Saudis Refuse Participation in an Iraq War
The Saudis are again saying as loudly as they can that Saudi Arabia will not take part in any attack on Iraq. Prince Sultan, the minister of defense, said that Saudi Arabia would not “provide any assistance in any strikes against Iraq.” His reasoning appeared to be that because the kingdom is host to the two holiest sites in the Muslim world–Mecca and Medina–it would be wrong for it to ally with foreigners in a war of aggression against another Muslim state. On the other hand, he put pressure on Iraq to comply with the UN weapons inspections demanded by the Bush administration.
The foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said virtually the same thing at Tiaret in Algeria after talks with the Algerian president, Abdulaziz Bouteflika. “We will refuse to enter into a war against Iraq,” he said.
He denied he had ever said he would allow the US to use Saudi territory to launch an attack on Iraq. Saud al-Faisal insisted that even if a security council resolution authorized such a war, Saudi Arabia would not take part. He insisted that a Security Council resolution, while it would impose the obligation on member states to help the UN, could not obliged them to take active part in a war. He said it was a Saudi priority “to protect Iraq against possible strikes.” [-from al-Hayat and Agence France Presse].
If Saudi Arabia denies the US use of its air space, and if Jordan does likewise, this refusal would pose serious tactical problems for a US strike on Iraq.