The Inevitability of the U.S. – Saudi Rift
Post Categories: Canada
Wayne MADSEN | Thursday, October 31
A number of seasoned observers of Middle Eastern affairs
agree that U.S. – Saudi relationsare at their lowest ebb
since U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established
America’s «special relationship» with the Saudi monarchy on
February 14, 1945, just a few months before FDR’s death.
Subsequent to the Yalta Conference, Roosevelt met Saudi King
Ibn Saud on board the USS Quincy on Great Bitter Lake in the
Suez Canal in Egypt.
Roosevelt and Saud inked the «Quincy Agreement», by which
the United States would provide Saudi Arabia with military
equipment and training in return for the U.S. establishing a
military base at Dhahran in the Persian Gulf and Saudi
Arabia guaranteeing the United States a steady flow of Saudi
Except for the Arab oil embargo instituted against the West
in the 1970s, the Quincy Agreement has survived six Saudi
kings. However, the Quincy Agreement is in trouble. There
are a number of reasons why U.S.-Saudi relations have
• The decision by the Barack Obama administration to cancel
a U.S. military strike against Syria in return for a
U.S.-Russian concordat to oversee the removal from Syria and
ultimate destruction of chemical weapons.
• The Obama administration’s decision to engage Iran through
direct diplomatic negotiations.
• Increasing evidence by U.S. intelligence of Saudi links to
Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda-linked terrorists operating around the
• Reduced U.S. dependency on Saudi oil as a result of
increased U.S. carbon fuel output from the fracking of shale
reserves in the United States.
• The closeness of the head of the Ri’asat Al-Istikhbarat
Al-’Ama, the Saudi General Intelligence Agency, Prince
Bandar bin Sultan, to the Bush family and other leading
Republicans, including former Vice President Dick Cheney.
• Saudi concern that the U.S. has turned its «Arab Spring»
resources against Saudi Arabia in a low-level manner through
the «Car Key Revolution», a widespread protest by Saudi
women who broke Saudi law by driving cars.
After the U.S. supported the Arab Spring «Jasmine
Revolution» in Tunisia that toppled longtime Tunisian
strongman President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali – who received
refuge in Saudi Arabia — and the «Lotus Revolution» that
ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from power, Riyadh
grew increasingly concerned that the mass demonstrations
against unpopular regimes would spread to «the Kingdom.»
In fact, Saudi forces quickly suppressed a few
demonstrations in Saudi Arabia and sent in military forces
to ruthlessly put down a pro-democracy uprising in
The Saudis were never comfortable with the accession to
power in Egyptian elections of the Muslim Brotherhood,
particularly the presidency of Mohamed Morsi. The Saudis,
therefore, instructed the pro-Saudi Nour Party in Egypt to
support the military coup that toppled Morsi and replaced
him with General Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi.
Although Sisi has Nasserite sympathies, the Saudis view him
much more favorably than they do the Muslim Brotherhood.
Morsi’s establishing of closer relations with Iran was
viewed as a threat to the Saudi regime and a breakdown of
the established balance of power in the region.
Obama’s decision to curtail the supply of military weaponry
to Egypt following the ouster of Morsi further inflamed
relations between Riyadh and Washington. To make up for the
cut-off in U.S. assistance to Cairo, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,
and the United Arab Emirates pledged $12 billion in aid to
Cairo in July of this year.
The Saudis also joined Israel in voicing opposition to the
cut off of American military assistance to Cairo, evidence
of the growing relationship between Saudi Arabia and the
nation that Saudi King Faisal once referred to as the
«Zionist regime» as he presented beautifully-bound copies of
the «Protocols of the Elders of Zion» to visiting
After serving as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United
States from 1983 to 2005, becoming the dean of the
Washington diplomatic corps, and smoking cigars in the White
House with George W. Bush while the smoke still rose from
the remains of the World Trade Center and Pentagon, «Bandar
Bush», as he was known to the Bush family, was certain
America would hit targets in Syria in order to deal a blow
to the government of President Bashar al Assad.
After all, Bandar’s influence with Bush and Cheney helped
convince them to launch the military attack on Iraq that
toppled Saddam Hussein from power.
Bandar concluded that the same U.S. military-intelligence
complex that initiated the occupation of Iraq would
certainly exercise its muscle against the Middle East’s only
remaining Baathist Socialist regime in Syria. Bandar was
Secretary of State John Kerry, although surprised by it,
could not resist Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s
extension of a deal that saw Syria disarm its chemical
weapons arsenal in return for no American strike. Bandar and
the Saudi regime were furious. Cheney, appearing on the
radio show of right-wing fringe commentator Hugh Hewitt,
lamented that the Saudis could no longer trust its
«historical relationship» with the United States.
Cheney condemned Obama for erasing the «red line» on the use
by Assad of chemical weapons that Obama earlier imposed on
Syria. Cheney stated that the Obama administration let down
America’s allies that warred with the U.S. against Iraq in
Operation Desert Storm, but he ignored the fact that those
allies included Assad’s father, Hafez al Assad.
Neo-conservatives like Cheney and Hewitt find altering
history to being not only a science but an art form.
The U.S.-Russian agreement on Syria also slightly improved
the overall bilateral U.S. relationship with Moscow. This
was especially true in the area of count-terrorism.
After Bandar reportedly offered Russian President Vladimir
Putin a lucrative deal by the Kingdom to purchase Russian
weapons and an order to its Al Qaeda units to observe a
truce on terrorist attacks against the Sochi Winter Olympics
in return for Russia’s abandonment of Assad, it became clear
that the Salafist and Wahhabist terror groups in Russia were
financed by the Saudis.
In fact, the Saudi terror support network in Chechnya and
Dagestan was the same as the one that struck the Boston
Marathon. Bandar’s offer to Moscow ignored one important
facet of Russian history.
Russia is known for supporting its foreign allies, from the
United States during its civil war with the Confederacy to
the government of Afghanistan battling Islamic mujaheddin
guerrillas. Syria is no exception.
In preparation for the Sochi Olympics, Russian and American
intelligence began sharing intelligence on Al Qaeda’s and
their allies’ plans. The same money flows and trails
detected prior to 9/11 from Saudi sources to Al Qaeda cells
were lighting up in financial intelligence fusion systems.
The realization that America and Russia had a common foe in
Saudi Arabia prompted some interest by former U.S. members
of the intelligence community to expand a regular dialogue
with their Russian counterparts that took place in the early
1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union and, more
recently, through the «Elbe Group», which has mainly focused
on counter-nuclear proliferation issues.
The Saudis and their supporters in neo-conservative power
circles in Washington responded to this initiative by
planting stories in the press that the FBI was investigating
increased Russian espionage efforts in the United States,
especially surrounding the activities of the Russian Center
for Science and Culture in Washington.
The Saudis and their neo-con American friends realized that
the Russian center, which sponsored professional exchange
visits to Russia, would be one potential avenue for a
low-level dialogue visit by former but influential U.S.
intelligence officers to Russia. Every effort had to be made
to scuttle such meetings and the best way was to accuse the
Russian center of being an espionage front.
The decision by Obama to phone Iranian President Hasan
Rouhani in New York before he departed John F. Kennedy
International Airport after his address to the UN General
Assembly was considered another affront to the Saudis. It
was the first direct contact between an American president
and a president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Further meetings between Kerry and his Iranian counterpart
and between other U.S. and Iranian officials, amid reports
of Iranian willingness to have its nuclear facilities
inspected and activities curtailed, gave rise to hopes of a
With U.S. reliance on foreign oil being reduced from 60 to
40 percent and forecasts that the U.S. could soon, as a
result of shale fracking and offshore pumping, become
self-sufficient in oil, the Saudi leverage of oil was no
longer a weapon it could use to influence U.S. policy in the
Having more leeway in its dealings with Riyadh enabled the
Obama administration, mainly through National Security
Adviser Susan Rice and U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha
Power, to give quiet support to a George Soros-style
«thematic revolution» in Saudi Arabia.
The decision by Saudi women, who are banned from driving in
the Kingdom, to violate the law in a national protest, was
met with some driving citations being issued by Saudi
police. But the decision by the White House to quietly
support the «Car Key Revolution» was the first indication,
albeit low level, that Washington was prepared to tear up
the Quincy Agreement.
But one thing that is certain about Bandar and his neocon
allies in Washington and Israel. When backed up against the
wall, they will strike like desert asps. America, Russia,
and other nations should remain on alert.
Wayne MADSEN | Strategic Culture Foundation
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