Thursday, March 27, 2014

pope francis today, medieval middle-eastern meshugenahs tomorrow...,


cnn |  The Saudi-American alliance has never been in worse shape.

That is why on Friday President Barack Obama will meet with Saudi King Abdullah, one of the sons of King Abdul Aziz, in an attempt to patch things up.

What went wrong? In recent months the normally hyper-discreet Saudis have gone on the record about their dissatisfactions with the Obama administration.

In December, Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington, took the highly unusual step of publicly criticizing the administration, "We've seen several red lines put forward by the president, which went along and became pinkish as time grew, and eventually ended up completely white...When that kind of assurance comes from a leader of a country like the United States, we expect him to stand by it."

It's inconceivable that Prince Turki, whose brother is the Saudi foreign minister, would make these public comments without approval from the highest levels of the Saudi government.

Why are the Saudis going public with their dissatisfaction with the Obama administration? The laundry list of Saudi complaints most recently is that the United States didn't make good on its "red line" threat to take action against the Bashar al Assad regime in Syria following its use of chemical weapons against its own population.

Syria is a close ally of Saudi Arabia's archrival, Iran, and the Saudis are also growing apprehensive that the United States will not take a firm line on Iran's nuclear program -- which the Saudis see as an almost-existential threat -- now that the U.S.-Iranian relations have recently thawed.

The Saudi were also puzzled by the fact that the Obama administration seemed willing to let a longtime U.S. ally, Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, be thrown overboard during the "Arab Spring" of early 2011. What did that say about other longtime U.S. allies in the region?

(Interestingly, these list of gripes look quite similar to those of another powerful player in the Middle East -- Israel.)