The normally strong alliance between Washington and Riyadh has become increasingly rocky over the past year. At the top of a growing list of differences is the conflict in Syria. While the kingdom has pushed for the ousting of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the US, changing its policy toward the embattled Syrian President 180 degrees, has been working alongside Russia to negotiate a peace deal.
President Barack Obama’s recent interview in The Atlantic doesn’t help matters. During a series of unusually candid conversations, the President said that the Saudi government was a “free rider,” and that he had no interest in supporting Riyadh at the expense of the broader Middle East.“An approach that said to our friends ‘You are right, Iran is the source of all problems, and we will support you in dealing with Iran’ would essentially mean that, as these sectarian conflicts continue to rage and our Gulf partners, our traditional friends, do not have the ability to put out the flames on their own, and would mean that we have to start coming in and using our military power to settle scores,” he said.