Saudi Arabia Shifts Policy From Risk Averse to Downright Dangerous

Saudi Arabia as absolute monarchy and the United States as democratic republic are polar opposites in terms of political governance and culture. Yet the two nations have had close ties since 1943 when pragmatic leaders focused on shared security concerns. More than seven decades later, the relationship appears strong though less pragmatic. Each country, with internal divisions and long-term economic challenges, is run by imperious leaders who embrace extreme and unsustainable policies for the Middle East. The leaders, still new to their roles and inexperienced, are quick to blame others for problems of their own making. “Saudi foreign policy, typically cautious and risk averse, has become aggressive and dangerous, sometimes reckless,” explains Bruce Riedel, who served with the US Central Intelligence Agency before becoming senior fellow and director of the Brookings Intelligence Project and senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy. He is also author of the recent book Kings and Presidents. The Saudi kingdom threatens its own survival by engaging in unnecessary conflicts with neighbors, including the long and costly war with Yemen and the blockade of Qatar. Extending conflict with Iran could be the last straw. US Congress could slow military support for its partner in the Middle East and prevent the region from becoming more volatile. – YaleGlobal