News Release

Obama, Saudi Arabia and “Reactionary Violence”

President Obama begins his visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday.

TOBY C. JONES, tobycjones at yahoo.com, @tobycraigjones
Jones is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University and author of the book Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia. He said today: “The U.S. must rethink its relationship with Saudi Arabia. While many in Washington believe that our long-standing partners in Riyadh are the least worst option in the Middle East, the reality is that the kingdom is a dangerous and destabilizing actor. Saudi Arabia is a violent place, with an oppressive regime, that has doggedly pursued the path of counter-revolution since 2011. It seeks not stability nor security for residents across the Middle East. Rather, Saudi leaders seek domination and are supporting reactionary violence in places like Egypt, Bahrain and Syria to help them achieve it.”

ALI AL-AHMED, via Chidinma Zik-Ikeorha, externalaffairs at gulfinstitute.org, @AliAlAhmed_en
Director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, al-Ahmed said today: “Obama should end the current U.S. policy of ignoring the rights and aspirations of the Arab people in the Arabian Peninsula. The U.S. has no credibility on human rights without publicly confronting the Saudi monarchy on its dire human rights record and its destruction of the Arab people’s desire for freedom and progress.”

VIJAY PRASHAD, Vijay.Prashad at trincoll.edu, @vijayprashad
Edward Said chair at American University in Beirut, Prashad is co-editor of Dispatches from the Arab Spring. He said today: “Obama is going to Saudi Arabia because the Sultans of Arabia have gone at each other’s throats. The Qatar-KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] feud has damaged the fragile unity built up since 1979 with the creation of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] and the coordination of their policy over the past three decades. Qatari gas gives the little emirate independence, which allowed it to become the patron of the Muslim Brotherhood — a group that the KSA does not support. Disputes between these countries predates the war in Syria and the Arab Spring. Some of it has to do with KSA’s very strong position against Iran which is not shared on the peninsula. Will the U.S. be able to patch things up? Unlikely. The transition in Qatar did not solve the KSA’s grouse, and nor will Obama’s visit.”