November 4th, 2013
07:22 PM ET

Why upsetting Saudi Arabia may not be a bad thing

By Fareed Zakaria

The Saudi regime fears that any kind of empowerment of the Shi'ites - anywhere - could embolden the 15 percent of Saudi Arabia's population that is Shi'ite - and happens to live in the part of the country where most of its oil reserves can be found. That's why the Saudis sent troops into neighboring Bahrain in the Arab Spring of 2011, to crush the Shi'ite majority's uprising.

Saudi royals have been rattled by the events in their region and beyond. They sense that the discontent that launched the Arab Spring is not entirely absent in their own population. They fear the rehabilitation of Iran. They also know that the United States might very soon find itself independent of Middle Eastern oil.

Given these trends, it is possible that Saudi Arabia worries that a seat on the U.N. Security Council might constrain it from having maximum freedom of action. Or that this position could shine a light on some of its more unorthodox activities. Or that it could force Riyadh to vote on issues it would rather punt on or ignore. It is also possible that the Saudis acted in a sudden fit of pique. After all, they had spent years lobbying for the seat. Whatever the reason, let's concede that, yes, Saudi Arabia is angry with the U.S. But are we sure that's a sign Washington is doing something wrong?

Read more on this in TIME

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soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. rightospeak

    Who knows what the truth is. With all the propaganda hard to know who are the bad guys and who the good ones are. I know that we were pretty chummy with them before under King Bush, he even held hands with the men.- a sign of friendship. I guess they go way back together.They have provided us with oil for ages and played our game. In 2001 their family got a special escort to take off so that there would be no questions asked. Personally, I do not like this bashing of our long time friend . We need friends badly because we have a habit of betraying them.
    So we were chummy with Taliban before and now we kill them. When will this madness stop ?

    November 4, 2013 at 8:03 pm | Reply
    • ✠RZ✠

      Way to keep an eye Rightospeak. My question to Zak would be "Good for who?" Iran? Iraq? Syria ? The Israelis ? By all appearances war in the Middle East is drying up and America's direct involvement looks impossible. But that will not stop the MIC. The lessons learned by Egypt, Lybia, and Syria means that whomever instigates the next conflict had better stock up on weapons first. So while the Saudis are squawking at Obama they are at the same time stock piling American weapons of war and rejecting the UN. This also may explain cause for the US to also reject the call by the UN for the regulation of the international weapons trade. My best guess is the next major conflict in the Middle East will likely be instigated by the Saudis under a false flag.

      November 4, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Reply
      • KhalidKSA

        I don't think the leadership in Saudi Arabia are anywhere close to the Israelis who can't wait for a problem (Iraq) to end until they start looking for another one (Iran). Saudi Arabia has not even attacked another nation under any pretenses. In case the world is not aware, the Palestinian Plight has been going on for over 60 years and the UN is totally useless, thanks to the USA interference by way of Vito. The Arab Peace Initiative has been pushed off by Israel and the USA does not seem to be eager to discuss it with Israel. Obama and from a re-election point of view, is in a very good position to exert some pressure on Israel to consider peace for a change. I think the Saudi's feel that he needs a little nudge.

        November 18, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  2. Hosamo

    Never mind US...Saudis are just like babies....they will calm down eventually. They think that they can control t house e world with money only....if you have trillions of dollars but you are stupid, then you can't do anything

    November 4, 2013 at 11:23 pm | Reply
  3. sand@live.no

    long live Saudi Arabia the ones with the only right knowledge the Quran death to the all other country’s.

    November 5, 2013 at 12:16 am | Reply
    • omar

      The Al Sauds regime has nothing to do with Islam or the Quran. Please don't mix religion with dictators of Saudi Arabia which only steal the wealth of the nation for their own gain, while oppressing the people.

      November 5, 2013 at 4:47 am | Reply
    • Born Again & Again & Again

      crap. your talking about your stupid religion again.

      November 21, 2013 at 7:06 am | Reply
  4. Aaron

    The penny has finally dropped for the Saudis. They used to believe they were the favorites and darlings of the Americans. Now they realise they will always play second fiddle to Israel. The Syrian conflict has opened their eyes. The Syrian conflict has shown that the USA has no love for the Sunni people. The USA refused to provide weapons to the Syrian rebels for fear it could be used against Israel. It does not matter that Sunnis were suffering, Israel always comes first. Now the Saudis know they are just like a stepchild.

    November 5, 2013 at 2:01 am | Reply
    • KhalidKSA

      Saudi Arabia is a major stabilizing force in the oil market, sells oil in US currency only, invests trillions in US government bonds, spends billions on its military buying the best it can from the USA, and other US allies such as Britain and France, and has been for years calling on the US to put an end to the Palestinian Plight with through the Arab Peace Initiative. Oil prices have tripled since the invasion of Iraq which was mainly to rid Israel of Saddam and his Army. Yet, Israel now wants the USA to attack Iran and cause another disaster! What good has Israel ever done to the USA?

      November 20, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  5. JAL

    Fareed, Do you think they will eventually accept the UN security council seat?

    November 5, 2013 at 8:02 am | Reply
  6. j. von hettlingen

    What had been misleading in the past few weeks is that different members of the House of Saud, who hold cabinet positions sent various messages to the outside world. The intelligence chief, Prince Bandar signalled a "major shift" in the Saudi relations with the US. Another member, the former ambassador to the UK and the US criticised Obama's Syrian strategy, while Kerry met with the Saudi foreign minister and worked things out together.

    November 5, 2013 at 9:46 am | Reply
  7. dajowi

    The is no reason why America can't be energy independent of any other country on Earth.

    November 6, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Reply
  8. Soserious

    American gov't not sending troops into Syria is not necessarily about Saudi Arabia but also very much about Americans themselves being war weary. Saudi Arabia does not rely only on America to solve problems and is frustrated with Europeans, Chinese, and Russians about the Syrian conflict as well. Saudi Arabia not accepting a seat on the UN Security Council makes loads of sense because of the nature of Saudi politics, as well as current events not even including the America/ Saudi rift in the decision making. It really begs a question of what more good could they do from inside the security council than from outside of it. Its neutered anyway and outside of the security council they aren't.

    November 7, 2013 at 2:29 am | Reply
  9. khan

    my question, was this a paid program? it seems it was one side seems zakira was paid by the sheas to do this program or he might be one himself.

    November 7, 2013 at 8:47 am | Reply
  10. Fair guy

    I thought there is something wrong with this news, and I think I am fairly right. Is Saudi system radical? What about your speech? Is it radical? Next time try to be fairer in your speech and justify your accusations. Every government look to its benefits behind every movement. Everybody can figure out that on simple look over political history across the world.

    November 8, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Reply
  11. ART

    Don't worry the Saudi's will have their arab spring too. You cannot have one group of corrupt people in charge forever

    November 12, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Reply
    • KhalidKSA

      This Spring is a misnomer. Real Arab spring is when peace reigns and the Palestinian Plight is finally over.

      November 18, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Reply
  12. Rauf

    Saudis are basically thugs who are stealing the money of their people and and making a lot of money from the muslims of the world on the name of huj and umra to visit the land of saud because of this free money they are busy spreading anarchy in the whole world

    November 26, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Reply
  13. Erick Holmes

    Hell, screw em. We don't need their damn oil. And we need to start reasserting ourselves.

    November 28, 2013 at 12:49 am | Reply

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