The editorial in this morning's newspaper on the second day of President Bush's stay in Riyadh may be of interest as a reflection of Saudi attitudes bearing on Iran and other regional issues.
The Middle East's Leading English Language Daily
15 January 2008
Our region is not short of bloodshed and instability. Iraq, Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territories and Afghanistan are all scenes of past and present conflicts where largely innocent blood has flowed in plenty. We do not need yet another dangerous conflict.
That is why it was so sad, even depressing, to hear US President George W. Bush use his visit to the Gulf to continue his saber-rattling against the Iranians - and over a nuclear weapons program which his own intelligence chiefs say Tehran abandoned five years ago. To any dispassionate observer, US military action against Iran is unthinkable. Unfortunately the Bush administration's record since 9/11 has not only embraced the unthinkable but, more dangerously, it has embraced it in an unthinking fashion.
To continue such dire warnings was inconsiderate given that Bush was the guest of Gulf states which are on Iran's doorstep. Such warnings were not what we wanted to hear. As Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal told his Canadian counterpart Maxime Bernier this week in a message that he then repeated to French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, confrontational behavior by Washington toward Iran was not the answer. If Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states had a problem with Iran concerning its nuclear program, then they would talk to Tehran as neighbors should.
Before Bush's Middle East visit, White House briefers were telling correspondents that the president would be pushing the Israelis for a Palestinian settlement in return for Arab backing of a tough stance with Iran. It was suggested that Israel might be more tractable if the "Iranian nuclear threat" were removed. But the linkage simply is not there. It is because of the enduring injustices visited upon the Palestinians, with US connivance, that the Arab world, not least Saudi Arabia, which has long been a US ally, has been so disappointed by the failure to reward loyalty and friendship by Washington's driving through a Palestinian settlement. And further, it is because Israel - again with US connivance - has acquired a nuclear arsenal that Iran and, before it, Saddam's Iraq even thought of acquiring their own nuclear deterrents.
Purblind US policies and Washington's desperate failure time and again to listen to the advice and guidance of its Arab friends in the region have brought us to this new moment of tension with Iran. We do not need more threats of war. Warmongering has already created the greatest level of regional instability in 60 years. Bush's inflammatory threats against Iran ride roughshod over the counsels of peace that he has heard from every Arab government on his Middle East visit.
Whatever threat Iran may constitute, now or in the future, must be addressed peaceably and through negotiations. The consequences of further war in the region are hideous, not least because they are incalculable. Even Bush, with the ruin of Iraq before him, must surely see that. Yet in his confrontational remarks about Iran, he offers no carrot, no inducement, no compromise - only the big US stick. This is not diplomacy in search of peace. It is madness in search of war.
Copyright:Arab News © 2003 All rights reserved