Prince(s) of Darkness

Oh the irony dept.:

200511151217You are cordially invited to a book discussion of

PRINCES OF DARKNESS

THE SAUDI ASSAULT ON THE WEST

BY HUDSON INSTITUTE SENIOR FELLOW
LAURENT MURAWIEC

featuring a keynote address by

RICHARD PERLE
Hudson Institute Trustee
Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
The funny thing, of course, is that Perle himself is known as "the prince of darkness" in Washington circles because, er, he looks evil and works in the shadows. Murawiec is one of Perle young proteges and famously gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Pentagon in 2002 in which he describe the Saudis as America's worst enemy and advocated invading the oil fields and confiscating the royal family's wealth, something he most succinctly put as "There is an 'Arabia,' but it needs not be 'Saudi'." (I could not agree more. He also said, rather mysteriously, that "Egypt is the prize," although it's not clear of what.)

I am sure it will be as even-handed a book as Perle's own "An end to evil", a book we use as bathroom reading in my household: after all, you can never stand reading more than one page at a time.

Meanwhile, in a White House in a post-neo-con mood cozies up to Riyadh:
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 13 -- With skepticism still deep on both sides four years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States and Saudi Arabia on Sunday inaugurated a new "strategic dialogue" to expand cooperation on six key issues, including terrorism and energy.

...

After Rice's talks here, the Saudi foreign minister said the kingdom was "fighting as hard as we can. I would dare anyone to say there is another country that is fighting terror as hard as we are." Faisal, the U.S.-educated son of the late King Faisal, noted that Saudi Arabia has outlawed incitement and cracked down on Saudi financing destined for militant groups inside and outside the country.

"There is what I would call a misunderstanding about Saudi Arabia among the U.S. public, as there is a misunderstanding about the United States among the Saudi public. That is why we are trying to influence this," Faisal said, adding that the news media were partially responsible for image problems.

The goal of the dialogue is to launch institutions and meetings every six months at senior levels to address problems that now rely heavily on personal relationships and ad-hoc contacts to resolve, according to Saudi and U.S. officials.

Both countries want to revive the kind of partnership set up by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger in the early 1970s that covered a wide variety of topics, such as military planning and energy policy.

But noticeably missing from the dialogue are the issues of political reform and democracy, which are at the top of Washington's foreign policy agenda but are the most politically sensitive issues in the Persian Gulf nation. Six new U.S.-Saudi groups will instead focus on counter-terrorism, military affairs, energy, business, education and human development, and consular affairs.
I think that with this we can put to rest the recently revived idea of doing exactly what Murawiec advocates and taking the Saudi out of Arabia (and the oil fields too), although it still intrigues a lot of people.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.