“At present the United States is torn between the immediate need to ensure a safe flow of oil, while maintaining close ties with the existing government in Riyadh, and the fear that every day that passes without genuine reform in Saudi Arabia is not only bringing the fall of the House of Saud closer but is also heightening the danger that the new rulers will take an extremist approach to the “infidel” states of the West. Thousands of citizens from Western countries live in Saudi Arabia, in well-fortified compounds that protect their families. These extreme measures of protection reflect the constantly widening gulf between the local population and the foreign guests.
Few observers of the Middle East scene are actually taking a good hard look at the situation in Saudi Arabia and examining coolly the terrifying scenarios, one of which might ensue. Some believe that there is a real danger that extremist religious figures will seize power in Saudi Arabia and establish an “Al-Qaida state” in Riyadh. Others note that the national identification of large numbers of the country’s population with the Saudi entity is feeble and that their main attachment is tribal or local-regional. Thus, a revolutionary situation might cause the disintegration of the state and the creation of parallel regimes in various regions of the kingdom.
In a visit to the United States two weeks ago, I was told by several well-informed observers that should one of the more severe scenarios come to pass, the United States will have no choice but to deepen its presence in the Middle East. To that end, it will have to renew the draft, to ensure that there are enough forces to deal with developing situations in countries like Saudi Arabia.
Superpower in the `neighborhood’
From being a superpower that exerts a potent influence in the Middle East, the United States has become a player that is present in the region. Its pattern of activity in Iraq illustrates not only the determination of President Bush to act consistently to realize his policy in Baghdad. There is a good possibility that Iraq will not be the last country in the region that will require a lengthy American military presence. The U.S. campaign in Iraq was perceived as a signal of long-term American commitment to do whatever is required and to stay in the “neighborhood” for as long as needed. It was none other than Martin Indyk, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, who not long ago raised the idea of establishing an American trusteeship regime in the areas of the Palestinian Authority, if it should turn out that the Palestinians are not ripe for self-rule. That arrangement would require an American operational military presence along Israel’s border with the Palestinian territories.
The shapers of the basic political approach of the Bush administration say that the United States plans “to be in the area” for as long as 10 years and more, if needed. Speaking in a semi-closed forum during a visit to Israel a few months ago, Bill Kristol, one of the most influential “neocons” (neoconservatives) in the United States, noted in this connection that the American presence in Europe after World War II lasted for nearly 60 years. Israelis who are trying to promote a role for NATO in the region, in one form or another, are actually promoting a generation-long American presence.”
Sounds great so far, what else?
“In the light of the accumulated weight of all the developments cited above, it is possible that the favorable surprise of the years ahead will be nothing less than the containment of Iran and the neutralization of the danger it poses to Israel – without Israel’s having to consider whether to cope alone in the face of what it justly construes as the potential of a genuine existential threat.”
Potential Existential Threats everywhere beware! The U.S. is on its way to protect Israel from you. At least until we go bankrupt.