November 16, 2011
October 20, 2011
Forbes magazine recently ranked the top 70 most influential leaders in the world and ranked Saudi King Abdullah in 6th place. I would argue that the ruler of Saudi Arabia ranks as one of the top four most consequential leaders of today on par with the U.S., Russian and Chinese presidents. President Barack Obama’s observation that what happens in another part of the world affects us here at home could not be closer to reality and is the reason why King Abdullah matters to global stability.
As the world’s top crude oil producer and owner of 20% of the world’s remaining oil reserves, Saudi Arabia holds the key not only to America’s wallets but also to the global economy. What happens in Saudi Arabia can touch every corner of the globe. For example, if King Abdullah decides to use oil as a weapon it could directly impact American consumers and cut into disposable income. Luckily, the King views his stewardship of 270 billion barrels of crude oil as a means to allow the global economy to function smoothly and without price disruptions. Imagine for a moment what the hate-mongering Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khameni, would do if he controlled the world’s largest reserves of petroleum. Continue reading “Saudi Arabia’s Consequential King” »
October 6, 2011
When the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 planted a celebratory kiss on the lips of Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the act sealed the destiny of three peoples: Jews, Iranians and Palestinians.
For Iran’s Jewish community, it meant the beginning of executions and the escape of thousands of Iranian Jews from their homeland. For Israel, it meant the start of a campaign of terror by the new clerical regime in Tehran, both directly and through its proxies such as Hezbollah and, later, Hamas. The irony is that Iran’s secular rulers – from Cyrus the Great, who freed the Jews from their Babylonian captivity, to the late Shah of Iran, who believed firmly in a strategic relationship with the Jewish state – have always held a special regard for Jews and the nation of Israel. Sadly for the state of Israel, Khomeini’s kiss turned out to be a kiss of death, literally, creating a campaign of terror against Jews inside and outside of Israel. Continue reading “Roots of a Palestinian statehood stalemate” »
July 24, 2011
One of the greatest geopolitical and strategic setbacks for the U.S. occurred with the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979. Not only was the genie of Islamic fundamentalism allowed to rear its anti-American and anti-Semitic head out of the bottle, but America lost one of its most staunch and reliable allies in the region. Today the Kingdom of Bahrain is facing similar pressures to those faced by the Shah over thirty-two years ago and the fundamental challenge for Washington is how to craft a policy towards Bahrain that keeps King Hamad in charge but addresses the legitimate and deep-seated grievances of the majority Shia population. Thirty years ago Washington abandoned its ally in favor of what some called “a saint” and the Ayatollah Khomeini turned Iran into an Islamic Republic and in the process transformed Iran into a state-sponsor of terrorism. Continue reading “U.S.-Bahrain Relations: A Lesson From History” »
July 20, 2011
The recent appointment of 48-year old Prince Abdulaziz to Deputy Foreign Minister by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is a clear signal to the world that the reformist monarch of the world’s largest oil exporter plans to have his sons continue his legacy once he leaves the scene. Last year King Abdullah appointed his eldest son Prince Miteb to head the Saudi Arabia National Guard (SANG) — one of the main pillars of Saudi Arabia’s institutions. It is indeed in America’s national security interest to work closely with the sons of King Abdullah since they are more likely to continue their father’s reformist agenda. Prince Miteb is a graduate of Sandhurst and Prince Abdulaziz is well versed in the details of U.S.-Saudi relations. Both men will continue to support the institutions their father has put in place to ensure the gradual transition of the Kingdom into a more inclusive and open society. Continue reading “The Standard-Bearers of King Abdullah” »
Could this small Gulf state become America’s most important Arab ally?
THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION will get no help from most Arab nations in a war against Iraq. The Arab League not only opposes an attack, but last week lauded the Iraqis for opening talks with the United Nations about reviving arms inspections. The Saudis won’t let American warplanes fly sorties against Iraq from the U.S. air base in Saudi Arabia. And Bahrain was pressured by Iran into public opposition to any military action against Iraq. But then there’s Qatar, the small Persian Gulf state of 700,000 people that’s quietly promoting democratic reform and ties to America. Continue reading “Qatar Politics: The U.S.’s most important Arab ally?” »