Saudi-Arabia stoler ikke lenger på USA og sier det åpent. Alliansen som går helt tilbake til 1932 er i fare.
– Noen burde hoppe på et fly til Riyadh faderlig fort, sier en amerikansk kilde til David Ignatius i Washington Post.
Det er USAs vinglete og unnfallende linje overfor Iran og Syria som er det Saudi reagerer mest på. Men det begynte allerede da president Barack Obama skjøv Hosni Mubarak ut i kulden. Mubarak var en gammel alliert, han hadde oppfylt sin del av avtalen, men ble droppet som en råtten fisk. Saudierne ventet seg standhaftighet fra supermakten, ikke at den skulle skifte hest på et blunk. Hva var da USAs garantier verdt?
The bad feeling that developed after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in early 2011 deepened month by month: The U.S. supported Morsi’s election as president; opposed a crackdown by the monarchy in Bahrain against Shiites protesters; cut aid to the Egyptian military after it toppled Mohammad Morsi and crushed the Muslim Brotherhood; promised covert aid to the Syrian rebels it never delivered; threatened to bomb Syria and then allied with Russia, instead; and finally embarked on a diplomatic opening to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s deadly rival in the Gulf.
U.S. policies have been upsetting; but the deeper damage resulted from the Saudi feeling that they were being ignored – and even, in their minds, double-crossed. In the traditional Gulf societies, any such sense of betrayal can do lasting damage, yet the administration let the problems fester.
Washington ser ikke verden med saudi-briller. Men Washington er nødt til å ta med i beregningen hvordan saudierne oppfatter verden. Det ser ikke ut til å være tilfelle, og dermed har kløften fått vokse seg større.
The breach became dramatic over the past week. Last Friday, Saudi Arabia refused to take its seat on the United Nations Security Council, in what Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence chief, described as “a message for the U.S., not the U.N,” according to the Wall Street Journal. On Tuesday, Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former head of Saudi intelligence, voiced “a high level of disappointment in the U.S. government’s dealings” on Syria and the Palestinian issue, in an interview with Al-Monitor.
What should worry the Obama administration is that Saudi concern about U.S. policy in the Middle East is shared by the four other traditional U.S. allies in the region: Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.
Saudi King Abdullah privately voiced his frustration with U.S. policy during a lunch in Riyadh Monday with King Abdullah of Jordan and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed of the UAE, according to a knowledgeable Arab official. The Saudi monarch “is convinced the U.S. is unreliable,” this official said. “I don’t see a genuine desire to fix it” on either side, he added.
USA har masse erfaring i hvordan man pleier forbindelsen med Riyadh. Derfor er det oppsiktsvekkende at den nye sikkerhetsrådgiveren Susan Rice ser ut til å la det skli. Det oppfatter Saudi som nedlatende og ignorerende. De svarer med samme mynt.
“Somebody needs to get on an airplane right now and go see the king,” said a former top U.S. official who knows the Saudis well. The Saudi king is “very tribal” in his outlook, this official noted, and in his mind, “your word is your bond.” It’s that sense of trust that has been damaged in the kingdom’s dealings with Obama. One good emissary would be John Brennan, the CIA director, who was station chief in Riyadh in the late 1990s and had a good relationship with the Saudi monarch. Another would be George Tenet, former CIA director, who visited the kingdom often and also developed a trusting relationship with Abdullah.
For much of the past two years, the closest thing the U.S. had to a back channel with Saudi Arabia was Tom Donilon, the national security adviser until last June. He traveled to the kingdom occasionally to pass private messages to Abdullah; those meetings didn’t heal the wounds, but they at least stanched the bleeding. But Susan Rice, Donilon’s successor, has not played a similar bridging role.
Det rakner rundt Obama på alle kanter. Han valgte å straffe militærstyret i Egypt, uaktet konsekvensene. Han er på kant med allierte på grunn av en tåpelig telefonavlytting.
Noe lar seg reparere, men detaljer og store problemer har en tendens til å forsterke hverandre. Er det en administrasjon i begynnende oppløsning vi ser?