Cairo–(Update with NYTimes account) Call John Boehner. There’s another Middle East leader, besides Benjamin Netanyahu, upset with President Obama’s overtures to Iran: Salman, King of Saudi Arabia and self-styled bulwark against the allegedly expanding Iranian ‘Shiite Crescent.’
Salman, who took over the kingdom from his dead brother King Abdullah in January, is skipping a meeting of Persian Gulf states set for Camp David this Thursday. Quiz question: With the Saudis out, please name the five other Gulf states.
The Obama Administration denied it was a snub. “This is not in response to any substantive issue,” the White House said in a statement. Hahahahhaha.
It’s high time for a reworking of the Saudi relationship, which has long been based on ignoring Saudi Arabia’s export of an intolerant religious ideology and funding terrorists, including the dreaded Islamic State. The kingdom’s horrific domestic human rights record, while always secondary in Washington’s thinking, hardly reflects well on the US.
Saudi‘s displeasure has something in common with Israel‘s: besides concern over Iran’s nuclear weapons program, both dislike the legitimization of Tehran’s regime–Israel, because Iran will likely continue to support one of its archenemies, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Saudi Arabia, because the Iranians seem to threaten its own vision of regional hegemony (including its hold on the kingdom’s Shiite minority).
On a side note: the Republicans had criticized Obama for allegedly bowing down to Salman’s father, King Abdullah, during the president’s visit to a Group of 20 summit in London back in 2009. Maybe House speaker Boehner, who obsequiously arranged Netanyahu’s recent speech to Congress behind Obama’s back, would like to do some similar bowing and scraping with Salman. Like the old Arabic saying goes, the Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend.
The New York Times says it was a snub.
This crisis in relations has been bubbling for a time.
A suggestion that the US dump the Saudis.
Unfriending the US means the Saudis are looking for new buddies.
Saudi Arabia has its own military intervention headaches.
From a moment when things were less tense with the Saudis, here’s a review of old colleague Thomas Lippman’s book on the kingdom.