Teitelbaum, regarded as a leading Israeli analyst on Saudi Arabia and
the Gulf, said the Arab revolt has undermined a Saudi strategy set in 1979
that saw Iran as the leading threat. The report said Riyad has also been
dismayed over the policy of President Barack Obama, who appears to favor a
U.S. reconciliation with Iran even as it threatens the six-member Gulf
"This is certainly a rocky period in Riyad-Washington relations," the
report said. "As the U.S. struggles to align its interests with its values,
it finds it more difficult to support authoritarian monarchies like Bahrain
and Saudi Arabia."
Saudi anger toward Obama was said to have peaked this year when Washington
supported the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Later, Obama
failed to help Bahrain in quelling what the Saudis assessed was an
Iranian-backed Shi'ite revolt.
"Outraged at what it saw as the Obama administration's abandonment of
anti-Iranian Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the Saudis charged into
Bahrain on March 14 to support its ally against a Shi'ite uprising, despite
last minute U.S. efforts to head off the Saudi move," the report said. "The
Saudis troops are still there. Egypt's announcement that it was ready to
reestablish diplomatic relations with Teheran, and the Egyptian-brokered
rapprochement between Fatah and Iranian-supported Hamas, have further
contributed to a Saudi sense of abandonment."
The report said the Saudis have been concerned over the prospect of an
Iranian-Egyptian alliance. Egyptian Prime Minister Issam Sharaf was said to
have informed Riyad in April of Cairo's plans to renew relations with
Teitelbaum envisioned continued tension between the Saudis and
its longtime allies, particularly the United States. He said Obama was
referring to Riyad in his May 19 address that outlined a U.S. commitment to
a democratic Arab world.
"With multiple interests across the globe, the Obama administration has
been divided on the Arab Spring: Liberal interventionists, or idealists, saw
U.S. interests as being nearly synonymous with promoting democracy, while
the pragmatists, or realists, believed that U.S. interests were much wider
and should consider many other factors," the report said. "Saudi interests,
on the other hand, were more clear-cut, the threats closer by and therefore
much more immediate. Obama's May 19 speech was a victory for the
administration’s idealists, to the Saudis' great disappointment."