A WINEP hand laments the US-Saudi drift, and suggests that on Iran, Riyadh wants Israel, the US, anybody to 'bomb Iran'...,... FP/ here
"..... We will have to wait for W's biography for his explanation of this gaucheness, which came to define his presidency. However, the prevailing assumption is that Abdullah, then the effective ruler of Saudi Arabia because of the ill health of King Fahd, had thrown Bush off balance by threatening to walk out of the summit before it started. Abdullah insisted on being able to take home a diplomatic prize -- anything to make his visit worthwhile.This demand wrong-footed Bush, who had thought the Saudis would still be -- and should have been -- on the defensive because of widespread accusations about their historical tolerance of the Islamic extremism that spawned the 9/11 attacks nearly eight months earlier. Bush grabbed Abdullah's arm as a way of saying: "Stay. Let's talk about it." The rest is history.
Obama and Abdullah already has met just two days before at the G-20 summit in Canada, but Abdullah is coming to Washington to talk one-on-one about Palestine and Iran. On the former issue, Abdullah thinks that Obama "gets it," as he has been tougher on the Israelis than Bush or Bill Clinton. On Iran, however, the Saudi king fears that his country's historically closest ally is naive, and dangerously so, for putting so much faith in diplomacy. The same emotional approach that causes Abdullah to anguish about the Palestinians also explains his distrust and antipathy toward the Iranians, whom he sees as typically untrustworthy Shiite challengers to Sunni, and therefore Saudi, custodianship of the holy places of Islam.
Despite the official blandishments, there are clear indications that under Abdullah, and especially since 2001, Saudi Arabia has put distance into its relationship with the United States. Abdullah is trying to gain more room to maneuver in the Sunni-Shiite rivalry and between extremists and moderates within Sunni Islam. To do so, he has to erode the notion that the House of Saud is a pawn of Uncle Sam.
A clear example of this distancing is the foundation of U.S.-Saudi ties: oil. Saudi Arabia, despite having the world's largest oil reserves, is no longer the largest global producer ........ With the years of ritual denunciations from both Bush and Obama regarding U.S. "dependence on foreign oil," Washington can hardly complain, but the net result is less U.S. influence in Saudi Arabia.
On Iran, there is a widening if not unbridgeable gap between the two countries. The kingdom's own signals of the policy differences between Riyadh and Washington might well include the June 12 London Timesstory, which reported that the kingdom would allow Israeli jets to fly over its territory to complete a bombing raid on Iran's nuclear facilities. Although officially denied by Saudi officials, the Times stood by its report. Its editor would not run such a story without being confident of the sources...."