Saudi Arabia's Bluster

Robert Satloff on Saudi Arabia's recent attempt to threaten President Obama:

In a sad and ultimately pathetic attempt to scare Washington into choosing between its partnerships with Israel and Saudi Arabia, Turki threatened a diplomatic apocalypse if President Obama follows through on his pledge to oppose a Palestinian end-around to negotiations via a UN resolution on statehood this autumn. After noting in a Washington Post

op-ed that Saudi leaders "took seriously" the president's call "to embrace democracy" -- whatever that means in one of the world's least democratic states -- Turki prophesied the following: "There will be disastrous consequences for U.S.-Saudi relations if the United States vetoes UN recognition of a Palestinian state. It would mark a nadir in the decades-long relationship as well as irrevocably damage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and America's reputation among Arab nations. The ideological distance between the Muslim world and the West in general would widen, and opportunities for friendship and cooperation between the two could vanish."

Recent events, of course, suggest precisely the opposite. In last year's test run for this autumn's diplomatic crisis, there was no visible backlash from Riyadh after the Obama administration vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity. And just this past week, after the president enunciated his clear opposition to the Palestinians' UN strategy, Saudi leaders put their strategic priorities on display by bucking an anti-Western OPEC decision and helpfully agreeing to increase domestic oil production, thereby denting the continued windfall that Iran has been earning from the recent rise in oil prices.


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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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