Obama reshuffles America’s Middle East allies

During his fast-moving two days stay in the Middle East, crowned by a speech from Cairo to the world’s Muslims on June 4, US president Barack Obama pursued some practical politicking behind the scenes, debkafile‘s regional sources report. His private talks with Saudi King Abdullah and overnight stay in Riyadh June 3 and his conversation with Hosni Mubarak at the presidential Quba palace the next day cemented a new coalition between the US, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
This was the first strategic bond ever signed by those three nations as a combined front for combating Islamic radicalism, chiefly al Qaeda and Taliban, and applying the brakes to Iran’s drive for a nuclear weapon. Osama bin Laden was quick to respond by warning Muslims that “alliances with Christians and Jews would turn them into apostates.”
For all three allies, it is a major transformation, but most of all for Israel, from whom President Obama proposes to gradually minimize America’s strategic ties. This means that the US president and his advisers intend to start cutting down on their military and intelligence discourse with Israel. Instead of conferring with Israel on its military and undercover moves the Middle East and Muslim world, Washington will make Cairo and Riyadh the crux of its regional teamwork, only turning to Jerusalem when unavoidable.
Administration leaders have opted for this policy reorientation because they seek to enter into negotiations with Iran unencumbered by Israeli baggage. Close US ties with the Jewish state are also seen as a burden in Obama’s prospective diplomatic engagements with Arab and Muslim governments such as Syria, which he wants to see harnessed to his new Arab line-up.
When he said in his epic speech “America will align its policies with those who seek peace,” he was saying that his hands are free to henceforth pick and choose US allies without being bound by the past.
This dramatic policy change and its ramifications were explored further in the last DEBKA-Net-Weekly out Friday.
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