President Obama believes that Saudi Arabia, one of America’s most important allies in the Middle East, needs to learn how to “share” the region with its archenemy, Iran, and that both countries are guilty of fueling proxy wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.Arab News:
In a series of interviews with The Atlantic magazine published Thursday, Mr. Obama said a number of American allies in the Persian Gulf — as well as in Europe — were “free riders,” eager to drag the United States into grinding sectarian conflicts that sometimes had little to do with American interests. He showed little sympathy for the Saudis, who have been threatened by the nuclear deal Mr. Obama reached with Iran.
The Saudis, Mr. Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg, the magazine’s national correspondent, “need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace.” Reflexively backing them against Iran, the president said, “would mean that we have to start coming in and using our military power to settle scores. And that would be in the interest neither of the United States nor of the Middle East.”
No, Mr. Obama. We are not “free riders.” We shared with you our intelligence that prevented deadly terrorist attacks on America.
We initiated the meetings that led to the coalition that is fighting Fahish (ISIL), and we train and fund the Syrian freedom fighters, who fight the biggest terrorist, Bashar Assad and the other terrorists, Al-Nusrah and Fahish (ISIL). We offered boots on the ground to make that coalition more effective in eliminating the terrorists.
We initiated the support — military, political and humanitarian — that is helping the Yemeni people reclaim their country from the murderous militia, the Houthis, who, with the support of the Iranian leadership, tried to occupy Yemen; without calling for American forces. We established a coalition of more than thirty Muslim countries to fight all shades of terrorism in the world.
Other American allies have reacted strongly to how dismissive President Obama has been to them, and specifically in this interview. But for al of its many faults, Saudi concerns over the US pivoting to a nation that daily supports the message "Death to America" are on target.
We are the biggest contributors to the humanitarian relief efforts to help refugees from Syria, Yemen and Iraq. We combat extremist ideology that attempts to hijack our religion, on all levels. We are the sole funders of the United Nations Counter-terrorism Center, which pools intelligence, political, economic, and human resources, worldwide. We buy US treasury bonds, with small interest returns, that help your country’s economy.
We send thousands of our students to your universities, at enormous expense, to acquire knowledge and knowhow. We host over 30,000 American citizens and pay them top dollar in our businesses and industry for their skills. Your secretaries of state and defense have often publicly praised the level of cooperation between our two countries.
Your treasury department officials have publicly praised Saudi Arabia’s measures to curtail any financing that might reach terrorists. Our King Salman met with you, last September, and accepted your assurances that the nuclear deal you struck with the Iranian leadership will prevent their acquiring nuclear weapons for the duration of the deal. You noted “the Kingdom’s leadership role in the Arab and Islamic world.”
The two of you affirmed the “need, in particular, to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities.” Now, you throw us a curve ball. You accuse us of fomenting sectarian strife in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. You add insult to injury by telling us to share our world with Iran, a country that you describe as a supporter of terrorism and which you promised our king to counter its “destabilizing activities.”
Could it be that you are petulant about the Kingdom’s efforts to support the Egyptian people when they rose against the Muslim Brothers’ government and you supported it? Or is it the late King Abdullah’s (God rest his soul) bang on the table when he last met you and told you “No more red lines, Mr. President.”
Or is it because you have pivoted to Iran so much that you equate the Kingdom’s 80 years of constant friendship with America to an Iranian leadership that continues to describe America as the biggest enemy, that continues to arm, fund and support sectarian militias in the Arab and Muslim world, that continues to harbor and host Al-Qaeda leaders, that continues to prevent the election of a Lebanese president through Hezbollah, which is identified by your government as a terrorist organization, that continues to kill the Syrian Arab people in league with Bashar Assad?
No, Mr. Obama. We are not the “free riders” that to whom you refer. We lead from the front and we accept our mistakes and rectify them. We will continue to hold the American people as our ally and don’t forget that when the chips were down, and George Herbert Walker Bush sent American soldiers to repel with our troops Saddam’s aggression against Kuwait, soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder with soldiers. Mr. Obama, that is who we are.