Saudi Arabia is a brutal dictatorship run by crooks.
Despite this, however, it remains a close friend of the US and “ally” of Israel.
The recent war against Gaza may have changed all that, writes Prince Turki, chairman of King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh. He has also been director of Saudi intelligence, ambassador to the UK and Ireland and ambassador to the US:
Last week, President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad of Iran wrote a letter to King Abdullah, explicitly recognising Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Arab and Muslim worlds and calling on him to take a more confrontational role over “this obvious atrocity and killing of your own children” in Gaza. The communiqué is significant because the de facto recognition of the kingdom’s primacy from one of its most ardent foes reveals the extent that the war has united an entire region, both Shia and Sunni. Further, Mr Ahmadi-Nejad’s call for Saudi Arabia to lead a jihad against Israel would, if pursued, create unprecedented chaos and bloodshed in the region.
So far, the kingdom has resisted these calls, but every day this restraint becomes more difficult to maintain. When Israel deliberately kills Palestinians, appropriates their lands, destroys their homes, uproots their farms and imposes an inhuman blockade on them; and as the world laments once again the suffering of the Palestinians, people of conscience from every corner of the world are clamouring for action. Eventually, the kingdom will not be able to prevent its citizens from joining the worldwide revolt against Israel.
The US and Israeli obsession with refusing negotiations with “extremists” has led nowhere. Hamas and other Islamist forces must be engaged, otherwise there is zero chance of the Middle East moving forward.
Of course, Israel rather likes being in conflict with “terrorists” everywhere.
Soon, though, it will have no friends left.