mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Saudis Snub the General Assembly

US President Barack Obama listens to a t

We mentioned before how the blunders of the Obama administration’s Middle East policies would alienate our closest allies in the Arab world, Saudi Arabia. The proof is in the pudding: The NYT reports that the Saudis passed on their turn to speak at the UN General Assembly this week:

They said it was the first time that the Saudis, who are strong American allies, had scrapped that opportunity to state their positions on world affairs, not even submitting a written statement in lieu of a speech.

Diplomatic officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter, said Saudi Arabia opted not to participate partly because it did not want to publicly criticize the Security Council over what the kingdom had judged to be a weak response to the conflict in Syria and the use of chemical weapons there.

It’s not just our Syria non-policy that has the Saudis at arm’s length. The newfound cooperation between President Obama and President Rouhani of Iran has put an added strain on the US-Saudi relationship. The Saudis, like the Israelis, are displeased with the prospect of US-Iranian non-proliferation talks. They see them as an Iranian ploy to ease UN sanctions while continuing to press toward getting the bomb. And while the Saudis are a key American ally, they are adept at securing their interests in the region and are not beholden to Washington. If they continue to be dissatisfied with US policy, they might hinder, or at a minimum do nothing to help, other US interests in the Middle East.

[King Abdullah and Barack Obama photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Features Icon
show comments
  • Kavanna

    Like Turkey, which has just moved in with the Chinese, so to speak, on antiballistic missile development, snubbing US and the rest of NATO.

    Why is Turkey still in NATO?

    Meanwhile, the same is true, mutatis mutandis, of Israel, which Washington has less and less leverage over.

    The Obama people and the domestic political media here are deluded if they think the policy vacuum (hidden from many Americans by pro-Obama media boosterism) will have no cost.

    • Andrew Allison

      I couldn’t agree more with your last sentence but, having just returned from there, am not so sure about your views of Turkey. With regard to the missile deal with China, it’s not yet signed and could be a ploy to persuade the more costly prospective vendors to sharpen their pencils, i.e., an economic, not political decision.

      It appears to me that the reason that Turkey is still in NATO (despite have been rebuffed by the EU) is that it views itself as a European country surrounded on all sides by non-European threats to its security. The situation there is fraught, and the utter ineptitude of US foreign policy isn’t helping.

      We should, however, perhaps be more concerned about the situation vis–à–vis Israel, a nuclear power which recognizes that if Iran gets the bomb, it will be used. If the US doesn’t act to put an end to this, Israel must, and will.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    “They see them as an Iranian ploy to ease UN sanctions while continuing to press toward getting the bomb.”

    This is exactly what the Iranians have been doing for well over a decade. Why should they change a winning strategy, when all they face across the table is the weakest US President ever?

  • Douglas6

    Wait a second. I thought AIPAC dictated US middle eastern policy. You mean the Saudis also have a voice? Who knew?

  • Diggsc

    The only thing the Saudi’s hate more than freedom is Persians.

  • teapartydoc

    This administration, like many before it, does not realize that when you talk to someone about a problem you are making a diplomatic partnership, and with that partnership comes a preset group of behaviors that are expected in the course of that partnership. This leads to limited freedom of action, and a changed relationship with all previous and future partners. Diplomacy is not about making friends, it is about establishing boundaries.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service