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Saudi Arabia Blasts American Policy on Iran, Syria

Saudi officials declaring ‘major’ shift away from the United States

Adam Chandler
October 22, 2013

Saudi Arabia, the longtime American ally (to the chagrin of some), is reportedly not happy with the direction American policy is going in the Middle East.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that Washington had failed to act effectively on the Syria crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.

It was not immediately clear if Prince Bandar’s reported statements had the full backing of King Abdullah.

Another source was a little bit more explicit, saying that Saudi Arabia was considering a ‘major’ shift away from the United States.

“The shift away from the U.S. is a major one,” the source close to Saudi policy said. “Saudi doesn’t want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.”

Are these isolated statements? Sour grapes about the United States passing Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil supplier? Well, consider that Saudi Arabia recently rejected a coveted seat on the United Nations Security Council, not because it would be too ironic and hypocritical, but out of protest because it views the Western approach on Syria and Iran to be feckless. (It’s hard to argue that about the United Nations.) To boot, back in August, with the threat of American military aid being cut to Egypt in the wake of its military crackdown on Islamists, Saudi Arabia threw some shade at the United States by promising the Egyptian military some $12 billion in relief. That’s eight times as much aid as the United States has been giving Egypt’s military in recent years.

I’m curious to know whether policy experts will suddenly start calling Saudi Arabia a dangerous ally whose threats of unilateral action could engender tension and war in the region.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.

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