ACCORDING TO THIS ARTICLE in The Times, the U.S. government no longer considers the Saudis allies and is getting better cooperation from Syria than from Saudi-controlled Arabia:

The final “stab in the back” for Washington was the decision to ban American bombers from attacking Iraq from Saudi airbases. That has soured relations to such an extent that the country from which America launched its 1991 invasion of Iraq is now being excluded from discussions about a post-Saddam era.

Even Syria, which in public is opposed to an attack on Iraq and has been engaged in trade and arms deals with Baghdad, is talking secretly to the Americans and the British about the role that Damascus may play in the region if Saddam is overthrown. A Syrian delegation is understood to have had discussions with British officials in London this week. . . .British diplomatic sources said that the Saudi ruling elite was immersed in a “dynastic battle” and was so concerned about survival that the key figures were afraid of taking any decision that would be interpreted by the people as being pro-Western and anti-Arab.

Free advice for the House of Saud: Screw the dynastic battle, and find yourself a nice safe place to live abroad. I don’t think the Saudi monarchy is going to last long enough to be worth battling over.

Either that, or this is the best disinformation operation of all time.

UPDATE: Robert Crawford asks: “Would a severe dynastic battle in Saudi Arabia warrant western (US, really) intervention?” We may find out.