|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told Arab leaders on Wednesday that the American occupation of Iraq is “illegal,” and he warned that unless Arab governments settle their differences, foreign powers like the United States would continue to dictate the region’s politics.
The king’s speech, at the opening of the Arab League summit meeting here, underscored growing differences between Saudi Arabia and the Bush administration as the Saudis take on a greater regional leadership role, partly at American urging. The Saudis seem to be emphasizing that they will not be beholden to the policies of their longtime ally.
Last week, the Saudi king abruptly canceled his appearance at an April White House dinner planned in his honor, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. The official reason given for the cancellation was a scheduling conflict.
Mustapha Hamarneh, director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, said the Saudis are sending Washington a message. “They are telling the U.S. they need to listen to their allies rather than imposing decisions on them and always taking Israel’s side.”
In his speech on Wednesday, the king said: “In the beloved Iraq, the bloodshed is continuing under an illegal foreign occupation and detestable sectarianism. The blame should fall on us, the leaders of the Arab nation, with our ongoing differences, our refusal to walk the path of unity. All that has made the nation lose its confidence in us.”
King Abdullah has not publicly spoken so harshly about the American-led Iraq war before and his remarks suggested that his alliance with Washington may be less strong that Bush officials have been hoping.