Strategic studies Institute: Saudi crown prince initiative filled a political gap
Regional-USA, Politics, 5/10/2002
In its annual report, the International Institute For Strategic Studies said that the US will have to have greater participation in settling the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as it has to play a mediating role and to even provide a peace keeping mission.
The report said:" If the collapse of the Oslo process made the period 2000-2001 a bad time for the Middle East, the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the increased violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians and the increasing possibility for an American military interference against Iraq made 2001- 2003 worse."
The Institute added in its report which was issued on Thursday in London that settling the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians constitute one of the two conditions for the success of the two main trends of the American diplomacy since September 11th aggression, namely fighting terrorism and the spread of mass destruction weapons.
The report continued that the "administration of the US President George Bush, after it has avoided any peace mediation by the end of 2001 and the beginning of 2002, has realized that it is impossible to continue this policy." The Institute which takes London as a headquarters said that the American position has developed clearly since then, noting that the US President George Bush and his secretary of State Colin Powell "stressed the objective of establishing the Palestinian state and approved the concept of dividing Jerusalem as a capital and also stressed the need of Israel's ending its occupation for the Palestinian Territories."
The report indicated that the policy of revenge and attacks pursued by the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has been converted against him and has become a source of provocation instead of deterrent in the eyes of those Palestinians who carry out "martyrdom operations."
The report stressed that Washington has to involve herself more in the role of mediation, noting that continued violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians will, more expectedly, drag the US to play a role of peace keeping despite the declared unwillingness of the Bush administration to any mediation in the conflict in the Middle East. The Institute said that "Washington has no other option actually." It explained that "Saudi Arabia has filled the diplomatic gap by its peace proposal, but certainly not Riyadh nor any other Arab capital can be an accepted mediator."
The report added that Bush can make use of the role of several Arab capitals but he has to take into account also Iran's "destabilizing" position, in remarks to the ship which was intercepted by the end of 2001 in the Red Sea containing Iranian weapons, of which Israel said it is sent to the Palestinian Authority.
The report said that Washington has also to take into consideration the reaction of the citizens in the Arab world; a reaction which is difficult to be predicted and "might be dangerous," in case of an American attack against Iraq. The report indicated that the chance of a quick settlement for the conflict is small, noting that "the best that can be expected by the end of 2002 and the beginning of 2003 is a limited recession of violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians and continued diplomatic initiatives together with the absence of a greater war in the Middle East."
The Institute also stressed that the number of American troops in Kuwait has doubled to reach 10500 since the aggressions which targeted the US in September 11. The report also talked about the possibility that Iraq will agree to the return back of the UN weapons inspectors to its territories. It said that "the best choice is that to carry out these inspection operations." It went on that the US can justify the use of force if inspection results conclude that Iraq intends to develop mass annihilation weapons. The Institute stressed in conclusion of its report that it would be difficult for the Arab states, the European capitals and Russia in this case to reject supporting an American military operation.
The report made it clear that the Saudi defense budget increased from 6.23 billion dollars in 2000 to 27 billion for 2001. It referred that Saudi Arabia allotted annually since the Gulf war in 1991 between 18 to 22 billion dollars for its military spending and that it had also spent USD 22 billion to buy weapons between 1991-1999.
It said that Saudi Arabia has bought the most advanced military planes in the Gulf region and it is the only force which owns flying warning system and an advanced air defense, besides the ability to provide its air fighters with mid-air fueling , according to researchers in the International Institute.
The same report added that Saudi Arabia was obliged to use foreign pilots especially from Pakistan, noting that these pilots are greatly cooperating with the US despite the fact that this operation was greatly affected as a result of transporting the American forces from al-Dahran base to al-Kharaj base in 2000.
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