This Telegraph op-ed by the Saudi ambassador to the UK is a must read. The article highlights in no uncertain terms that the vital strategic partnership between Britain and its Gulf ally is suddenly under threat.
I don’t know about you but I’m beginning to struggle to understand the strategic rivalries in the Middle East. There are two broad axises, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Each axis has sponsors from the major powers. Similarly, each axis is sponsoring terrorism to some degree to achieve their objective. Then, of course, there is Israel whose strategic objective is simply survival. But because of Obama’s Iranian deal, Israel and Saudi Arabia find themselves with commonalities.
Saudi Arabia matters because of two important factors. Firstly, it is the world’s largest oil producer with the largest proven reserves. Secondly, Saudi Arabia has an enormous military budget and major powers are keen to get a share.
In the West, there is widespread criticism for the Saudi regime, e.g. its record on human rights, treatment of alcohol or drug users (unless they are members of the royal family).
Recently, the UK cancelled a major contract with Saudi Arabia because of domestic pressure in the UK. Meanwhile, France has recently stepped in and signed a major defense deal with Saudi Arabia.
Because of excessive austerity cuts, the UK is strategically weakened and will no doubt desperately try to mend bridges with Saudi Arabia.
Russia‘s recent involvement in Syria, with the support of Iran will be a game changer for Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Turkey a NATO member is close to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States in trying to oust President Assad in Syria and to halt the rise of Iran’s influence.
Meanwhile, we have read in today’s NYT editorial that Obama is escalating the American intervention in Syria, despite major reservations about legality and endgame objectives.
With the United Nations a shadow of its former self and full of vested positions, this situation is looking increasingly dangerous.