The leaders of the Islamic states are still hostile towards Israel even despite some progress on the Mideast problem. Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and Saudi Prince Abdullah touched upon the Palestine–Israel conflict in a telephone conversation yesterday. The conversation was published in today’s Teheran Times.
The newspaper reports that the parties exchanged opinions concerning recent events in the Middle East and agreed that it was time “to stop talking and start doing.” Iran and Saudi Arabia plan to unite against Israel and urge the Islamic world exert political and economic pressure on the Israeli leadership. The leaders of the two states accused the UN of “double standards," “open support of Tel-Aviv,” and inertness that resulted in a “chronic” Palestinian problem. The Iranian president and Saudi Prince are dissatisfied with the policies of Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey concerning Israel. President Khattami and Prince Abdullah also agree that it is necessary to stop the US’s policy of "providing about $2.2 billion to the occupation regime every year.”
The Iranian newspaper does not mention the word “Israel” itself. Instead, it uses words like “Zionist regime," “Zionist aggressor," etc. It is well-known, Islamic states like to talk about the “struggle against Zionism”. To tell the truth, the same can be said not only of Islamic states. What is really very typical under the present conditions is that the Islamic states will not go further than the appeals “to stop talking and start doing.” Iraq is more consistent in this respect: a month ago it announced a ban on oil supplies. Today it was informed that Baghdad would lift the oil embargo. Saddam Hussein failed to win support within the past month. Neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia supported him. None of them would like to sacrifice its own well-being.
One more detail is to be mentioned here. The telephone conversation between the Irani president and Saudi Prince and their unanimous condemnation of Israel’s policy demonstrate that both states are gradually approaching each other. At the same time, until recently, we could hardly say relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia were ideal. Both states claim the leading role in the Islamic world. In addition, Iran is really very strong with its anti-American position, and Saudi Arabia, on the contrary, is the US’s old strategic partner in the Middle East. It remains a partner to the USA despite Er-Riyad’s anti-American attitude. It is not clear how both states are to overcome the contradiction. More likely, the parties will only voice their solidarity and not put it in practice.
On the whole, the Islamic states still attempt to create a united front for struggle against Israel. By the way, the attempts have been lasting for dozens of years already. An oil the boycott of the Arab states to the West in the 1970s was the only practical realization of such attempts. Since that time, nothing more effective has been done. This time, the leaders of the Islamic states are unlikely to overcome contradictions and exert pressure on the USA and Israel.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/05/06/40691.html