MSNBC: Saudi Arabia mulls sending troops to Iraq 'to protect their interests' there

Published: Tuesday January 16, 2007
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NBC News' Andrea Mitchell has reported on MSNBC that Saudi Arabia is mulling whether to send troops to Iraq, to "protect their interests" there.

According to Mitchell, Saudi Arabia is "deeply skeptical" that Iraq's government will be able to quell the unrest. Over a hundred Iraqi civilians died today, including at least 15 from a bombing at Baghdad University.

But a leading Saudi Arabia official warns that Saudi Arabia can not be expected to "solve Iraq's problems."

After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney paid several visits to Saudi Arabia to secure permission to launch attacks from its country with U.S. troops.

An article in The New York Times reports that Saudi Arabia has backed President Bush's escalation plan.

"Saudi Arabia endorsed the goals of President Bush’s new strategy for Iraq today," Thom Shanker writes. "But in carefully worded comments, the Saudi foreign minister indicated deep concern about whether the Shiite-led government in Baghdad can halt sectarian violence and protect Sunni interests."

Excerpts from Times article:


“We agree fully with the goals set by the new strategy, which in our view are the goals that — if implemented — would solve the problems that face Iraq,” said Prince Saud al-Faisal, the foreign minister.

During a joint news conference here with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the prince said he could not comment on specifics of the plan, which Bush administration officials acknowledge is built around support for the current Iraqi government of Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite political leader.

Saudi Arabia is a predominantly Sunni state. Ms. Rice met late on Monday with King Abdullah and other officials at a hunting lodge in the desert outside the capital, after arriving from Egypt.

Although Prince Saud’s endorsement of Mr. Bush’s new Iraq plan was lukewarm at best, the prince declined to be drawn into a discussion of potential Saudi actions in the event that Iraq slides into full-blown sectarian civil war.