Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chasm between Saudi Arabia and the US may not be in foreign policy but in disagreements over Gulf states internal affairs

"...On the editorial pages of Saudi newspapers, columnists have sounded familiar themes with new levels of intensity: The Gulf is being shut out of regional negotiations. The United States was duped on Syria and Iran. The Gulf needs to adopt a more muscular, unilateral approach to safeguard its own interests, and it should cultivate new security patrons to compensate for U.S. capriciousness, perfidy, and retreat from the region. But what does this latest round of hand-wringing, protest, and introspection really mean in terms of new directions in Saudi foreign policy?If history is any guide, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf more generally, will continue to pursue policies that align with the broad contours of U.S. strategy—but with a creeping preference for hedging and unilateralism that will, in some cases, clash with U.S. interests. It is in the Gulf’s domestic landscape that the sharpest breaks between Saudi and U.S. views are emerging: regional tensions have enabled a harsh security campaign against a wide range of dissidents, the rise of sectarianism, and the troubling use of censorship.A key trigger for the recent round of misgivings in the Gulf was Washington’s tepid and confusing approach to the Egyptian military’s ejection of the Muslim Brotherhood government, which had been in power in Egypt since June 2012..... On top of the Egypt debacle, Obama’s decision not to take military action against Syria and the U.S. administration’s acceptance of a Russian-backed deal to dismantle the country’s chemical weapons stockpiles further shook Saudi policy.... In the initial wake of the Syrian chemical weapons attack in August 2013, pro-government Saudi commentators seemed relieved that Obama had “finally decided to enforce his redline” and launch a military strike that would decapitate the regime... "

No comments: