Bandar’s Comfort Zone

Kudos to Saudi intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan for trying to change Putin’s mind on Syria during their 4-hour meeting, but shame on him for being ill prepared.

According to TIME Magazine, Western diplomats described “… a deal in which Saudi Arabia would buy some $15 billion worth of Russian weapons in addition to offering assurances that Gulf countries wouldn’t threaten Russia’s dominance of the European gas market in exchange for a commitment that Moscow would not block future United Nations Security Council resolutions on Syria.

Why $15b? Is the amount indicative of the Russian Present Value or KSA’s Future Value of Syria?

Is it the amount KSA would have to invest to compete with Russia’s gas pipelines to Europe? I doubt it. Russia’s South Stream pipeline to Italy will cost $35b.

Is it the amount Bandar calculated the Kingdom would have to pay anyway as part of Assad’s normal extortion practices in return for guarantees by Assad he would not dispatch his suicide bombers to the Kingdom?

As I said in my last Blog, King Abdullah is tightfisted and this may have been the maximum amount Bandar’s King was willing to spend on weapons Saudi Arabia probably did not need.

At any rate, it seems Putin was offended. TIME reported, “… the idea that Russia could be turned from supporting Assad in exchange for a couple of arms deals and gas distribution guarantees is laughable.”

What was Saudi Arabia thinking? That it can pay Russia $15b for Syria.

Here is an idea Bandar should heed.

Leverage America’s anger over the Snowden affair, in addition to our economic woes, to pressure Putin where it matters the most for him. Where and how are questions, which can be best answered by Russian experts in Washington.

Your comfort zone is in Washington, not Moscow.