The Saudis have a point. Those words do not flow easily from my pen. For more than three decades, the Arabian royals have spent billions of petro-dollars promoting Wahhabism, a poisonously anti-Western interpretation of Islam, of which the most lethal expression is bin Ladenism.
But now the Saudis are angry with the Obama administration. The reasons include “inaction over Syria’s civil war as well as recent U.S. overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy” told Reuters on Tuesday. “The shift away from the U.S. is a major one,” the source said.
The Saudis read in The New York Times that new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is implementing “conciliatory international policies.” They read in The Wall Street Journal that Iran now wants to end its “nuclear stalemate and improve relations with the West.”
The Saudis know that’s untrue. They know that Iran’s rulers, pragmatists and hardliners alike, are revolutionaries who intend to become nuclear-armed masters of the Middle East — a dire threat to Saudi Arabia and other nations in the region.
They read, too, that the latest round of talks “marked another first: Negotiations ended on a positive note.”
Does no one fact-check anymore? Just last year, the talks in Istanbul were characterized by Western diplomats as “very positive: the vibe ... was, ‘wow, they are engaging.’” Actually, have there ever been Western talks with Iran that were not characterized as “positive”?
The Saudis may wonder whether we’ve forgotten that for more than 30 years, Iranians have alternated between negotiating with Americans and killing Americans. In The New Yorker last month, Dexter Filkins, among the top foreign correspondents in the world, wrote that in 2004, Iran’s Quds Force “began flooding Iraq with lethal roadside bombs that the Americans referred to as E.F.P.s, for ‘explosively formed projectiles.’ The E.F.P.s, which fire a molten copper slug able to penetrate armor, began to wreak havoc on American troops, accounting for nearly 20 percent of combat deaths.” Filkins reports that the Iranians also facilitated attacks by Osama bin Laden’s combatants: