And The Winner Is…. Saudi Arabia!

"Syrian President Bashar Assad made surprise journeys to Saudi Arabia and Egypt on Sunday for talks on finding a face-saving solution to a UN request to interview him about the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. At a summit with Assad in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, Saudi King Abdullah called for an improvement to crisis-stricken relations between Damascus and Beirut in the name of regional security.

Abdullah "asserted the need to consolidate and strengthen Syrian-Lebanese relations," said a joint Saudi-Syrian statement issued after the summit.

Lebanese-Syrian relations should be improved "in all sectors in  order to protect the interests of the two brotherly countries and  the security of the region," said the statement read on Saudi state  television.

The statement said the two parties agreed on "activating the joint Saudi-Syrian committee, and to intensify the communication between them in order to serve the Arab and Islamic issues."

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal came to Damascus earlier Sunday and met with Assad and Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa. He said he had traveled to Syria to prepare for Assad’s "important" Saudi visit, but refused to give any details."  Beirut Daily Star


We really are laughable from the Arab point of view.  For many years now Saudi Arabia has labored and schemed discretely to reclaim Lebanon and Syria from the clutches of various Christian and heretical Muslim groups and to return these countries to the bosom of the Umma (Sunni dominated, of course).  Rafik Hariri was an instrument of that policy for a decade or more.  His murder prevented a return to power in Lebanon in which he would clearly have been a continuing asset of his former homeland, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Abd al-Halim Khaddam, now bleating of "reform" Paris was one of Hariri’s principal allies in Damascus and as a Sunni member of the Syrian Baath oligarchy one of the larger recipients of Hariri "channeled" largess.

The US, France have played a very useful role from the Saudi point of view.  They have pressured Bashar Assad to the point that he believes in his own vulnerability.  He knows where the pressure really has come from. This has been a pressure exerted in Washington and Paris, but influenced by regional politics and so he has gone to "Canossa" to make his peace with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.  He has gone to accept Saudi hegemony in the Levant.

The side trip to Egypt is insignificant, a face saving gesture for all concerned.

Now, Washington will have to deal with the Kingdom.  If the "kowtow" was convincing, Abdullah et al will not want their "satellite" disturbed much more.

It should be interesting to watch.

Pat Lang

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17 Responses to And The Winner Is…. Saudi Arabia!

  1. Serving Patriot says:

    Putting the Levant back into the “Sunna” fold will also provide a needed front to combat the emerging Shia Crescent. And provide the Kingdom with military manpower (and expertise) needed to suppress thier own Shi’i when they finally do rise up.
    Yes, one has to wonder who the “useful idiots” are in this whole deal…

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You knows your stuff. pl

  3. Gotham Image says:

    It’s always interesting to see a Muslim go to Canossa. Almost as interesting as seing Christian go to Mecca.
    Last time I heard Perle on TV, he indicated the whole point was to destabilize, not provide security – To unleash chaos and it’s attendent demiurges, so as to give birth to a new order of things.
    What happened?

  4. Gotham Image says:

    You may wish to check out Leon Hader’s piece today, on this topic, on his blog.

  5. W. Patrick Lang says:

    If you can say that an alawi is a Muslim…
    Factions of Jacobins… Yes. There were/are factions of marxists as well.
    Perle may like chaos, but the saudis do not. pl

  6. I’m confused: who are Jacobins, what is Canossa, and how do you put a Levant into the Sunna?
    At least show me where to figure them out…

  7. ali says:

    Perle is either stupid or putting a brave face on it. Seems only Saudi and Iran are benefitting from his Creative Chaos notions and they are not his favorite people.
    Where might this leave Iran’s relationship with Syria?

  8. Okay, I found out about the Levant, maybe, from Wikipedia: how accurate is that?
    Referring to the Canossa, are you implying that Syria will also renew their Saudi conflict in the future?
    The Jacobins sound like power-mongerers, who are no different, except maybe worse, than the tyrant they replace.
    Am I right? Is it that simple?

  9. And Colonel, why does it seem that the policies of the world leaders want to keep the Shi’a repressed? Were they like the Nazis at one time or something?
    Everything I know about them says it’s time for them to rule their own lives, free from Sunni dominion. Granted that I have little knowledge of their situation, but even 50 years is enough to be tired of an evil house guest or brutal spouse…

  10. Max says:

    I didn’t get the implication of Assad’s move and the Saudi connection. Would someone care to explain to us interested but less knowledgeable folks? Thanks.

  11. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I only you were he…
    Saudi Arabia seeks to restore Sunni triumphalist hegemony throughout the Arab World.
    It is an understandable and justifiable goal on their part given the context. pl

  12. W. Patrick Lang says:

    From a knowledgeable Arab friend:
    “The conclusion you drew in your SST assessment could not be more accurate.
    From “source impeccable” as you say:
    * The Saudis sent FM Saud Al Faisal to Damascus to give the correct impression that they “had something to say to President Bashar”… and prevent the locals from saying that he “went begging for mercy.” The welcoming and farewell procession of Saudi Royals was intended to show same, says source in Prince Sultan’s “radius.” This of course, did not prevent rabid Jumblatt from barking loud.
    * King Abdallah premeditated a “big affair” for the same purpose…
    SOURCE in the OFFICE OF —— ——– said last night: “We have asked all our small allies to understand that from now on, rocking the Syrian boat is UNACCEPTABLE. You can ask for the TRUTH until Kingdom come … We will ask for it too … BUT the STABILITY of Damascus is a Red line from now on…”
    When asked about the petty allies in Lebanon, THE SPOKESMAN said “we took care of their Khater …” ”

  13. Serving Patriot says:

    And now a new move by the US side in this little kibuki dance (
    Note: “Cheney’s visit [to Egypt, KSA, and Oman] coincides as well with Egyptian and Saudi efforts to ease tensions between Syria and the West over the results of the international inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri which named Syrian officials as suspects and requested to interview Syrian President Bashar Assad.”
    I guess after this little road trip, we’ll see who listens to whom. In 2002, it is clear that the Admin did not listen at all to thier (Sunni) allies and blithely went their very merry way into Iraq.
    Given Bashar’s recent visit to the King, it will be interesting to see if the leading Arab states play a repeat role? My guess is that the message will not only be no – but Hell No! It is really hard for me to imagine the Egyptians or Saudis sending any military to the black hole in Iraq.
    Then again, perhaps the quid pro quo will be irresistable?

  14. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Maybe if there was an Arab League or UN force? pl

  15. Serving Patriot says:

    In some other reporting, the pre-reqs noted for any AL involvement (using military forces) included an explicit invitation from the Iraqi government (doubtful one will come from the Shi’i alliance govt) as well as UN sanction from Sec Council(wonder how the Chinese and Russian would view this?). (John Bolton would actually have to do something useful in NYC then…)
    From a Sunni brotherhood aspect, an AL peacekeeping force seems possible. However, I think the AL and major partner nations have set a bar too high (by design). Another polite way of avoiding the unpleasant business of actually saying “no”?
    How and who would volunteer to fulfill a UN mandate to take over in Iraq? India? Not likely given colonial history. Turkey? Doubt the Kurds would like that very much! Asian nation? Irish? Nope, just not seeing it as any real possibility. The arguements of Summer 03 are even more potent now than they were then when the insurgency was just a scattered shadow.

  16. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I think that the growth of this kind of insurgency in Iraq was predictable before our intervention.
    What was mor difficult to see was the extent to which foreign jihadis would play a major role in spite of their small numbers. pl

  17. W. Patrick Lang says:

    It is suggested to me that the US Government has the objective in Syria of regime change, and that contingency planning and reconnaissance may be underway.
    So what! Plans and photographs do not equal capabilty for regime change.
    Saudi Arabia’s money and political influence will trump any amount of “exalted brooding” on the Potomac.
    It is probably not coincidental that the USG is now allowing statements to be made in its name that S. Arabia has not really been “cooperative” in the GWOT. pl

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