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Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Durable US-Saudi Alliance...

Darko Lazar
A cloud of deepening mistrust between Washington and Riyadh ushered in an icy reception for US President Barack Obama at the King Khalid International Airport in the Saudi capital this week.
The Durable US-Saudi Alliance...
While Saudi state television closely covers the arrival of Persian Gulf heads of state, which are always welcomed on the tarmac with splendor by King Salman, Obama was received by a small delegation headed by the governor of Riyadh. His arrival was not covered by state television.
Disagreements centered on setbacks in the Syrian conflict, the Iranian nuclear deal and the headline-grabbing controversy over the declassification of 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission’s report that deal with Saudi Arabia have all opened the debate on whether the previously durable, decades-old alliance is in terminal decline.
Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki Al Faisal said that the US-Saudi relationship has irrevocably changed.
“There is going to have to be a recalibration of our relationship with America — how far we can go with our dependence on America. How much can we rely on steadfastness from American leadership,” Al Faisal said.
But while these may very well be trying times for US-Saudi relations, Barack Obama’s farewell presidential visit to Riyadh is hardly a farewell to Saudi Arabia’s status as America’s ‘most important Arab ally’.
Down But Not Out
Saudi Arabia’s decision to assume a much more aggressive foreign policy in recent years is not one taken by choice, but out of necessity. Washington chose to focus on its superpower rivalry with China and Russia, shifting the bulk of their resources to the Pacific and Eastern Europe, while giving rise to a new Cold War.
And as the US – at least to some degree – has realigned its policy priorities away from the Middle East, the Saudis attempted to assume the hegemonic role in the region, often falling short of achieving stated goals and leaving many of their so-called friends in Washington fuming.
From the blame game over their failures in Syria, to the Iranian nuclear agreement, which the Al-Saud family considers an existential threat, the US-Saudi alliance appeared at times to be strained to near-breaking point.
But these disagreements are often exaggerated and misleading. In fact most times, they can be summed up as little more than Washington’s way of concealing its role in destabilizing the region through the use of proxies and giving rise to the deadliest wave of terror in the history of the Middle East. 
For its part Saudi Arabia has continued to enjoy steady US backing where it counts.
Washington’s support for the Saudi-led bombardment in Yemen includes both military and logistical assistance. There has been total support from Washington for the war, and almost nothing said about the mounting civilian casualties and tragic humanitarian costs.
Despite the seemingly icy receptions, Obama’s administration has in fact moved the US even closer to the Saudi regime, particularly in the realm of military coordination. In the past five years, the US has concluded more than 100 billion dollars in arms deals with the Saudi monarchy.
In Syria, the Americans and Saudis are forcing home the notion that Bashar al-Assad is the key problem. And while disagreements may persist over which terrorist groups can be trusted, constant pressure from both Washington and Riyadh has kept the issue of removing the Syrian President firmly on the table, prolonging the war and making a political solution to the conflict a distant prospect.
Away from all the talk of how the Obama administration is laying the foundations for better relations with Iran through the recently signed nuclear agreement, Washington\’s foreign policy remains hostile towards Tehran. While sanctioning Iran\’s regional allies, like Hezbollah, the Americans have proven time and again that they remain fully committed to their strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia.
The 28 Pages
The latest issue to threaten the US-Saudi alliance is a determined effort by some US politicians to declassify 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission’s report that sheds more light on the Saudi government’s role in the September 11 attacks.
According to former CIA Analyst, Larry Johnson, Riyadh’s support for global terrorist networks is hardly a secret.
“It has been one of those truths that has been staring everyone in the face. We ‘ve known form the beginning; fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudis. We ‘ve known that the Saudis have been providing money to terrorist organizations for years,” Johnson said.
Meanwhile a bill is making its way through the US Congress that would allow a group of families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government over its alleged role.
In true Saudi fashion, the kingdom’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, threatened a ludicrous response if the bill was passed, telling US lawmakers that Riyadh would sell up to 750 billion dollars in treasury securities and other assets in the United States before they could be in danger of being frozen by American courts.

Economists have already dismissed the threat, saying that such a sell-off would be difficult to execute and would end up crippling the Saudi economy.
Nevertheless the Obama administration rushed to aid the Saudis. The White House has lobbied Congress to block the bill’s passage, citing the possibility of foreign citizens – presumably victims of US wars and drone strikes – suing the government in Washington.
“If we open up the possibility that individuals in the United States can routinely start suing other governments, then we are also opening up the United States to being continually sued by individuals in other countries,” Obama told CBS’ Charlie Rose.
No such concerns were expressed by Obama earlier this week, over one of the more ludicrous verdicts delivered in a US courtroom. A judge ordered over 10 billion dollars in frozen Iranian assets to be paid as damages to families of victims who died in the September 11 attacks, despite the lack of any evidence to support Tehran’s involvement in the attack. 
The same judge had previously cleared Saudi Arabia from culpability. The ruling, which was described as ‘absurd and ridiculous’ by a senior aide to Iran’s parliamentary speaker, Hossein Sheikholeslam, is noteworthy because it further omits all references to the real culprits behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Those attacks have served as the basis for modern-day Islamophobia in the west and more importantly, the perpetual global ‘War on Terror’.
Despite US public perception, Saudi Arabia could not possibly have masterminded such an undertaking.
But details concerning their involvement could open the doors to questions about their partners in crime, namely members of the Bush administration, and the neocons on Capital Hill.
Washington-based Saudi dissident and Director at the Center for Gulf Affairs, Ali al Ahamd believes that the truth about 9/11 will not see the light of day.
“The US Administration is being pushed by some members of Congress into promising to release these 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission’s report. But this will not be successful. It will fail in the end,” Al Ahamd said. 
While Washington’s relationship with Riyadh may be in flux, the US-Saudi alliance persists, kept afloat on the recognition of mutual self-interest.
Source: al-Ahed News
23-04-2016 | 09:22

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