Friday, July 27, 2007

US Angry at Saudi Role in Iraq

Some neo-cons have long favored changing policy towards the Saudis and even promoting regime change. Articles in the New York times and elsewhere now show a drift of US policy toward more criticism of the Saudis. The Saudis promoted the ill-fated unity government of Hamas and Fatah much to the dismay of the US. The US and Israel have already lured Egypt and Jordan into supporting Abbas against Hamas.
The Saudis are very concerned with Shia and Iranian power in Iraq. Support for insurgents comes from the Saudis as well as foreign fighters. Certainly the Saudis will not abandon the Sunni cause in Iraq although they might be persuaded to join in the Quartet Egypt and Jordan in isolating Hamas. On the other hand the Saudis may hope to gain more respect for holding out for Palestinian unity or at least try to promote it.


POLITICS
U.S. Increasingly Frustrated With Saudi Role in Iraq: Report
2007-07-27 04:23am


The Bush administration has become increasingly frustrated with the government of Saudi Arabia after discovering evidence over several months indicating the kingdom is aiding Sunni insurgents in Iraq, a report Friday said.

The New York Times reported Friday that as early as January of this year, Saudi government officials showed an American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, documents purporting to show that Iraq's prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Malik, is an agent of Iran and cannot be trusted.

One of those documents, the Times reported, claimed to indicate al-Maliki tipped off insurgent leader and radical Sh'ite cleric Moktada al-Sadr to "lie low" during the U.S. troop surge ordered by President Bush earlier this year because it was aimed, in part, at destroying al-Sadr's militia.

American reaction initially to the claims was skeptical, the paper said, but over the course of this year, Washington has come to view Saudi Arabia as not doing enough to insure stability in Iraq.

For one, said the report, an increasing number of insurgents from Saudi Arabia are being discovered in Iraq. Of the 60 to 80 fighters entering Iraq each month, U.S. military intelligence officials estimate half of those are coming from the oil-rich kingdom.

For another, American officials claimed to the Times they had seen evidence of Saudi Arabia's financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq.

Senior Bush administration officials said concerns would be raised with the Saudis next month with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates make a rare joint visit to Jidda, Saudi Arabia.

The paper said officials who spoke about the concerns, all on the condition of anonymity, had become equally frustrated that private conversations with Saudi officials about their government's counterproductive activities in Iraq had gone unchanged.

The Sunni-influenced Saudi government has not hidden its desire to help fellow Sunnis in Iraq. Last fall, in a meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney, Saudi King Abdullah Saudi Arabia might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq's Shiites if the United States pulled its troops out of Iraq, American and Arab diplomats told the Times.

(c) 2007 Newsroom.

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