Friday, January 11, 2008

Bush visits UAE - why not Oman too?

You'll have read that Bush is visiting Abu Dhabi, after he stops by Israel to remind them please stop building settlement (or else he'll keep sending them lots of aid).

Why UAE? Well, he's got o lot on the agenda. Plus he can't go to Saudi, so unpopular is he there.

1/ The UAE (and Abu Dhabi in particular) are raking in LOTS of money, and he wants them to send some more their way. The recent save of Citigroup by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority investing $7.5 billion is hopefully just the start. Next to be hit are the big credit card companies as default on plastic will start to skyrocket too. A break from the dollar is something he will want to avoid at all costs this year with the US elections coming up.

2/ Bush wants to gauge the depth of support for Iran, and seek diplomatic help in combating the ease of relations between the Sunni states of the Gulf and the Shiite Iran. Iranian gunboats playing tag with US Battle Fleets, presumeably in the hope of triggering a response, will have reminded Bush how much he relies on the Gulf states to base operations. He'll also want to engage them in whatever plans he has for Iran (al least, those that he can share) now his own intelligence people have released papers behind his back showing a nuclear threat is not imminent.

3/ He also just wants to be seen by the folks back home in a Middle East country that is growing in prosperity and stable and will actually welcome him (at least that's how it will look on TV). Screw democracy. Those silly voters keep voting for Islamists!

4/ But, given reason 3 - why not visit Oman? OK, they don't have the cash, but they have half of the straights of Hormuz and are very US friendly with a nice stable economy and peaceful. I think he will drop by, and we'll only hear about it after he's gone. We'll see.

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