Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Saudi foreign minister Faisal says US causes Israel to consider existing without support of its region

There are reports that Saudi Arabia's foreign minister has given an interview with the International Herald Tribune in which he claims US unconditional support for Israel prevents Israel from making concessions to the Palestinians. Hopefully the entire interview will be made public.
Unconditional US backing has led Israel to consider existing in the Middle East "without the acceptance of the people in the area," Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said in an interview with the International Herald Tribune published Wednesday.
He's right, but Saudi Arabia's support for Israel is also indispensable. Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel, and the Saudi delegation notoriously did not shake hands with members of the Israeli delegation at the Annapolis conference. These gestures toward the Palestinians mask the fact that Israeli strategists consider Saudi Arabia an ally, and if they did not, Saudi Arabia would be a more potent and more immediate "existential threat" to Israel than Iran is.

Some supporters of Saudi Arabia have a naive theory that Saudi Arabia is actually part of the resistance camp. Before showing that this is wrong, I want to point out that Israel's own analysis of threats to its continuation deserves a good deal of deference. Israel's leaders, citizens and defenders are adamant that Iran and groups allied with Iran are a threat. Nearly every discussion involving an Israeli concerning Israel's strategic situation mentions Iran, I've never seen Saudi Arabia mentioned in that context. It is completely clear that those who obsess most over the future of Israel's Jewish majority status are comfortable that Saudi Arabia does not threaten that future.

I want to point again to the threat US strategists believe Iran poses to Israel:
Israel fears that Iran’s nuclear ambitions could undermine its qualitative superiority of arms and its consistent ability to inflict disproportionate casualties on adversaries -- the cornerstones of Israel’s defense strategy. Although some idealists dream of reconciliation in the Middle East based on a genuine and mutual recognition of all parties’ legitimate rights, most Israelis believe the key to enduring peace in the Middle East is convincing Israel’s adversaries that ejecting Israel through force is an impossible task not worth pursuing.

Essential to inducing that sense of despair is Israel’s ability to continuously trounce its enemies on the battlefield and suffer far fewer losses than it inflicts. The Iranian nuclear program threatens Israel’s ability to do this in two ways. First, an Iranian nuclear capability would likely force Israel to restrain itself due to fears that Iran’s nuclear weapons could provide an implied security guarantee to other anti-Zionist forces -- the sort of guarantee that would prevent Israel from causing the massive losses it has in the past, while giving anti-Israel forces the confidence to keep up the fight.
If Saudi Arabia was a member of the resistance camp, its greater wealth and smaller distance to Israel would enable it to develop a credible threat to destroy Tel Aviv and Jerusalem years more quickly than Iran could. Once that threat is established, without being used, it would make the continuation of Israel's Jewish-majority status non-viable against the wishes of the Palestinians and the Saudis. In short everything Iran could threaten to do to Israel, Saudi Arabia could threaten, even with conventional weapons, more quickly and easily if so inclined.

There is no strategic or ideological reason Saudi Arabia does not develop into the threat to Israel's Jewish-majority status that Iran has. Saudi Arabia, due only to its own lack of indenpendence, is a member of the accommodationist camp. The United States has developed an inordinate amount of leverage over the Saudi dictatorship and directs Saudi policy in directions that are not inconsistent with US priorities and sensibilities, even if they are in conflict with the priorities and sensibilities of the people of Saudi Arabia.

The trade is that a very backwards form of government that otherwise would not be sustainable is propped up using US resources in exchange for the Saudi's being US agents in their region. A government where a half-dozen or more 70 and 80 year old brothers each in turn gets a chance to be king could not survive even internal pressures without outside help, which is only available to Saudi Arabia in exchange for the Saudis refraining from playing a role like that Iran plays. The Saudi dictatorship is sustained by a mutual betrayal of US as well as Arabian values.

The Saudi government represented by Faisal is really a disgrace and an embarrassment to the people it rules, to the Muslim religion, and to the Arab people as a whole. He only highlights the how pathetic the situation is by complaining to a US newspaper about how US policy enables Israel while ignoring that his own country does the same.

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