspaper
September 13, 2012 5 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The Director of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, widely known as MI6, visited Israel in secret in late August in an effort to convince the Israelis not to launch military strikes on Iran, according to a British newspaper. In an article published on Tuesday, The Daily Mail said Sir John Sawers, who leads Britain’s foremost external spy agency, held private meetings with leading Israeli officials, among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. His message, according to the paper, was that London wanted more time so that the economic and diplomatic sanctions imposed on Iran by the international community to bear fruit. Sanctions are considered by some in the West a viable alternative to calls by Israeli officials for direct military attacks on Iran, aimed at stopping the country’s nuclear program. If confirmed, Sir John’s visit to Israel would represent a near-unprecedented move; this is because, unlike his counterpart at the United States Central Intelligence Agency, the Director of MI6, known informally as ‘C’, does not routinely travel to foreign countries as a diplomatic messenger of the British government. Many, therefore, will see Sawers’ alleged trip to Israel as yet another sign that the Jewish state is beginning to lean heavily in favor of attacking Iran using overt military means. In a possibly related development, Israel’s Minister for Intelligence and Atomic Energy said on Wednesday that he supported international sanctions on Iran. Speaking before the Israeli Knesset, Dan Meridor said that there are “many signs [...] that Iran is in distress from the sanctions”. He added that, although non-military efforts aimed at preventing the feared nuclearization of Iran’s arsenal “have not been a complete success”, they “have not yet failed completely”, and he called for their continuation. The Daily Mail said it asked several government sources for public confirmation of John Sawers’ secret trip, including the Office of the British Prime Minister, the British embassy in Tel Aviv, as well as representatives of the Israeli Prime Minister. All, however, refused comment. One anonymous British security source told the paper that London “would never discuss [John Sawers’] travel plans or the reasons for it [sic]”.