Saudies: Yankees, Don't Go Home
The New York Times
December 13, 2006
By HELENE COOPER
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, . . .
. . .
Until now Saudi officials have promised their counterparts in the United States that they would refrain from aiding Iraq’s Sunni insurgency. But that pledge holds only as long as the United States remains in Iraq.
. . .
The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, . . . , recently fired Nawaf Obaid, a consultant who wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post two weeks ago contending that “one of the first consequences” of an American pullout of Iraq would “be massive Saudi intervention to stop Iranian-backed Shiite militias from butchering Iraqi Sunnis.”
Mr. Obaid also suggested that Saudi Arabia could cut world oil prices in half by raising its production, a move that he said “would be devastating to Iran, which is facing economic difficulties even with today’s high oil prices.” The Saudi government disavowed Mr. Obaid’s column, and Prince Turki canceled his contract.
But Arab diplomats said Tuesday that Mr. Obaid’s column reflected the view of the Saudi government, which has made clear its opposition to an American pullout from Iraq.
In a speech in Philadelphia last week, Prince Turki reiterated the Saudi position against an American withdrawal from Iraq. “Just picking up and leaving is going to create a huge vacuum,” he told the World Affairs Council. “The U.S. must underline its support for the Maliki government because there is no other game in town.”
. . .
. . . On Monday a group of prominent Saudi clerics called on Sunni Muslims around the world to mobilize against Shiites in Iraq. The statement called the “murder, torture and displacement of Sunnis” an “outrage.”
1) The Saudies want the US to stay in Iraq and support the current Shiite led government.
2) They want no US negotiations with Iran.
3) If the US leaves Iraq the Saudies may take side by supporting the Sunnies. This squares very badly with the recent trends in the Gulf and elsewhere. A Shiite religious party and Sunni Salafists split the votes almost evenly in the recent elections in Bahrain. Not one liberal candidate got elected. The Saudi involvement in a civil war in Iraq is bound to exacerbate further the Sunni Shia tensions across the Gulf
4) Iran's economy is in a bad shape, we know this. But as The Economist and others claim the OPEC has lost control of the prices years ago and has no spare production capacity, which makes it highly improbable that Saudi Arabia on its own can cut the oil price in half.
Related posts on Iran's economy and Sunni Shia dynamics in the Gulf:
Another Sleepless Night
Democracy Comes to Bahrain. . . At Last
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