September 20, 2011

Saudis warn us on Palestine - they've done so before

I'm reading a great new book, The Oil Kings, about how the Shah of Iran and King Faisal (then his brothers, after his assassination) worked to leverage oil demand vis-a-vis both the U.S. as a nation and western petroleum companies.

It got me to thinking again about Prince Turki's op-ed in the NYT a week or so ago.

Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal recently penned a mildly worded but strongly voiced op-ed in the New York Times saying the U.S. needs to support Palestinian statehood at the U.N. rather than "risk losing the little credibility it has in the Arab world."

If that's not a shot across the bow, this should be:
Moreover, Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has. With most of the Arab world in upheaval, the “special relationship” between Saudi Arabia and the United States would increasingly be seen as toxic by the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, who demand justice for the Palestinian people. 

Saudi leaders would be forced by domestic and regional pressures to adopt a far more independent and assertive foreign policy. Like our recent military support for Bahrain’s monarchy, which America opposed, Saudi Arabia would pursue other policies at odds with those of the United States, including opposing the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Iraq and refusing to open an embassy there despite American pressure to do so.

 That's a big, big threat there. In Iraq, that would mean the Anbar Awakening would re-awaken; Shi'a-Sunni warfare would start over. That's especially true if "opposing Maliki" meant the Saudis (through appropriate third-party funneling) actually started providing money, arms or both to an Anbar Re-Awakening. The U.S. would either be hamstrung or else forced to keep more troops there. And, Iran would surely up its support for Moqtada al-Sadr, who would probably push Maliki to fight back harder, or else would himself disavow the Maliki government.

And, in an ongoing recession, if we do start to recover, any would-be Saudi help on oil supplies could go by the boards. Turki doesn't mention that, but ... does he have to?

And, Turki didn't write this column alone. This is the public expression, in some way, shape or form, of what Riyadh has privately told the Obama Administration through diplomatic channels in the past few weeks.

Beyond that, the Obama threat that negotiations are "the only way"? First, the Al-Jazeera Papers show the U.S. colluded with Israel in sabotaging negotiations. Second, the Palestinians know from that and other things that, as when facing Republicans, Obama has no balls facing Netanyahu.

So: Will Dear Leader listen to Prince Turki, or will he listen to Zionists and semi-Zionists in the U.S. instead?

If he has an ounce of brains, he'll listen to the Saudis. And that brings me back to The Oil Kings.

The Saudis have warned us before, on other Middle East events, and we didn't listen.

They warned us weeks before the Yom Kippur War -- a war in which their own troops fought! -- that it was coming down the pike. And we, especially Henry Kissinger, who comes off as not just devious but hugely incompetent in this book, didn't listen. They warned us about other, lesser events in the Middle East after that, and we usually didn't listen, at least not totally.

That said, with young Israelis of the middle class, especially the information class, self-propagandizing against Palestinians, it's going to be a long, long slog for statehood.

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