Changes sweep the kingdom
Saudi Arabia's foreign policy has been transformed in the past few months. Caution has given way to assertiveness, as Saudi leaders start projecting themselves on a changed Arab political stage. Changes are also occurring within the kingdom, as the longer term implications of the Gulf crisis start to sink in. WHEN a prominent Saudi prince went on US television recently to launch an open attack on Jordan's King Hussain and his policies in the Gulf crisis, the event was reported as interesting, but not remarkable. Yet even three months ago, such overt and forthright approaches in Saudi foreign policy, particularly towards an Arab neighbour, would have been almost unthinkable.
The broadcast -- by ambassador in Washington Prince Bandar Ibn Sultan -- is just one example of the way Saudi policy has been transformed since 2 August. The preference for caution and consensus has given way to a more aggressive stance, marked by a new confidence and forcefulness, and an open alliance with the West. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait -- seen by Riyadh as a gross betrayal of trust -- has brought about fundamental changes in the kingdom's relations with its neighbours and in its position in the Arab world. The economic implications are also likely to be far-reaching although, like the outcome of the crisis, their final nature is still very uncertain.
The policy change is most evident in the presence of US troops on Saudi soil. They were called in after the invasion of Kuwait and the perceived threat to the kingdom forced Riyadh to bring into the open along-standing but discreet strategic relationship.
Equally important has been the shift in Riyadh's attitude towards Arab politics. In the past, this has been rooted in …