Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

US Mideast Allies Bailing, Big Time.

by cskendrick Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 09:03:12 PM EST

And you thought things were complicated in Iraq already

Saudi King Condemns US Occupation of Iraq

Yes, you read that right:

RIYADH, March 28 -- The king of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, condemned the presence of American forces in Iraq as an "illegitimate foreign occupation" in a speech today, and said the withholding of aid to Palestinians should end.
The king's speech, at the opening of the Arab League summit here, appeared to distance his country's position from that of the United States. Saudi Arabia has been a powerful Arab ally to the United States in the Persian Gulf region.

Oh, it gets better. Lots better.

below the break....

An Egyptian Proposal for an Arab League version of NATO - Already in Progress

Same story, different vendor says Arab summit to consider plan for closer military cooperation, this proposal compliments of Egypt and backed by Saudi Arabia. (The two countries are longstanding rivals that have fought in the past. This is a big deal.)

The Egyptian document said "there is a great need to adopt a comprehensive concept for Arab security in view of the multiple dangers and threats."

It adds the Arab League should prepare plans for "providing defense and security requirements for both supplies and training."

It also urges "a comprehensive review of the nuclear issues in the region" and says member countries should develop their own nuclear strategies. In the past year, several Arab states have expressed interest in developing peaceful exploitation of nuclear power.

At the Arab summit in Khartoum last year, national leaders decided to set up an Arab peace and security council. But so far only four countries have endorsed the agreement, which requires seven members to become active.

UAE Refuses To Be Launching Pad Versus Iran

Elsewhere, the United Arab Emirates declared We're not going to be a launching pad for any attack on Iran:

Shaikh Khalifa reiterated that the UAE totally rejects the use of its land, air and territorial waters to attack any country. "We have reiterated to our Iranian brothers in a letter delivered recently by the foreign minister  that we are not a party to the conflict between Iran and the United States and that we shall never allow the use of our soil for any military, security or intelligence activities against them," he said.


On the UAE's stance on Iran's nuclear programme, Shaikh Khalifa said the Middle East region must be free from all weapons of mass destruction. "We have informed the Iranian leadership about this stance and we got from them assurances that the programme is for peaceful purposes. But the Iranian assurances need to be supported with guarantees that the nuclear programme is in conformity with the standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"It must meet technical standards that guarantee the safety of the installations," he added and urged Iran to address the concerns of the international community.

[as for that other topic, Iraq....]

"No one demands the quick withdrawal of the American forces from Iraq," he said. A phased withdrawal should go hand-in-hand with national political reconciliation and the building of Iraqi military and security forces. He reiterated the UAE would provide all support to ensure the success of this programme.

Well....no one just yet, Your Highness. Except for, oh, two-thirds of the American population and, oh, perhaps 95% of the population of Iraq.

A Pause - Until Recently, Saudi Arabia was Toeing the Bush Line

What's most interesting is who is leading this advocacy -- Prince Bandar, who is cozy with the Bush family..and to the Cheney clan. His nickname, with them, is 'Bandar Bush'.

From London...:

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer and biggest Middle Eastern economy, has noticeably strengthened its diplomatic efforts in the region since Prince Bandar, an ambassador to the US for more than 20 years and a close ally of President George W. Bush, returned to Riyadh in July 2005.

"Bandar is the Arab Kissinger,'' said Mahdi Abdul Hadi from the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, an independent think-tank. "For the Saudis, there are personal interests related to their friendship with the Bush family and relations with the United States generally.''

Saudi officials, led by Bandar, want to "reconnect with the US, to have greater influence over Bush's policy, while at the same time engaging Iran,'' said Rochdi Younsi, a Saudi Arabian analyst for the New York-based Eurasia Group. "They realize that they will have to live with that emerging power next door.''

Saudi Arabia is trying to "work with the Iranians on all sorts of regional issues, especially the Palestinian and Lebanese crises,'' Younsi said. "In a nutshell, they are trying to avoid any US military strike against Iran, while at the same time advocating a strict containment of Tehran.''

The consensus is that Bandar is an amiable if larger-than-life sort; the Bushies like him, Israel likes him, he gets results at the diplomatic table and Ha'aretz had lots to share about him back in early March.

The thing is...I wonder if he's in the driver's seat at the moment.

Why? Because headlines like the New York Sun's Saudis to Israel: Accept or Terms, Or Jewish State May Face Threat of War just aren't his style:

The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph yesterday, dismissed any diplomatic overtures towards Israel.

"It has never been proven that reaching out to Israel achieves anything," Prince Saud said. "Other Arab countries have recognized Israel, and what has that achieved? The largest Arab country, Egypt, recognized Israel, and what was the result? Not one iota of change happened in the attitude of Israel towards peace."

Also, from the same article:

Israeli sources have confirmed at least one secret meeting between the former Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar, and Prime Minister Olmert, although both sides officially denied such a meeting took place. Since then, however, Prince Bandar was reportedly pushed out of the decision-making circle in Riyadh.

The meeting in question? See the Ha'aretz article above

The key figure in Middle Eastern diplomacy is Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi Arabian National Security Adviser. Bandar is the man behind the Mecca agreement between Fatah and Hamas for the establishment of a Palestinian unity government. He was also active in calming the rival parties in Lebanon, and has tried to mediate between Iran and the U.S. administration. Two weeks ago he brought President George W. Bush up to date on his efforts, and last week he participated in a meeting of intelligence chiefs from Arab states with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, which took place in Amman the day after the tripartite meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem.

There are many indications that the prince, who served 22 years as Saudi ambassador to Washington, is behind the quiet slide his country is making toward Israel since the end of the second Lebanon war. In September, Bandar met with Olmert in Jordan. The secret meeting was made public in Israel later.

Bandar's trouble, I suspect, is his long since choosing to be a little too close to the American rather than the Saudi monarchy, to be completely trusted. His father, Faisal, was the loser of the dynastic succession when Abdullah was chosen to inherit the throne; he's home in Riyadh, I think, to enjoy his new life on a short leash.

So long as things were going well for the Bushies in Iraq, Bandar was useful as a liason. Now that things are not, and things for the Sunni brethren in Iraq are going very poorly, Saudi patience with the Americans and their Saudi friends is, based on today's pronouncement by King Abdullah, well and truly gone.

What Makes Abdullah's Condemnation So Interesting

It's preceded by THESE condemnations from Iraqi Sunnis

[ONE:] In a statement addressing leaders at a two-day Arab League summit that opens Wednesday in the Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani appealed for Arab leaders to "shoulder their legitimate, ethical and national responsibilities toward Iraq and to never abandon its people."

[TWO:] The Association of Muslim Scholars, an influential but hard-line Sunni clerical group with suspected links to insurgents, asked the region's leaders to call for the withdrawal of U.S. forces and pressure for an overhaul of Iraq's Shiite-dominated political system.

[THREE:] Iraq's Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, issued a similar appeal two days ago, asking for more support from fellow Arabs and saying it was imperative to keep Iraq from being abandoned to terrorists and foreign powers.

Looks like King Abdullah got the memo.

Then There's  That Whole Emergent Genocide Thing

Shiite Cops Kill 60 Sunnis In Iraq Revenge Spree

Shiite militants and police enraged by massive truck bombings in the northwestern town of Tal Afar went on a revenge spree against Sunni residents there Wednesday, killing as many as 60 people, officials said. The gunmen began roaming Sunni neighborhoods in the city, shooting at residents and homes, according to police and a local Sunni politician.

Ali al-Talafari, a Sunni member of the local Turkomen Front Party, said the Iraqi army had arrested 18 policemen accused of being involved after they were identified by the Sunni families targeted. But he said the attackers included Shiite militiamen. He said more than 60 Sunnis had been killed, but a senior hospital official in Tal Afar put the death toll at 45, with four wounded.

The hospital official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to security concerns, said the victims were men between the ages of 15 and 60, and they were killed with a shot to the back of the head.

Abdullah's Conflating Israel in Palestine, America in the Middle East

This is nothing less than the Saudi monarchy taking up where an enemy left off, an enemy that George W. Bush long neglected in order to pursue some insensate objective in Iraq

Abdullah talking about Palestine in the original...but let's modify the text slightly.

"In Iraq, the people are suffering and the occupation is denying it stability and nation," the king said in the speech that also touched on Sudan and Lebanon, and other issues in Arab countries.

"It has become necessary to end the continued losses of the Iraqi people," King Abdullah said. "So the peace process must move far from the realm of tragedy and sadness to lead to an independent state."

Same difference. And check how the speech begins. The two issues are made into one, a now tried-and-tested way to obtain pretexts for starting and entering into wars...just not for ending them. How so? Let's see, it's (a) what Bush did before going into Iraq, (b) Olmert did before going into Lebanon and (c) what bin Laden did before going into the World Trade Center.


I made mine a few months ago. And it's proceeding apace, more or less.

I think we're about to see massive aid delivered by neighbors to the fighting factions inside of Iraq, on account Bush is too busy looking to start yet another war as cover for his crimes at home.

The big regional players, Saudi Arabia most of all, are through with this. These are neighbors of theirs  being slaughtered in their own streets, and if the Saudi king does not do something, the Saudi people will find a king who will.

And there is next to nothing that George W Bush can do about it that does not make the situation even worse.

And, snap, just like that, a deadline of December 31, 2008 seems a bit generous. My thinking is this is going to wrap up very, very quickly now, and any talk of deadline language in supplemental defense appropriations bills just got mooted.

Or, the nightmare scenario, we're about to start warring with Saudi Arabia and Iran at the same time.

Bush might like that.

Forgot to mention that.

Looks better in blue, anyway. :)

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 09:03:47 PM EST
Bush wanting war with Saudi? I doubt it:

Bush has taken the same old US middle east policy ("SA good, Iran bad" in particular) and simply added a dysfunctional Dr. Strangelove quality to it.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Mar 29th, 2007 at 12:27:49 AM EST
The Saudis think that they are renegotiating the relationship. Real enmity in the Middle East is conveyed by silence.

Downgrading the level and quality of conversation is likewise a strong signal of displeasure.

Public shaming of friends and allies, cancelling social engagements at the last minute...these are not positive indicators.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Thu Mar 29th, 2007 at 05:04:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Saudi King Condemns US Occupation of Iraq

We have a saying in Spain that is just à propos here [in slightly modified form]... "When you see your [sunni neighbour's] beard shaven [by the shia], soak yours".

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 29th, 2007 at 05:15:10 AM EST
arrgh, "neighbour" should be outside the brackets...

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 29th, 2007 at 05:37:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bush is too busy looking to start yet another war as cover for his crimes at home

And to escalate the Iraq war into a full-blown middle-east conflict, since said war is both a crime and going very badly.

I mean, if war with Iran breaks out, you can't pull the troops out, can you?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 29th, 2007 at 05:20:37 AM EST
It's been done before.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)
by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Thu Mar 29th, 2007 at 05:54:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
we're about to start warring with Saudi Arabia and Iran at the same time

If that is not a three-way fight I'd be really surprised.

Or are you really saying that Saudi is going to side with Iran and hope that they can deal with Iran later and keep the shia minority under control in the oil-rich areas in the meantime?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 29th, 2007 at 05:22:56 AM EST
If there's one person who could unite Sunni and Shia (against him), it would be Bush. He's a uniter, not a divider!

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Mar 29th, 2007 at 05:33:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
War between Saudi Arabia and Iran would be bad news for both; the two have been preparing for decades for the possibility of conflict, yet now the end of American military dominance of the region is in sight, so the pair are sounding out other options to war.

Saudi Arabia, sans American protection, must be more accommodating in the absence of backup from other Arab states, including longstanding rivals such as Egypt.

With such backing, and the Americans no longer in force in the region, Saudi Arabia can afford to be more assertive in its backing of the Palestinians. This being a longer-term objective.

In the meantime, Iraq is a huge issue, the slaughter of Sunnis in Iraq sells newspapers and fills mosques all across the Arabia Peninsula and North Africa, and the Americans are, well, not nearly as beloved as they once were, which is to say not very well liked at all.

Further, the current demonstration of capabilities in Iraq is not very intimidating, given that the Americans themselves discount the size and efficacy of the armed factions that now run amok everywhere in Iraq, even to the point of launching attacks on US bases in-country.

A prudent scenario would be the relocation of US forces southward, as an interim step toward withdrawal to Kuwait and other friendly (at the moment) Gulf states. This would give the Americans options to do, well, something reckless (like, say, invade either Iran or Saudi Arabia) or continue with a systematic drawdown and work toward an accomodation with the regional players over the final dispensation of Iraq.

What's that likely to look like? I suspect the Iranians no longer even need to send troops into Iraq, as they have no shortage of allies amongst the Shia Iraqis, via Badr/SCIRI. They'll arm their allies, and the Shia will have their Shia Islamic Iraq...or as much of it as they care to exert themselve to possess.

The Sunni will have no happy choices, and I suspect those regions of central and western Iraq will be carved into spheres of influence (or outright annnexed) by Iraq's Sunni neighbors. It's either that, or genocide. I imagine Baghdad will be a super-sized 1980s Beirut -- or 1990s Sarajevo --- for quite some time to come.

I've never given much credence to the theory that the Kurds were stupid, so I could see the Kurdish region insisting on it remaining officially part of Iraq...even after such a country ceases to exist. I dunno...the world is ruled by stupid people, though, so you never know. Besides, the Kurds will probably have an interest in hosting American bases...for a while, anyway.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Thu Mar 29th, 2007 at 05:53:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]