Saudi Arabia Signals “Major Shift” Away from U.S.

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Al Jazeera reported that Saudi Arabia has signaled a “major shift” in relations with the United States “in protest at its perceived inaction over the Syrian war and its overtures to Iran.” Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was Saudi ambassador to the United States for 22 years, said “The shift away from the US is a major one,” and stated that “Saudi doesn’t want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.”

Prince Turki Al-Faisal al-Saud, chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies and former director-general of the Kingdom’s General Intelligence Directorate, also criticized the U.S., saying ‘There is … a high level of disappointment in the US government’s dealings, not just with Palestine, but equally with Syria.” One report indicates Prince Faisal said ”The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious. And designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down (from military strikes), but also to help Assad to butcher his people.”

After meeting with the Prince, Secretary of State John Kerry said “the Saudis were obviously disappointed the strikes didn’t take place, and have questions about some other things that may be happening in the region.” He added that “the United States and Saudi Arabia will continue to be the close and important friends and allies that we have been.”

Colum Lynch writes in Foreign Policy that “Saudi Arabia’s U.N. snub was a sign of the monarchy’s mounting panic over the possible demise of its special relationship with Washington. ” The article also argues that “Saudi Arabia is retreating into its shell of countries that surround it and who rely on its aid and good will.” Max Fisher of the Washington Post explains that Saudi and the U.S. are moving apart due differences on numerous foreign policy objectives including Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Al-Qaeda and oil. Despite these challenges, he argues, “The impossible-seeming relationship has survived  much more serious disputes; as long as there are oil and terrorism in the Middle East, the two countries will still need one another.”