Marching Orders From the House of Saud

MARCHING ORDERS FROM THE HOUSE OF SAUD….Nawaf Obaid is “an adviser to the Saudi government,” but his opinions “are his own and do not reflect official Saudi policy.” Roger that. With that boilerplate warning out of the way, Obaid takes to the pages of the Washington Post to warn us in no uncertain terms that if we try to withdraw from Iraq, the Saudi monarchy will make us very, very sorry:

Saudi leadership is preparing to substantially revise its Iraq policy. Options now include providing Sunni military leaders (primarily ex-Baathist members of the former Iraqi officer corps, who make up the backbone of the insurgency) with the same types of assistance ? funding, arms and logistical support ? that Iran has been giving to Shiite armed groups for years. Another possibility includes the establishment of new Sunni brigades to combat the Iranian-backed militias.

….Remaining on the sidelines would be unacceptable to Saudi Arabia. To turn a blind eye to the massacre of Iraqi Sunnis would be to abandon the principles upon which the kingdom was founded. It would undermine Saudi Arabia’s credibility in the Sunni world and would be a capitulation to Iran’s militarist actions in the region.

To be sure, Saudi engagement in Iraq carries great risks ? it could spark a regional war. So be it: The consequences of inaction are far worse.

And while he’s at it, Obaid tosses out a warning to Iran the American oil industry that Saudi Arabia might also try to drive oil prices into the ground by increasing production and cutting its own prices in half. Now, as far as I know, Saudi Arabia doesn’t actually have much in the way of spare capacity at the moment, so this seems like a bit of an empty threat. For that matter, I have my doubts that the Saudis actually have the capacity to intervene all that effectively with military assistance to Iraq’s Sunni community either. But who knows? They can certainly make things worse if they put their minds to it.

In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the lecture the House of Saud delivered to Dick Cheney after they summoned him to Riyadh last week. Not that Cheney was an unwilling listener or anything. Just one more excuse to stay the course, after all.

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