06:37 GMT +3 hours29 August 2016
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US President Barack Obama speaks with King Salman (L) of Saudi Arabia during their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC on September 4, 2015

Divorce in the Making? US-Saudi Relations 'Bending Toward a Breaking Point'

© AFP 2016/ YURI GRIPAS
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Strained relations between Washington and one of its key allies in the Middle East might well have outlived their usefulness and are "bending toward a breaking point," foreign affairs correspondent Michael Crowley asserted.

The relationship has been plagued by unresolvable issues, including the Iran nuclear deal and America's support of uprisings during the Arab Spring. It appears to be at an all-time low at the moment but it has never been too cordial or mutual.

"In his first encounter with King Abdullah at a London conference in April 2009, Obama was caught on camera appearing, to some eyes, to bow to the Arab leader. Conservatives taunted him for weeks for allegedly kowtowing to the monarch," Crowley noted in an article titled "Obama's royal pain."

US President Barack Obama (R) and  King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia during meetings in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on June 29, 2010
© AFP 2016/ Saul LOEB
US President Barack Obama (R) and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia during meetings in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on June 29, 2010

Later that year, the then Saudi king refused to help Barack Obama to kick start the peace process between Israel and Palestine. The US president was unprepared for such a response, the journalist added, citing a former senior member of the Obama administration.

Nevertheless, "in September 2010, Obama approved a $60 million US arms package for the Saudis that would bolster a longtime military partnership," he detailed.

Obama's stance on the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 adversely affected the improving relations between Washington and Riyadh. The Saudi monarchy, according to Crowley, was "appalled" when the US president refused to back Hosni Mubarak, America's long-time ally.

Egyptian protesters gesture as they clash with riot police at Cairo's landmark Tahrir Square on November 19, 2011, as Egyptian police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to break up a sit-in among whose organisers were people injured during the Arab Spring which overthrew veteran president Hosni Mubarak
© AFP 2016/ KHALED DESOUKI
Egyptian protesters gesture as they clash with riot police at Cairo's landmark Tahrir Square on November 19, 2011, as Egyptian police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to break up a sit-in among whose organisers were people injured during the Arab Spring which overthrew veteran president Hosni Mubarak

"For King Abdullah, the Mubarak episode was just the worst possible nightmare," Crowley cited Martin Indyk, who served as the US Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from 2013 to 2014, as saying.

Obama's willingness to cooperate with Egypt's first Islamist president Mohamed Morsi added fuel to the fire. The Saudis view the Muslim brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

In November 2013, Riyadh found out that the Obama administration had been engaged in the months-long talks with Saudi Arabia's main adversary, Iran.

"The Saudis opposed the Iran talks on substance – fearing that Obama was planning a strategic shift that would align the US with Tehran and phase out Riyadh as Washington's main strategic partner in the region – but also on process grounds, furious that Obama had, in effect, gone behind their back to negotiate with Iran in secret," Crowley explained.

Last year, King Salman opted not to take part in the summit of the Sunni Arab leaders, held at Camp David.

Crowley pointed out that despite the cold spell both sides are trying to keep the bilateral relationship afloat. Obama backed the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. Both Washington and Riyadh are trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. US officials have offered muted responses to the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

"But many observers fear the relationship could grow worse still, with dangerous consequences for the region," he asserted.

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Tags:
Yemen War, Syrian conflict, politics, Arab Spring, Salman bin Abdelaziz al-Saud, Barack Obama, King Abdullah, United States, Saudi Arabia
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  • hans.schultz
    Maybe Sputnik should run a story on the classified 28 pages from the congressional investigation report into the september 11, 2001 terror attack?
  • Magenta61
    Well, no tears yet but wait until he rubs his lower lids. What a pathetic posture of a world leader.
  • I don't see it fracturing at all. It's a relationship that has served powerful US families like the Bushes very well. Those families have control of America and won't give up on a profitable relationship.

    Obama is gone in a year anyway.
  • Mikhas
    What´s wrong with this picture?

    Two apes sitting in a room...
  • dburke08in reply tohans.schultz(Show commentHide comment)
    hans.schultz, There is a major movement in the United States to release the 28 pages and expose the Saudis as the real culprits, along with the British monarchy, behind the 9/11 attacks. I agree with you.

    Why not an interview with Lyndon LaRouche, who has been most prescient in forecasting the evil these people are capable of?
  • vvj3080
    Two pseudos who have penchant to decapitate animals and humans.
  • Dan
    The US Saudi ( and its Gulf allies) friendship is basically based on Petro-Dollar ! The US needs the Gulf-countries to keep Dollar as an international currency. The friendship-with-benefit between the US and the Gulf-countries will break when and only when the US Dollar is unseated from its current status, then there will be no use for the US of keeping those expensive gulf-liabilities.
  • hans.schultzin reply todburke08(Show commentHide comment)
    dburke08, right on!
  • Danin reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    Russell, just FYI, the Bush-family is not one of the powerful families, the whole is worth only about 60 Million.

    www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-politicians/republicans/bush-family-net-worth
  • 1879in reply todburke08(Show commentHide comment)
    dburke08, 9/11 had absolutely nothing to do with the British monarchy. what it had to do with, yet again, was the Zionists.
  • Ivan Zadorozhny
    That's more like wishful thinking for now. The Saudies and the US are natural allies. This is not going to change in the short term.
  • florsolitariain reply todburke08(Show commentHide comment)
    dburke08,
    "The British monarchy"
    you trolls are really pathetic..
  • dburke08in reply toflorsolitaria(Show commentHide comment)
    florsolitaria, For anyone with any idea of history, the link between the Saudis and the British is sort of... obvious?

    As for 9/11 - I'm referring to the well-documented reality that the slush fund money for the attacks was created in the infamous arms-for-oil deal between Prince Bandar and Margaret Thatcher - Al Yamamah.

    Read the expose here: larouchepub.com/other/2007/3425scandal_of_cntry.html
  • Mother Gorilla
    Even if Obama were to cool it down, the next American president will revert to all the bad ways of backing their bastards!
  • rogertidyin reply todburke08(Show commentHide comment)
    dburke08, Don't be misled by simplistic conspiracy theories!
  • dburke08in reply torogertidy(Show commentHide comment)
    rogertidy,

    I don't have any simplistic conspiracy theories - I have an idea that justice must be done.

    Obama is a Satanic murderer. Everything he touches turns to ashes. As long as we have him, the USA will help ISIS proliferate, back the evil Saudi Royals, support the moronic and depraved Erdogan, and sacrifice our own people on the altar of Wall Street.

    Return to FDR's policy: crush Wall Street, and work with Russia and China (and India) to create a world of peace and development, against the British/Saudi empire of financial and religious terrorism.
  • in reply toDan(Show commentHide comment)
    Dan, I accept they aren't in the same league as Rockefellers, Morgans etc but most wealth is hidden offshore in elaborate trusts. These websites don't reflect that.

    The positions that Prescott, George Senior ,George Junior, and Jeb hold or held demonstrates significant power though!
  • rogertidyin reply todburke08(Show commentHide comment)
    dburke08, Yes, crush Wall Street and work with Russia, but you are decades out of date if you think the British Empire is the problem!
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