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Monday, September 12, 2011

Saudi Arabia threatens the US in an NYT op-ed

A threat by former Saudi ambassador to the US Turki Faisal, which no doubt reflects official Saudi policy, called "Veto a State, Lose an Ally":
The United States must support the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations this month or risk losing the little credibility it has in the Arab world. If it does not, American influence will decline further, Israeli security will be undermined and Iran will be empowered, increasing the chances of another war in the region.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has. With most of the Arab world in upheaval, the “special relationship” between Saudi Arabia and the United States would increasingly be seen as toxic by the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, who demand justice for the Palestinian people.

Saudi leaders would be forced by domestic and regional pressures to adopt a far more independent and assertive foreign policy. Like our recent military support for Bahrain’s monarchy, which America opposed, Saudi Arabia would pursue other policies at odds with those of the United States, including opposing the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Iraq and refusing to open an embassy there despite American pressure to do so. The Saudi government might part ways with Washington in Afghanistan and Yemen as well.

If the Saudis supported Bahrain's monarchy against American wishes before any UNSC vote, why would the vote make a difference? The fact is that every country will act in ways that are in their self-interest, and Saudi Arabia is no different. Otherwise, Faisal is admitting that his country is now an American puppet. Obviously that is not true.
Israel should see the Palestinian bid for statehood not as a threat, but as a chance to return to the negotiating table and prevent further conflict. Recent polls show that up to 70 percent of Palestinians say they believe there will be a new intifada if the deadlock is not broken shortly; this should encourage Israel to seek peace with the moderate Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
I didn't see that poll, but it shows that Palestinian Arabs will resort to violence whenever they don't get 100% of what they demand. This is not a reason to give in to 100% of their demands, and as we have seen, they have not changed their demands of Israel since 1988.
The Palestinian statehood initiative is a chance to replace Oslo with a new paradigm based on state-to-state negotiations — a win-win proposition that makes the conflict more manageable and lays the groundwork for a lasting solution.
Israel giving up the heartland of the historic Jewish state, including historic Jerusalem, makes it a "win-win"?
Today, there is a chance for the United States and Saudi Arabia to contain Iran and prevent it from destabilizing the region. But this opportunity will be squandered if the Obama administration’s actions at the United Nations force a deepening split between our two countries.

Although Saudi Arabia is willing and able to chart a new and divergent course if America fails to act justly with regard to Palestine, the Middle East would be far better served by continuing cooperation and good will between these longstanding allies.
Is he saying that if the US vetoes the security council bid that Saudi Arabia will move under Iran's orbit? That its opposition to Iran is somehow dependent on US attitudes to Palestine? Because the two have nothing to do with each other, and if Faisal is making such a linkage, that means that the Saudis are no friends. Quite the contrary.

Faisal also fails to describe how exactly declaring a state helps real-life Palestinian Arabs.

Will the new state accept millions of so-called refugees in its borders? Not at all.

Will it help their economy? No, it will destroy it.

Will it pacify Hamas and Islamic Jihad? No, it will strengthen them.

If Saudi Arabia wants to help Palestinian Arabs, they can use their billions of petrodollars for good, and ask those who want to - voluntarily - to become citizens of Saudi Arabia. Only those who want to end their limbo that was imposed by most Arab governments for 63 years. These are the people that supposedly need "statehood" the most, yet no plan is being made to actually help them - on the contrary, they have been used as pawns for decades by self-righteous hypocrites like Saudi Arabia leaders. As well as Palestinian Arab leaders themselves.

Give them a choice. In the name of human rights, allow the many Palestinian Arabs who want to become normal citizens of Arab countries to have that right of citizenship.

Then, and only then, do hypocritical Arab states have the right to claim that they are trying to help the Palestinian Arab people.