You’ve got to wonder when the Saudis have a better sense of where American policy is taking the world than the president.
In remarks at a security conference in Monaco, which he expanded in a Wall Street Journal interview, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal charged that President Obama has created “an issue of confidence” among America’s allies in the Middle East.
Said the prince: “We’ve seen several red lines put forward by the president which went along and became pinkish as time grew, and eventually ended up completely white. When that kind of assurance comes from a leader of a country like the United States, we expect him to stand by it.”
Though he’s now a private citizen, there is no mistaking that Prince Turki’s remarks reflect official government thinking. He’s a senior member of the royal family, a former ambassador to Washington and the brother of the current foreign minister.
There’s no mistaking what’s behind the Saudis’ ire. First was the abandonment of Obama’s red line on Syria’s use of chemical weapons and his backtracking on any thought of intervention. Now they see the same president easing sanctions on Iran with no real evidence that Tehran will abandon its nuclear-weapons program in return. If the Saudis are nervous, they have a right to be: along with the Israelis, they have the most to lose from a nuclear-armed Iran.
Both these countries are longstanding US allies. That Israel and Saudi Arabia now share a common interest regarding Iran and Syria is not surprising. That they share a common concern about the word of an American president is ominous.