The Most Consequential News From the Middle East Today

The most important news out of the Middle East is not the Hamas-PA Agreement 4.0 (or 5.0 or 6.0, who can remember?). For various reasons, it doesn't seem likely to work (you can read Robert Danin here on some of the difficulties). Nor is it the "very productive meeting" Russia's foreign minister held in Damascus with the blood-soakwd Assad regime. Nor is it even news that the World International Zionist Organization is apparently promoting pornographic Purim costumes (hey, I aggregate -- you decide). It is, instead, this announcement from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, that Saudi Arabia will not allow the price of oil to rise about $100 a barrel:

"We can use our leverage, our excess capacity to be sure to pump more [oil] if needed so it will not impact the consumer countries while they're getting out of their recessions slowly but surely," the prince said.

As for Iran, he said it is important for the U.S. and other nations to put sanctions on the "renegade country" to force its government to negotiate. Issuing an ultimatum of war would push Iran to the "desperate move" of blocking the vital oil shipment waterway.

Why is this so important? Because it clears the way for an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. I'm not suggesting coordination between Israel and Saudi Arabia on this, any more than I would ever suggest that Superpacs coordinate with presidential campaign staffs. I'm merely noting that one factor that inhibits Israel from striking at Iran is fear that an attack will cause Iran to retaliate against Persian Gulf shipping (among other things), which would cause oil prices to skyrocket, which would, of course, generate a fair amount of anger directed against Israel.



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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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