The Obama administration is alienating the Saudis with its Syria and Iran policies, perhaps to unprecedented levels.
The Saudis are good at what they do and are not sentimentalists. In Egypt, Saudi support for the generals led to an embarrassing flop of the Obama administration’s pro-Morsi policies. In Syria and Iran, the Obama administration again finds itself at odds with its Saudi allies. As this goes on, we can expect more blowback from what in Riyadh must look like a deliberate break with some of the fundamental elements of the US-Saudi relationship.
In effect, what Obama is doing right now is risking our relationship with the Saudis in the hopes of developing one with Iran. As the New York Times reports today:
This week, Mr. Obama indicated that he might finally have found a pen pal in Tehran.
At the core of Iran’s recent diplomatic charm offensive—a process that has included the release of 11 prominent political prisoners and a series of conciliatory statements by top Iranian officials—is an exchange of letters, confirmed by both sides, between Mr. Obama and President Hassan Rouhani.
The risks to this approach are much higher than most of the media commentary seems to understand. So far, this administration has not been particularly deft in the Middle East.
[Obama and King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud photo courtesy of Getty Images]