The Saudis assert themselves

(1) The Telegraph on a new iteration of the Saudi peace plan, and its warning to Israel:

every Arab country would formally recognise Israel in return for a withdrawal from all the land captured in the war of 1967. This would entail a Palestinian state embracing the entire West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital. Every Arab country will almost certainly endorse this blueprint when the Riyadh summit concludes tomorrow. Prince Saud said Israel should accept or reject this final offer.

“What we have the power to do in the Arab world, we think we have done,” he said. “So now it is up to the other side because if you want peace, it is not enough for one side only to want it. Both sides must want it equally.”

Speaking inside his whitewashed palace, surrounded by luxuriant lawns and manicured flower beds resembling a green oasis in the drabness of Riyadh, Prince Saud delivered an unequivocal warning to Israel.

“If Israel refuses, that means it doesn’t want peace and it places everything back into the hands of fate. They will be putting their future not in the hands of the peacemakers but in the hands of the lords of war,” he said.

Prince Saud dismissed any further diplomatic overtures towards Israel. “It has never been proven that reaching out to Israel achieves anything,” he said. “Other Arab countries have recognised Israel and what has that achieved? “The largest Arab country, Egypt, recognised Israel and what was the result? Not one iota of change happened in the attitude of Israel towards peace.”

(2) Saudi King Abdullah takes on the US as well in a speech to the Arab League (NYT):

“In the beloved Iraq, the bloodshed is continuing under an illegal foreign occupation and detestable sectarianism.” He added: “The blame should fall on us, the leaders of the Arab nation, with our ongoing differences, our refusal to walk the path of unity. All that has made the nation lose its confidence in us.”

King Abdullah has not publicly spoken so harshly about the American-led military intervention in Iraq before, and his remarks suggest that his alliance with Washington may be less harmonious than administration officials have been hoping….

King Abdullah called for an end to the international boycott of the new Palestinian government. The United States and Israel want the boycott continued. In addition, Abdullah invited President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to Riyadh earlier this month, while the Americans want him shunned. And in trying to settle the tensions in Lebanon, the Saudis have been willing to negotiate with Iran and Hezbollah.

Last week the Saudi king canceled his appearance next month at a White House dinner in his honor, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The official reason given was a scheduling conflict, the paper said.

One purpose of the Saudi hard line coming from its most senior authorities may well be to assert Saudi authority over against Iran in the Middle East. Neither these words above, nor the Iranian kinapping of UK military hostages, seem to us particularly compelling evidence of strength and authority — indeed, rather the opposite. We are reminded again to wonder how much attention the world would pay to this neighborhood if it had no oil.

One Response to “The Saudis assert themselves”

  1. bernie Says:

    I linked to your article from The Holocaust began this day, 1933

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