John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, is touring Saudi Arabia in an attempt to repair relationships between the two countries after it was suggested that Saudi Arabia was chilling the long standing alliance.
Between meetings with the foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and King Abdullah, Kerry said that “we have very important things to talk about to make sure the Saudi-U.S. relationship is on track, rolling forward and doing things that we need to accomplish. The Saudis are very, very important to all of us. The Saudis are really the senior player in the Arab world together with Egypt.”
Saudi Arabia is disgruntled with the way that the US has dealt with the civil war in Syria, the continued construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, and the willingness to slacken sanctions against Iran, the major rival to Saudi Arabia’s dominance in the Middle East. It wants US foreign policy under Obama to be stronger and more decisive.
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The Arab News daily newspaper wrote that “Riyadh’s alienation from its ally stems from how the U.S. has continued in recent years to drag its feet on securing a peace settlement in Palestine, and most particularly from how it has pursued a wishy-washy policy in Syria.”
A senior official from the State Department spoke to Reuters to tell them that rumours of a growing rift with Riyadh were untrue. “We have a tremendous number of ongoing discussions, virtually on a daily basis, with senior Saudi officials.”
Mustafa Alani, an analyst at the Gulf Research Centre, explained that Saudi officials had been disappointed by the US’s weak efforts to force peace in Syria and the disarmament of all chemical weapons.
“The Saudis' position will not be changed until it's proven on the ground that the U.S. is changing its policy. They want a clear commitment from the American side that Geneva 2 (peace talks) will not turn into 3, 4 and 5. And if this process fails to achieve the objective of removing Assad from power, the Americans should change their policy from diplomacy to changing the balance on the ground.”
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com