US President Barack Obama thinks he has concocted 15 irresistible prizes for pacifying and allaying the concerns of Saudi King Abdullah and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over his planned partnership with Tehran for the management of the region’s affairs.
These inducements have only just been presented to Riyadh and Jerusalem, DEBKA Weekly’s sources report. They may have been framed some time ago as part of the checks and balances built into US concessions for the first-step nuclear deal signed with Iran in Geneva on Sunday, Nov. 24. Or they may have been thrown together in a hurry to calm the angry storms stirred up by that deal and melt some of the ice overlaying Saudi and Israeli relations with Washington.
However generous the packages, they cannot overcome the serious deficiency of trust which mars the two governments’ attitude towards the Obama administration and was sharply exacerbated by the deal with Iran. President Barack Obama’s oft-declared determination to prevent Iran gaining a nuclear weapon is greeted with unbelief in both Middle East capitals. Indeed, both are sure that in Geneva, he knowingly opened the door to a nuclear-armed Iran and that Tehran is more than ready to walk through that door.
The perks for Saudi Arabia
To pierce this high wall of mistrust, the administration this week delivered to Riyadh and Jerusalem two packages of tranquilizers. Their contents will not gladden hearts in Tehran because they impinge on the big-power privileges the US has promised the Islamic republic. (see a separate article in this issue for details.)
Washington offered Saudi Arabia six inducements for burying the hatchet, including major policy U-turns:
1. In one such reversal, the US is willing to help stabilize interim rule in Cairo, withdraw support from the Muslim Brotherhood, stop demanding the release from jail of deposed President Mohamed Morsi and assist in the transition to civilian rule – even if the military strongman Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is elected president.
Obama is willing to work with the Saudi rulers to achieve these goals, but only if Riyadh cooperates and abandons its decision to pursue an independent foreign policy as announced this week. If it refuses, the Obama administration will continue on its own path.
2. Washington promises to make every possible effort to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to meet an incessant Saudi demand.
Obama promises to help Libya out of its crisis
3. The US will abandon its stand-aside posture on the Syrian question and take the driving seat for a political solution of the war against the Assad regime, a seat currently occupied by Moscow.
4. America will turn on the tap for non-military assistance of food, medicines, building materials and vehicles to rebel-held areas of Syria.
5. The administration has informed Riyadh and the Gulf emirates that the US will apply itself to dealing with the Libyan crisis: American resources and manpower will be made available for establishing and training a national Libyan army, a police force and intelligence agencies, and preparing them to defend the regime against the militias sowing mayhem in the country.
This assurance to Riyadh included a promise to help the Saudis install a robust central government in Tripoli capable of extending its rule to the rest of the country.
6. Washington assured Riyadh it would take action to stabilize the Bahrain kingdom. A similar, though reverse, US pledge was made to Tehran.