28 March 2007

Saudi king lashes U.S.

A critic the Americans don't need -- King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

In his opening speech at the Arab League summit, Abdullah condemned the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq as an “illegitimate foreign occupation” and went on to say that aid to the Palestinians should resume. When one of America's closest friends and allies in the Middle East strongly condemns two of its major policies in the region, the Bush administration has got to feel the ground shifting under its feet.

Abdullah's distancing himself from the U.S. is due partly to the ground shifting under his feet. Seeing the growth of Shia power in the region, particularly the increasing influence of Iran, and dealing with growing Islamic extremism in his own country, he recognizes the need for Arab unity, particularly the need to defuse the increasingly violent confrontations between Shia and Sunni. He sees the Palestine problem and the war in Iraq as inflaming Muslim radicals while enhancing the influence of the Arabs' Persian neighbour. These sources of hostility and conflict have been aggravated, even caused, by American interference, and therefore that interference has become a threat he can no longer tolerate.

The Sauds are, in themselves, misogynist dictators the world would be better off without. Nonetheless, if they can make a contribution to peace between Shia and Sunni, between Iran and the Arabs, and between the Israelis and the Palestinians, as they genuinely seem to be trying to do, they will at least have made themselves useful.

As for the Americans, t
his is not a friend they can afford to alienate. It has, after all, the world's largest reserves of oil.

No comments:

Post a Comment