A Saudi prince’s secret ‘peace’ offer to Russia

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, went to Russia last month to negotiate a Mideast peace settlement with President Vladimir Putin.  He reportedly offered big purchases of Russian military equipment and cooperation on oil policy in return for Russia agreeing to regime change in Syria and sanctions against Iran.

Prince Bandar

Prince Bandar

Prince Bandar reportedly told Putin that the United States would stand by anything that the two of them agreed to.  Putin replied that Russia will not abandon its Syrian and Iranian allies.  Bandar warned of an escalation of conflict in the Middle East.

This is all from an English translation of an article in As-Safir, an Arabic language newspaper in Lebanon, based on information leaked to Russian newspapers.  I know about it from reading Pepe Escobar’s most recent column in Asia Times.

According to As-Safir, Prince Bandar said:

  • The Saudi Arabian government is in control of insurgent forces in Chechnia, and is in a position to guarantee there will be no Chechen terrorist attacks on next year’s Winter Olympic games in Russia.  
  • Saudi Arabia is committed to supporting the military government in Egypt, and regards the Muslim Brotherhood as a threat to the stability of the Middle East.
  • If there is regime change in Syria, he will guarantee that Syria will be ruled by a moderate and democratic government that will be directly sponsored by the Saudis and which will not threaten Russia interests.
  • Russia has a common interest with the Gulf Arab countries in preventing Iran from developing nuclear capabilities.
President Putin

President Putin

Putin reportedly replied that Saudi Arabia’s sponsorship of Chechen terrorists is inconsistent with the purported desire for peace.  He said he is open to cooperation on oil policy, but that the Assad regime is best for Syria and Iran has a right to develop peaceful nuclear power.  He said he wants good relations with the current Egyptian government, but worries about Egypt sliding into civil war.

What this article describes is a conflict has nothing to do with any war on terror.  Rather it is a conflict between rival imperialists who manipulate jihadist terrorists for their own purposes.  It is little bit like the Cold War between the USA and the old Soviet Union and a lot like the Great Game between the rival British and Russian empires.

Click on Russian President, Saudi Spy Chief Discussed Syria, Egypt for the complete As-Safir article as translated by Al-Monitor, a Middle East news service.

Click on Obama set for holy Tomahawk war for Pepe Escobar’s column.

[Added later]

Click on Saudis offer Russia secret deal if it drops Syria for an article in The Telegraph of London based on the same source but with more background information.

I imagine there would be conflicts in Syria, Egypt and other Middle East countries, but these conflicts would die down if there were not countries from outside the region sending advanced weapons to one side or another or threatening to intervene themselves.

I can see some excuse from the governments of countries such as Israel, Saudi Arabia or Iran, which are in precarious positions and are affected by what goes on in neighboring countries.  This is not true of the United States, nor of Britain, France or Russia.

[Added 8/28/13]

If the Saudi Arabian government helps the Chechen rebels in Russia, it would be with the knowledge of the U.S. government.  That may explain why the National Security Agency, with its vast surveillance, did not pick up anything suspicious regarding the Tsarnayev brothers prior to the Boston Marathon bombings.  U.S. authorities might have thought they were a Russian problem, not a potential American problem.

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