Sunday, October 27, 2013

Enemies friend by Erick San Juan

In comments to European diplomats last weekend, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan confirmed that his country’s decision last Friday not to accept a temporary seat on the UN Security Council was “a message for the US, not the UN.”

Having collaborated closely in the US-led war for regime change in Syria, Saudi Arabia reacted angrily to the Obama administration’s decision to pull back from an imminent missile and air attack on Syria last month. It also has concerns over Washington’s involvement in international talks with Iran, which Riyadh regards as its chief rival in the region.

A source close to Saudi policy makers told Reuters: “Prince Bandar told [European] diplomats that he plans to limit interaction with the US. This happens after the US failed to take any effective action on Syria and Palestine. Relations with the US have been deteriorating for a while, as Saudi feels that the US is growing closer to Iran.”

And “the shift away from the US is a major one. Saudi doesn’t want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.” Prince Bandar also warned that there would be wide-ranging consequences, including on purchases of US arms and on oil sales.

The longstanding US-Saudi alliance has rested on the assumption that Saudi Arabia would supply oil and purchase American arms in return for a US guarantee of security for the autocratic Saudi monarchy. The Reuters article suggested that Riyadh might also scale back its purchase of US bonds and other dollar-denominated assets. “All options are on the table now, and for sure there will be some impact,” the source said.

A Wall Street Journal article pointed to another recent source of Saudi bitterness. When asked by Riyadh for details of US plans to defend Saudi oil production during a US attack on Syria, “Americans told them US ships wouldn’t be able to fully protect the oil region.” Dissatisfied with the response, “the Saudis told the US that they were open to alternatives to their longstanding defense partnership, emphasizing that they would look for good weapons at good prices, whatever the source.” (Saudi Officials Vent Anger Over US Failure to Attack Syria,, 10.25.2013)

This important development in the US-Saudi relationship  is just like the US-Iran ‘partnership’ on the Syrian crisis issue. One – soon to part ways while the other one (US-Iran) is on the same road with the United Nations to resolve the crisis in Syria.

Some pundits even suggested that the anger of the Saudi regime might be the way for the Kingdom to turn to China. Far out? Hmmm… possible for the old adage that the enemy of my enemy ( now) could be my friend. Why not?

But as Victor Kotsev wrote in his article - Rebels offer Assad a comeback: “Right now the possibility of a Western intervention has all but evaporated: US-Iranian negotiations have taken the front seat, and such an adventure would put paid to any possible accord. In the foreseeable future, moreover, deepening Russian involvement in Syria could be a guarantee of sorts for Assad's tenure.

William Polk, a top former US analyst and a member of the Cuban Missile Crisis management team, estimated in a recent analysis that the US-Russian agreement over the Syrian chemical weapons would eventually involve some "5-10 thousand Russians and perhaps twice that number of UN-designated peacekeeping forces from third world countries." Polk added, "With a Russian force in residence and forced to protect its widely scattered personnel and a significant UN peacekeeping force interspersed among the Russians, the government can to some degree discount external aggression."

Officially, Moscow is tight-lipped about any such plans, but it is already deeply involved in Syria and even the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization hinted recently that Russia would assist more actively there.

Still, the hard-core international supporters of the rebels, such as Saudi Arabia, are not giving up either. The fight is likely to be long and no less brutal than it has already been. In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, Syria expert Joshua Landis estimated that the recent decision by the Saudis to reject their seat at the UN Security Council was meant to deflect pressure on them to change their course.

As the world awaits for the next move in the said crisis, divisions inside and outside Washington is getting deeper. But as perceived by the rest of the world, such deadlock on the Syrian crisis is a sign that there would be peace… for the meantime. Yes for a while, for the world war scenario is already programmed. It can be delayed but it will push through whether we like it or not.

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