Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal Shakes Empty Gauntlet At U.S. Over Gaza

By WILLIAM MAYER and BEILA RABINOWITZ

January 27, 2009 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - In the aftermath of Hamas' defeat in Gaza by Israel, the Middle East is atwitter with threats, recriminations and hot-air venting in an attempt to cast the organization's ignominious drubbing in a less harsh light.

The degree to which this is happening is apparent in comments made by former Saudi ambassador Prince Turki al-Faisal to the London Financial Times just a few days ago [see, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/a11a77b0-e8ef-11dd-a4d0-0000779fd2ac,Authorised=false.html?_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F0%2Fa11a77b0-e8ef-11dd-a4d0-0000779fd2ac.html&_i_referer=]

In his op-ed, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States threatens a disruption of the U.S./Saudi relationship unless the "slaughter of Palestinians," is addressed.

But after Israel launched its bloody attack on Gaza, these pleas for optimism and co-operation now seem a distant memory. Unless the new US administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the peace process, the US-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk."

Actually, the threat goes a good deal farther, stating that other countries are pressuring, "Saudi Arabia to lead a jihad against Israel [that] would, if pursued, create unprecedented chaos and bloodshed."

Building on that assertion, the Prince warns that unless the situation is addressed, "the kingdom will not be able to prevent its citizens from joining the worldwide revolt against Israel."

Ignoring the obvious fact that Saudi citizens already figure promintently in external jihads and enjoy an extensive network of domestic support, as with many politicians, Turki's advice and pronouncements are always tailored to his audience. In a 2006 speech delivered in Texas he cooed a far more accommodative line, "I challenge the Palestinian people to give up the armed struggle and follow the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King [source, http://www.saudiembassy.net/2006News/Statements/SpeechDetail.asp?cIndex=626]

Al-Turki's true intentions are of course further clouded due to his long-term and controversial leadership of Saudi Arabia's intelligence service as well as his history of contact with the country's most infamous export, Osama bin-Laden, as these authors have observed in previous pieces.

Despite Turki's seemingly combative language, suggestive of a high stakes gambit by the former ambassador, it must be analyzed in context, mindful of present realities in the Middle East and especially in Saudi Arabia.

Educated at Georgetown, Princeton and Cambridge, the Prince is as thoroughly Westernized as any Saudi citizen might possibly be, apparently thoroughly comfortable in liberal societies based upon Judeo-Christian principles. While serving as ambassador to the U.S., Turki al-Faisal's lifestyle was 180 degrees out-of-phase with the image of the mythical ascetic Bedouin that Saudi royalty is fond of invoking.

If only for that reason the Prince's "threats" are if not meaningless, then are of far less concern than might be apparent.

Given this context, one can hardly imagine that Turki has any desire to set in motion a process enabling a larger jihad against Israel, a process that could quickly grow out of control and engulf him. He fully understands that by caving to the demands of his more radical Muslim brethren his conspicuous position [and that of his relatives] at the apex of the Saudi food chain might be seriously threatened - the Royal family already identified as one of the Islamists' most prominent targets, branded as "apostates," and marked for death under Shari'a.

Ditto Turki's remark regarding the Saudi's difficulty in resisting calls by Iran for a greater jihad.

Saudi Arabia will not be pulled towards a policy which would markedly strengthen the mullahs; if there is one thing uniting the Saudi royal family it is opposition to Iranian nuclear hegemony.

In its totality then, Turki's statement is designed conspicuously for consumption by Hamas supporters, where most likely it will fall on deaf ears because they too understand his motivation. For that reason this ploy will be largely ineffective, simply another reason to suspect that it was this very lack of judgment in such matters that resulted in him no longer hosting lavish state parties at the Saudi embassy in DC.

Islam's most radical proponents will not be assuaged by such obvious double speak and will continue plotting the overthrow of the regime that has underwritten Turki's lavish lifestyle in addition to their jihad against the West. Muslim zealotry is not so easily bought off or shunted aside.

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