Stretching My Gambes

Saudi’s commitment to Palestine: America’s fault?

with one comment

‘The Saudi-U.S. Relationship; Past Developments and Future Prospects’ read the PowerPoint display behind Turki al-Faisal’s head at the LSE today. However, the entire length and breadth of his speech was dedicated to rhetorical support for the Palestinian cause.

The irony of this should not go unmissed.

The U.S. is Israel’s staunchest ally in the international arena. The power of AIPAC in particular, along with the interconnected networks of lobby groups, think tanks, and media that comprise the Israeli Lobby in general, routinely ensure that we do not see a decisive change in U.S. strategy to the Israel-Palestine situation. On the other hand, Saudi is denigrated by secular and Islamic voices within the region, not only for its lack of political pluralism, but for the fact that it has traditionally been America’s hand-maiden in the Middle East. If Saudi were committed to making a difference to the Palestinian issue then why not lever some influence on the Americans?

In my opinion, they won’t because they can’t. Aside from the fact that U.S. policies since 9/11 have not served Saudi interests particularly well, Saudi does not appear to be particularly high on Obama’s regional agenda; Riyadh was not on Obama’s first round of phone calls or Mitchell’s itinerary. Furthermore, there is no one in Obama’s inner circle who has any experience or knowledge of the Saudi family, or indeed of the historical relationship between the two. I am not suggesting that the two are destined to conflict, but Saudi just doesn’t appear to have the weight it once had with the U.S.
The Saudi’s decline in influence is also visible in the region as a whole, and is in fact partly a result of U.S. policies. Iran has taken the mantle of the legitimate regional actor when it comes to Palestine, due to its support in word and deed for the cause. Furthermore, Iranian influence has extended into Iraq through since America imported anarchy into the country. Saudi has had to accept that the Sunni groups they back will not exert the same influence as the Shi’a parties. Thus, Saudi appears to be turning to the Palestinian cause to try and establish more regional legitimacy and to counter the ‘diplomatic’ efforts of Iran, and indeed its regional power status.

Therefore, can Saudi support for the Palestinians be observed as a result of the deterioration of their relationship with the U.S., or indeed the effects of U.S. policy on Saudi’s regional position?


Written by Henry Smith

07/05/2009 at 23:33

One Response

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  1. yeh, they might get around to building bridges with the Obama administration, althought they are more likely to build an actual bridge to america, to go with the worlds largest building that they are currently constructing. which looks a little too much like big ben for my liking….

    Josh Hannaford

    13/05/2009 at 01:25

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