Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and Prince Salman 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
I’ve been reading how the Saudis are peeved at President Barack Obama for not
having bombed Syria when he threatened to, but instead working out a deal, with
Russian help, to destroy Bashar Assad’s vast chemical weapons
The job isn’t over but significant progress is being made. The
big beneficiary, in addition to the Syrian people, is Israel, although it would
have liked to see the Americans bomb Syria anyway. President Assad, after
denying he even had chemical weapons much less ever used them, finally admitted
he built and stockpiled so much poison gas so he could kill Israelis.
for those pissed-off potentates of the desert, I have no sympathy. For decades
the Saudis have been buying the best the Pentagon had to offer – top-of-the-line
planes, bombs and assorted weapons – using their obscene profits from the high
prices we were paying at the gas pumps.
They’ve got upwards of 200 F-15s
plus stockpiles of smart-bombs and missiles, attack helicopters and, of course,
don’t forget the AWACS, which can provide command and control all the way to the
target and back. They’ve gotten anything they’ve ever wanted. So, if they think
Assad deserves a few missiles up the keister as punishment for gassing his own
people, they have the means to do it themselves – if they’ve got the guts and
aren’t too busy making sure women can’t drive cars in the kingdom. It’s only 15
minutes in a Mach 2.5 F-15 – from the King Faisal Air Base at Tabuk. Those F-15s
have a range of more than 2,500 miles with the conformal fuel pods attached (we
tried to prevent that sale also in 1981 and failed).
There’s no need for
refueling for the quick round trip, and each plane carries an impressive
assortment weapons. And don’t forget those AWACS providing guidance and early
warning of any threats.
In a fit of pique the Saudis turned down a seat
on the UN Security Council because they felt the United Nations and United
States weren’t doing enough to stop the war in Syria or get the Israelis to make
a deal to the Palestinians’ liking.
Saudi intelligence chief Bandar Bin
Sultan Al Saud told European diplomats that his country would be putting some
distance between itself and the United States.
That’s a bit odd for a
country that owes its survival to the United States.
And a bit unusual
for Bandar, the flamboyant prince and longtime ambassador to Washington known
for his lavish entertaining, penchant for Cuban cigars and such easy access to
the White House.
Following the first Gulf War, when America prevented
Saddam Hussein from taking their oil fields, the Saudis evicted the Americans
from bases in the kingdom, but told US forces to stand off “15 minutes away over
the horizon” in case they were needed again, in the words of one unnamed Saudi
official. They’re upset Obama isn’t another Bush. The second time, when we
actually finished off Saddam, they weren’t so forthcoming – maybe because Bush
43 installed a pro-Iranian Shi’ite regime in Baghdad – and we’re still paying
the price, especially in VA benefits for the permanently injured.The Saudis have
consistently demanded Washington apply more pressure to Israel to make a deal
with the Palestinians (they’ve also grown weary of the conflict and became
anxious to see it end in the interest of regional stability). Frustrated by the
stalemate, then-crown prince and now King Abdullah dropped a peace plan on the
table (via The New York Times) in 2002 – offering full peace for full Israeli
withdrawal and other terms – and since then he’s done little more than complain
it didn’t get enough love.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has rejected
it, although several of his predecessors were more open and tried to discuss it
with the Saudis but were swiftly rebuffed.
If the king was really serious
about peace all he’s had to do is pick up the phone. A call to Israeli and the
Palestinian leaders inviting them to meet and to convince them of his strong
support for peace would be more powerful and useful than any White House photo
op. But that takes guts, something the Saudis famously lack.
Palestinians fear any agreement with Israel will be attacked by Hamas and other
Arabs as surrender, and they need the political, diplomatic and financial
backing the Saudis can give to sanction essential compromises.
are best positioned to help both sides and the cause of peace, but so far they
seem more interested in sitting on the sidelines complaining about everyone
else. It’s time to swap their petulance for participation. If they are too
afraid, maybe they should let a woman do the driving.Douglas Bloomfield