Agonist diarist Sun Tzu [corrected] notes that King Abdullah, the source of all that is black and viscous in our life, may be tiring of our games:
I noted two related stories this morn, one in the NYT and one in WaPo that I think are big time indicators with big time negative repercussions for BushCo. In the NYT, we learn Saudi King Abdullah has publicly condemned the US occupation of Iraq in this story.
``In beloved Iraq, blood flows between brothers in the shadow of illegitimate foreign occupation and hateful sectarianism, threatening a civil war,'' he (Abdullah) added.
Jim Hoagland’s column in WaPo says Abdullah cancelled a state dinner to be held in his honor at the White House in April. Find it here.
Abdullah's bowing out of the April 17 event is, in fact, one more warning sign that the Bush administration's downward spiral at home is undermining its ability to achieve its policy objectives abroad.
It looks to me like the Saudis are turning their back on Bush, Rice, Cheney and the US and, if I’m not mistaken, turning your back on someone is a total insult in Arab culture. This seems to be a really big development to me.
I've got a suspicion of what is going on here. Keep reading from the Hoagland:
"The Saudis surprised us by going that far," explained one White House official in a comment that reached -- and irritated -- Saudi officials. So don't count on Abdullah to put new force behind his long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative at the Arab summit scheduled this week in Riyadh.
Rice had hoped the summit would provide a boost in her current proximity talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials, but she appears to have struck a dry well. "She is conducting crisis management, not grand diplomacy," a European official who talked to her recently said disappointedly.
Adds an admirer who tracks Rice's intentions and assessments in the Middle East: "Condi is doing everything she can. But she is dancing with a corpse that just keeps flopping over in another direction every time she tries to move it."
Now read Steve Clemons from earlier this week:
The New York Sun's Benny Avni reports:
As her aides anticipated an important announcement about Israeli-Arab diplomacy yesterday, sources in Jerusalem and Washington said Secretary of State Rice has encountered enough resistance from all sides to lower her expectations for a breakthrough.
Israeli officials have spoken to a top White House official in recent days, using friendly Washington contacts to go "over Condi's head" to describe several of her new ideas as unrealistic, a Jerusalem source, who declined to be identified, told The New York Sun.
Specifically, according to three officials involved in this week's flurry of diplomatic activity in Washington, Jerusalem, Arab capitals, and the United Nations, Ms. Rice intended to intensify her shuttle diplomacy between Israeli and Palestinian Arab leaders, in an attempt to get them to start negotiating "final status" issues.
There are very few people in the White House that Avni could reputably title as "over Condi's head."
I don't have any idea if the New York Sun really got access to Cheney -- but he and the President himself are the only ones would could be framed as Condi's superiors in this political process -- and I know that Bush is not the person Avni is referring to.
That means -- if the story has legs, which it probably does -- that Cheney is out there working hard to sabotage Condoleezza Rice's efforts in the Middle East, particularly her Middle East Super Summit idea which I think has merit.
It seems to me that there are two issues here. Iraq, which Saudi Arabia has now condemned in a way they never have before. And efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace. Which Cheney, at the behest of some hawkish Israelis, appears to have intervened to squelch Condi's best efforts to broker a deal.
In all of the discussions of the Saudis' offer to realign the Middle East, there has alwys been a quid pro quo: Saudi support in Iraq for a peace deal in Palestine.
It sure looks like Dick has lost control of his one-man foriegn policy shop. And frankly, if he pisses of the Saudis sufficiently to drive them into alliance with the Iranians, the repercussions will go far further than just this Administration.