Aug 2 2009
“First deal with the Iranian threat,” YOU MORON!
Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal’s rejection of the Obama administration’s Middle East approach was a lot more comprehensive than a blunt refusal to improve relations with Israel to help restart peace talks. DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that in closed-door talks with US leaders, including secretary of state Hillary Clinton, the Saudi prince urged the US to get off their backs on the Israeli-Palestinian issue and deal more seriously and effectively with top-urgency action for stopping Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb.
Riyadh is loath to waste effort on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or any other elements of the Obama program such as détente with Syria when far more urgent business tops the royal agenda. The Saudis object strongly to the further entrenchment of the Shiite-ruled government in Baghdad and the restoration of Syrian influence in Beirut – both under US auspices. Washington is also seen to be making overtures towards Hizballah which can only strengthen the hand of the Lebanese Shiite extremists in the Lebanese government coalition. Furthermore, they see the bitter rift between the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip and the Fatah faction governing the West Bank as irreconcilable and therefore an insurmountable barrier to Middle East peacemaking.
The Saudis maintain that Obama and his Middle East envoy George Mitchell have been sidetracked by minor regional issues from dealing with the primary concern of the Gulf and Middle East region, the looming threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Until that cloud is lifted, they say, no other initiatives have a chance. Paradoxically, this reading of the Middle East impasse is shared by Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his defense minister Ehud Barak.
Saudi al Faisal’s angry snub of the Obama administration’s Middle East plans carries a clear message: “First tackle the perils besetting us from the east and the north (Iraq and Iran) before you badger us about the Israelis and Palestinians.” DEBKA