Obama, desperate to avoid U.S. military involvement in Libya in the event of a prolonged struggle between the Gaddafi regime and its opponents, has asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi.
The Saudi Kingdom is already facing a “day of rage” from its 10 per cent Shia Muslim community with a ban on all demonstrations, and has so far failed to respond to Obama’s highly classified request.
The Saudis remain the only U.S. Arab ally capable of furnishing weapons to the guerrillas of Libya. Their assistance would allow Washington to claim “plausible deniability” even though the Saudis would be supplying American weapons.
Saudi supplies could reach Benghazi within hours to supply what would then be a surrogate American army. The risk, of course, is that such an action would further ignite the internal problems within Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Arab world.
U.S. AWACS surveillance aircraft have been flying around Libya to discover details of Libyan flight patterns, which includes journeys made in the past 48 hours by Gaddafi’s private jet which flew to Jordan and back to Libya.
Al Jazeera English television channel last night broadcast recordings made by American aircraft to Maltese air traffic control, requesting information about Libyan flights, especially that of Gaddafi’s jet.
Obviously, King Abdullah of Jordan is sympathetic to Gaddafi’s predicament.
King Abdullah, worth $17 billion in a country of abject poverty, is a prime target for the reformers in his own country. Recently, King Abdullah lost $30 million at one sitting in Las Vegas. His wife, Queen Rania, spent $15 million on her birthday, and received an $83 million yacht from King Abdullah. Around half the Jordanian population lives on less or little more than $2.50 a day. No wonder Jordan is ripe for revolution.
The revolution in Egypt is far from over. Saudi Arabia is facing dangers from a coordinated day of protest by its own Shia Muslim citizens who, emboldened by the Shia uprising in the neighboring island of Bahrain, have called for street protests against the ruling family of al-Saud on Friday.
If the Saudi government agrees to Obama’s request to send guns and missiles to Libyan rebels, however, it would be almost impossible for Obama to condemn the kingdom for any violence against the Shias.
The Arab awakening, the demand for democracy in North Africa, the Shia revolt in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, demonstrations in Jordan and Yemen, and the revolution against Gaddafi have become not only a major threat to US military priorities in the region, but also to America’s supply of oil and its economic recovery.
This may be the start of something no one can stop.