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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Saudi delusion

US Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice continues to delude herself that the Saudis are going to thank the US for selling them $20 billion in arms by playing a positive role in the 'peace process.'
The New York Times reported Saturday that the Pentagon was trying to ease Israeli concerns about the arms deal to Riyadh by asking the Saudis to accept "restrictions on the range, size and location of the satellite-guided bombs," including a commitment not to store the weapons at air bases close to Israeli territory.

Officials who asked not to be identified told The Jerusalem Post said Monday that, due to links to different issues in the region, the US restrictions on the smart bombs might make it more difficult for Rice to rally the Saudis to play a more public role in supporting the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process.

Rice issued a statement Monday announcing, "a renewed commitment to the security of our key strategic partners in the region. To support our continued diplomatic engagement in the region, we are forging new assistance agreements with the Gulf States, Israel and Egypt."

"This effort will help bolster forces of moderation and support a broader strategy to counter the negative influences of al-Qaida, Hizbullah, Syria and Iran," she added.

Rice also announced that the US would soon include a new 10-year military assistance agreement with Israel and is also beginning discussions with Egypt on a 10-year, $13 billion military assistance agreement.

Rice did not spell out the size of the arms deal to Saudi Arabia, but said: "Further modernizing the Egyptian and Saudi Armed Forces and increasing interoperability will bolster our partners' resolve in confronting the threat of radicalism and cement their respective roles as regional leaders in the quest for Middle East peace and in ensuring Lebanon's freedom and independence. We plan to consult closely with Congress and our allies on the specifics of these agreements."
It wouldn't matter if the Saudis got $0 in weapons or $100 billion in weapons - there is no way in the world they will play any kind of active role in getting Israel 'recognized' by the Arab world or in resolving (as if it is capable of resolution) the 'Middle East conflict.'

The Arab League also met today in Cairo and produced its usual belligerent statements:
Monday's draft statement stressed that peace cannot be achieved unless Israel fully withdraws from all occupied Arab territories, solves the Palestinian refugee issue and allows the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. The ministers also called on the international community to exert pressure on Israel to release more than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Anyone see any Arab undertakings there? I don't.

And then there are the relations among the Arabs themselves. Not all of them are happy about American largesse towards Saudi Arabiaa (okay, Iran is technically not an Arab country):
Also Monday, the state broadcasting company reported that Iran's foreign ministry spokesman criticized US plans to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, saying it would undermine security in the Middle East.

"What the Persian Gulf region needs is stability and security," Mohammad Ali Hosseini was quoted as saying on the Web site of the state broadcasting company. "Americans have been trying to disturb it by selling weapons to the region."
But Iranian nukes are likely to bring peace, love and stability. Tell me about it....

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