Madeleine Albright, touring the Gulf Monday and stopping off in Riyadh, conspicuously sidestepped the issue of using Saudi bases. "If we had gotten a yes," fretted one anonymous administration official, "she would have said so." TIME's man at the Pentagon, Mark Thompson, thinks it's only a matter of time — and pressure. "We saved Saudi Arabia from potential invasion during the Gulf War," says Thompson. "They owe us a lot of money. If we want to use those bases, we will get them."
Monday evening the Saudis issued a statement saying responsibility for a U.S. attack on Iraq would "lie exclusively on the Iraqi regime." But they urged a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
That seems less than likely now. Saddam hasn't budged: U.N. inspectors are still barred from inspecting presidential sites despite a flurry of diplomatic activity with Russian envoys and erroneous reports that a deal had been reached. But with his Arab neighbors still wary of American intervention, and facing the prospect of a less-than-punishing attack, why should he budge?