12:01 PM, Dec 17, 2014 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
Imagine for a moment that you are a Saudi, Emirati, Jordanian, or Israeli. Your main national security worry these days is Iran—Iran’s rise, its nuclear program, its troops fighting in Iraq and Syria, its growing influence from Yemen through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon.
Your main ally against Iran for the past decades has been the United States. Naturally you worry about American policy. You remember President Obama’s outreach to Iran in 2009, and his failure to back the Iranian people’s protests in June of that year after the stolen election. You wonder if the United States can be relied on, or will one day announce a major policy shift.
What shift? A rapprochement with Iran that ends the sanctions, throws an economic lifeline to the regime, re-establishes diplomatic relations with it—in exchange for nothing. That is, the Islamic Republic would make no concessions about its foreign or domestic policies. And the change in U.S. policy would show that in the long struggle between the United States and Iran since 1979, the Americans have finally blinked.
And now, you turn on the TV and see the announcement about the change in American policy in Cuba. Re-establishment of diplomatic relations. Lots of changes in the embargo that will mean plenty more cash for the Castros. A change in the whole American official position vis-à-vis Cuba. In exchange, the Castro brothers have pledged to let 53 political prisoners out, free one American spy, and free the American hostage Alan Gross. As to real changes in the regime—changes in its foreign or domestic policies—none. Zero. Zip. So, you conclude that in the long struggle between the United States and the Castro regime since 1959, the Americans have finally blinked.
Your conclusion about Iran is inevitable: that the Obama administration cannot be relied upon and is quite likely to abandon America’s Iran policy as well. Your only hope is, of course, the Ayatollah Khamenei, who appears to oppose and to fear a rapprochement with the Americans. Perhaps you are safe as long as he is alive, and now you start hoping that the old man outlives the Obama administration.
The American collapse with respect to Cuba will have repercussions in the Middle East and elsewhere—in Asia, for the nations facing a rising China, and in Europe, for those near Putin’s newly aggressive Russia. What are American guarantees and promises worth if a fifty-year-old policy followed by Democrats like Johnson, Carter, and Clinton can be discarded overnight? In more than a few chanceries the question that will be asked as this year ends is “who is next to find that America is today more interested in propitiating its enemies than in protecting its allies?”
12:04 PM, Nov 17, 2014 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
As Saudi Arabia undergoes its slow process of change, the matter of women and motor vehicles remains crucial. On October 24, Saudi women were summoned by a social media campaign to take to the roads in cars they own, typically, but do not drive.
4:12 PM, Oct 21, 2014 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Recently, some media commentators have argued that, rather than the product of a simple confrontation between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Syria and Iraq, the rise of the so-called “Islamic State” should be perceived as an eruption into those countries of Wahhabism, the only interpretation of Islam recognized as official in Saudi Arabia.
12:00 AM, Oct 11, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Anyone who doubts that the deployment of the technologies we have come to call fracking constitutes a revolution should consider this. U.S. oil production has soared by 70 percent in the past six years. American refineries have cut in half their imports from the OPEC cartel, setting off a scramble by those countries to find new markets.
1:04 PM, May 13, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama has been briefed on mystery virus MERS, White House spokesman Jay Carney said at today's briefing.
And in Friday’s meeting between Obama and King Abdullah, he’s poised to stand against Obama administration policy on Iran and Syria.2:38 PM, Mar 27, 2014 • By HUSSAIN ABDUL-HUSSAIN
Friday’s meeting in Riyadh between King Abdullah and President Obama is likely to be a tense one. First, there’s the fact that the Saudis and the White House differ on a host of regional issues, from Egypt and Bahrain to Syria and Iran. Moreover, there are also the secondary players likely to be in attendance, one of which from each side the other considers a nuisance. The Saudis think that newly named National Security Council staffer Robert Malley is an irritant, and the White House doesn’t like Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence chief and formerly longtime ambassador to Washington.
But interim deal with Iran puts the White House and its traditional Middle East allies in opposing camps.2:52 PM, Nov 25, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
In the wake of the interim deal that the White House signed with Iran Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry said on the Sunday talk shows that nothing has changed, not with the American position in the Middle East, or with the U.S. alliance system in the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is screaming his head off, but Israel has nothing to worry about says Kerry.
Saudi Arabia would prefer not to. Nov 4, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 08 • By JOHN BOLTON
On October 17, Saudi Arabia was elected by the United Nations General Assembly to a nonpermanent seat on the Security Council.
3:07 PM, Oct 9, 2013 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
On October 2, Arab media reported that a Kuwaiti radical Muslim television preacher, Tareq Suwaidan, was prohibited from visiting Saudi Arabia. Suwaidan had sought to go to Mecca to perform “umrah,” a shorter version of the annual hajj pilgrimage.
8:18 AM, Sep 19, 2013 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Against the expectation of many observers, social change continues in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Recent reforms have particularly affected the status of women. At the end of August, the Saudis took a remarkable and surprising step by criminalizing domestic violence. As reported in the London Independent, the Saudi cabinet “passed a ban on domestic violence and other forms of abuse against women for the first time in the Kingdom’s history.”
A view through the two-way mirror of Saudi Arabia.Jan 14, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 17 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
If I were of a cynical nature, I might suspect that this volume possesses an agenda beyond explaining the world’s most important and least predictable Muslim country to Westerners. But an awkward combination of a pretentious title and a lightweight style employed by its author should not distract Saudi-watchers and other interested readers from the importance of this work.
8:19 AM, Nov 28, 2012 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Early in November, the Saudi Arabian government announced the replacement of interior minister Prince Ahmed Bin Abdul Aziz, named to the post in June of this year, after the death of Prince Nayef, his elder brother.
2:54 PM, Nov 8, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
The U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James Smith, told the Arabic news outlet Asharq Al-Awsat that American foreign policy will now change after President Barack Obama's reelection. Smith made the comments at an election night party at his residence.
6:15 AM, Oct 25, 2012 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
A post in the Wall Street Journal blog covering India suggests relations are souring between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, long the main instrument of Riyadh’s ideological influence over South Asian Muslims. The desert monarchy has extradited several terrorist suspects to India, under a treaty signed between the two countries in 2010. Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari was sent to India in June, A. Rayees was deported by the Saudis to New Delhi in October, and Fasih Muhammad, last week.
6:05 PM, Oct 9, 2012 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
In the seven years since King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz assumed the throne of Saudi Arabia, the absolute monarch, whose reformist aspirations are widely believed to be sincere, has attempted to curb some of the outrageous human rights violations for which the desert kingdom is known.