Interpreting Middle East Economic News and Analyzing Market Trends

Israel: Saudi Arabia’s new friend in the Middle East

Abdullah-Mubarak-Asad

The good old days; King Abdullah (center) with his buddies, Mubarak (left) and Asad (right)

Saudi Arabia and Israel rarely see eye-to-eye publicly.  Now, however, both countries are openly aligned on Syria and Egypt.  They both support Egypt’s current military rulers and both are upset with the US for not bombing Syria and dropping its aid to Egypt.

 

There has been a lot of news coverage recently on Saudi Arabia’s frustration with the US and its recent ‘shocker’ regarding its seat on the UN Security Council.  Here, however, are a few tidbits on what’s been happening:

  

Upset at President Barack Obama’s policies on Iran and Syria, members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are threatening a rift with the United States that could take the alliance between Washington and the kingdom to its lowest point in years.

Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief is vowing that the kingdom will make a ‘major shift’ in relations with the United States to protest perceived American inaction over Syria’s civil war as well as recent U.S. overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that the United States had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.

Read the full story from The Daily Mail.

  

 

Israel struggled to hide its frustration on Thursday at a U.S. decision to withhold aid to Cairo, fearing the move could damage Washington’s standing in the region and undermine its own peace treaty with Egypt.

Senior Israeli officials have criticised U.S. handling of Egypt since the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and had urged it to support the new army-backed government following the ousting of Islamist leader Mohamed Mursi in July.

Concerned by the outlook for human rights and democracy in Egypt, the United States announced on Wednesday it would withhold deliveries of tanks, fighter aircraft, helicopters and missiles as well as $260 million in cash aid.

Read the full story from The Jewish Daily Forward.

  

   

Support from Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, which were happy to see Mursi go because of their loathing of the Brotherhood, could give Egypt room for maneuver if it decides to move away from the United States.

After Mursi was deposed, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates promised Egypt a total of $12 billion in loans, grants and fuel shipments. The aid has kept the economy afloat and may give Egypt some policy flexibility.

“Compared to Gulf aid, American aid is peanuts. It won’t financially affect Egypt and could easily be filled by Gulf countries,” said Abdullah al-Askar, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council, an appointed parliament that has only advisory powers.

“People in the Gulf do not see (cutting the aid) as a democratic message. Otherwise why is America allowing the Syrian regime to continue killing people every day?”

Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt — Washington’s most important allies in the Arab world — are frustrated with U.S. policy and see Washington as an indecisive superpower.

“The U.S. position is not clear and not understood and comes at a time when Egypt needs help,” a government official said. “For sure the U.S. will lose the support of the Egyptian people and it is natural that the void it leaves by its loss of the Egyptian people will benefit another power in the world.”

Israel also has issues with the American approach in Egypt. Israel welcomed in private the downfall of Mursi and had urged Washington behind the scenes to provide full support to the new military-backed government in Cairo.

“I would not be surprised, by the way, if tomorrow or the day after, the Saudis and others begin to hold talks with the Russians under the carpet in order to ensure there will be a protective umbrella when the time comes,” Former Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told Israel Radio.

Read the full story from Reuters.

  

Since Saudi Arabia and Israel are frustrated at the US not going after Syria, maybe they should take matters in to their own hands and do something about it.  Diplomatic posturing and maneuvering will not get them anywhere.  The entertaining part of this entire story is the fact the Saudi Arabia and Israel lobbying the US for the same objectives.  Maybe the next step is for them to formally collaborate on something.

   

Oh, and one more thing, could Saudi Arabia be upset with Asad over a proposed pipeline through Syria?  Click here for an interesting story from Zerohedge.