U.S. and Saudis in Growing Rift as Power Shifts – Robert F. Worth
There was a time when Saudi and American interests in the Middle East seemed aligned, but those days are over. The Saudi king and his envoys – like the Israelis – have spent weeks lobbying fruitlessly against the interim nuclear accord with Iran that was reached in Geneva on Sunday.
The Saudis fear expanded Iranian hegemony across the region. Already, the Saudis have watched with alarm as Turkey – their ally in supporting the Syrian rebels – has begun making conciliatory gestures toward Iran, including an invitation by Turkish President Abdullah Gul to his Iranian counterpart to pay an official visit.
The Saudis’ anxiety is not just that the U.S. will leave them more exposed to Iran, but that it will reach a reconciliation and ultimately anoint Iran as the central American ally in the region. As the Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh put it: “The Geneva negotiations are just a prelude to a new chapter of convergence” between the U.S. and Iran.
“The Saudis are feeling surrounded by Iranian influence – in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Bahrain,” said Richard W. Murphy, a retired American ambassador who spent decades in the Middle East. (New York Times)