“His foreign policy is like putting diesel into a car instead of gasoline.”
-satire of KSA King Abdullah on US President Obama’s foreign policy
The United States maintained a strong tie to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for decades due to its stable monarchy and enormous supply of oil on which the US economy (and its allies) depended. Many US administrations looked past the KSA’s human rights abuses to keep the relationship on solid footing.
That warm relationship between the countries existed until US President Obama began to change the traditional order of foreign relations. Obama did not favor stability; he did not reward allies. Instead, he advanced a new foreign policy paradigm in which he would undermine allies and try to build bridges to enemies. He would favor public opinion over the rule of law.
Obama’s “New Beginning” speech in Cairo in 2009 was indeed a new beginning. Within two years, Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, began calling for removing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from power. Shortly thereafter, the Muslim Brotherhood assumed power in a democratic election, just as the MB’s Palestinian branch, Hamas, won elections in 2006. The stability of the monarchies and dictators throughout the Middle East soon began to implode, and the “Arab Spring” shook the stability of the region.
As Saudi King Abdullah watched Egypt, his ally and neighbor to the west collapse with the assistance of the United States, he watched Obama establish warmer relations with his enemy, Iran to the north. Remarkably, Obama seemed content letting the Iranians obtain nuclear weapons.
In Syria, Abdullah watched Obama let Iranian ally Syria prance right through a bright red line that Obama had drawn loudly and publicly, after Syrian President Assad used chemical weapons in his civil war. Was this an ally to be trusted in the volatile Middle East? How long before he turns on his kingdom to reform and open elections to the masses?
More importantly for him, how long before Obama’s actions enable a firestorm in the Middle East that destroys his kingdom?
White House “New Beginning” speech in Cairo: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/NewBeginning/
Fouad Ajami on the Arab impression of Obama: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703499404574558300500152682
Related First One Through article:
Obama’s confused foreign policy: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/obamas-foreign-policy/