Skip to comments.Saudis tell Bush to moderate Israel support or face "Grave Consequences"!
Posted on 04/26/2002 5:45:51 PM PDT by vannrox
Saudis tell Bush to moderate Israel support
By Randall Mikkelsen
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush and Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah have met amid Saudi warnings that Bush must moderate U.S. support for Israel or risk "grave consequences."
The two leaders met for nearly five hours on Thursday at Bush's ranch as world oil prices jumped on reports -- later denied by the Saudis -- that frustration over perceived U.S. favouritism toward Israel could drive Saudi Arabia to consider supporting an Iraqi suspension of oil exports.
The U.S. side declined to immediately characterise the talks, but a Saudi foreign policy adviser told reporters that Abdullah had come with a warning that U.S. relations with the Arab world would be endangered unless Washington persuaded Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to end the occupation of Palestinian areas.
"He (Abdullah) doesn't mince his words, like the president. ... If the U.S. doesn't do more to reduce the violence, there will be grave consequences for the U.S. and its interests," adviser Adel al-Jubeir said.
The New York Times on Thursday quoted a source close to Abdullah as saying there was talk within the Saudi royal family of using the "oil weapon" against the United States.
But Saudi officials said the country was not considering supporting an Iraqi suspension of oil exports to the United States and that it was committed to maintaining a supply-demand equilibrium and "fair" prices.
"Oil is not a weapon. Oil is not a tank. You cannot fire oil," al-Jubeir told reporters.
BEARS CONCERNS OF ANGRY ARAB PUBLIC
Bush met Abdullah at the door to his ranch house wearing a suit and silver, Western style belt buckle. Abdullah wore a traditional gold-trimmed, brown robe. After two hours of formal talks -- an hour longer than scheduled -- the two broke for a tour of the sprawling ranch.
Abdullah, who has assumed day-to-day control of the Saudi government because of King Fahd's illness, is the author of a Middle East peace plan accepted at a recent Arab summit. As an increasingly influential voice in the region, he came to the meeting bearing the concerns of Arab nations whose citizens are outraged at the Israeli crackdown on Palestinian areas.
Underscoring the importance of the meeting, Vice President Dick Cheney, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice all took part. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met Abdullah on Wednesday.
Arab anger toward the United States has risen along with perceptions Washington is unabashedly pro-Israel.
Many Arabs were looking for the Saudi crown prince to press Bush for Israeli agreement to end its occupation of Palestinian territory, including the siege of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Ramallah compound, and accept a Palestinian state.
"If he (Sharon) is left to his own devices, he will drag the region over a cliff," al-Jubeir said.
Bush, on the other hand, wants Abdullah and other Arab leaders to refrain from inciting anti-Israeli violence, and to urge Arafat to make peace. He was expected to raise concerns about Saudi support for the Palestinian uprising.
Bush's conservative Republican base has strongly backed Israel, which also has a significant lobby in Congress and long-term Democratic support. Opinion polls show most Americans sympathise with the Jewish state.
Republican senators debating new energy legislation seized on the New York Times report to accuse Saudi Arabia of arrogance and "blackmail" for any suggestion of a link between oil supplies and foreign policy.
"We're looking at a situation in the Mideast today where clearly oil is a weapon," said Republican U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, an advocate of opening an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling.
'NEITHER SIDE CAN MAKE THAT PLEDGE'
The main issue at the summit, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Youssef Ibrahim said, was: "Can Bush actually come out and say, 'We pledge to deliver Israel, if you pledge to deliver the Arab world'? I think neither side can make that pledge."
A starting point was Abdullah's proposal for normalised Arab relations with Israel in exchange for the return of land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Bush has sought to build on the plan which he views as a "new portal" to peace.
But Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said on Wednesday no peace talks could be held until Israel pulled out of Palestinian areas and ended Arafat's isolation.
The original U.S. aim for the meeting, to build support for Washington's campaign to unseat Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, has been overshadowed. But it would nonetheless be discussed, as would trade and economic issues, a senior U.S. official said.
U.S.-Saudi relations were strained by the September 11 attacks. The United States says 15 of the 19 men suspected of carrying out the hijackings were Saudis.
Saudi Arabia has been a longtime U.S. ally, allowing the United States to use its bases for attacks on Iraq during the Gulf War and for air patrols since then.
Osama bin Laden, a Saudi-born exile blamed by the United States for the Sept. 11 attacks, has said closing the bases was a priority in his campaign to drive the United States from the region.
The Saudi Embassy has begun a television ad campaign in the United States promoting Saudi-U.S. ties and urging Americans to "Please keep your eyes, ears and especially your minds open."
Gee, what will the Saudi's do--give MORE money to Islamic extremists?? Provide MORE pilots to drive airplanes into US buildings??
Saudi Arabia is as big an enemy of the west as Iraq--they are just wilier about it. When it is to their maximum advantage, they WILL stab the U.S. in the back.
I do keep my mind open and Islam is a False Religion.
Yawn .... full of "rage" and whatnot all year round.
This is not the kind of public statement that normally comes from a trained diplomat, nor wins friends and influences American presidents. Thus, I wonder:
1. What role does al-Jubeir really play in Saudi affairs?
2. How long will he remain in that role?
Inasmuch as it cannot bear any relationship to what Abdullah really said, and how he said it, al-Jubeir is obviously aiming his comments at a Middle East audience. Which also leaves me to wonder what it is that Abdullah really said. Because, odds are, it didn't resemble this statement...
Frankly, get it over and done with - 25,000 Marines are sufficient to hold the oil fields and terminals against any combination of Arab armies until reinforced several months later.
LOL! Why doesn't President Bush just play hardball and solve the problem???
Their gambit ATM is that they cannot support Bush on Iraq because of US support for Israel. Eliminate that excuse and they will come up with another just as feeble.
Their main concern is that resolving the Iraq problem will install a US compliant regime there which will be a strong counter to the Saud oil influence - the reason the Saudis lobbied Bush senior not to finish off Saddam H. last time around.