Oh, they said it was because of the general ineffectiveness of he United Nations in the various crises in the region, but, really, the KSA is ticked off at the Obama administration for its bumbling mishandling of Syria, Iran, Egypt, Iran, and Iran. (You might notice a bit of a focus in the Saudi estimation of their security needs. If you guessed “Iran,” take a cigar from the humidor.) This has Walter Russell Mead rightly concerned, and he helpfully points out the many ways an angry Saudi Arabia could make life miserable for Team Smart Power:
It remains unclear to us whether the Obama administration has for its part thought through the full consequences (1) of a serious rift with the Saudis. It’s possible the administration thinks there is little they can actually do, and it’s also possible that they calculate that the costs of making the Saudis happy are not worth paying (getting tougher on Iran, distancing from the Muslim Brotherhood, and foregoing the ultimate dream of a democratic Arab Middle East).
There are not many signs of order and coherence in US Middle East policy at the moment, so there is at least the possibility that the White House hasn’t really thought through just what the Saudis could do that would make us unhappy. That would be a mistake. The Saudis have a lot of weight in Pakistan and could make things easier or harder for us there. They have a lot of influence particularly among the hard core Islamists and in the nuclear program. It’s worth thinking about what that could mean. Also, as US dependence on Middle East oil decreases, China looms larger as a customer for the Saudis, and there are a number of favors those countries could do for each other that would make life more complicated for American foreign policy.
Consider this a second warning shot from the Saudis, the first being their flirtation with Moscow. As I wrote at the time:
We are witnessing the growing collapse of American influence throughout a region crucial to our security, and our rivals will be sure to pick up the slack. This isn’t just the loss of a few years’ work: this is the crumbling of a geopolitical position that’s taken 70 years to build. And it’s all due to the stunning ineptitude of Barack Obama and the Hundred Acre Wood school of foreign affairs. They are leading us toward a major disaster.
We’re in the best of hands.
There’s more at Via Meadia.
(1) “…thought through…?” The team that couldn’t foresee a need to have an emergency reaction force handy for the consulate in Benghazi, in the middle of an al Qaeda recruiting ground — with the anniversary of 9-11 approaching? Why on Earth would anyone think that?
UPDATE: Slight mistake based on my misreading of Mead’s post. Saudi Arabia didn’t quit the UN Security Council, but the did refuse a seat on it, to almost everyone’s shock. I’ve corrected the subject.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)