Sound and fury: Saudi Arabia’s concerns over Syria are not necessarily the same as ours

Saudi Arabia considers Syria a proxy war with Iran – and wants the US, and the rest of the world, to lend a hand

Share
Related Topics

Saudi Arabia has made no secret of its growing umbrage. In October, the desert kingdom turned down the non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council to which it was elected, citing the international community’s failure to authorise intervention in the conflict in Syria. But the discontent has been bubbling for longer than that, and it is not restricted to the renownedly torpid UN. As long ago as 2011, there was clear irritation at the US decision not to support its former ally, Hosni Mubarak, as the Arab Spring took hold in Egypt.

Now, to make the case plainer than ever, the Saudi ambassador to Britain has penned an uncompromising editorial in The New York Times appealing directly to the US public. Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz al Saud writes wistfully of decades of friendship with “our Western partners” – for which read the US and, to a lesser extent, Britain – and bemoans policies on both Syria and Iran which “risk the stability and security of the Middle East”. Responsibilities have been shirked and extremism allowed to flourish, the diplomat claims.

It is no surprise that Riyadh is increasingly desperate. Not because, as Prince Nawaf notes, there have been more than 100,000 civilian deaths. Or because, as another senior Saudi Prince averred last weekend, President Obama talked about “red lines” on the use of chemical weapons and then failed to act. Rather, because Saudi Arabia considers Syria a proxy war with Iran – and wants the US, and the rest of the world, to lend a hand.

Here, indeed, is the rub. If Washington’s policy on Syria is problematic, the prospect of a deal with Iran on curbing its nuclear ambitions is even more so. Never mind that it is entirely in Riyadh’s interests that Tehran’s weapons programme be controlled. And never mind that a deal, if it can be agreed and enforced, is a more certain – not to mention humane – solution than is war. An agreement gives the Islamic Republic a new legitimacy that is anathema to its regional rival.

There are many reasons for caution in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia’s blustering promotions of its own agenda are not one of them.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones