Earlier today the Washington Post's Jim Hoagland was wondering why King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had suddenly cancelled, on a very thin excuse, a planned state dinner with Bush at the White House. he also noted that Jordan's monarch has turned down an invite to visit Bush in September. Hoagland writes:
Abdullah gave a warm welcome to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Riyadh in early March, not long after the Saudis pressured Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas into accepting a political accord that entrenches Hamas in an unwieldy coalition government with Abbas's Fatah movement.Well, I think the reason for the snub has just become abundantly clear:
"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.
Saudi King Abdullah, whose country is a close US ally, on Wednesday slammed the "illegitimate foreign occupation" of Iraq in an opening speech to the annual Arab summit in Riyadh.I think the Saudi King has been reading his Sy Hersh and decided he won't play the neocon 'divide and conquer" game any more.
"In beloved Iraq, blood is being shed among brothers in the shadow of an illegitimate foreign occupation, and ugly sectarianism threatens civil war," Abdullah said.
He also said that Arab nations, which are planning to revive a five-year-old Middle East peace plan at the summit, would not allow any foreign force to decide the future of the region.
In the past, Saudi leaders including Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal have often criticised US policy in Iraq but have never described its presence there as "illegitimate."