The news from Saudi Arabia is simply stunning: the kingdom, one of America’s traditional Gulf allies, has refused to take a seat on the United Nations’ Security Council. Its head of intelligence describes the king’s refusal as “a message for the U.S., not the U.N.” The Washington Post’s David Ignatius explains how disastrous the Obama administration’s policies have been, in the eyes of the Saudis:
Saudi concern about U.S. policy in the Middle East is shared by the four other traditional U.S. allies in the region: Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Israel. They argue (mostly privately) that Obama has shredded U.S. influence by dumping President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, backing the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, opposing the coup that toppled Morsi, vacillating in its Syria policy, and now embarking on negotiations with Iran — all without consulting close Arab allies.
We and many others, of course, have long argued the same thing.
The Saudi monarch “is convinced the U.S. is unreliable,” [a knowledgeable Arab] official said. …
The problem was clear in the fall of 2011, when I was told by Saudi officials in Riyadh that they increasingly regarded the U.S. as unreliable and would look elsewhere for their security. …
The bad feeling that developed after Mubarak’s ouster deepened month by month: The U.S. supported Morsi’s election as president; opposed a crackdown by the monarchy in Bahrain against Shiites protesters; cut aid to the Egyptian military after it toppled Morsi and crushed the Brotherhood; promised covert aid to the Syrian rebels it never delivered; threatened to bomb Syria and then allied with Russia, instead; and finally embarked on a diplomatic opening to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s deadly rival in the Gulf.
The policies were upsetting; but the deeper damage resulted from the Saudi feeling that they were being ignored — and even, in their minds, double crossed.
Gosh, why would they think that?
The Saudi king is “very tribal,” in his outlook, [a former top U.S.] official noted, and in his mind, “your word is your bond.” It’s that sense of trust that has been damaged in the kingdom’s dealings with Obama.
Heh. Welcome to the club, Your Highness. Anyone looking for honesty, consistency, loyalty or even common sense will have to seek out someone other than Barack Obama.
Still, the administration’s falling out with the Saudis is shocking. My opinion of the administration’s foreign policy is very low, but I never imagined they could destroy our relationship with our most important Gulf Arab ally.