There’s an ancient Arab saying that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and this may best sum up what is happening now with Saudi Arabia and the Arab Spring. Saudi Arabia and the United States remain allies yet there is now a new layer of separateness between the two nations. The cracks of the former close relationship opened up wider when the United States publicly supported the ouster of former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak. The United States had to stand by and silently simmer when Saudi troops entered Bahrain to crack down on demonstrators and a feared Shii’a uprising. The Saudi action violated the United States stance on human rights but not enough to take actions which could risk jeopardizing the base of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain.
Yet the glue that now keeps the two countries closest together is their common enemy, Iran. Neither the United States nor Saudi Arabia wishes to see Iran achieve a full nuclear capability. It is in the best interests of both countries for the United States to provide Saudi Arabia with US$60 billion worth of military equipment. Saudi Arabia is better equipped for any potential conflict against Iran and the sale is a much needed boost to the American economy.
Politics do indeed make interesting bedfellows. Countries will ally themselves in spite of actions either side may deplore. Yet in spite of alliances on mutual issues each country will always take the unilateral actions in the best interest of itself regardless of the others stance on a matter. Saudi Arabia is slowly surprising the world emerging as a more vocal and stronger leader. Rather than its previous stance of subtle actions or background negotiations, Saudi Arabia is now rearing its head as a proud lion and letting the world know its views, policies and alliances. Saudi Arabia remains an ally to the United States while it has also forged new levels in its relationships with China and Russia.
While public turmoil continue to take place in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain and other Arab States, Saudi Arabia quickly stifles and silences any indication of unrest or dissent. Saudi Arabia has and will continue to demonstrate to the world that it will take any appropriate actions believed to be in the best interests of preserving its equities. The lamb is quiet no more.