Interview with Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Ambassador to UK

(Independent -- UK) Underlying the Saudi fury is a deep sense of disillusionment with the Bush administration. They were good friends with George Bush Sr. when he was President and expected relations with George W's administration to pick up where they left off in 1992. After 11 September, Prince Turki said, the US leadership - at official level - "expressed friendship and solicitude and support and all the positive things that existed between the two countries", but "at the same time, there were unspecified leaks from unspecified sources in the administration which evinced a lack of support and general unhappiness with Saudi". There was what Saudis saw as a sharp pro-Israel tilt by the new Bush administration in 2001. "All of us were taken aback. Although few Saudis knew Mr. [George W] Bush, he was familiar to Saudis from his background and entourage. But he did the opposite of what people had expected, which surprised and alarmed all of us. "[He had] seemed to go out of his way to tip towards Israel, and especially [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon, as opposed to [Palestinian President Yasser] Arafat. This shocked people. It was clear there was a new game in town." That "new game" included the war with Iraq and the apparent demotion of the Palestinian issue. "Our view, and we thought it was the US view, was always that in the Middle East problem, the Palestinian aspect was the most important. Solve that, and everything else will follow."

2003-08-11 00:00:00

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