I get what happened: he got confused, having just seen the Japanese guy.

Meanwhile this appears to be, aside from the nationalization of the economy and introduction of state socialism, Obama’s biggest gaffe to date for the US conservative movement.

As a card-carrying Saudi-basher, I say, “eeeekh!”

The whole thing is getting quite ridiculous:

The White House is denying that the president bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at a G-20 meeting in London, a scene that drew criticism on the right and praise from some Arab outlets.

“It wasn’t a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he’s taller than King Abdullah,” said an Obama aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Washington Times called the alleged bow a “shocking display of fealty to a foreign potentate” and said it violated centuries of American tradition of not deferring to royalty. The Weekly Standard, meanwhile, noted that American protocol apparently rules out bowing, or at least it reportedly did on the occasion of a Clinton “near-bow” to the emperor of Japan.

Interestingly, a columnist in the Saudi-backed Arabic paper Asharq Alawsat also took the gesture as a bow and appreciated the move.

“Obama wished to demonstrate his respect and appreciation of the personality of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, who has made one of the most important calls in the modern era, namely the call for inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue to defuse the hatred, conflict and wars,” wrote the columnist, Muhammah Diyab.

Qadhafi never disappoints


Saudi’s King Abdullah walks out of opening session of Arab Summit:

“Doha: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz walked out of the opening session of the Arab Summit in Doha on Monday, following remarks made by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. 

Tempers flared shortly after the summit host Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, ended his opening address, in which he said King Abdullah will represent the Arab nation at Thursday’s G20 economic summit in London.

‘He is in fact the best representative any one could have,’ said Shaikh Hamad. The Arabs should be part of the restructuring of the global financial system, he said. ‘We should not sit on the sidelines watching.’

Following the speech, the Libyan leader took over the microphone without requesting a permission to speak, a Gulf News correspondent inside the meeting hall said.

‘I don’t know why we should be happy that King Abdullah is representing us at the G20. He is a British-made monarch and an American agent,’ Gaddafi said, and went on despite the repeated attempts by Shaikh Hamad to stop him.

Frustrated over the attempts by the Emir of Qatar to stop his from talking, Gaddafi looked at the rest of the Arab leaders and said: ‘I am the King of African Kings, I am the prince of the faithful and I don’t think my international prestige would allow me to sit with people like you.’

The remark and the subsequent apology by the Emir of Qatar led to an angry walkout by King Abdullah, who few years earlier had a similar spat with Gaddafi. “

Bonus pics [Thanks Diana]:


And to think once he was handsome:


Saudi royals feuding for succession

Very interesting overview of the inner rivalries among the al-Saud family:

Keys to the kingdom: Inside Saudi Arabia’s royal family – The Independent

One theory in political circles in Riyadh is that Prince Bandar was seeking to oust King Abdullah before Prince Sultan dies, thus placing his father on the throne. Other rumours claim that Prince Bandar is ill, or that he angered King Abdullah by dabbling in Syrian politics without authorisation. The Saudi embassy in London could not be contacted for comment last week, but this weekend political tensions in the kingdom came dramatically to the surface.

On Friday night King Abdullah unexpectedly announced the appointment of one of his half-brothers, Prince Nayef, the 76-year-old interior minister, to the post of second deputy prime minister, which had been left vacant. This was immediately taken as an indication that he would become crown prince when Prince Sultan dies or becomes king. But yesterday Prince Talal, another senior figure, publicly demanded that the king confirm that the appointment did not mean Prince Nayef would automatically become the next crown prince. Such public disagreement among senior Saudi royals is highly unusual.

Another indication of friction among the many descendants of the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Ibn Saud, who had 22 wives and more than 50 children, was the publication of a report last week by the Saudi National Society for Human Rights, one of the country’s two human rights organisations. It was highly critical of Prince Nayef’s draconian interior ministry, and is unlikely to have been released without the express say-so of another powerful member of the royal family.

Both Crown Prince Sultan and

Prince Nayef are members of the “Sudairi Six”, the powerful surviving sons of Ibn Saud and his favourite wife, Hassa bint Ahmad Al-Sudairi. The seventh and eldest brother was King Fahd, who died in 2005; when he nominated his successor, in line with tradition, he bypassed his full brothers and chose Abdullah as crown prince.

The vying for position is intensified by Crown Prince Sultan’s poor health. Aged about 85, he was first diagnosed with colon cancer in Jeddah in 2004. He has received treatment in Geneva and the US, and spent time convalescing in Morocco. Throughout his illness, Prince Nayef and another of the six brothers – Prince Salman, 73, the governor of Riyadh and another potential candidate for the succession – have stayed close to the crown prince’s side. Three weeks ago Prince Nayef surprised viewers of prime-time Saudi TV by telephoning in during the news hour to tell viewers that Prince Sultan was recovering well, and would be returning home soon.

More independent information about the prince’s condition has been suppressed, however. Last year, the long-serving Reuters bureau chief in Riyadh, Andrew Hammond, was told to leave the kingdom after reporting that Prince Sultan had cancer.

Do read the whole thing. It does bring to mind how this region is constantly in the midst of some succession crisis, currently Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen and I’m sure I’m missing some.

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Blair blackmailed by Bandar over BAE

Prince Bandar: with friends like these…

Saudi Arabia’s rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed yesterday.

Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced “another 7/7” and the loss of “British lives on British streets” if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.

Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE.

He was accused in yesterday’s high court hearings of flying to London in December 2006 and uttering threats which made the prime minister, Tony Blair, force an end to the Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribery allegations involving Bandar and his family.

The threats halted the fraud inquiry, but triggered an international outcry, with allegations that Britain had broken international anti-bribery treaties.

Lord Justice Moses, hearing the civil case with Mr Justice Sullivan, said the government appeared to have “rolled over” after the threats. He said one possible view was that it was “just as if a gun had been held to the head” of the government.

Can we invade Saudi Arabia now? Please?

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