**Posted by Phineas
This is truly impressive. Day after day, I can sit back and watch as the American position in the Mideast and North Africa heads into the abyss.
Our Thelma and Louise ride over the cliff began quietly, with Obama turning the key and slapping our allies in Israel and embracing the Islamist premier of Turkey (But what’s a revived caliphate among friends?); he accelerated through his studied silence during the 2009 democratic revolt in Iran, thus emboldening the mullahs; he went into high gear during the Pee-Wee President’s Big Libyan Adventure that ended with the death of a US ambassador and al Qaeda looting Qaddafi’s armories; and he absolutely floored it during the so-called Arab Spring as we found ourselves, after he first dithered like some obscure Illinois state senator, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and al Qaeda-aligned rebels in Syria.
And now, for some reason, our long-term clients in the region seem to have decided we are untrustworthy (or barking mad) and are looking to make their own arrangements.
Via Walter Russell Mead:
[Prince] Bandar [bin Sultan al-Saud] discussed the potential cooperation between the two countries if an understanding could be reached on a number of issues, especially Syria. He discussed at length the matter of oil and investment cooperation, saying, “Let us examine how to put together a unified Russian-Saudi strategy on the subject of oil. The aim is to agree on the price of oil and production quantities that keep the price stable in global oil markets. … We understand Russia’s great interest in the oil and gas present in the Mediterranean Sea from Israel to Cyprus through Lebanon and Syria. And we understand the importance of the Russian gas pipeline to Europe. We are not interested in competing with that. We can cooperate in this area as well as in the areas of establishing refineries and petrochemical industries. The kingdom can provide large multi-billion-dollar investments in various fields in the Russian market. What’s important is to conclude political understandings on a number of issues, particularly Syria and Iran….
The key to the relations between our two countries starts by understanding our approach to the Syrian issue. So you have to stop giving [the Syrian regime] political support, especially at the UN Security Council, as well as military and economic support. And we guarantee you that Russia’s interests in Syria and on the Mediterranean coast will not be affected one bit. In the future, Syria will be ruled by a moderate and democratic regime that will be directly sponsored by us and that will have an interest in understanding Russia’s interests and role in the region.”
Yes, you read that right. Our Saudi allies (1), whose patron we’ve been since FDR’s day, now want an “arrangement” with Putin’s Russia. In return for playing along with Saudi policy in Syria, Russian interests will be protected and, oh, the Saudis will cooperate on price-fixing. (Russian oil being expensive to extract, they need high prices to make it worthwhile. The regime is utterly dependent on oil.) And the American role in all this?
This is jaw-dropping stuff, to say the least. Nothing was signed in this closed-door meeting between Putin and Bandar—Putin requested time for both countries to look into the specifics of such a deal. But the mere fact that our allies felt like they needed to go this route signals that something is seriously awry in President Obama’s Middle East approach.
Putin probably requested time because he was too busy pinching himself to make sure this wasn’t a dream. It’s an opening for a return to influence in the Middle East that the Russians have been looking for since the Soviet Union fell apart.
As usual, the gentle Dr. Mead speaks volumes via understatement. We are witnessing the growing collapse of American influence throughout a region crucial to our security, and our rivals will be sure to pick up the slack. This isn’t just the loss of a few years’ work: this is the crumbling of a geopolitical position that’s taken 70 years to build. And it’s all due to the stunning ineptitude of Barack Obama and the Hundred Acre Wood school of foreign affairs. They are leading us toward a major disaster.
And we’ve got three more years of this? I need a drink…
(1) Yeah, I know. Many Saudis donate to al Qaeda and other groups, and the Kingdom itself is an aggressive pusher of Islamic supremacism. But, when it came to Mideast geopolitics and security, they knew which side their bread was buttered on. And now they’re looking for a new baker.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)