Five days after the publication of Obama’s tell-all to Jeffrey Goldberg, the blockbuster “Obama Doctrine,” fallout continues in palaces and chanceries around the world. On Friday, it was the British and the French; today, the Saudis are sounding off. Reuters reports:
A senior Saudi Arabian prince on Monday condemned comments attributed to U.S. President Barack Obama, saying the American leader had “thrown us a curve ball” in criticizing Riyadh’s regional role.
Obama, in comments to The Atlantic last week, described Saudi Arabia as a “free rider” on American foreign policy, and criticized what he saw as Riyadh’s funding of religious intolerance and refusal to come to an accommodation with Iran.
“No, Mr Obama. We are not ‘free riders’,” Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ex-ambassador to Washington and London, wrote in an open letter carried by the local Arab News English-language daily.
Prince Turki listed Riyadh’s support for Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State group, its humanitarian aid for refugees in the region and its creation of an Islamic anti-terrorism coalition. […]
Although Prince Turki does not presently hold any official position in the Saudi leadership, his views are described by insiders as often reflecting those of the kingdom’s top princes and as influential in Riyadh foreign policy circles.
As we noted on Friday, there was an odd duality to the interview. While the President’s answers were often clearly thought-out, speaking so bluntly about his disdain for leaders he still has to do business with was thoughtless. “Running your mouth and being openly contemptuous and dismissive of fellow leaders to a journalist is the mark of a careless and clumsy amateur,” we wrote.
We note in passing that a new round of Syrian peace talks begin today in Geneva, in which the U.S. will have to rely heavily on Saudi influence with the rebels to achieve its aims.