All this as President Bush's June deadline approaches for EU3 negotiations with Tehran about nukes, and with Iran's June national election looming.
The prince arrives in Texas on a wave of good publicity (in the Middle East, at least) about his accelerating reforms in Saudi Arabia. These are reforms by princely and Arab standards, so the acceleration is glacial, but put yourself in Abdullah's place. How would you like to be 81 years old and still summoned every evening to the king's bedside, where you hear the same question you've been hearing for decades:
"Was there peace and quiet in the kingdom everywhere you looked today?"
Bush buzzword watchers take note: "tyrants" and "axis of evil" are OUT. "Reform" is IN. Every morning Bush summons his advisors to his office and asks, "How are reforms going in [a long list of countries] today?"
So Prince Abdullah is IN right now because he's working on reforms. Pundita's favorite:
In an unusually open and systematic way by the kingdom's standards, Prince Abdullah also initiated reforms within the Saudi ruling family to ensure greater accountability and separated the royal family's finances from that of the government.Not to be rude ahead of a state visit, but Pundita is still stewing that the US will have to pick up a considerable portion of the tab for solving The Arab Problem. When Bush asked Abdullah on an earlier visit where in the blankety blank did all the oil revenue go from the past half century, there wasn't a terribly clear answer.
Well, we now know that at least $75 billion of the revenue went to spreading Wahabist doctrine around the world--a figure that mocks Secretary Rumsfeld's statement a few years back that the enemy is spending thousands against our millions in the war on terror. The actual terrorist operations are cheap by military standards but the support network, which includes mosques and madrasahs, ain't hay.
Let us hope that with a tighter rein on the royal purse strings, more Saudi oil revenue can be directed toward life's little details: feeding starving Arab children, bringing medicine and hospitals to Arabs with AIDS, cleaning up Arab slums, improving water supply for severe drought areas of Arab Africa, subsidizing broke farmers in Arab lands, educating illiterate Arab children, diversifying Arab oil states away from money laundering and oil, and creating laws that don't treat grown Arab women as if they're brain-damaged parakeets.
But let us not snap at company; we put on our most gracious welcoming smile and make room on this blogspot to highlight Prince Abdullah's additional reforms--which, by Arab standards, are encouraging.
Although much won't be said about the meeting between Bush and Abdullah, you may trust that Tehran will be hanging on every word that is announced. This is because the Tehran regime knows they've worn out their welcome in the Middle East. The thinly disguised nuke weapon programs is viewed with as much alarm by Arab states in the region as by Israel.
And the attempt by Tehran to form a pan-Shiite movement ahead of the End of the World is falling flat, thanks in part to Iraqi reality TV, which trots out captured Iranians confessing how much meddling and mischief they've done.
The other part is that kings and princes always view talk about the end of the world with alarm; Armageddon spells mess, which translates to no peace and quiet.
However, the end of days is coming real soon for the mullacrats; if they needed a hint about this, Putin's visit to Israel later this week and Abdullah's visit with Bush on Monday are big ones. Pundita Tip to Tehran Mullacrats: Jew baiting in the Middle East is now OUT.
Now we turn to the snub delivered to the United States by the hosts of the Arab League-South American summit. We understand the reasoning for the exclusion; we aren't Arabs or South Americans. But couldn't we wangle an invitation as observers, on account of the plans afoot at the summit?
Perhaps Prince Abdullah can put in a good word for us, if Bush gives him a ride in his pickup.