New Delhi, Jan 25: On Tuesday, President of the United States of America will pay a visit to Saudi Arabia in a bid to show solidarity with the family of deceased King Abdullah. The original trip to Agra was cancelled due to this reason, but for the United States of America, the visit to Saudi Arabia is important in a lot of aspects.
The Obama visit to Saudi Arabia comes at a very crucial time and is been as a wise move since the relations with Saudi Arabia have not all together been hunky dory of late. There has been a lot of tension between the two countries and in the backdrop of the same, the visit to Saudi Arabia becomes absolutely important.
A well-oiled relationship:
The US is not dependant on Saudi oil. However it cannot also not forget that Saudi Arabia is the largest player in the oil market. The control that Saudi has over the oil market can determine the prices in the world market.
Saudi Arabia becomes very vital as it can either raise or lower oil production which determines the prices of oil in the world market. The pricing can affect the US directly and hence it is important that the Saudis are kept in good books by the US.
The tensions in the past between the two countries have been eased out due to this factor. The US was extremely miffed with the Saudis after the 9/11 episode when it found that 15 hijackers hailed from Saudi. This had increased tensions a great deal, but there was a thaw due to the oil factor. The US even kept at bay declassifying 28 pages of the 9/11 report as it dealt with the role of some Saudis.
Syria and Iran:
The other two concerns that have been raised by Saudi Arabia is the handling of both Iran and Syria by the US. The Saudis had in-fact waited for the US to act against the Bashar Assad regime, but action never came through.
In fact the Saudis were extremely hopeful that the US would go through and act against Assad after the use of chemical weapons. However the Obama administration has been slow on this aspect. To add to this the Saudis also feel that the US will not act totally against Iran on nuclear weapons.
The Saudis feel that Iran will retain its nuclear manufacturing capability which will act as a threat to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis suspect that the action against Iran and Syria are both inter-connected as these two nations are allies.
The Houthi Shia rebels:
Saudi Arabia feels that action against Iran is necessary and the Obama administration must act quickly. The recent developments at Yemen where Houthi Shia rebels have taken over the ministries are alarming in nature. Saudi strongly suspects that these rebels are planted by Iran.
The Saudis feel that this is an indirect ploy by Iran to take over the administration in Yemen and this is proving to be a major headache for Saudi Arabia. Iran will look to target Saudi Arabia for several reasons which includes dominance and also the extended Sunni-Shia battle.
When Obama visits Saudi Arabia he will seek to iron out all the differences. More important this show of solidarity will instill confidence in the Saudis which is extremely important for foreign relations with the US.