Saudis Pessimistic on Iraq

SAUDIS PESSIMISTIC ON IRAQ….According to the New York Times, the Saudi foreign minister has gone public with his concerns that Iraq is spinning out of control:

“There is no dynamic now pulling the nation together,” he said in a meeting with reporters at the Saudi Embassy here. “All the dynamics are pulling the country apart.” He said he was so concerned that he was carrying this message “to everyone who will listen” in the Bush administration.

….Prince Saud said he met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week and added that American officials generally responded to his warnings by telling him that the United States successfully carried off the Iraqi elections and “they say the same things about the constitution” and the broader situation in Iraq now….”But what I am trying do is say that unless something is done to bring Iraqis together, elections alone won’t do it. A constitution alone won’t do it.”

Part of this seems to be a shot across the bow, a warning from a leading official of a major Sunni state that any settlement in Iraq that marginalizes Sunnis is unacceptable. Beyond that, though, it’s hard to say what Saud’s motivation is, since he apparently didn’t offer any concrete suggestions about what we should be doing differently ? aside from treating Sunnis better. The Associated Press adds this:

Saud said if U.S. troops pulled out now, Iraq would dissolve into civil war. He also said that while his country would like to send an ambassador to Baghdad, doing so would make the diplomat an immediate target for assassination.

“I doubt that he’d last a day,” Saud said.

Saud also told reporters that high oil prices were due to a lack of refinery capacity, not a shortage of oil. However, as the AP laconically notes, the Saudis “have not explained why such a shortage would keep crude prices high if there was oil that couldn’t find a refinery.” That certainly strikes me as mysterious too.