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April 11, 2006
Saudis Run To Russians To Protect Teheran

Khaleej Times reports that the Saudis sent Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador in Washington, to Moscow on a mission to enlist Russian opposition to any American action against the Iranian mullahcracy. Prince Bandar asked the Russians to block any further UNSC action that might give the US a basis for military strikes on Iranian nuclear sites (via Memeorandum):

Saudi Arabia, fearing that US military action against Iran would wreak further havoc in the region, has asked Russia to block any bid by Washington to secure UN cover for an attack, a Russian diplomat said on Tuesday.

During a visit to Moscow last week, the head of the Saudi National Security Council “urged Russia to strive to prevent the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution which the United States could use as justification to launch a military assault to knock out Iran’s nuclear facilities,” the diplomat told AFP in Riyadh on condition of anonymity.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former longtime ambassador to the United States who is often tasked with delicate missions, met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on April 4.

This report came out today but the meeting took place a week ago, before Iran's celebrations over its supposedly initial uranium enrichment. One wonders whether the Saudis might be a little less sanguine about the Iranians after today, but they more likely will fear American retribution. That seems closer than ever, now that the Iranians have defied the West on the initial enrichment and their pledge to expand it on a scale that could easily produce weapons-grade material.

The Saudi entreaty to Moscow may prove worrisome. Putin could use Saudi assistance in stemming the Islamist insurgency in the Caucasus, but his real game is to amplify Russian influence in the Persian Gulf. The Russians have been handed one setback after another since their silly alliance with Saddam Hussein in 1991 did nothing to stop the Iraqi dictator's humiliation at the hands of the UN coalition that ejected him from Kuwait. With the Saudis playing the Russian card, it sets Putin up as the primary counterweight to the US in the region, nominated for that position by the wealthiest petrocracy in the Middle East.

Perhaps this will finally put to rest the canard that the Saudis own George Bush. Obviously they do not; they're not sending Bandar to DC to change the direction of US policy on Iran. The Saudis cannot afford to play that game to its conclusion, however. It needs American protection in the Gulf to ensure that its oil exports safely transit the ocean to their clients, and the Russians simply can't offer the same protection. The Saudis had better be careful not to disrupt their American relationship by crying to Moscow and arranging to thwart efforts to enforce the NPT.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 11, 2006 10:26 PM

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