During her last two visits to the region, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made sure to stop over in Riyadh while skipping over Egypt.
Following is a partial list of Saudi Arabia's achievements during the last few months:
- Saudi Arabia has thrown its full weight behind Persian Gulf oil production, preventing a sharp hike in oil prices. Cooperation between the US and Riyadh should be noted here: Soaring oil prices would have been detrimental to the American economy, which is still essentially dependent on oil and its byproducts.
- It was Saudi Arabia that led and accompanied the withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon. It's difficult to imagine the level of rage in the royal court when Syrian intelligence assassinated the Saudis' protégé Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister. Now the Saudis are trying to tempt - so far unsuccessfully - Bashar Assad and his associates to agree to appear in the international court investigating the circumstances of Hariri's death. If Assad agrees it would bring the regime in Damascus to an end, and no one in the Arab world would shed a tear. If Assad refuses, the Saudis will make every effort – with Washington's full support – to choke the Syrian economy.
- Saudi Arabia was the host of the Mecca summit between Fatah and Hamas. For the first time in history, it also allowed photographers to document the signing of the agreement. The photographers were in fact invited to document the Saudi mediation effort. Experts maintain that that this agreement will cost the Saudis more than a billion dollars.
The Saudis' activities are aimed at preventing what they view as a horrific scenario: While Iran continues its race towards nuclear arms, it would take over Iraq and Lebanon, topple the Egyptian regime, take over the sacred sites in Saudi Arabia, and declare the founding of "the right Islamic empire."
Fear of the Iranian octopus is what is driving Saudi Arabia today, and it is also what led to the significant closeness between the Saudis and the US. Because of the Iranian threat, the Americans are even willing to forget that Saudi terror cells carried out the atrocities of 9/11.
When the Iranian president's visit in Saudi Arabia ends Sunday, apparently without any achievements, the Saudis will focus on concluding the preparations for the Arab summit that will devote its attention to the key issue irking the Saudis: How they can be instrumental in leading the "good" Sunni camp to victory over the "evil and dangerous" Shiite camp.