Now Can We Ditch the Saudis?

Mohammed bin Salman, the third ranking royal Saudi, is in the US — ostensibly to visit John Kerry, Ash Carter, and Barack Obama.

But as FP reports, the latter hasn’t happened, and may not.

It was billed by Riyadh’s state media as a trip for Saudi Arabia’s powerful deputy crown prince to meet with President Barack Obama and other senior U.S. officials. But now that Prince Mohammed bin Salman has arrived in Washington, it’s still unclear if the president or any White House officials will meet with him, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

“No confirmation at this time for any WH meetings,” White House spokesperson Dew Tiantawach told Foreign Policy.

The absence of any scheduled meetings with even National Security Adviser Susan Rice is fueling speculation among Gulf experts about a diplomatic snub. It comes amid sharp policy differences between Washington and Riyadh, and unease among U.S. officials about overplaying alliances with the 30-year-old prince, who some view as locked in a power struggle with the older Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

“Very unusual for the Saudis to come out saying he is meeting with Obama and White House not confirming it,” said David Ottaway, a Saudi expert at the Wilson Center in Washington. “They certainly knew he was coming.”

Meanwhile, Haykal Bafana, a usually reliable commentator on events in Yemen, has suggested that not just the one UAE helicopter reported more broadly, but two more, have been downed in recent days, by Saudi missiles. And the UAE tweeted out yesterday that it was withdrawing from the war in Yemen.

UAE, of course, was supporting (or headlining?) our efforts to continue targeting AQAP even as the Saudi invasion empowered the group, one the US has just added new resources to. If UAE withdraws we’ll be alone fighting AQAP.

Or, alternately, they may go back to benefitting wildly from the Saudi invasion of Yemen.

Are we getting closer to the point where we admit the Saudis are not our friends?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

4 replies
  1. blueba says:

    The Imperial US does, on the surface at least, have issues with the Saud family. However, that does not change the fact that the Saud family is a full member of the Empire. There are some irritations just now but the Saud family is not a partner or ally if the Imperial US it is part of the body of the Empire not separate from it.

    My view is that this is just a messy phase in the process of converting to full corporate rule (which really means the families such as Porsche, Cargill, Bechtel or Saud who own the transnational corporations which are their tools of wealth and power).

  2. Stephen says:

    “And the UAE tweeted out yesterday that it was withdrawing from the war in Yemen.”

    Aljazeera is also reporting the same. In doing so in mentioned a few caveats.
    .
    In particular there was this: “An Arabic version of his [Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces, who was quoting Anwar Gargash, UAE’s junior minister for foreign affairs] comments was worded slightly differently from the English one, saying the war is ‘practically’ over.”
    .
    “Practically over” is not, of course, the same as “actually over”.
    .
    The video embedded in the article also points out that the announcement gave no timeline, which as the article itself notes: “left open the likelihood that Emirati troops would remain in the Arabian Peninsula country, where they operate in the southern province of Hadramawt and the port city of Aden.”

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