Obama’s Meeting with Saudi King Undermines Iran Deal

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This piece is specific in

This piece is specific in offering reasons to oppose US support for the Saudi regime, but exceedingly vague about defending the point it promised in the headline and last sentence.

I agree with Mr. Pal that the Saudi regime has chronically abused human rights and supported terror both in the Middle East, and further abroad. Succinctly, the Saudi regime is anything but an admirable player on the world stage, and only western dependence on Saudi oil has positioned the US (since the end of WWII) as a major supporter of the authoritarian family which has ruled that country. (Pal should have acknowledged that this is hardly new policy under the Obama administration; in fact, it dates back to FDR).

But even agreeing with all of that does not imply that inviting the Saudi king to the United States will “undermine the Iran deal” in any way and Pal is silent as to why he thinks it does.

It seems to me that the precise opposite is true: quite to the contrary of Pal’s faulty logic, the whole point of the invitation – and more broadly of Obama’s attempts to appease both Israel and the Saudis as the deal became more and more likely and then a reality -- is to give the Iran deal political space it will require to actually take hold.

It’s no secret that the Iranian and Saudi regimes are at odds with one another, any more than it is exactly hush-hush that neither one cares for the Israelis (and vice versa). With or without American intervention, the Middle East is a volatile and divided region with heavily armed players many of whom have deep pockets.

For the Iran deal to work, neither the Israelis nor the Saudis must place the Iranians in an existentially threatening position, yet both are fully capable of doing so. Indeed, Netanyahu has been threatening war for years now, and fighting Iran by proxy is the basis of the Saudi intervention in Yemen which Pal laments in the article.

It follows that diplomacy with our Israeli and Saudi “friends” – whatever one thinks of the bases of those friendships – will be vital to providing a peaceful resolution to the region’s quarrels. Clearly, as a weighty player both in the region and in the world as a whole, the US has a diplomatic role to play.

In short, I challenge Mr. Pal to tell us how he thinks the Obama administration SHOULD be dealing with the Saudis in order to improve both the prospects of the Iran deal and of peace and human rights in the region and to explain how this invitation undermines the diplomatic process which has taken years and considerably political guts to establish.

John Greenberg more than 1 year ago

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