Saudi Prince Slams Obama on Iran

Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013 12:18 PM

By Fred Fleitz

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The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times ran important columns this week on recent statements by Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal in which he slammed U.S. Mideast policy, especially the recent talks on Iran’s nuclear program.

Prince Turki, a member of the Saudi royal family and brother to Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, has no formal position in the Saudi government but is believed to be an unofficial spokesman for the royal family and King Abdullah.

Prince Turki’s public and blunt criticism of the United States was unusual for a Saudi royal and indicates how serious the growing breach is between the Washington and Riyadh.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama's Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

The prince gave several reasons for this. He lambasted U.S. Syria policy for failing to stop the violence, saying it bordered on “criminal negligence.” Prince Turki accused the Obama administration of indecision in its Mideast policy and said the U.S. has lost credibility with its allies in the region.

He also criticized President Obama for laying down red lines that “became pink as time grew and eventually ended up completely white.”

The prince’s harshest comments concerned U.S.-Iran policy. Prince Turki said the Saudis and other Gulf states were stunned by secret U.S.-Iran talks held earlier this year that set the stage for an interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear program negotiated at talks in Geneva.

He said that Saudi Arabia felt blindsided by the Geneva agreement and that it did not go far enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Turki declared at the World Policy Conference in Monaco on Dec. 15: “What was surprising was that the talks that were going forward were kept from us. How can you build trust when you keep secrets from what are supposed to be your closest allies?”

Prince Turki asked why Saudi Arabia does not have a seat at the table at the Geneva talks which include the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, Germany and Iran.

This is a fair point. The six party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program included all of North Korea’s neighbors. Given the security concerns posed by Iran to the Saudis and its Gulf state allies, it is hard to understand why the Saudis are not part of the Geneva talks.

It is also perplexing how the United States could back an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program that has sparked such strong criticism from both Saudi Arabia and Israel.

There also has been talk that the Saudis may decide to develop its own nuclear program in response to the Iranian nuclear effort, possibly by buying nuclear weapons from Pakistan.

Last month, London’s Sunday Times reported that Saudi Arabia has agreed with Israel, a former sworn enemy, to allow Israeli jets to overfly Saudi territory to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities and will assist an Israeli attack on Iran with drones and tanker planes.

These developments mark the unravelling of America’s crucial relationship with Saudi Arabia. Seeing no coherent Middle East strategy by the Obama administration, the Saudis are ignoring Washington and charting independent policies that are likely to increase instability in the region and further undermine American influence. They also could lead to an outbreak in hostilities and Saudi support for radical Islamist fighters in Syria.

With the Obama administration’s obsession with getting a deal with Iran on its nuclear program, U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia are likely to continue to deteriorate during  Obama’s presidency. I fear the damage may be so serious that it will take many years for a future U.S. administration to salvage.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama's Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

Fred Fleitz served for 25 years with the CIA, the State Department, and the House Intelligence Committee staff. He is currently Chief Analyst with LIGNET.com, Newsmax Media’s global intelligence and forecasting service. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.
 

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