Jerome S. Kaufman
Jeffrey Goldberg – Bloomberg News Service
November 22, 2013
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi royal who seems to own most everything there is to own — a chunk of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, a piece of Twitter, all of Paris’s George V Hotel, the Savoy in London, and a Boeing 747 for his personal use — was sitting in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago the other evening (he and Bill Gates own most of Four Seasons Holdings), offering up the view — the view of an experienced negotiator from the Middle East — that U.S. President Barack Obama is outmatched by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
(By the way, this the same Arab Prince whose 10 million dollar attempted bribe donation to NYC following the September 11, 2001 Twin Towers bombing Mayor Rudy Giuliani refused. The Mayor was well aware that 11 of the 15 terrorists on the suicide mission drove 3 planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were Saudi Arabians and was not in the mood to accept this attempted whitewash of this awful Arab terrorist act that killed near 6000 innocent civilians. In response to the Major’s refusal this same prince accused Giuliani of being a Jew and a tool of the Jewish lobby. Reporter Jeffrey Goldberg seems to have forgotten this part of bin Talal’s history.)jsk
Be that as it may, the Prince seems to be on a more rational tack in the present discussion:
“There’s no confidence in the Obama administration doing the right thing with Iran,” he told me, with a directness that would make Benjamin Netanyahu blush. “We’re really concerned — Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East countries — about this.”
It is quite something for a Saudi royal to state baldly that his country is part of a tacit alliance with Israel, but Saudi leaders, like Israel’s leaders, are frantic with worry that an overeager Obama will accede to Iran’s desire to become a threshold state, one whose nuclear program is so advanced that it would only need several weeks to assemble a deliverable weapon. Alwaleed, like Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, believes that Iran, in its ongoing negotiations with the world’s major powers, will pocket whatever sanctions relief it gets without committing to ending its nuclear program. “Why are they offering relief?” he asked. “Keep the pressure on. Sanctions are what brought about the negotiations to begin with! Why not keep the pressure up?”
Obama, Alwaleed says, is a man who is in desperate political straits and needs a victory — any victory — to right his presidency. “Obama is in so much of a rush to have a deal with Iran,” he said. “He wants anything. He’s so wounded. It’s very scary. Look, the 2014 elections are going to begin. Within two months they’re going to start campaigning. Thirty-nine members of his own party in the House have already moved away from him on Obamacare. That’s scary for him.”
Alwaleed believes a stronger president would have the willpower to say no to a flawed deal with Iran. Like the Israelis, the Saudis believe a flawed deal is one in which Iran isn’t forced to put its nuclear program in reverse, by shuttering facilities and mothballing centrifuges. (Alwaleed is not a Saudi government official, but he often floats trial balloons on behalf of the members of his family who rule his country, and they consider him free to make impolitic statements they believe but cannot publicly endorse.)
“This has been going on for 30 years plus, since the Iranian revolution in 1979,” he continued. “And his people bragged about the first call between President Obama and President Rouhani. But what does a call mean? It’s nothing.” He went on to condemn Obama for folding when confronted with proof that Syria, Iran’s proxy, used chemical weapons against civilians. Obama had previously warned Syria not to cross the red line he drew on the deployment of chemical weapons.
If the negotiations don’t succeed — and clearly, Alwaleed sees no chance of success — then what? Anti-proliferation by force? I asked him if he thought the Arab states would actually back an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, if this terrible option should come to pass. “Publicly, they would be against it,” he said. “Privately, they would love it.”
What about at the level of the so-called Arab Street? “The Sunnis will love it,” he said, referring to the dominant branch of Islam, to which most Arab Muslims adhere. “The Sunni Muslim is very much anti-Shiite, and very much anti-, anti-, anti-Iran,” he said.
You’re sure they loathe Iran more than they loathe Israel?
“Look, Iran is a huge threat, historically speaking,” he said. “The Persian empire was always against the Muslim Arab empire, especially against the Sunnis. The threat is from Persia, not from Israel. This was a great empire ruling the whole neighborhood. I’ll tell you something — they are in Bahrain, they are in Iraq, they are in Syria, they are with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas, which is Sunni, in Gaza. They are intruding into these areas. King Abdullah of Jordan had a good statement on this — he said that a Shiite crescent begins from Iran, through Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and goes down to Palestine, to Hamas.”
Alwaleed, who spent much of our time together criticizing Obama, also reserved some criticism for Saudi Arabia’s Jewish ally. He said that if Netanyahu would make advances in the peace process with Palestinians, he would help marginalize Iran. “If you want to weaken Iran’s position in the Arab world, you should have peace with the Palestinians. This would help move Iran away from this issue. This is the heart of it. Hezbollah will not go away, but they will be weakened.”
“This last piece of analysis made good sense to me” (Jeffrey Goldberg).
(And, that’s where Jeffrey Goldberg lost me and all credibility as a political analyst by ignoring Alaweed’s previous political position vis-a-vis Jews and Israel. Any political analyst, without some “liberal” agenda of his own, knows that the Israeli/PA dispute has absolutely nothing to do with Iran’s frantic efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. This Arab, Alwaleed, is just another Arab taking a shot at Israel that will forever, please G-d, act as a thorn in their throats. The Arabs know very well that Israel is the major obstruction to Islam’s goal to rule the Middle East now and the rest of us as soon as possible – no matter how many centuries it may take. And, if Jeffrey Goldberg does not understand that and evidently he does not, he is nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is and I had some doubts of my own, even before this outrageous aside “made good sense” to him.)
Jerome S. Kaufman
- See more at: http://israel-commentary.org/?p=8014#sthash.mZW0cpyK.dpuf