Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saudis threaten US over Palestinian state

Such diplomatic pieces are never entirely what they seem on the surface. But former Saudi Arabian intelligence chief and one-time Ambassador to the US Turki al-Faisal (Prince Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud) threatens the US with serious negative consequences if the Obama Administration vetoes UN recognition of a Palestinian state this fall in Failed favoritism to Israel Washington Post 06/10/2011:

As the main political and financial supporter of the Palestinian quest for self-determination, Saudi Arabia holds an especially strong position. The kingdom's wealth, steady growth and stability have made it the bulwark of the Middle East. As the cradle of Islam, it is able to symbolically unite most Muslims worldwide. In September, the kingdom will use its considerable diplomatic might to support the Palestinians in their quest for international recognition. American leaders have long called Israel an "indispensable" ally. They will soon learn that there are other players in the region - not least the Arab street - who are as, if not more, "indispensable." The game of favoritism toward Israel has not proven wise for Washington, and soon it will be shown to be an even greater folly.

Commentators have long speculated about the demise of Saudi Arabia as a regional powerhouse. They have been sorely disappointed. Similarly, history will prove wrong those who imagine that the future of Palestine will be determined by the United States and Israel. There will be disastrous consequences for U.S.-Saudi relations if the United States vetoes U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state. It would mark a nadir in the decades-long relationship as well as irrevocably damage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and America's reputation among Arab nations. The ideological distance between the Muslim world and the West in general would widen - and opportunities for friendship and cooperation between the two could vanish.

We Arabs used to say no to peace, and we got our comeuppance in 1967. In 2002 King Abdullah offered what has become the Arab Peace Initiative. Based on U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, it calls for an end to the conflict based on land for peace. The Israelis withdraw from all occupied lands, including East Jerusalem, reach a mutually agreed solution to the Palestinian refugees and recognize the Palestinian state. In return, they will get full diplomatic recognition from the Arab world and all the Muslim states, an end to hostilities and normal relations with all these states.

Now, it is the Israelis who are saying no. I'd hate to be around when they face their comeuppance. [my emphasis]
Prince Turki is currently head of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Saudi Arabia. One presumes this is a semi-official statement of Saudi policy.

One doesn't have to be any kind of fan or supporter of Israeli intransigence or their West Bank settlement policy to resent what can hardly be taken as anything other than a reactionary monarchy threatening trying to dictate US foreign policy.

But that's also the world in which we live. And as long as the United States retains its dependence on oil, Saudi Arabia will be in a position to make such threats with credibility, whatever the real meaning of this one is. That's no secret. It's been painfully obvious ever since the Arab oil embargo of 1973-75. And both political parties have in practice accepted that as a feature of our national position and our foreign policy ever since. And there's no sign the Obama Administration has the intention of trying to change that in any substantial way.

MJ Rosenberg suggests in a tweet that this may in part represent an effort by the Saud family to avoid a spread of the Arab Awakening to their kingdom: "Saudi understand the easiest way to secure regime is to be the ones who deliver Pal state. Smart." In another, he reminds us that the Saudis have enough power if they choose to use it to make Turki al-Faisal's threat more than hot air: "Guess what? US and US president need Saudis a lot more than either needs AIPAC."

The Bush family has long been very close to the Saudi royal family, as Craig Unger explained in some detail in his House of Bush, House of Saud (2004.) Maybe the two former Presidents Bush will intercede with their old friends to get them to back the hell off from threatening the Untied States. We can take it for granted that both Bushes would put American patriotism ahead of any vulgar financial considerations, can't we?

This is a video of an hour and 40 minutes of a lecture Prince Turki gave 04/23/2009 at Cornell, What We Expect From America: A Saudi Perspective:

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