"One of the most important consequences of the Arab Spring is the
intensification of the competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran," Suzanne
Maloney, a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, told a
forum in Qatar on Oct. 17.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States
are said to have declined sharply since the ouster of Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak.
Officials said the administration of President Barack Obama has detected
a significant cooling in Saudi relations with Washington over the last year.
They said senior Saudi officials were expressing distrust of the
administration in wake of the fall of the Mubarak regime in February.
"The Saudis will not do anything to sever relations with us, but are
looking for alternatives to the United States," an official said. "This has
harmed cooperation on the strategic level."
Officials said Saudi King Abdullah was stunned when Obama called for
Mubarak's ouster within 10 days of protests against the Egyptian president.
They said the Saudi king told both U.S. as well as Western leaders that
Washington betrayed Mubarak, deemed the most reliable Arab ally in the
"Our policy with regard to Mubarak as interpreted by some of our closest
Arab allies in the Gulf has not gone over well," former National Security
Advisor James Jones, who served under Obama until 2011, said.
In a meeting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in October, Jones
acknowledged a rift between Washington and Saudi Arabia, which in 2010
requested $60 billion worth of U.S. fighter-jets and munitions. Jones said
the U.S. abandonment of Mubarak demonstrated the danger of relying on the
United States, regardless of the level of cooperation.
"In their interpretation of our dumping President Mubarak very hastily,
[it] answered the question of what we would be likely to do if that happened
in their countries," Jones said.
Officials said the remarks by Jones matched the assessment in the White
House and State Department.
They said Riyad has become closer to China and
Pakistan and were relying on those countries for strategic weapons and
internal security assistance.