DUBAI: Saudi Arabia feels “let down” by the United States in tackling security threats to the kingdom and wider region by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, a senior member of the Saudi royal family and former intelligence chief said.
Traditionally strong ties between Riyadh and Washington have been shaken under US President Joe Biden by the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents and the ruinous Yemen war in which a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis for seven years.
“Saudis consider the relationship as being strategic, but (feel) as being let down at a time when we thought that America and Saudi Arabia should be together in facing what we would consider to be a joint, not just irritant, but danger to the stability and security of the area,” Prince Turki al-Faisal said, referring to Houthi missile and drone attacks.
His remarks came in a video interview with Saudi newspaper Arab News published on Monday.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which rely on the US security umbrella, have chafed at what they see as declining US commitment to their region. The Ukraine conflict highlighted strains as the Gulf OPEC producers resisted calls to help isolate Russia and pump more oil to tame prices.
“We’ve had our ups and downs over the years, and perhaps at this time it’s one of the downs, particularly since the president of the United States in his election campaign said that he will make Saudi Arabia a pariah and of course he went on to practise what he preached,” said Prince Turki.
The former ambassador to Washington went on to list Biden’s decision to end US support for coalition offensive operations in Yemen, not meet with de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and “at one stage” withdraw US anti-missile systems from the kingdom, the world’s top oil exporter.
In recent months, the United States has increased military support for Riyadh in a bid to mend ties, Western diplomats have said.
Prince Turki holds no government office now but remains influential as chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.