Thursday, December 14, 2006

Saudis Involved in America's Foreign Policy

I have many questions about what the Saudis are doing these days and what it is they want to accomplish. Here's an important story by Helene Cooper of The New York Times:
Saudi Arabia has told the Bush administration that it might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq’s Shiites if the United States pulls its troops out of Iraq, according to American and Arab diplomats.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia conveyed that message to Vice President Dick Cheney two weeks ago during Mr. Cheney’s whirlwind visit to Riyadh, the officials said. During the visit, King Abdullah also expressed strong opposition to diplomatic talks between the United States and Iran, and pushed for Washington to encourage the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, senior Bush administration officials said.

I would certainly support returning to talks with Israel and the Palestinians but the rest is baffling to me. One could argue that most of what the Saudis are saying amounts to interference in America's foreign policy. Or perhaps the Saudis are seeing things that Bush and the media are not seeing. There's also the question in my mind of whether Cheney was doing the talking or doing the listening. If he was listening, then I want to know why the Saudis were not saying this to Condolezza Rice, or even possibly Stephen Hadley, if they wanted someone with a lower profile. The Saudis ought to know by know that Cheney has a trust factor among the American public pretty much in the negative zone.

Juan Cole of Informed Comment and Steve Clemons of The Washington Note have their own thoughts on these developments. Please feel free to put any links on the Saudis in the comments. All I can say is that something doesn't feel right about all this. And of course it doesn't help that Iran is behaving more erratically.

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