When Saudi Arabia’s King Salman comes to Washington later this month, he will have a laundry list of things he wants the U.S. to do for him:
Beyond military requests, Salman is likely to seek US backing for his more muscular approach to foreign policy compared with his predecessor. That includes beefed-up US support for his campaign against the Houthis in Yemen and a renewed focus on getting rid of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria [bold mine-DL].
Not surprisingly, the Saudis are offering almost nothing in exchange for this list of “requests,” but they still expect the U.S. to wade still deeper into two horrific wars to pursue Riyadh’s goals at the expense of our own interests. In return for tepid support for a nuclear deal that would have gone ahead anyway, the Saudis would like to extort the U.S. for more weapons and increased direct involvement in a war that they started. As I said yesterday, this is what comes from “reassuring” bad clients: ever-increasing demands on the U.S.
The administration has opened itself up to this by desperately trying to “reassure” the Saudis and the other Gulf states with more weapons and by lending support to the war on Yemen. It is now being forced to choose between continuing to give in to its demanding clients or do what it should have done in the first place by refusing their unreasonable “requests.” The right thing for the administration to do would be to cut off the support that it has been providing in Yemen thus far, but there is no reason to think that this is going to happen. The best that can be hoped for from the Saudi king’s visit is that Obama won’t commit the U.S. to an even larger role than the disgraceful supporting role that it already has in Yemen.