Saudi Arabia says it plans to make a ‘major shift’ in its dealings with the United States over Iran, Bahrain, Palestine and Syria.
Saudi Arabia’s spymaster Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud said Riyadh’s ties with Washington have been deteriorating for a while over several issues.
A source close to Bandar bin Sultan noted that Saudi Arabia’s new stance is in objection to Washington’s inaction over the war in Syria and the issue of Palestine.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the violence.
Moreover, Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the Gaza Strip, and are demanding that Israel withdraw from the Palestinian territories occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War.
“The shift away from the US is a major one. Saudi doesn’t want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent,” the source said, adding, “Prince Bandar … plans to limit interaction with the United States. This happens after the US failed to take any effective action on Syria and Palestine.”
He has also voiced concern about the US getting closer to Iran.
Last month, in the first direct communication between an Iranian and a US president since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani received a call from his US counterpart, Barack Obama, before leaving New York, where he attended the 68th annual session of the UN General Assembly.
Bandar bin Sultan has also criticized Washington for failing to back his country when it deployed forces to crush the popular uprising in Bahrain.
The Bahraini uprising began in mid-February 2011. Protesters initially called for political reforms and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.
“Relations with the US have been deteriorating for a while, as Saudi feels that the US is growing closer with Iran and the US also failed to support Saudi during the Bahrain uprising,” the source added.
The source close to the Saudi prince has hinted that the planned change in policy would have wide-ranging consequences, including for arms purchases and oil sales.