How Fear Changed Saudi Arabia

(Wall Street Journal) Walter Russell Mead - Saudi Arabia used to be one of the most cautious players in the world of diplomacy. Not anymore. In the past three weeks, the Saudis have launched a coordinated diplomatic offensive against neighboring Qatar, hinted at new ties with Israel, and turned up the heat in their confrontation with Iran. Meanwhile, they continue to bomb Yemen to support their local allies in that country. So what is behind the new Saudi activism? Fear. It's an emotion that comes naturally to an oil-rich kingdom with a relatively small population in a neighborhood full of predatory rivals. For years the Saudis felt they could take shelter behind a strong and confident America. In Riyadh, the Age of Insecurity began when President Obama's outreach to Iran - and his willingness to overlook its unprecedented regional aggression in his quest for a nuclear deal - left the Saudis feeling isolated and betrayed. As American politics becomes less predictable, countries that have grounded their national strategy on the stability of an American alliance must reassess their options. The writer is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College.

2017-06-22 00:00:00

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