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Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the Distortion Campaign - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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All of the positions taken by the different parties towards King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz’s Arab tour and his visit to Beirut accompanied by the Syrian President contradict with one another. These deserve to be examined. Let us first look at the US position; on the eve of the Saudi monarch’s visit to Syria a US State Department spokesman issued a strange and provocative statement, calling on the Syrian President to listen carefully to what King Abdullah has to say about the Syrian – Iranian relationship. In Damascus, a Saudi official [commenting on this] told me “can this be true…what does Washington want?”

As for France, it considered the joint visit paid by the Saudi monarch and the Syrian president to Lebanon to serve as a “safety valve” although they continue to fear the “limited effect” of this, whilst also stressing that the Hariri tribunal is an international one and is without prejudice. At the same time, the Iranians are trying to circumvent the Saudi Arabian movement, as is Hezbollah, with the Iranian ambassador to Beirut saying that should Saudi – Syrian relations improve, this would mean Saudi Arabian rapprochement with Iran, which is something of course that is aimed at provoking Syria. As for Hezbollah, it says that it welcomes the Saudi efforts to contain the Hariri tribunal, and this is not true, and nobody is advocating this.

Therefore, it is clear that the Americans want to provoke and embarrass Damascus, and thus prevent a detente in inter-Arab relations except under their own terms, otherwise how else can we explain the US State Department statement, and the timing of the US renewing sanctions on Syria? What is strange is that Washington wants to pursue the policy of the “outstretched hand” towards Tehran, despite everything that Iran is doing to wreak havoc [in the region], and at the same time it does not want Saudi Arabia to open up towards Syria or vice verse for the sake of regional peace, which is something that America is unable [to achieve] whether with regards to Iran or Israel. Therefore are we required to allow the region to slide into hell?

The same applies to the French; Paris which opened up towards Damascus pointed the finger of accusation with regards to Hariri’s assassination directly at Syria, and is today saying that it is worried about the limited effect of the visit paid by King Abdullah and the Syrian president to Beirut, while also stressing the neutrality of the Hariri tribunal. Does it make sense for Paris to be worried today about the tribunal that says that it is going to pursue Hezbollah [for the assassination], while it was not worried about this the day that it opened up towards Damascus two years ago? This is indeed strange!

As for the statements by the Iranian ambassador, these reflect Tehran’s concern [at the situation]; for Iran today is rushing to protect al-Maliki in Iraq, especially as Riyadh and Damascus are amongst the two parties that are least enthusiastic towards him, whiles also rushing to protect Hezbollah, which in turn is trying to be clever in its description of the significance of the Saudi – Syrian visit to Beirut. However Hezbollah, in the midst of this tense situation, has forgotten an important issue that deserves contemplation, and that is that Damascus previously announced that in the event of any of its officials being accused of Hariri’s assassination, it would put this official on trial domestically on charges of grand treason. In contrast to this, Hezbollah is today saying that it will not discuss, investigate, or debate [with regards to ay of its members being accused of this crime], and instead has threatened everybody in Lebanon!

What we must also pay attention to is that despite the Iranians and Hezbollah saying that the Hariri tribunal is working for the US and Israel, we find that Tehran and Hezbollah are the ones who agree with all those who are trying to disrupt the important and influential Arab tour undertaken by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz to achieve inter-Arab rapprochement and ensure the stability of Lebanon.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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