Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Talking Turki, Part II

In today's Financial Times, letter writer Sue Kelly responds to Turki al-Faisal's op/ed column of last week:

Sir, So the patience of Saudi Arabia is running out (Comment, January 23). So also is the patience of the average US citizen, but not in the way Turki al-Faisal might think.


Many US citizens are tired of the double talk of people like Prince Turki. He is old enough and educated enough to know better than to make such statements.

If Saudi Arabia truly wants peace, enough to return the violence genie to its bottle, it will stop its own citizens from funding war and work with the Palestinians to stop Hamas's firing of rockets at Israel, and with the Israelis to end their building new settlements in the West Bank.

The Saudis owe the Arab world nothing less than the strongest effort to build the will of all Arabs forward towards peace and away from the constant aggrievement over the past. It is clear from Prince Turki's article that he has not been able to do this for himself, let alone be able to influence others.

Thinking about this some more, I'm struck by the way al-Faisal brought up the threat of jihad in his FT column, given the carnage caused by Saudi jihadis in the U.S. on 9/11, in Iraq over the last several years, and (to a far lesser extent) even within Saudi Arabia itself. If he weren't a former longtime diplomat, I'd chalk it up to tactlessness, or tone deafness, but given his background, he must realize how provocative this is.

Then there's that letter al-Faisal claims was sent to the Saudi government by the president of Iran. Surely, he must wonder what motives Ahmadinejad has, beyond his stated concern for the plight of the Palestinians (especially given the flattery the Shiite Ahmadinejad included about Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia being the leader of all Muslim nations)?

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