Running Out Of Friends

March 28th, 2007at 11:20am Posted by Eli

Looks like the Saudis aren’t Dubya’s BFF anymore:

[Bush’s] decision to schedule a mid-April White House gala for Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah signified the president’s high regard for an Arab monarch who is also a Bush family friend.

Now the White House ponders what Abdullah’s sudden and sparsely explained cancellation of the dinner signifies. Nothing good — especially for Condoleezza Rice’s most important Middle East initiatives — is the clearest available answer.

(…)

Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national security adviser, flew to Washington last week to explain to Bush that April 17 posed a scheduling problem. ” ‘It is not convenient’ was the way it was put,” says one official.

But administration sources report that Bush and his senior advisers were not convinced by Bandar’s vagueness — especially since it followed Saudi decisions to seek common ground with Iran and the radicals of Hezbollah and Hamas instead of confronting them as part of Rice’s proposed “realignment” of the Middle East into moderates and extremists.

(…)

Abdullah gave a warm welcome to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Riyadh in early March, not long after the Saudis pressured Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas into accepting a political accord that entrenches Hamas in an unwieldy coalition government with Abbas’s Fatah movement.

“The Saudis surprised us by going that far,” explained one White House official in a comment that reached — and irritated — Saudi officials. So don’t count on Abdullah to put new force behind his long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative at the Arab summit scheduled this week in Riyadh.

(…)[T]he Saudis, too, know how to read election returns. They see Bush swimming against a tide of scandal and stench that engulfs his most trusted aides. In the traditional Saudi worldview, this is a moment to hedge, not to indulge in the kind of leadership needed to break the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock or the deadly morass of Iraq.

In other words, the Saudis are not going to stick their necks out for a very lame duck, and they clearly want no part of Bush’s desire to provoke a war with Iran, which is understandable.

The lesson here is a simple one, and it applies to more than just foreign policy: If you’re going to be an asshole all the time, don’t expect anyone to have your back unless it’s convenient for them. The Saudis are frantically waving their hands in front of them and saying, “No no no, we’re not with the crazy guy! He’s our buddy’s kid!”

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iran,Iraq,War


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