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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Gause: Saudis 'Very Anxious' to Hear Bush Views on Iran

Council on Foreign Relations

Interviewee: F. Gregory Gause III, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Vermont
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor

January 11, 2008

F. Gregory Gause III, a leading expert on Saudi Arabia, says Saudi officials are “anxious” to hear President Bush’s views on Iran during his forthcoming visit. He says Saudi leaders share the Bush administration’s call for containing Iran but are nervous about any direct U.S.-Iran confrontation. Gause also says the Saudis would like to see Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki deposed in Iraq, because of his perceived close ties to Iran, and replaced by more secular, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

President Bush has concluded the Israeli-Palestinian part of his weeklong Middle East trip. How are the Arab states that he’s visiting, as well as other Arab states, going to respond to Bush’s visit to Israel and to Ramallah on the West Bank where he outlined some views on an eventual peace accord?

We have to distinguish between public opinion and media reaction and the government reaction. The public opinion/media reaction is going to be fairly negative because of President Bush’s low standing in the region and the cynicism–especially in the Arab media–of American promises on Arab-Israeli peace process issues. The governments might be a little bit more interested in what happened because the president laid out in a very public way–I think for the first time for an American president in public–what the parameters of a two-state solution should be. President Clinton laid them out, but in confidential diplomatic conversations among the parties.

Can you just outline what these “parameters” are?

The president talked about, basically, a contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank with some territorial swaps with Israel. This means that almost all the West Bank would be brought together and not cut apart by bypass roads or Israeli settlement blocs that would disconnect parts of the West Bank.

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