Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Busy Saudi Diplomacy

As we Americans get ready to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday (and after this post TWR will be on hiatus), the Saudis press ahead with their diplomatic efforts--and whether they will make breakthroughs where Washington has had less than successful outcomes remains to be seen.

First, Pervez Musharraf, who took the opportunity to undertake the "omra" pilgrimage to Mecca, met with King Abdallah to discuss the situation in Pakistan and to reiterate his commitment to having free and fair elections for the parliament in January and to complete the process of a full return to civilian rule.

The AP quotes an unnamed Saudi official who said Musharraf had sought a meeting with Abdullah for a week. "He is counting on Saudi Arabia's historic ties (with Pakistan) to help him out of this crisis."

Today, Saudi Crown Prince Sultan begins his talks with Moscow with the Russians, in part to discuss the situation in Lebanon but more importantly the feasibility of the offer of the Gulf Cooperation Council to enrich Iran's uranium as a way to break the deadlock over Iran's demands for unimpeded access to nuclear fuel and the concern over having Iran have a nuclear infrastructure on its soil that could easily used to create weapons.

I find this second development interesting--I've always maintained that Russia has an interest in having the EU process on Iran falter so that Russia could emerge as the deciding factor--and if you have a Saudi-Russian joint effort that could produce a solution ... that would put not only Washington but also London, Paris and Berlin in the position of having to accede or reject? Fortunately for the West, Iran already seems to have rejected this idea.

On Pakistan, it raises an interesting question--who in the end would have more influence on Musharraf, as an outside leader, President Bush or King Abdallah? Although it does appear that the release of prisoners that is taking place occurred more as a result of U.S. pressure ...

Just some thoughts.

Nicholas Gvosdev

Perhaps you can explain to your readers why it is fortunate for the West that Iran already seems to have rejected the kind of proposals for a compromise on uranium enrichment that the Saudis and the Russians are discussing.

There is clearly a very real chance that the United States may go to war with Iran to stop it pursuing its nuclear programme. There is also a very real chance that, if it does so, complete disaster may ensue.

Is it really of such overriding importance to prevent a conspicuous Russian diplomatic success that we should be happy that the GCC proposals are unacceptable to Iran? If in your view it is so important, I would be most interested to know why.

Indeed it is important to prevent Russian diplomacy being seen resolving a crisis peacefully, because Real Realists understand only that the West has a right to conduct a conspicuously successful diplomacy.

One of the reasons we are in the various messes we are in is because Realists more or less went along with our insane policy of seeking unquestionable global dominance, and they still can't bear serious questioning of the wisdom of that. On that critical question, "Realists" are not particularly different from Wolfowitz or Podhoretz.
US & EU could have paid a lower diplomatic, economic, and political price and settled with Iran some time ago.

But they decided (for reasons unknown) that they prefer to pay a much higher price to Russia and China to drag on the issue.

You must salute Putin for his brilliant diplomacy: he asks IAEA to seal the nuclear fuel for Iran [keeping Iranians' hope alive] and a week later he receives a letter from US "which hears our concerns" about missile defense in Europe.

Machiavelli observed that it was a bad thing for a prince to cede to others power over his decisions.
David, knowing how Nik writes I think it was a tongue in cheek reference--will be interested to hear what he has to say though.
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