Tuesday, October 26, 2004

 

Saudi View of France's Involvement in the Intl. Conf. On Iraq

I find ArabNews.com interesting since it is a direct view into the Saudi monarchy's (simple) attempts at spin, crowd control, and most recently, reform. It comes through especially transparently in the editorials, which makes them entertaining to read.

An article published today portrays France's activities leading up to the November international conference on Iraq as pure obstructionism.

This of course is no surprise, but what IS revealing is that the article got published in Arabnews.com at all. Like Russia's Pravda in the old days, Arab News is a mouthpiece for the Saudi government and nothing gets published without the rulers' approval. The Saudi rulers speak out of both sides of their mouths - one thing gets said to the Western world, another to Saudi citizens. Up until recently, the spin on most articles dealing with Iraq tried to paint America in a bad light so as to align the monarchy with the Arab "street" opinion and reduce internal tensions. But recently I've noticed that they've begun to tone down the anti-US rhetoric aimed at their own citizens, as this article demonstrates.

I'm stumped as to why they are switching tracks now - especially when they were just asked over the weekend to forgive $50B in Iraqi debt, which should make the US pretty unpopular.

Is it...

- To improve Bush's standings among Arabs (and US Arabs) before the election by trashing Kerry's "ally"?
- To ingratiate themselves with the U.S. before contracts are doled out at the conference?
- Worry that officially recognizing rebel groups in Iraq will encourage the terrorists in Saudi Arabia?
- Threats from the US?
- Part of their PR campaign to rebuild relationships with the US? (Public Relations is a separate but highly entertaining topic that constantly surfaces on this web site.)

Other thoughts?

Bill

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