A Brainy Bandar Strategy

For some reason, I cannot bring myself to believe in the naiveté of President Obama on Iran. Deep inside something tells me the Iran deal is his parting gift to the Clintons or the Republicans as they sort his mess at a great cost after he leaves office. Of course, this is as hypothetical a reflection as there ever was.

We have known for a while now that Saudi Arabia and Israel have found common grounds because of a common and dangerous enemy. However, what Saudi Arabia and Israel, in addition to every Arab country fearing the specter of a nuclear Iran, share in common is less important than what they don’t share with each other.

Israel has the discipline, the technology, the military, and the will while Saudi Arabia has the Arab masses behind her, the funding, as powerful a will, the close proximity to Iran, and the goodwill in many European capitals it needs to kick into over gear. If Israel is willing to call upon all her advantages to defeat the Iranian regime, so should the Saudis in the service of the same goal. The Arab public mass is behind Saudi Arabia when it comes to Syria and Iran, but that advantage does not overflow to embrace any overt coordination with Israel for reasons only the Saudis understand. However, this missed opportunity will not come often.

The real Israeli-Palestinian Peace everyone is chasing is a mirage because after 65 years of trying, someone needs to realize they are beating a dead horse. What we are left with is a broader peace initiative Arabs and Israelis are looking at, but completely missing except for one man today. It’s the carrot the Saudis need to provide Mr. Obama by offering him the foreign deal he desperately needs to save his legacy. Instead of a US-Iranian deal, the Saudis should dangle the Arab-Israeli over-arching and encompassing grand deal after which the smaller regional issues, like the Palestinian-Israeli peace, can be initiated and negotiated over.

The opportunity is before us to throw a curve ball to President Obama to entice him to pursue a dream initiative, historical in every sense of the word, between several willing partners in return for abandoning the US-Iran deal, which simultaneously weakens Iran. At least, Mr. Obama, should he help drive such a peace, would know that its certainty would be respected by all the parties, unlike the uncertainty of a US-Iran deal. That is how he can truly earn his Nobel Peace Prize.

The man behind this idea is betting that Secretary John Kerry, the Clintons, and the Republican leadership would jump on this train each for their own reasons. Kerry to fulfill his dream of a Statesman, and the Clintons, or the Republicans, to insure Obama does not leave heavy baggage behind both may not be able to heave.

As far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, its media empire (and those of Qatar as well) would facilitate that process as far as the public opinion is concerned. Any Sunni Salafi objections would have to be answered with “Choose between Assad and Iran killing Sunnis or Israel managing Jerusalem”. The “managing” part is left to the negotiations, but the spin is easy. If they choose the killing, then Saudi Arabia would stop shipping weapons and funds to Syria. Taking care of the Salafis would need to happen sooner or later.

I heard this idea before when a friend in touch with Prince Bandar bin Sultan mentioned it to me couple of months ago and attributed it to Bandar. Where is it? Probably going through the reflective Saudi foreign policy process if Bandar has proposed it already.

Given how lost some of the talking heads writing for the New York Times are, it is imperative that Saudi Arabia embraces a different strategy to compel a determined and stubborn US President to see it to his advantage. Saudi priorities should reflect Obama’s priorities without losing sights of their self-interests. What Prince Bandar is offering has all the accoutrements of a successful campaign that will create peace between Arabs and Israelis as well as defeat Iran. All we need now is the Dream Team to make it happen and it would be easy for Prince Bandar to pass the ball to President Obama himself.

Short of that, Saudi Arabia should test a nuclear bomb with the help of Pakistan.