Bush-Abdullah Talks – to Paper Over Cracks?

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah’s decision to shut Prince Sultan air base east of Riyadh to US forces – and the manner in which the US evacuation was carried out -are a landmark in the oil kingdom’s history. Never before has Saudi Arabia taken sole charge of its own security. The gesture effectively ditched the US umbrella protecting the kingdom, its oil fields and the royal family for more than 60 years, posing five sensitive questions to be addressed when President George W. Bush and Saudi Crown Abdullah meet at the presidential ranch in Crawford, Texas, on April 24:
1. What happens to the US nuclear umbrella over Saudi Arabia?
2 . Will the United States continue to defend Saudi Arabia’s oil fields and pipelines?
3. Will the United States stay on as protector of the House of Saudi from external and internal threat?
4. Will Saudi Arabia take action against the al Qaeda terrorists sheltering in, and operating from, the kingdom since March?
5. Will Riyadh join, or reject, an oil embargo?
Abdullah promised Secretary of State Colin Powell that his government would not be a party to any oil embargo. But DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources in the Gulf doubt the Saudis will stand up to pressure from Iraq, Iran, the Palestinians and Venezuela to declare at least a one-month oil embargo. Chances are good that in the next 10 to 14 days, when Israel launches another major retaliation for a Palestinian terror attack, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela will declare a 30-day oil embargo. Should Israel hold off, Saudi Arabia would in turn be able to postpone its declaration of an embargo until after the Bush-Abdullah talks.

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