Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Condi Offers Cheney a Frothy Mug

Secretary of State Condi Rice tried to loosen up Vice President Dick Cheney before his trip to the Middle East. She served a few Shiner Bocks to Shooter before he goes hunting for lower oil prices in Saudi Arabia. Consider her admonitions to America's Saudi ally (reported in the Jerusalem Post):

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized Saudi Arabia for not doing enough to counter extremism and defended Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas while testifying before the US Congress on Wednesday. Rice said the State Department had also made clear to the Saudis that they needed to do more on the issue of ending incitement and standing against extremism.

"While I would be the last to say that there has been anything like the kind of progress that I think we will need - [and] they will need to see, frankly, for their own good as well as the good of the world as a whole - there are discussions that are ongoing, and they do provide a mechanism by which we can monitor and then take what we know to the Saudis for discussion," she said. "This is a very high priority."

Rice also stressed that Saudi Arabia and other Arab neighbors would need to take more concrete steps to help the peace process. "We need also the Arab states to be very active in supporting this effort, and some are, but frankly the Israelis are going to need to know that the outreach of the Arabs to them is coming as a part of this broader effort," she said. Rice was echoing a point Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in Washington this week, has made on several occasions.

Do Condi's words hold water? In the summer of 2006 Saudi Arabia pleaded for the U.S. to take a leadership role while Israel pummeled its democratic neighbor to the north, Lebanon. The Saudi's made numerous proposals to President Bush, who did nothing. Within eight months, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia took matters into their own hands and brokered a peace deal with a Palestinian Unity Government. While this didn't last, the region took active steps toward peace without the U.S. For that Condi wanted some payback. But back to the Jerusalem Post article on Condi Rice's testimony before Congress. It stated:

Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the US House appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, which called Rice to testify Wednesday, argued that Saudi Arabia should be doing more to help Palestinians on the ground, particularly by using some of its oil revenue to build homes and expand job opportunities. "When you have the oil-producing countries getting $105 a gallon, the fact that they can't show some evidence on the ground and create jobs is mind-boggling," Lowey said. "Unless the Palestinians are supported by Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates and all the other countries in the region, it's going to be very difficult for them to take that final step."

Lowey has also expressed reservations about giving extra aid to the Palestinians in light of Abbas's recent comments, and put a hold on $150 million in aid allocated last year for that and other reasons. However, she recently indicated a shift in position.

OK, let's look at the facts. At the Paris Donor conference the Saudis stated their support for the Palestinian people.

We are continuing our efforts in this regard and have recently provided a grant of 250 million dollars to aid the budget of the Palestinian Authority and fund development projects. In addition, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is pleased to announce that it will be donating an amount of 500 million dollars. This donation will be channelled through the Saudi Development Fund in order to finance development projects in the Palestinian territories, and in coordination with the Palestinian Authority. This with the yearly 92.4 million dollars we committed for budgetary support, makes Saudi Arabia one of the largest, if not the larger, donors to the Palestinian Authority.

So Ms. Rice and Ms. Lowey, are the Saudi's $750 million in contributions more than America's $150 million? And where does that annual $3 billion in U.S. arms support for Israel fit in?

Condi's and Nita's lines are intended as smack downs before Shooter Cheney rides into the Middle East with his Bush guns ablazing. So sip up on the ladies' swill, Dicky boy. It'll help your aim.

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