Jackson Diehl in today's Washington Post asks the following question about Prince Bandar, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States:
Can Bandar bail the United States out of the multiple crises it has stumbled into in the Middle East? Maybe not, but Washington's old friend may be one of the best bets a desperate Bush administration has going at the moment.Bandar, as Diehl reports, has been feverishly trying to hammer out various peace agreements. According to Diehl, Bandar is now optimistic.
He reportedly told his contacts in Washington that Iranian officials were "taken aback by President Bush's recent shows of strength in the region, by the failure of his administration to collapse after midterm elections and by the unanimous passage of a U.N. resolution imposing sanctions on Tehran for failing to stop its nuclear program. The mullahs, he said, were worried about Shiite-Sunni conflict spreading from Iraq around the region, and about an escalating conflict with the United States; they were interested in tamping both down."
Bandar is supposedly hoping to break apart Syria and Iran by getting Iran to agree to a U.N. tribunal to try those responsible for the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. As Diehl notes, "That would [essentially] be poison to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who almost certainly was behind the murder."
While Riehl dismisses the "Mecca Agreeement," the deal Prince Bandar recently helped broker between the rival Palestinian factions as "disappointing" to Washington, Riehl does acknowledge that "the Palestinian deal was secondary for Bandar."
Bandar's "main aim" says Riehl "is to defuse the multiple threats posed by Iran. If he can find a way to broker a deal that stops the Iranian nuclear program, and kick-starts a strategic dialogue between Tehran and Washington, it will be his greatest feat of all."
If he succeeds will Michael Moore fans still derisively refer to him as "Bandar Bush"?