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Wednesday, August 07, 2002
It appears to be official now, if it wasn't already. The Washington Post is reporting that Saudi Arabia won't allow an attack on Iraq from its soil.

Saudi Arabia has made clear to Washington – publicly and privately – that the U.S. military will not be allowed to use the kingdom's soil in any way for an attack on Iraq, Foreign Minister Prince Saud said Wednesday.

We had plenty of warning on the Saudi position. That's why we moved, as reported on July 29:

The Saudis believe that the U.S. won't try to go to war without them. But in the war rooms inside the Pentagon and at Central Command in Tampa, Fla., military strategists no longer think the U.S. needs the Saudis to dislodge Saddam. Strategists say a war against Iraq would require as many as 200,000 troops, with forces launching from Kuwait, Turkey and the smaller gulf emirates, reinforced by a massive U.S. Navy and Marine presence. The U.S. already has 10,000 Army troops at Kuwait's Camp Doha, where the Pentagon has stored tanks and other weapons. Some 3,000 U.S. troops man the al-Udeid air base in Qatar, just across the gulf from Iraq. The military has added new runways to a 15,000-ft.-long airstrip that is big enough to serve as the backup landing area for the space shuttle. General John Jumper, Air Force chief of staff, says the military is upgrading al-Udeid for use as a command-and-control center if the Saudis put CAOC [Note: Combined Air Operations Center, a U.S.-built facility at the Prince Sultan base] off-limits.

That leaves the question of what becomes of our facility at the Prince Sultan base when the US attack is launched from the sea, Kuwait, Turkey and elsewhere, and coordinated from Qatar. The attack might well cause the house of Saud to be replaced with a fundamentalist regime willing to oppose us militarily (whether by conventional means or otherwise). I wouldn't consider that such a terrible thing since it merely formalizes what is actually happening now (see this report), but I sure as hell don't want our "newly minted" opponents them to inherit a state of the art facility with which to harass and interdict our forces and gather intelligence on those forces. Even if, as Den Beste persuasively argues, the successors to the current Saudi regime will be weaker than the present one, there is certainly no upside to providing them with additional means to oppose us.

Oh, and I love the part of the Saudi announcement saying that they don't mind continuing (from their sacred soil) the part of the operations designed to protect them:

Saudi Arabia has no objections to the United States continuing its decade-old monitoring of Iraqi skies from the U.S. air control center in the kingdom, Saud said.

These guys are the greatest pals we ever had.
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