Saudi royals snub Obama at airport arrival ceremony

Special to WorldTribune.com

U.S. President Barack Obama, who has a habit of bowing to Saudi royalty, flew into Riyadh on April 20. This time, though, there was no one on hand for Obama to bow to.

The royal family gave Obama the royal snub.

U.S. President Barack Obama is greeted by Ambassador Joseph Westphal, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as he arrives on Air Force One at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on April 20. /AP
U.S. President Barack Obama is greeted by Ambassador Joseph Westphal as he arrives on Air Force One at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on April 20. /AP

Saudi King Salman didn’t greet the president at King Khalid International Airport, nor did any senior members of the royal family. Instead, Obama was greeted by the local governor.

“These two leaders have been drifting apart, have dissimilar doctrines and strategically view things in a much different light. And that is straining everything. And I think what we saw at the airport today is symbolic of that,” a CNN international editor said.

Obama eventually met with King Salman and a group of top Saudi princes at Erga palace.

Observers had forecast that the meeting would be tense as the kingdom, like most Gulf Arab monarchies, has in private been not only disappointed but infuriated by Obama’s presidency, during which the U.S. is seen as withdrawing from regional leadership, paving the way for Iran to expand its influence.

Obama was recently quoted in a U.S. magazine interview commenting on the “complicated” nature of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, and describing some Gulf and European states as “free riders” who called for U.S. action without doing enough themselves.

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