Thursday, October 05, 2006

Al Faisal Stresses Saudi Independence from the US

Condoleeza Rice was recently in the Middle East, trying to see if she could get any cooperation from the Gulf States, Egypt and Jordan against Iran. At least the public answer was no. I don't see any reason to believe that was not also the private answer.

But while Rice was speaking there, the Saudi Ambassador to the US decided to give a speech of his own. Just to make sure the United States hears what Rice heard from the allies of the US. It was an interesting speech, and breathtaking at one point.

The speech started in a charming way, a Mark Twain story promising not to speak too long.

Then the speech gets rolling, telling the Saudi side of the story about recent increased communications with the US. To hear the Saudis tell it, they need more communication to tell the Americans to solve the Palestinian crisis and to bring an immediate cease fire to the Lebanon war.

I shall tell you now, how the Strategic Dialogue works. In the beginning of May, President Bush invited me to a "getting to know you meeting" at the White House. During a thorough review of issues, I made the point to the President that solving the Palestinian Problem will allow us to go on to solve the other problems in the area. Three weeks later, the meeting of the Strategic Dialogue took place.

Prince Saud delivered to the President a letter from King Abdullah offering to work with the President in solving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The President, then, instructed Secretary Rice to follow up with Prince Saud on the details. Alas, the capture of the two Israeli soldiers led to the Israeli invasion, and destruction of Lebanon. The King sent Prince Saud back in July, to stress to the President the need for an immediate cease fire; and, again, to press for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. (link in original)

That is interesting in itself. Given that the US does not have much freedom of movement on the Palestinian problem - it certainly cannot force Israel to accept the Saudi offer of recognition in exchange for a full pullout to 1967 borders - to say that that is a requirement to solve other problems is to say the Saudis cannot help in other areas.

But then the speech turns devastating:

Americans want to see and hear about reform and change in Saudi society and political culture. This is on the agenda. But we’re not going to change just because you tell us to. We are changing and reforming our society because it is the right thing to do for our country. And we will do so in our own way, in accordance with our traditions and culture. Making dictums leads nowhere. Constructive comments, on the other hand, are more helpful.

We also want to see reform in the United States. Your reform of campaign contributions is essential and needed, yesterday, not tomorrow. Your policy towards the Arab World must change and be reformed in order to overcome the slump in America’s standing in my country, and in every other Arab and Muslim country.


This is the Saudi Ambassador to the US. "Reform of campaign contributions" means "reduction of the power of pro-Israel lobbyists". I find that connection completely transparent. It could have been more explicit if he said that reform would allow the US to change its policy toward the Arab world which according the the Ambassador "must happen". I don't think a diplomat would be allowed to be any clearer than that about a country with which it is friendly.

Then we find that America's standing is in a slump in his Saudi Arabia, as well as in every Arab and Muslim country. "Arab and Muslim" means he is also speaking for Iran, as well as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Iran's standing in Saudi Arabia was in a slump once. But that's over. This quotation is apparently from the question and answer session.

"We have found in our experience that when we did not talk to Iran -- our relations were broken for a period of a few years in the '90s -- we had more troubles with each other. But since then, our relationship has improved dramatically and beneficially for both our countries"

I predict that by this time in 2007, the Saudis will continue attempting to pressure the United States to pressure Israel to fully withdraw to the pre-1967 borders - which will fail. But under the cover of that failure, the Saudis will continue sounding more and more like the Iranians.

No comments: