Saudi Arabia and the United States: End in Sight of a Honeymoon

Obama’s victory started a new era in dealing with the Middle East, despite the fact that the broad outlines of U.S. foreign policy remains firstly tied to its interests; internal security, economy and welfare. As the United States does not have any permanent friends or enemies, its policy is being drowned according to its large interests and parties that stick to the same sides but differ in some minor ways in its implementation that serve the public interest and the strategy which ensures the best results for the ruling class and those who publically associate with them. Since the majority had voted for the Democratic Party, it is considered a succes for Obama and his foreign policy that the majority of Americans backed.

In the new draft of Obama’s policies, with its old details and publically linked objectives, we find that there is a primary focus of his administration on the economic crisis, its consequences and how to solve it. Hence, foreign policy is now linked to cracking the crisis dilemma, which began in America and spread rapidly all over the world. President Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly said that the first and last concern is resolving the domestic economic crisis and focusing on foreign policy that serves this goal. From this initiatve came the U.S. visit to China and dealing with Russia with more flexibility than before in order to mobilize the world’s help to solve the crisis which has important global dimensions. Thus we can deduce from a quick reading through the transition of U.S. policy in the new administration that it is not able to undergo expensive wars or unsuccessful military projects. All this administration can do is to understand a crisis, not to find out how to solve it, but devoting its efforts, such as pumping huge sums of money, to climb out of it. This was loud and clear in the U.S. administration’s urgent desire to find a way out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The previous administration tried to manipulate Saudi Arabia in order to reach simultaneous solutions to those riddles but found that it had a limited ability. The Saudis failed in the reconciliation initiatives held between Iraq’s fighting factions and the attempts to create a dialogue between Karzai and the Taliban, which had not produced anything positive. Furthermore, the Taliban’s attacks have increased against those who control vast areas of Afghanistan through the intensive foreign military presence. The U.S. administration realized through experience that Saudi Arabia’s qualifications are limited to give desired results. This also applies to Lebanon and the Palestinian crisis where the Saudis have not been able to embrace a dialogue that leads to an acceptable result for Americans. It seems that the new administration had enough of the Saudi regime achievements, which had targeted the jihadist movement. Even at the present time, as well as its achievements on the religious level towards change that was imposed on it in form of educational system reform, the alleged openness to other religions and weakening religious trends, trimming the famous religious cult’ “Hai’aa” [a growing fundamentalist religious organization that detains individuals for who ever is guilty in its own view], and amending some legal clauses that will lead to the codification of the Sharia’ah [an Islamic legislation set to explain most of the religious matters], and put an end to the monopoly imposed by members of the religious group. Also, the U.S. administration realized that introducing cinema and theater to Saudi society is the best means to confront terrorism in the long-term, backed up from the government, by a continued central repression and the terror that does not differentiate between the innocent and the guilty and limits political movement and hinders its ability to face problems at the hands of various state agencies, be they religious and cultural, information and security. The government responded to calls of the female element to show up and pave the way for women to go to global conferences, forums, cultural and economic conferences. The unprecedented kick-off in appointing a new woman as a deputy minister, attracting a global media attention that stabilized the myth of the so-called reform.

From the perspective of the U.S. administration, Saudi Arabia has answered the call and its ability has met a dead end in providing more cooperation. Hence, its attention has shifted the towards Iran, which it will give due care in reactivating Iran’s role in the region. The U.S. will not be able to reduce or revoke this role because it’s too late to curb Iran at this stage. Therefore, we find that the only option America has is to embrace Iran’s role if necessary to open a public dialogue with Iran and its allies. There is talk in the corridors of research centers that are giving advice to the administration on the importance of going beyond the Iranian figures who are handling foreign affairs, and directly address the General Guide [a person who acts as priest]. Although there are difficulties to overcome before establishing any links, some tips include such a move. America will only do so because they lost faith in the deep-allied Saudi government, which may be deemed “useless” and placed on the shelf in the short-term while America continues its containment on Iran and accelerates talks in order to help easing the serious hot spot in Afghanistan. What helps the American attempts is the fact that Pakistan is an old ally that has capabilities and position that may also need to be reviewed according to U.S. policy.

Today, Saudi Arabia has become not only ineffective from the perspective of the new administration, but also a burden on the Saudi people. As the world economy today has lost its appetite and greed towards oil consumption, its prices have collapsed since last summer. America considers providing the product not of such an importance that Saudi Arabia needs to be pressured to increase production as long as consumption remains low during the global economic crisis. The Saudi regime has followed a tact to ignore it for the benefit of Iran by the United States when Prince Turki al-Faisal published his letter to the U.S. administration on the pages of the “Financial Times,” which was nothing but an appeal threatening to withdraw old initiatives and impatience towards the global indifference to the Saudi peace project.

The Saudi’s too-late wake- up call started after the Kuwait Conference and resulted in a number of visits to Arab capitals that was nothing but a desperate attempt to rally the Arabs who have fallen in anti-Saudi feelings, estrangement and rupture caused by previous Saudi projects. If the new U.S. administration was planning a thawing with Iran in order to put an end to the crises, first in Afghanistan and second in Palestine, Saudi Arabia will find itself a derelict and frozen ally. It is not strange to see Saudi Arabia express its horror at this situation through messages padded with reproach, sometimes, and with threat and intimidation, other times, to withdraw its moderation. The United States is not the only one that keeps Saudi Arabia away though a traditional friendship. Britain is also thinking over whether to open links with the political wing of Hezbollah. Perhaps this is an indirect tie with Iran, not to any display of sudden love. The foreign policies of Western countries were not and never based on constant principles, but depends on diverse strategies and sometimes antithetical beliefs, according to principle of expediency. If they have a principle, it would be maintaining national interests even if competing and contrdictory parties differed.

As Churchill has allied with Stalin, who described as “the devil,” and allied with De Gaulle, who he described as the “Lorraine Cross,” all were for the benefit of Britain under the pressure of the World War II in the face of Nazism. We will find that the United States, which has no eternally passionate relationship with Iran or Saudi Arabia, is ready to choose the appropriate ally when the need arises. America’s relations are based upon timely interests. On the other hand, what are the fateful options for the Saudi regime that have accomplished its mission before the country which is protecting the throne? The Saudis have no choice, but there are some steps that can be done by those weak regimes to confront a large country such as the United States, like Iran has done. First of all, clarifying the confrontational speech addressed to the United States through letters of Saudi princes to Washington, just what they had done or rousing up the streets, opening a way for people through political free speech through waving anti-American slogans and may resort to playing the usual flattering games the Saudis used to play with the West, which is the discovery of weapons hidden here and there, and terror cells in homes and streets, declaring lists of wanted “terrorists.” Also, it is not surprising if Saudi Arabia announced the discovery of armed cells liked to the other power on the Gulf Coast. Such messages can send hidden ones to Western organizations that are deeply and continuously monitoring Saudi situation, making them speculate future oil sources which are still important despite the current decline in demand.

The rise of Iran to the top of the American hierarchy as effective member in calming down the current Afghani situation and also as the U.S. military depends on Iranian oil exports as a beginning of a dialogue that will not be based on friendly ties, but on common interests. Iran has imposed itself on the political scene today and have the option to enter into a relationship, even if limited or simultaneous with the “Great Devil,” while Saudi Arabia has lost this option a long time ago and only has to wait to renew a suspicious relationship based on unblessed interim relationship by social classes and ethnicities in Saudi Arabia.

‘Writer and academic from the Arabian Peninsula

About this publication

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply