Saudi Arabia: The Era of Changed Alliances

There’s an ancient Arab saying that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and this may best sum up what is happening now with Saudi Arabia and the Arab Spring.  Saudi Arabia and the United States remain allies yet there is now a new layer of separateness between the two nations.  The cracks of the former close relationship opened up wider when the United States publicly supported the ouster of former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.  The United States had to stand by and silently simmer when Saudi troops entered Bahrain to crack down on demonstrators and a feared Shii’a uprising. The Saudi action violated the United States stance on human rights but not enough to take actions which could risk jeopardizing the base of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain.

Yet the glue that now keeps the two countries closest together is their common enemy, Iran.  Neither the United States nor Saudi Arabia wishes to see Iran achieve a full nuclear capability.  It is in the best interests of both countries for the United States to provide Saudi Arabia with US$60 billion worth of military equipment.  Saudi Arabia is better equipped for any potential conflict against Iran and the sale is a much needed boost to the American economy.

Politics do indeed make interesting bedfellows.  Countries will ally themselves in spite of actions either side may deplore.  Yet in spite of alliances on mutual issues each country will always take the unilateral actions in the best interest of itself regardless of the others stance on a matter.  Saudi Arabia is slowly surprising the world emerging as a more vocal and stronger leader.  Rather than its previous stance of subtle actions or background negotiations, Saudi Arabia is now rearing its head as a proud lion and letting the world know its views, policies and alliances.  Saudi Arabia remains an ally to the United States while it has also forged new levels in its relationships with China and Russia.

While public turmoil continue to take place in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain and other Arab States, Saudi Arabia quickly stifles and silences any indication of unrest or dissent.  Saudi Arabia has and will continue to demonstrate to the world that it will take any appropriate actions believed to be in the best interests of preserving its equities.  The lamb is quiet no more.

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12 Responses

  1. Ooh, “proud lion” is not what I want to hear since Bashar al-Assad has been too much on my mind this year. Evil lion.

    Interesting about Saudi “the lamb” finding its voice. I guess when you know people need what you have to offer and are dependent on you, why in the world wouldn’t you exercise your power? It’s not like the US is going to scold Saudi for squashing its dissidents. Oil is more important than principles, apparently.

  2. At what point does it become ‘The Friend of My Enemy is My Enemy’?

  3. The Saudi regime’s options are narrowing by the days not years. One can only hope that someone behind the high palace walls is reading the writing on the walls and interpreting it to those who have convinced themselves that they are beyond reach.

  4. The Arab saying that comes to my mind is a little different, and, I think, equally fitting – “Dawn does not come twice to awaken a man.”

  5. Alliances. The US has plenty of oil. Drill for it. End the dependency on ANY foreign oil. Pack up our troops and go home. Let the Arab countries have it with each other. Oh.. and turn off the 1-800- HELPUSUSA phone.

  6. @Linda – ‘Oh.. and turn off the 1-800- HELPUSUSA phone.’

    Hear! Hear!

  7. Of course, there’s a modern american saying that “in international relations, there are no permanent friendships; only temporary alliances”. I think this may also best sum up what has happened and what is happening with US-Saudi relations. It took a marked u-turn shortly after 9/11 and has been 9/11-Centric since then.

    While we have heard relatively upbeat official reports about our progress in disrupting terrorist financing, leaked WikiLeaks cables offer a more pessimistic account, with blunt assessments of the threats to the United States from money flowing to militants affiliated with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other groups, from saudi arabia. A classified memo sent by Mrs. Clinton made it clear that residents of Saudi Arabia and its neighbors, all allies of the United States, are the chief financial supporters of many extremist activities; and that donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.

    Another factor, driving our 9/11-CENTRIC policy towards saudi arabia is Iranian threat, of course. Granted, the Saudi royal family’s absolute rule generates problems of its own, but it also provides one of the few bulwarks to Iranian hegemony in the region. It also controls the flow of oil into markets from where the US imports it, since we refuse to pursue our own resources here at home. That makes them strategically important and the relationship crucial to actual national-security concerns for the US. If we lose the Saudis, it will create economic, diplomatic, and military chaos that will take years to correct.

    As far as the “Arab Spring/Jasmine Revolutions”, I don’t think it is going to mean much for the local populace. One set of secular dictators will be replaced with the likes of Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood and Taliban-like dictators. I think we should definitely stay out of these “revolutions” …. let them kill each other and fight their own battles.

  8. @Linda, would have to totally agree, all countries reyling on america should step it up on there own ..Americans need to leave the arab lands and everywhere that isn’t there own for that fact. I wish Saudi would pour more fund into its neighbouring arab countries and help them out instead of them having to rely on america the GCC is rich enough to do something.
    Although if they did pull out of funding israel, they may just crumble into nothingness so not sure how US congress and AIPAC would feel about that one.

  9. ” The United States had to stand by and silently simmer when Saudi troops entered Bahrain to crack down on demonstrators and a feared Shii’a uprising. The Saudi action violated the United States stance on human rights but not enough to take actions which could risk jeopardizing the base of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain.”

    Salaams Carol:

    Newsflash: The US does not give a hoot about the Shia in Bahrain. We didn’t “silently simmer” because our “interests” trump our values.

    What is the US stance on human rights? Is it the same stance portrayed by our great friend Israel toward the Palestinians? We fully back and support Israel 100%.

    Talk is cheap; so are words on policy papers.

  10. @Safiyyah: Dam that was good lol. totally agree

  11. Lynn: “At what point does it become ‘The Friend of My Enemy is My Enemy’”?

    Hmmm. Great question! I think it will be when fear will make the “lamb” attack the “lion” and the itsy bitsy “scorpion” will sting the “lion’s eyes” and make it go blind.

    Talking about analogies to the “animal kingdom”, I suggest we let King Abdallah be the Lion King of the UnFree Repressed Lambs of the Arab World & Commander of the Faithful of the UnFree Repressed Lambs of the rest of the Muslim World.

    And then let us set free President Barrack Obama to continue to be the Dear Leader of the Rest of the Free World. Finally, then let the fun begin and let the “lambs” eat the “lion king”. End of story … Finis. :)-

    Now here’s brief video clip from the Animal Kingdom, “Huzzni Mabrook”:

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