Friday, October 25, 2013

The Alliance Crumbles: Losing Saudi Arabia

A large part of the puzzle slips away from the US orbit

U.S.-Saudi Crackup Reaches Dramatic Tipping Point
- David Ignatius

Last Friday, Saudi Arabia refused to take its seat on the UN Security Council, in what Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence chief, described as "a message for the U.S., not the UN," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Saudi concern about U.S. policy in the Middle East is shared by the four other traditional U.S. allies in the region: Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Israel. They argue (mostly privately) that Obama has shredded U.S. influence by dumping President Mubarak in Egypt, backing the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, opposing the coup that toppled Morsi, vacillating in its Syria policy, and now embarking on negotiations with Iran - all without consulting close Arab allies.
(Washington Post)

Saudi Fear U.S. Falling for Iranian Charm
- Angus McDowall and William Maclean

Saudi Arabia's warning that it will downgrade its relationship with the U.S. is based on a fear that President Obama lacks both the mettle and the guile to confront mutual adversaries, and is instead handing them a strategic advantage. Riyadh is locked in what it sees as a pivotal battle with its arch-rival Iran, a country it believes is meddling in the affairs of allies and seeking to build a nuclear bomb.

The Saudis Know Iran Is Fooling Us - Clifford D. May

Years ago, the Saudis began pressing Washington to take serious action against Iran, to eliminate the Islamic Republic's nuclear-weapons facilities, to "cut off the head of the snake," as the Saudi ambassador (the one whose assassination would soon thereafter be on the menu) vividly phrased it.

The Saudis had a point. 
(Scripps Howard)

Saudi-U.S. Breakup? Where Else Will They Turn?
- Karen Elliott House

In a tribal society like Saudi Arabia's, it is well understood that weakness breeds contempt and invites aggression. Yet for the Saudis, there is no alternative protector. The kingdom has courted Russia and China in recent years, but they won't protect the Saudis from the primary threat of Iran. Indeed, they support the regime in Tehran.
(Wall Street Journal)

A Lawyer in a Region of Thugs - Fouad Ajami

We will ultimately discover that Iran's rulers are hell-bent on pursuing a nuclear-weapons program while trying to rid themselves of economic sanctions. The sanctions haven't stopped Iran from aiding the murderous Assad regime in Syria, or subsidizing Hizbullah in Beirut. And they will not dissuade this regime from its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

A sound U.S. diplomatic course with Iran would never have run so far ahead of Israel's interests and of the region's moderate anti-Iranian Arab coalition.
The writer is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution.

(Wall Street Journal)


LHwrites said...

It's not a good development. But it's understandable. The Saudi's don't like we let Mubarack fall because they worry about the same things. We supported Morsi because they voted him in. While talking about not giving id we havee tacitly approved the coup because we didn't offer any threats or support for Morsi because we knew he was showing his extremist stripes. They all fear Iran (it was more fear of Iraq until we disposed of that and shifted the balance of power to Iran)They turned against Syria because they're in league with Iran. This is not Obama screwing up. This is a decade of poor policy that has made the US both war weary, and more educated. Americans are not supportive of military initiatives because of the last two wars, one of which was pointless. Our government and people have learned from their mistakes that what looks like a no-brainer, an easy win, or a sure fire way to get an ally---is anything but. We have learned things can be worse, things are hard to fix, and a lot more Americans die than were believed at the beginning of conflict. We started losing our way in the MidEast 13 years ago. However, the MIdEast is also changing. Is Iran suddenly more reasonable? Maybe not. But they saw us topple Hussein, let Morsi fall, contemplate action in Syria that was only delayed because Syria is destroying chemical weapons (and because American citizens don't want it, and our cowardly Congress would vote it down, because they only do things the people object to when it shuts down our government). The world is a different place. Saudi Arabia isn't different. They still stand for much we don't support. Who can say what the MidEast and our alliances will look like in the next decade. We used to support the Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Things change.

Bruce said...

It's a bit of a stretch to suggest that President Obama holds no responsibility for losing the Saudis.