Cliff May

The Saudis have a point. Those words do not flow easily from my pen. For more than three decades, the Arabian royals have spent billions of petro-dollars promoting Wahhabism, a poisonously anti-Western interpretation of Islam, of which the most lethal expression is bin Ladenism.

But now the Saudis are angry with the Obama administration. The reasons include “inaction over Syria’s civil war as well as recent U.S. overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy” told Reuters on Tuesday. “The shift away from the U.S. is a major one,” the source said. “We are learning from our enemies now how to treat the United States,” Saudi security analyst Mustafa Alani told the Wall Street Journal last month.

The Saudis read in the New York Times that new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is implementing “conciliatory international policies.” They read in the Wall Street Journal that “Iran’s new president and his foreign minister have shown a willingness to end their country’s nuclear stalemate and improve relations with the West.” The Saudis know this to be patently untrue. They know that Iran’s rulers, pragmatists and hardliners alike, are revolutionaries who intend to become nuclear-armed masters of the Middle East — a dire threat to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, Israel, and other nations in the region.

They read, too, that the latest round of talks “marked another first: Negotiations ended on a positive note.” Does no one fact-check anymore? Just last year, the talks in Istanbul were characterized by Western diplomats as “very positive: the vibe . . . was, ‘wow, they are engaging.’” Actually, have there ever been Western talks with Iran that were not characterized as “positive”?

In apparent exasperation, the Saudis have turned down an opportunity to serve for a two-year term on the U.N. Security Council. They are particularly distressed by the U.N.S.C.’s refusal to take action against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, whom the Saudis see as Iran’s satrap.


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.