King and President: the ‘last’ tale of petrodollar - NEDRET ERSANEL

King and President: the ‘last’ tale of petrodollar

We can consider US President Barack Obama's Saudi Arabia and Europe visits as farewells.

However, none of them were only "Forgive me if I have ever wronged you" tours.

Let alone, there are those who do not and will not forgive.

This settling of accounts is going to be a part of the "new world order" for the next 25 years.

My previous article in this column promoted Riyadh-Washington relations from "sour/cold" to "bad." I think this description needs to be raised a notch to "terrible."

Based on what I can share from confidential information, the conclusion of the Kingdom's authorities' report on the visit is: "What more could we have done for Obama? He has no care in the world. He didn't take anything personally."

Not greeting the US president on his arrival to your country alone means something. Still, by stretching it a little more, you can classify it as "giving a message in diplomatic language." But if you are not greeting him while you are greeting the other leaders arriving to your country at the same time, then this would be "insulting." You can add to that list that while the arrival and greeting of all leaders was broadcast on television, Obama's was skipped.

'There is no president who can fix the relations'

We need to go back to former Saudi Arabian intelligence chief Prince Turki al Faisal's statements. There is "more" there than just criticism aimed at the US: "How much more can we depend on the US? How much longer can we trust US leaders? I do not think that there is going to be another US president to take us back to the old days." This is the "devastating" remark.

This way, the new president to come to the White House at the end of the year and Washington's cliché “Obama is gone now, forget the past, we are now ready to cooperate and fix our relations” diplomacy is being prevented. That's not all: Riyadh thinks that the future president may also drag relations with the Kingdom into “dangerous waters.”

Obama gave no reaction to this treatment he faced in Saudi Arabia and acted like nothing was wrong.

The US delegation stopped over into areas where there was consensus, like Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Daesh, fighting terrorism. As a matter of fact, it applauded the Gulf Cooperation Council's supportive role in the meetings that led to Iran's nuclear agreement, but to no avail. He left the country without showing displeasure.

Such heedlessness/flexibility is common, particularly in Western type leaders. Unlike European leaders, the US “does not forget and will wait for the right time.”

But this opportunity is no longer available either.

From geopolitical fragility to strategic rival

The US-Saudi Arabia separation has now gone beyond geopolitical matters such as the rise of Iran, Arab Spring, US loyalty, opposing energy policies that have almost turned into war, relations with Pakistan-Turkey, Syria, the US's annoying indecisiveness.

The last knife the Kingdom felt in its back is the “critical 28-page” crisis hidden in the investigation report on the September 11 attacks. The re-drawing of this “card” which bears the claim that it shows Saudi involvement in the attack, is what started the break-up. (“28 Pages,” April 10, 2016, CBS.)

Saudi Arabia's immediately showing its $750 billion stakes in the US and the White House's declaring that in the event a law that we can reduce down to “the judgment of allies” is passed, it would veto it, may not save the situation either.

We are talking about something else. Obama is going to decide in June whether the confidentiality of these pages will be lifted. This decision will also break the US presidential elections.

I will explain how, but right now the king and prince have the option of a strategic path in front of them, but this is not the “with the US or without the US” turn-off. It is the “which path shall we take 'independently' of the US” intersection.

Americans want democracy

The White House has heavy public pressure on the perpetrators of September 11. Americans want questions regarding the role of Saudi Arabia in encouraging terrorism to be investigated.

It is because of this pressure that nobody is able to approach the powerful Saudi lobby in the US. Politicians and opinion leaders are keeping away from them. Meanwhile, US courts are continuing with hearings in which those who lost their loved ones in the September 11 attacks are the parties.

That's not all… The Democratic Party's presidential candidates Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and Republican Party's presidential candidate Ted Cruz are also supporting the expectations of the public. Whether the president vetoes or not, it is obvious that this crisis will also spread to Congress. In brief, the US administration is stuck in a corner. They are unable to make out how, where and when the US's interests will be under threat if relations collapse.

Their sole hope is the petrodollar relationship. This global damning card is in Washington and Riyadh's hands, which is the only thing that may continue the forced marriage.


So what about Riyadh's decision?

It is clear… Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, who is considered “the everything” of the Kingdom said, “In 20 years, I am going to save Saudi Arabia from oil dependency and turn it into an economy that is able to develop outside underground wealth, too.”

As I was writing these lines, the king approved the formation of a $2 trillion Saudi Kingdom budget fund under the title, “National Transformation Program.”

There remains one question only: Who will be the next king?

It is a valid question for both countries.


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