February 26, 2012
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal did not hide his anger before marching out of the Friends of Syria conference attended by 70 nations in Tunis Friday, Feb. 24 after they fell in behind US plans for avoiding direct action against Syria’s Bashar Assad. Filmed sitting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Saudi minister told a reporter that arming the Free Syrian Army was an “excellent idea” because they needed to defend themselves. Clinton remained frostily aloof on this obvious bone of contention.
As one of the world’s richest oil and financial powers, Saudi Arabia could buy and sell Iran several times over, and after seeing the ayatollahs get away with insulting America time and time again, the Saudi foreign minister did not pull his punches when he faced his US colleague. He was frank about Riyadh and the Obama administration being miles apart in their perceptions of current Middle East events; resentment over the US role in the overthrow of Egyptian president
Hosni Mubarak remains a constant irritant.
This dissonance came to the fore when Saudi al Faisal accused Washington of reducing Assad’s butchery of his opponents to the level of a humanitarian issue and so saving his regime Riyadh is no happier with Moscow than it is with Washington.
Saudi King Abdullah is reported by Middle East sources to have banged down the telephone on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Wednesday, Feb. 22, when he called to invite the oil kingdom to align with Russia’s Syrian strategy against the West.