Sunday, 30 March 2014

Obama in Saudi Arabia: Will Riyadh really go it alone?

Saudi officials are highly displeased over Washington’s overtures to Iran and reluctance to strike Syria and have threatened to break away from the US sphere, but the monarchy may still see an oil-for-security partnership with the US as the safest policy.

Following his visit to Brussels where US President Barack Obama underscored the common values and principles shared between the United States and its European allies, the American president jetted off to meet another strategic ally. Saudi Arabia, a state that is the antithesis of those very western values that Obama passionately espouses, has been in the US sphere of influence for decades, and its opulent royal family has traditionally maintained close personal ties to American leaders.

Obama’s visit comes in the midst of a policy rift that has emerged between the two allies over Washington’s policies in the Middle East, which threaten to undermine this significant economic and security partnership. The two allies appear to be strange bedfellows at first glance, but when the relationship is examined within the context of a long-standing geopolitical and economic oil-for-security partnership, lofty rhetoric about western values becomes subservient to the harmonious marriage of convenience.

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Nile Bowie is a Malaysia-based political analyst and a columnist with Russia Today. He can be reached at