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A Royal Pain

Author: Fred Kaplan
October 28, 2013


Are the Saudis about to call it quits with America? They're certainly trying to make President Obama think so. Last week Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief, Prince Bandar Sultan al-Saud, told European diplomats that the kingdom was losing trust in Obama's judgment and may reassess the whole long, tight web of relations between the two governments.

Some of Obama's recent actions rub Saudi interests the wrong way. But this is only to say that the United States and Saudi interests are increasingly diverging.

Prince Bandar—a very shrewd operator who for many years was the Saudi ambassador in Washington—surely understands that if Obama succeeds at some of his new ventures, especially with Iran and Syria, the Saudi Kingdom will suffer a loss of power in the Middle East. He probably also notices, as many analysts have, that the objective basis of the strategic alliance between Riyadh and Washington—America's dependence on Saudi oil—is eroding.

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