Media revealed this week that at a high-level meeting in Riyadh in January, Saudi officials confronted then-US Iraq envoy Zalmay Khalilzad with incriminating documents on Iraq’s prime minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki. One purported to be an early alert from al-Maliki to radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, warning him to lie low during a US troop surge. Another document purported to offer proof that Maliki was an Iranian agent. Khalilzad immediately protested to King Abdullah, contending that the documents were forged. Earlier this month, in an oblique reference to Saudi Arabia, Khalilzad charged in a New York Times op-ed: “Several of Iraq’s neighbors—not only Syria and Iran but also some friends of the United States —are pursuing destabilizing policies.” (NYT, July 27; The Scotsman, July 29) It seems the Saudis are following through on their longtime threats to arm the Sunni insurgents in Iraq. Nonetheless, on July 28, the Times reported that the US is preparing a major arms deal with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states worth $20 billion over the next decade, including missile guidance systems, fighter jets and warships. (NYT, BBC, July 28)
Remember just a few short years ago when the neocons floated hubristic schemes for actually breaking up Saudi Arabia, sparking much paranoia? This is the surest sign that that hey have been taken down several pegs.