Obama in Riyadh

  President Barack Obama has started a summit in Riyadh along with Gulf Arab leaders to forge joint action against Iran and the ISIS.There has been a change in the U.S. attitude to Saudi Arabia which had been strained of late. For one thing , after the accord with Iran and phased withdrawal of sanctions on it, the U.S. had become more dependent on oil supplies from Iran than from Saudi Arabia. Secondly, Riyadh had decided to form an alliance with friendly Islamic countries against the ISIS and al-Qaeda.But in doing so , it executed a liberal leader who had links with al-Qaeda. The U.S. took strong exception to it on humanitarian grounds and Shia pressure from Iran in favour of the executed Shia leader. It punctured the proposed Saudi grand design against Islamic terrorism. Barack Obama has now changed course and hopes to allay fears of the Gulf countries about Iranian influence and overcome sectarian tensions so that they could strike a blow against Jihadist militants. Obama is now negotiating with Saudi Arabia ,the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar to promote their cause.

   The new line of thinking in Washington has a bearing on civil wars in Syria , Yemen and Iraq. Ben Rhodes , Obama’s deputy national security advisor said that recent strains between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia were over tactics rather than goals. It remains to be seen how receptive Riyadh will be to Washington considering the latter’s estrangement with it lately. Obama’s oscillations in West Asia are not likely to favour Democratic prospects in the coming U.S. Presidential elections.

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