Free Markets, Free People

Saudi Arabia: Not happy with Obama and seeking partners elsewhere

Obviously I have mixed feelings about the country of Saudi Arabia.  On the one hand they’re a tyrannical 12th century monarchy that controls a good portion of the world’s oil and exports a brand of radical Islamism.  On the other hand they’re a bulwark against Iranian aggression and expansionism and a titular ally of the US.

So, the question then, given the situation in the Middle East, is it in the best interest of the US to do things that have them seeking  solace and partners (allies they feel they can depend on?) elsewhere?

Yeah, probably not.  But that’s exactly what is going on.  Interestingly it is Tom Brokaw who brought the situation to our attention:

After remarking on the difficulty of establishing democracy in the Middle East, Brokaw said that Defense Secretary Robert Gates “will face some tough questions in this region about the American intentions going on now with all this new turmoil, especially in an area where the United States has such big stakes politically and economically.”

“And a lot of those questions presumably will come from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia,” reported Brokaw on the Nightly News.  “I was told on the way in here that the Saudis are so unhappy with the Obama administration for the way it pushed out President Mubarak of Egypt that it sent high level emissaries to China and Russia to tell those two countries that Saudi Arabia now is prepared to do more business with them.”

Wonderful.

All of this stems from how the Obama administration handled Egypt.  And it has caused Saudi Arabia to doubt the sincerity of the relationship between the US and the kingdom.

However, Saudi Arabia’s concerns emanate from the manner in which Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was removed from power. Mubarak had been an American ally for decades and yet the Obama administration, in the eyes of Saudi criticism, turned its back on the Egyptian government when reformist protests spilled into the streets.

High sounding rhetoric talks, but actions walk, and SA is not at all happy about the actions the administration took in Egypt nor, apparently, satisfied with their assurances since.  And despite the supposed buy-in of the Arab League on the latest attack on an Arab country- Libya- I’d guess they’re not particularly happy with that either.  Another indicator they file away and continues to feed their fear of the sincerity of the US as an ally.

The good news, if there is any, is the administration has apparently figured out that it has badly messed up its relationship with SA.  Whether or not they can salvage the relationship remains to be seen.  It may take another trip by Obama and a lot more bowing and scraping to do that:

Mr. Gates met with the Saudi king on Wednesday, and the Associated Press reported that the purpose of the meeting was to smooth relations with the uneasy and oil-rich ally, noting that "this was Gates’ third trip to the area in the past month."

Thus far the Obama administration has been a foreign policy disaster.  Interestingly, some of the highest polling results for Obama deal with his handling of foreign affairs.  If anything, that should clue you into how badly it is going for him on the domestic front.

[HT: McQ2]

~McQ

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29 Responses to Saudi Arabia: Not happy with Obama and seeking partners elsewhere

  • If you think Obama has been a foreign policy disaster, you are showing either ignorance on foreign policy or blind partisanship.   At almost every level Obama has improved the US from what objectively was some of the worst foreign policy decisions in US history made by the last President.
    And if you think the US is so weak that we have to coddle Saudi’s mafia boss, er Monarch, and betray our principles and ideals just so he likes us (why is it so important to you that we be ‘liked’?), then you really have no faith in our country or our principles.   The Saudis sell oil because it is in their interest, not because we are nice to them.   The Saudis sell oil on the world market, so they can’t unilaterally punish us — oil is a global commodity.   So coddle dictators and fear standing by principle if you want.  Hopefully Obama won’t show the dearth of leadership you suggest, and instead not let himself be manipulated by an aging tyrant who steals his country’s fortune to benefit a few hundred elites.  The Saudi royal family will fall — maybe not soon, but it will — and that’s ultimately both a good thing and inevitable.  If we’re embracing it when it happens, well, we’ll get what we deserve.

    • You were a cheerleader for the war in Libya before you were against it.  And yet, you still stand by your man.
      Way to stick to those pacifist principles!

      • “I want him to do well … I love this country, but this country is going to hell,” Trump said. “The world laughs at us. They won’t be laughing if I’m elected president.

    • If you what to see a fool .. look in any handy mirror

    • Right, because we all know the Saudi kingdom was eager to do business with China and Russia over the US when EVIL Bush was President.
       
      Good Lord man, if Obama’s lackey’s told you the sun rose in the west, you’d believe it.
      The evidence is before your eyes, and you still deny it.

    • If you think Obama has been a foreign policy disaster, you are showing either ignorance on foreign policy or blind partisanship. Which is about what I expect from inbred, sterile, dense righties (I noticed that you are going against the holy writ settled science on climate change again yesterday, with those stupid grunt-engineer charts and graphs stuff.)

      At almost every level Obama has improved the US from what objectively was some of the worst foreign policy decisions in US history made by the last President. Objectively, I tell you. I’m a social scientist with an advanced degree, degree, degree, degree, degree, degree, degree [*** AUTOMATIC RESET TO FIX INFINITE LOOP BUG ON ACADEMIC DEGREES ***] so what I believe is not opinion, it’s objective truth. Well, it’s objectively one of the multiple truths allowed by subjective opinion in the holy writ of post-modernism. See, we post-modernists have the godlike ability to redefine words like “objective” to suit our purposes. Don’t you thick righties wish you could do that? It certainly does not mean that I’m so ignorant that I don’t know the meaning of the word objective. Stop saying that.

      And if you think the US is so weak that we have to coddle Saudi’s mafia boss, er Monarch, and betray our principles and ideals just so he likes us (why is it so important to you that we be ‘liked’?), then you really have no faith in our country or our principles. And that’s not either a strawman, since you didn’t say anything of the kind. It’s not, it’s not, it’s not! I decree it. You were coddling up to the Saudis, I tell you!

      So coddle dictators and fear standing by principle if you want. As for me, I’ll oppose dictators and stand on my principle. Unless it’s a Republican president opposing a dictator in Iraq, of course. There, I’ll stand on a completely different principle, which is that opposing a dictator is the biggest foreign policy disaster in history, and I’ll do seminars with Cindy Sheehan explaining why opposing dictators is imperialist. Because, being a good post-modernist, I have a wide variety of principles to choose from, any of which I might need at any given time to defend the holy writ of pragmatic moderate leftist collectivism.

      The Saudi royal family will fall — maybe not soon, but it will — and that’s ultimately both a good thing and inevitable. And that’s not either just a trite observation based on the fact that regimes change in countries throughout history. It’s rich, creamy analysis, and you should be happy that I come here and tell you these things. Which I don’t either do to have someone to talk down to, so stop saying that. I can quit coming here any time I want. Why, I’ve done it a couple of times already.

      If we’re embracing it when it happens, well, we’ll get what we deserve. Whatever that means. I was in a bit of a hurry because of my sixty hour work week, and the fact that I work at a fourth rate moose cow college for low pay and still work sixty hours a week is in no way indicative of my mediocrity, so stop saying that. Anyway, I had to cap this off with some ponderous sounding sentence, so I came up with that one. It’s nice and flexible, so I can claim later that it meant that I predicted exactly what will happen.

      • “We can’t afford to stay in Iraq, like John McCain said, for another 100 years,” Obama said in Lancaster, PA., echoing other comments he has made on the trail.

        … and this sounds like …

        The Obama administration would keep U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the agreed final withdrawal date of Dec. 31, 2011, if the Iraqi government wanted them, but the Iraqis need to decide “pretty quickly” in order for the Pentagon to accommodate the extension, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday during what he said probably is his final visit to this war-torn country.

        • They told me if I voted for John McCain that we’d be in Iraq for 100 years, and they were right.

    • “If you think Obama has been a foreign policy disaster, you are showing either ignorance on foreign policy or blind partisanship.  ”
       
      Yeah, Barack Obama, Foreign policy SUP-ER GEENIUS
       

    • Good god, Erb is the Bagdad Bob of commentors.

      • For some reason, today’s screed made me think of Groucho Marx: “There are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.”

  • I don’t know.   Gate may have soothed the Saudis, but he is on the way out.
    Obama: “We can’t afford to continue this kind of being in shock when gas prices go up”
    Interpretation: “get used to it, and stop whining”
    Obama: “We’ve got to have a sustained energy policy that is consistent”
    Interpretation: “I’m working to shut down all US energy”
    Obama: “There is no magic formula to driving gas prices down.”
    Interpretation: “I’m clueless”

    • Yeah, wish it’d have been me, I’d have told him I get 25 miles to the gallon, and I STILL don’t like paying $3.63 for gas.
       
      Anyone else out there thrilled with the idea of getting even 35 MPG and paying $3.63 a gallon?
      I realize it’s not his job to regulate gas prices, and THAT’S the answer, politely, he should have given.
      But this one, hell, it’s in line with his spoken plan to make us suffer till we get off oil.
       
       
      As usual, Mr. Sophisticated And Cool gives one of his smart ass remarks.   If Bush did that the news would be on him like stink on a buzzard.

      • I’d prefer to be paying 3.63 as opposed to the 3.90+ (SF Bay Area) I will have to pay when I fill up tomorrow…

        • Understood, I was hoping we could lower it across the board really – rising tide lifting all boats, or outgoing tide, as the case may be.

  • But his Cairo speech!  And… and… and… his Nobel Peace Prize!  And… and… and… he ended Bush’s illegal war in Iraq and withdrew all our troops!  HE CARES!!!  Democracy is flourishing in the Middle East because of him!!!

    Bah.

    McQIt may take another trip by Obama and a lot more bowing and scraping…

    If it’s bowing to foreigners that you want (Queen Elizabeth excepted, apparently), then The Dear Golfer is the man who can do it.

    Double bah.

    It speaks to the stupidity / ignorance of many of my fellow Americans that this stupid SOB has pol numbers measurable with whole numbers.  He’s been a total f*ck up since day one, and we’re starting to see serious results.  Gas prices heading back toward $4 / gallon or more with resulting bad news for the rest of the economy, a war in Libya that nobody seems able to explain, and important nominal allies who are thinking that they’d be better off dealing with Moscow and Beijing than with us.  Jeebus… What ELSE can this moron screw up???  Or do I want to know?

    McQI have mixed feelings about the country of Saudi Arabia.  On the one hand they’re a tyrannical 12th century monarchy that controls a good portion of the world’s oil and exports a brand of radical Islamism.  On the other hand they’re a bulwark against Iranian aggression and expansionism and a titular ally of the US.

    National allies are a lot like one’s family: one often doesn’t get to choose who they are.  If it was up to me, we’d have so much domestic energy supplies (oil, coal, nuke) that we could tell the Saudis that our only interest in them is supplying us with cheap kitty litter; Iran would likewise not be a problem because we’d (ahem) have taken care of them long since.  Unfortunately, the world is how it is, not how I would wish it to be, and we (also unfortunately) need the Saudis.

    I guess this is a trifecta of f*ckups we can attribute to The Dear Golfer: we didn’t topple the mullahs in Iran when we (perhaps) had the chance, AND we’ve made ourselves even more dependent on Saudi oil even while p*ssing them off.  Great.  Just f*cking great.

  • “The good news, if there is any, is the administration has apparently figured out that it has badly messed up its relationship with SA. ”
     
    No sale – the Saudi’s aren’t as naive as we were when we (that’s the generic US population we) elected him.  They are clearly and surely aware he’s all well, no oil.
     
    You can be sure the Saudi’s won’t be comfortable with us again until a new administration is in place and they’ve had a chance to see talk = action from it.   Simple as that.

  • … “Egypt … sent high level emissaries to China and Russia to tell those two countries that Saudi Arabia now is prepared to do more business with them.”
    I say good. Go. (You greedy, manipulative, unimaginative and above all else unematingative $arasites.) Go see just how fast the Chinese or the Russians might respond to a request for humanitarian or military aid in a time of crisis. I would just love to see massive buy orders on the latest Sino/Soviet, oops, Russo/Sino military gear allowing the US to take a well-earned stand-down step in the evolution in order to rest and re-fit. I would just love to see the Saudi weaponry turned on its citizenry in limping efforts to sustain a blood line of power that stretches to the Prophet and then watch Russo/Sino statesmanship in defusing the crisis. (Scheech) I would just love to hear about how the Russians in cooperation with the Chinese government can forge ahead and bring peace to the middle east and still fund/weaponize Iran’s nuclear ambitions. I would just love to see the Saudis assume the lead in the mid-east and Africa in an imaginative north/south cooperation with South Africa. Imagine that!
    The caddy’s inability to decide on the club in the golf bag is crucial on the mid-range shots, just like getting out of a trap and laying up. Totin’ the bags and wearing the logo just ain’t going to get it.
    … Anyone got any “smokes?” This is going to be a long wait until the next tourney.

    • Huh? That’s a childish rant.

      Good relations with the Saudi royals is in our best interest. Reagan played it well, getting them to crank up oil output just as the Soviet pipeline came online . . .

      In SA, we have a leadership that is basically pragmatic, and a population that is young, immature, and radical. It is in our interests to keep the royals in control for the foreseeable future. They aid us in the war against al Quaida, and generally they have partnered with us.

      Recall that SA (and our other oil producing “friends”) had our back when Russia and China wanted to remove the dollar as the standard oil currency.  Next time, maybe not. Next time the fed prints and prints, we may see the same inflation any other nation would see.

      You don’t have to like the leadership of SA, but you have to understand they are our default friends, and we are best playing ball with them. Bush knew this, and worked it, but Lighworker has no f*cking clue.

      • … a childish rant.”
        Thanks, Don (Nice to meet you.) … I take your point and I buy your argument to a most limited point. Childish rant? Yeah, I’m angry. Childish rant, no.
        Think of the assumed gambit the Saudis are announcing … We are ready to throw off America’s “Imperialism,” or “look to others” or whatever term seems applicable … because America is weak. We can defend ourselves, the Saudi lords say. We (Saudis) are ready to “deal” with China and Russia. (… and Iran?)  Nonsense. The Saudi family can defend their family and not a country. It is always about the “house.”
         

        • Our relationship with them is based upon mutual interests. But part of that is the fact that they trust us to behave in a certain way. Obama’s handling of Egypt reasonably upsets them.

          They have plenty of faults. But there are pragmatic considerations at play here.

      • SA is our best weapon against Iran in the region as they have a vested interest in Iran not expanding or gaining more influence.

  • Nothing like clarity to improve a relationship. For far too long we’ve coddled them. I’ve always supported the idea that our alliance with them is a marriage of convenience, nothing more. They are a small weak power with serious internal problems. If they weren’t sitting on all that oil, they’d be Libya without the charm.
    They know who produces the finest weapons and keeps the peace in the region. I doubt they’d fall into the open arms of China or Russia. Both of those nations are best friends with their rivals across the Gulf. It’s kind of like the relationship the left has with the President. They may deplore his policies but they are not going to support the alternative.
    Be not afraid!

    • Yeah, I don’t think this has a thing to do with “clarity”.

      • Alas, SA now has additional clarity with respect to Lightworker. They know they can’t rely upon us. Hence they are looking elsewhere.

    • Then again, by cozying up to the guys who help their rivals across the Gulf, they may buy  themselves a measure of breathing space.
       
      Certainly with the Soviets…er Russians….and Chinese, there won;t be any wishy washy mollycoddling of rebellious elements of society seeking to overthrow the King.  The Russians and Chinese would be as one with them when they drove a couple of tanks OVER the crowd of protesters without blinking.  None of the Western “Arab Spring” nonsense in Moscow or Bejing except as entertaining sound bites for them to laugh about over a drink later.

    • But they can no longer count on us. That’s their perspective. Once you coun’t count on someone their wealth and abilities no longer matter so much. And how good of job is Lightworker doing keeping peace in the region?

      Besides which, Russia actually makes kick ass tactical aircraft. They can’t match F-22, but we won’t be supplying those anytime soon anyhow. Russian aircraft are probably the very best Gen 4 aircraft. Not sure about Gen 4.5. But they are working on Gen 5.

      Iraq’s blowout with Soviet hardware mostly resulted from the software failure due to those running it. Russian stuff has its faults, mostly that they can’t afford to make much new stuff or maintain what they have, but that is a reason they are willing to sell their very best.

  • Speaking of Iran – anyone noticed that these days no one seems much concerned with their production of fissionable materials?
     
    Just sayin…..

  • Its probably more due to America being broke than any foreign policy criteria - which could be an excuse. 

    Saudi Arabia is undertaking a lot more in domestic spending to stave off this season of Arab protest, which means they need to cut back on costs.  Without a close tie up with America the Sauds could stop buying so much US debt or pegging the exchange rate.  They could start looking at trading oil in a more diverse currency basket and get away from the dollar.