Thursday, January 18, 2007
Don't tie Bush's hands on Iraq-Saudi envoy to U.S.
"WASHINGTON , Jan 18 (Reuters) - A vote by the U.S. Congress limiting the number of American troops that could be deployed in Iraq would send the wrong signal to the Middle East and make people wonder if President George W. Bush's authority has been weakened, Saudi Arabia's outgoing envoy to Washington said.
Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former long-time Saudi intelligence chief who is about to retire after just over one year as envoy to Washington, also warned the United States against military action to set back Iran's nuclear ambitions, saying the consequences would be "catastrophic."
Both the newly Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are planning symbolic, but politically important, resolutions rejecting Bush's plans to send about 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq to try to stabilize Baghdad and Anbar province.
With polls showing most Americans disapprove of the troop increase, the non-binding resolutions would force Republicans to reveal publicly where they stand on Bush's strategy and could further isolate the White House.
"I think it would send the wrong signal and make more people question whether the president has the authority," Turki told a dinner on Wednesday night hosted by the New America Foundation thinktank and the U.N. Foundation, a private group that supports the work of the United Nations.
"Already people (in the Middle East) are gauging the effects of the (November 2006) elections as eroding the president's authority in the United States and ... are waiting to see how that erosion is going to be manifested in what the president can or cannot do," he said.
Saudi Arabia this week joined other Arab allies in backing Bush's new plan to reverse the downward spiral of violence and chaos in Iraq...."