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?