August 7, 2001 Special Dispatch No. 251

The Saudi Ambassador in London: We Must Not Rule Out the Option of War with Israel

August 7, 2001
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 251

Since the outbreak of the second Intifada, at the end of September, 2000, the Egyptians and Saudis have been at theforefront of the moderate camp in the Arab world, against the cries for war coming from Iraq, Yemen, Sudan andoccasionally from Syria. Lately, however, statements by officials in the moderate camp have also become moreaggressive. However, in an article published by the Saudi Ambassador to the UK, Ghazi Al-Quseibi, in the Londondaily Al-Hayat, the ambassador called on the Arabs not to rule out the possibility of war against Israel. Contrary toother articles in Al-Hayat, Al-Quseibi signed this article with his name only, omitting his well known official position.Following are excerpts from the article, entitled "To Consider What We Dare Not Consider"[1]:

"Richard Nixon writes in his memoirs, and it is confirmed in the memoirs of Kissinger, that during the Vietnam War he wanted to give his enemies the impression that he was a "madman", whose reactions were unpredictable and who could do just anything. He made sure, throughout the entire crisis, to maintain this impression among his enemies, and in his words and deeds enhanced it. Before him, John Foster Dulles skillfully practiced what was known as a policy of 'brinkmanship’."

"I don’t mean to analyze these two men or to praise their policies. What is important is to understand that an enemy who can know for sure that the behavior of his rival will not stray in any way from a certain framework, can freely act against him. The situation is different when this certainty doesn’t exist."

"I am sure that this situation exists today between Israel and the Arab states. On the one hand, the entire world is under the impression that Israel, regardless of [which party] is in government, can at any given moment carry out an insane military action capable of igniting the entire region. On the other hand, the Arab states have become trapped in a series of agreements, summits and declarations – in the cage of peace, no matter what. You don’t have to be a genius to understand that under these circumstances, Israel can "carry on" as much as it likes. They do this consistently without fearing any true Arab reaction."

"The Arabs’ helplessness is based partly on Israel’s technological superiority, and partly on the schisms that exist among them. However, in essence it is a mental helplessness that comes from the fear of entering a military confrontation with Israel. Removing this mental helplessness will lead, as if by magic, to a surprising change in the balance of power."

"Why are we afraid of a comprehensive war with Israel? Why has the mere talk of comprehensive war with Israel turned into forbidden territory? Why do we believe that the thought, the mere thought of this option, is a dangerous and irresponsible act?"

"It is true that there will be no war without Egypt and it is true that there is a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. But since when have peace agreements deterred the outbreak of a war, when from the point of view of the leaders, the highest national interest entails the need for war?"

"The undeniable truth is that the Egyptian leadership has once again begun to seriously consider the possibility of war. In this framework we can understand the declarations of the Egyptian President, Husni Mubarak, regarding Egypt’s ability to protect the Aswan Dam and his declarations that what happened in 1967 cannot happen again. Furthermore, the press has reported that he went to Moscow on a specific mission to determine what kind of support he can garner in the case of the outbreak of war with Israel. The Egyptian president is an experienced leader with sensitive nerves. However, Israel’s actions have made him think the unthinkable, namely about what the Arab leaders need to do."

"Israel’s superiority is at its foundation a mental superiority. Israel’s strong points are known and we have memorized them. However they have mortal points of weakness [as well] that we cannot ignore. First of all, Israel is unable to fight efficiently on more than one front, as was proven in the October 1973 War. Secondly, Israel cannot absorb a large number of casualties. This we witness with our own eyes every day. Thirdly, Israel is unable to withstand a war of attrition. The present Palestinian Intifada has already tired them out more than all of the previous wars with the Arabs put together. Taking advantage of these weak points, in addition to the element of surprise, are a guarantee for bringing the Israeli "giant" down to size."

"What could be better than a repetition of what happened in 1973? What we need is Egyptian-Syrian cooperation, with the back up of the oil states with their oil, and the rest of the Arab states, each according to its ability. Such a military confrontation, especially while the Intifada is going on, and at a time when the possibility of the Arab community within Israel to take action, will turn all the tables and all of the facts upside down."

"I am not a supporter of war, but I warn you that entirely ruling out the option of war from the agenda, is the surest guarantee for the continuation of Israel’s superiority – and with it the arrogance, the bloodshed, and the rampage – forever!"

[1] Al-Hayat (London), June 9, 2001.

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