Saudi Arabia’s warning to the US

by | Jan 27, 2009


If you missed Turki al-Faisal’s op-ed in the FT last week, then take a look.  Entitled “Saudi Arabia’s patience is running out”, the language of the former Saudi Ambassador to the UK and the US (and before that the long-time head of Saudi intelligence) is blunt.  For instance:

Unless the new US administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the peace process, the US-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk. Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Saudi foreign minister, told the UN Security Council that if there was no just settlement, “we will turn our backs on you” …

America is not innocent in this calamity. Not only has the Bush administration left a sickening legacy in the region, but it has also, through an arrogant attitude about the butchery in Gaza, contributed to the slaughter of innocents. If the US wants to continue playing a leadership role in the Middle East and keep its strategic alliances intact – especially its “special relationship” with Saudi Arabia – it will have to revise drastically its policies vis a vis Israel and Palestine.

Think that’s strong?  Try this:

Last week, President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad of Iran wrote a letter to King Abdullah, explicitly recognising Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Arab and Muslim worlds and calling on him to take a more confrontational role over “this obvious atrocity and killing of your own children” in Gaza. The communiqué is significant because the de facto recognition of the kingdom’s primacy from one of its most ardent foes reveals the extent that the war has united an entire region, both Shia and Sunni. Further, Mr Ahmadi-Nejad’s call for Saudi Arabia to lead a jihad against Israel would, if pursued, create unprecedented chaos and bloodshed. So far, the kingdom has resisted these calls, but every day this restraint becomes more difficult to maintain …

Today, every Saudi is a Gazan, and we remember well the words of our late King Faisal: “I hope you will forgive my outpouring of emotions, but when I think that our Holy Mosque in Jerusalem is being invaded and desecrated, I ask God that if I am unable to undertake Holy Jihad, then I should not live a moment more.”

The FT followed Turki’s article up with a leader yesterday, observing that:

Anyone with a stake in the stability of the wider Middle East should take very seriously the warning set forth in the Financial Times last Friday by Prince Turki al-Faisal … The Saudis have emitted a crescendo of warnings, as Arab leaders over the past decade have lost faith in American leadership and signalled they may make their own arrangements: hostile to Israel, in detente with Iran, and turning their backs on the US – unless it can restrain its Israeli ally. 

Pretty sobering.  Also worth checking out this analysis from a retired US foreign service officer who was twice posted to Sauid Arabia.

Author

  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.


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