The Saudis are making it clear that they no longer look upon us as “special” and they no longer trust us. Given that and their own internal disputes, it’s the next Obama-fomented foreign policy crisis.
Having Saudi Arabia as an enemy is a serious problem on many fronts. They are Wahhabis, they have mosques, investments and supporters all throughout the US, they are a country that houses many extremists who the Royals have kept under some control.
There is a bill being pushed through Congress that would hold the government of Saudi Arabia liable for the 9/11 attacks though at the present time there is no evidence high-level government officials were involved. The “28 pages” that have yet to be declassified contain information about who funded it and should be released to tell the full story.
The Saudis have been angered by the threat of lawsuits by an ally and are threatening to pull more than $750 billion in assets out of the US if the bill passes. Barack Obama has promised it won’t.
The US has alienated the Saudis under President Obama primarily with an Iran deal, among other initiatives, that have made their neighborhood far more dangerous and which has given Iran hegemony in the region. The Saudis became our allies substantively after 9/11 when they were forced to choose between us and the terrorists but Obama might have ruined that relationship.
It was soon after that we betrayed our ally Hosni Mubarak and destroyed Libya.
The 9/11 bill didn’t come up yesterday at the Council of Gulf Nations when Obama met with King Salmon.
The King refused to meet him at the airport. Only a small unenthusiastic delegation went to greet him.
Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, discussing the snub on Morning Joe listed a number of offenses by the US and concludes that Saudi Arabia is signaling the US is no longer “nearly as special.” They have already gone their own way.
“What it tells you in each case is about the agenda of the host. In Cuba they wanted to downplay the event because they are worried about the political dynamics the American president could set in motion in their country.
In Saudi Arabia they are unhappy with all sorts of things, the president’s Rece interview where he called Saudi free riders and questioned many aspects of their foreign policy. They are unhappy with what they see pulling the rug out from under Egyptian president mubarak. They are unhappy most of all with the policy towards Iran. They think the agreement on nuclear issues is deeply flawed.
So what you have is the Saudis basically signaling they are going to do their own thing and the United States no longer occupies the same special place. Hence, the Saudis go into Yemen without telling us and have a very different policy in Syria it’s not so much a snub, it’s a signal that the United States is no longer nearly as special. Saudi Arabia is no longer going to defer, at least to this American president.
I think one of the interesting questions, Mika, will be what happens under the successor, whether Democrat or Republican matters not. Whether this relationship begins to get back on track or whether simply the United States and Saudi Arabia are really pursuing very different foreign policies.”
Saudi Arabia has its own serious internal troubles including high youth unemployment and a war with Yemen that is unpopular as well as infighting among Royals. It’s the next foreign policy crisis that Obama leaves behind and Saudi Arabia is a dangerous place.