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March 13, 2015 11:22 am

President Obama, Please Listen to Saudi Arabia

avatar by Yoram Ettinger

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President Obama should listen to Saudi Arabia regarding concerns and details of a nuclear deal with Iran, Yoram Ettinger explains. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Contrary to US President Barack Obama’s policy, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt are convinced, just as Israel is, that the transformation of Iran from a rogue regime to a law-abiding one should constitute a prerequisite to — not an outcome of — an agreement with Iran. Otherwise, an agreement would pave the way, rather than block it, for Iran to become a rogue nuclear power.

Unlike Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, and just like Israel, Saudi Arabia is not preoccupied with the technical and procedural aspects of the agreement, but with the regional and global rogue, expansionist, subversive, terrorist, non-compliant, anti-American (“Death to America Day”) track record of the ayatollahs since 1979, their gradual occupation and domination of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, their cooperation with North Korea and Venezuela, and their sponsorship of Islamic terrorism via al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other Islamic terrorist organizations operating throughout the world, including on the US mainland.

Saudi Arabia focuses on the compounded threat to regional and global sanity that would be caused by a nuclear Iran. Just like Israel — and contrary to the White House policy of detente with Iran — Saudi Arabia and the pro-US Arab countries are convinced that the lawless track record of the ayatollahs does not lend itself to effective supervision (as attested by the failed supervision of North Korea and Pakistan), that a bad deal is dramatically worse than no deal, and that a nuclear Iran must be prevented at any cost and not just contained. They are convinced that clipping the wings of the ayatollahs constitutes a precondition to a regime change in Iran, halting the tide of global Islamic terrorism and sparing the globe the pain of a nuclear world war.

On the other hand, legitimizing and strengthening the ayatollahs precludes a regime change, intensifying the egregious, systematic abuse of civil liberties, including the expanding phenomenon of public executions.

According to the editor-in-chief of the leading Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat, which reflects the worldview of the house of Saud, “The Iranian regime has every reason to be dancing on the rooftops” (March 9). He asserts that an agreement with Iran would effectively reward the ayatollahs for terrorizing the Gulf region and the Middle East at large, while wreaking havoc in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain.

Amir Taheri, the Iran expert and veteran Asharq Al-Awsat columnist, wrote on March 8: “President Obama may be about to make the biggest of his many foreign policy mistakes. … The deal [with Iran] signals to all nations that building nuclear arms is okay, even for those — like Iran — who promised not to do so by signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. … [It] is a signal to other developing nations to build nuclear programs of their own. … The deal is bad for regional and world peace and for the Iranian people. … It further discredits the word of America’s presidents. Four presidents, including Obama, are on record pledging not to allow Iran to build a nuclear arsenal.”

Riyadh is concerned about the fundamentals of Obama’s national security policy: the subordination of the US unilateral military action to multilateralism; the dramatic cuts in the US defense budget; the underestimation of the threat of a nuclear Iran; the willingness to contain, rather than prevent, a nuclear Iran; the growing reluctance to challenge terrorists in their own trenches (which brings terrorists closer to the US mainland); the eagerness to engage rogue regimes diplomatically rather than confront them militarily; and the resulting unprecedented erosion of the US posture of deterrence, which has created a robust tailwind for Iran’s megalomaniac aspirations and a headwind for America’s allies.

Thus, irrespective of Saudi Arabia’s inherent opposition to the permanence of a Jewish state in the Middle East, and independent of the Palestinian issue (which has never been Riyadh’s “crown jewel”), Riyadh recognizes Israel’s effective posture of deterrence in face of the clear, present and lethal mutual danger of a nuclear, apocalyptic, irredentist, imperialistic Iran, which pursues its mega-historical goal: the domination of the Persian Gulf, while toppling the pro-US Arab oil-producing “apostate regimes.”

Riyadh is aware of precedents that highlight Israel’s critical role in the preservation of pro-US Arab regimes. The 1967 Six-Day War devastated the military power of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and aborted his USSR-supported pan-Arab ambitions, including a military surge into Saudi Arabia via Yemen. In 1970, Israel’s posture of deterrence forced a rollback of the pro-Soviet Syrian invasion of pro-US Jordan, which was supposed to be extended into Saudi Arabia. In 1981, Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor, which snatched Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Arab Gulf states, from the jaws of a nuclear, megalomaniac, pro-Soviet Saddam Hussein, and spared the US a nuclear confrontation with Iraq in 1991. In 2007, Israel eliminated Syria’s nuclear reactor, which would have severely undermined the national security of all pro-US Arab countries. In 2014, Saudi Arabia blamed the Iran-backed Hamas terrorists for Israel’s war in Gaza, expecting Israel to devastate Hamas, which is also terrorizing Egypt and Jordan, providing Iran with a strategic base in the eastern flank of the Mediterranean.

According to the editor-in-chief of the Saudi Al Arabiya newspaper, in his March 3 speech to Congress, “Netanyahu managed to accurately summarize a clear and present danger to Israel and other US allies in the region. … The only stakeholder that seems not to realize the danger is President Obama.”

President Obama, please listen to Saudi Arabia.

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

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  • Yale

    I hope readers took note of an item in today’s Algemeiner which begins:

    “Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal claims Iran is expanding its occupation of Iraq, which he says is `unacceptable.'”

    Since it is likely that Iranian control of Iraq will increase in the coming weeks, we may be approaching a turning point when the Saudis will determine that they have to go into Iraq as well, to counter the Iranian presence there, and quite possibly to address Iran’s nuclear program.

    That would almost certainly lead to a regional war into which outside powers from the US to China would be drawn because it would be fought across the Gulf, the same Gulf all the oil comes from.

    If Prince Turki’s comments are a trial baloon, and Obama’s response continues to be so clueless, we could find ourselves in WW III by summer.

  • Read of treaties used for furthering military ends

  • Dear Mr. Hayom and Mr. Ettinger

    You have written a very powerful case. Unfortunately, Obama doesn’t care one whit. Please wake up and face reality:

    1- Obama detests Israel. His two mentors while growing up with extreme leftists who viewed Israel as an interloper in the Middle East. Just look at how disrespectful Obama has been to Israel’s prime minister from the very first year of Obama’s presidency. Need I recite the litany of disrespect? Obama therefore views Israel as a colonial and imperial power in the M-E. If you doubt me, just consider: as soon as he entered the White House he returned the bust of Winston Churchill that had been given to America. Obama’s friends when starting his career were convicted terrorists. For 22 years, Obama sat in the church pew of a pastor spewing vile hatred against the Jews, Israel and the U.S.

    2. Obama views (but of course will never say it publicly) a nuclear Iran as a counter-weight to that imperial power Israel.

    3. Obama does not believe (again he cannot say it publicly) that the USA has any right to dictate the nuclear aspirations of any country because of the crimes that the USA (in his warped mind) has committed, e.g. the 1956 coup in Iran; “white man’s greed in a world of need”).

    4. Obama is an appeasor, a coward. Don’t believe me? Remember his Syrian red line? Putin’s annexation of Crimea? Putin’s near annexation of eastern Ukraine? His negotiating with Iran while literally Iran is as we speak taking over one M-E capital after another.

    5- He is so desperate to make a deal (to help justify his comical receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and to please his extreme leftist acolytes and to punish Israel)that he refuses to make even the most basic demands such as demanding that Iran walk back their attempts to control multiple M-E countries, to retract its threat to wipe Israel off the face of the map, etc.

    As Bibi said, if Israel must stand alone, it will stand. He must do what Begin did in 1981.

    • Yale

      On point 4:
      Obama isn’t an all-comers appeaser. Rather, he is a bully, someone who likes to show off his strength against parties he sees as weaker and/or incapabale/unwilling to defened themselves against him. By seeking to accommodate Obama, Netanyahu has encouraged him to pursue a course of bullying.

      If Netanyahu had made the point early on that settlements are the one means available to Israel to convince the Palestinians to agree to a settlement now, rather than hope for something better later, and then ignored Obama’s demands on settlements, two results are likely:

      1) The settlement issue woyld have disappeared as the primary bone of contention between the US and Israel.

      2) Obama’s bullying would likely have ended.

      And a third possible outcome: the Palestinians might have gotten serious about negotiating an end to the conflict.

  • Doreen murgatroyd

    twitter link


    Your twitter lonk on the LHS of the page does not allow the post to be tweeted. Instaed, it goes straight to ‘mobile twitter’ where it does not show up.

    I would tweet a lot of your posts, but never can.

    Won’t write again about this.

    Have a good day

  • It is known that every leader of a country – and much more that the U.S. President – leaves his mark on his specific period of tenure in office.

    What characterizes President Obama’s term is a great “effervescence” of the Islamic EXTREMIST movement that began under the beautiful name of …!

    Does anyone wish TO VENTURE to explain this Truth, which cannot be challenged?

  • RobiMac

    Here is what I have figured out in the last 6 years:

    1) Obama listens to no one….except ole George, maybe Valerie.

    2) Obama does what he wants.

    3) No one cares what he does. So, it is clear as crystal that America wants communism. I say give it to’em. May they be happy in their oppression.

  • Dr.Joji Cherian

    Very funny. Israel Hayon pleading the cause of Saudi Arabia. Hypocrisy,deception, spin, what you call this? Owner of America, Sheldon Adelson, taking another devious root.

  • OBAMA, Kerry, US, EU P5+1, is it not time that you put aside any personal feelings and you listen to the regional countries and your Allies and do the right thing?

  • Kudos to the Saudis who are among the few who have learned the lesson of history: you do not negotiate with terrorists, you act.
    Syria’s and Iraq’s nuclear reactors no longer exist – not because the Israelis “negotiated” with these countries to have them removed, no, they removed them. As a matter of course, they were highly criticized by “world opinion,”but I have a hunch when the U.S. invaded Iraq, they were rather relieved they did not have to face an enemy with nuclear weapons.
    Also the Saudis’ is a rare and welcome instance of detached, sound
    judgment on the merits. Is this inept White House listening? God forbid, they could learn something?

  • Yoram Ettinger is spot on; Saudi Arabia has admittedly been in many respects protected by Israel’s own acts for self-preservation and the good of the region before. Over a year ago, the Saudi Ambassador, Mr. Jubeir, was the target of an Iranian-inspired assassination plot in the western hemisphere, by way of Latin American drug cartels, in addition to the events noted in the above article. President Obama knows of this, and should remember it, unless he is actually so fearful of the long range of Hezbollah-supported, Iranian authored terrorism himself that he would rather capitulate to it than confront it as the brave leaders of the Middle East have already done to some extent.

  • Obama is hell bent on having a foreign policy legacy even if it’s a disastrous one with Iran

  • Suzette



  • Dean

    I do not trust Iran. I do not trust Saudi Arabia. I do not trust any Islamic rule. I might trust el Sisi of Egypt if he were set on true friendship with Israel. We must never trust Iran with a nuke. We must not let our leaders trust these Islamic states and terror organizations. We must not let our leaders make any kind of hudna with Iran. If Saudi or Israel or anyone else want to take out Iran’s nuclear compounds – facilities that have nukes with their neighbor’s names on it, so be it. If the Israelis and Saudis, etc., join forces to do so, all the better. Obama has his heart with all Muslim people. He has positioned himself as the President of Islam. Like all Muslims or close supporters, he has a hate on for the one Jewish state in the world. This is a reason why Israel must not trust Obama as he will do them harm. The USA needs to ask if they trust a President who would rather support the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran than a loyal ally, Israel. They need top ask him why and not settle for any fake answers.