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Iran Deal Widens Rift Between Saudi, US

Saudi officials have not been holding back their feelings on the Iran deal. Here’s a selection of comments from Saudi officials and the media in the past few days:

“We were lied to, things were hidden from us. The problem is not with the deal struck in Geneva, but how it was done,” Nawaf Obaid, a counsellor to Prince Mohammad bin Nawaf, the Saudi Ambassador to London told the Telegraph.

“The U.S. has to have a foreign policy. Well-defined, well-structured. You don’t have it right now, unfortunately. It’s just completely chaos. confusion. No policy. I mean, we feel it. We sense it, you know,” said in the WSJ‘s weekend interview section.

“We are not going to sit idly by and receive a threat there and not think seriously how we can best defend our country and our region,” Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz told the Times of London. “All options are available”

The best one comes from an unnamed Saudi official, who was asked at an off-the-record DC roundtable what the Kingdom would do if Israel overflew Saudi territory to bomb Iran: “Nothing. Why would we do anything? They would be doing what we want to happen. But we would issue a strong public note of condemnation for the intrusion into air space when it was all over.” (It seems the Atlantic takes a strange interpretation of the “Chatham House rule”—doesn’t off the record mean off the record?)

Once upon a time Saudi Arabia and the US saw eye to eye on just about everything in the Middle East except Israel. Now Saudi officials can barely contain their anger at what they see is “disorganized” and misguided US policy toward the region. The Obama administration sees an opportunity in reaching out to Iran, to put the Middle East on a more peaceful path, and perhaps it is so. But Washington is risking relationships with America’s two strongest Middle Eastern allies, two decades-old friendships. We could look back on these days as the time when the US and Saudi policies in the Middle East began turning in different directions.

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  • tarentius

    The US/Saudi alliance, if that’s what it was, was one of shared geopolitical interests based on energy. There are no shared values, religion, or ideology. Saudi Arabia is a corrupt monarchy that deprives its citizens of the fundamental rights set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Saudi Arabia is determined to wipe a democracy, Israel, off the face of the Earth and annihilate its citizens. Saudi Arabia believes in a brand of Islam that sees the United States as a heretic nation that must be converted or annihilated. There is no place for the United States in the world of Saudi extremists. It was Saudi extremists who were responsible for the worst terrorist attack in history on United States soil.
    At worst, fracking is making the United States 90% energy independent and the two nations contiguous to the US hold some of the highest energy reserves in the world.
    Alliances are never permanent. The Saudis represent one faction in the Middle East. Let’s move on.

    • TommyTwo

      I generally agree with your first paragraph. I won’t bother describing what would happen to the Saudi regime in my ideal world, as that would violate the Via Meadia community standards. Let’s say they’d be pining for the Abu Ghraib resort.

      However, we’re not in an ideal world. we still have shared geopolitical interests, and will still have them (unfortunately) even if we become 100% energy independent. I certainly fail to see any point in chasing the pipe dream of detente with “Death to the Great Satan” Iran at the price of our working relationship with Saudi Arabia. As someone commented in a previous article, it would be one thing to wash our hands off the whole mess, but we instead seem to be doing a very good job of switching sides. Does anyone believe that the Khomeinist regime will be a better ally (of convenience) than the Saudi one, or that the Saudis will be a more accommodating enemy?

      So while I have no sympathy for those Saudi officials, and this couldn’t be happening to a more deserving bunch, I am in full agreement with their criticism of this Administration.

      This whole affair is mystifying.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    This is all on a weak and incompetent Obama just like it was on Jimmy Carter, once someone else is in the Oval Office, like Ronald Reagan, relationships with America’s allies can be rebuilt overnight. Our allies don’t trust Obama because he is a liar and untrustworthy, and our enemies don’t fear him because he is weak and unworthy of holding the most powerful office on Earth. The Iranians are right now celebrating a victory over the stupid Obama and his idiot sidekick Kerry, at the negotiating table.

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