Letter from a Saudi citizen to Obama

Letter from a Saudi citizen to Obama

Letter from a Saudi citizen to Obama
Mr. Obama, welcome to Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia that you have visited more than any other American president. I must say, Saudis are proud of their historic relations with the United States. The Kingdom has always valued principled alliances. Our 80-year-old ties have been the cornerstone of the region’s stability for decades.
Riyadh has played its part in trying to bring peace and security to the region by seeking to establish good relations with neighbors, and fighting threats such as that posed by the former Soviet Union, in its bid to spread communism. Indeed, despite having differing views on various issues, this has not impeded joint political action when needed the most.
Mr. President, what we are now seeing is that many countries in the region, and the most powerful in the world, are changing their positions. Like many others, we were surprised at your recent comments in The Atlantic magazine where you accused Saudi Arabia of inflaming sectarian tensions in the Middle East, and saying that we have adopted plans contradicting US foreign policy.
At first, I was one of many who thought that you may have been misquoted. So it came as a great disappointment to learn that this was what the American president thinks of its most important ally and friend. Mindful that foreign policy should not be based on media reports, the Kingdom ignored these statements, with officials even going out of their way to stress the depth of the two countries’ friendship.

Mr. President, as a Saudi and Arab, let me tell you that there was unprecedented joy and celebration when you won the elections to become president. We were optimistic that there was an intellectual in the White House, who was aware of world issues.
The reality of your time in office has tempered our hopes. Not that we want to hold you responsible, but the United States’ disengagement from assisting in resolving the region’s problems, has resulted in a somewhat gloomy outlook for nations here.
We must realize that the gamble on political Islam by nations in the region was wrong. In Egypt, the people protested against the Muslim Brotherhood president and demanded change on June 30, 2013. This was a defining moment and sounded the death-knell for political Islam. This movement, like others, was obsessed with authority and promoting their ideology. Saudi Arabia, recognizing the danger, stood with Egypt. What is happening behind closed doors in Washington is contrary to what is actually happening on the ground in Cairo and the rest of the Arab capitals. The international political and strategic thinking concerning the region passes through Riyadh, especially because this country is known for eschewing expansionism and only seeking stability and security for the region and avoiding wars and conflicts.
Iran, which claims it wants peace and understanding with Saudi Arabia, is still supporting terrorist militias, harboring fugitive extremists and attacking embassies. It is politically isolated in the region, with 50 states at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Summit in Istanbul recently slamming Iran’s interventionist policy.
Mr. President, this is not a Saudi-Iranian conflict but a dispute between Muslim and Arab countries on one side and Iran’s policies on the other. As you arrive in Riyadh, Mr. President, there are thousands of Iraqis protesting and raising their voices against Iran’s blatant intervention in their internal affairs.
As a Saudi with a great deal of respect for American values and culture, I wonder how Washington can seek rapprochement with a pro-terrorism Iran. The Kingdom has initiated several anti-terror measures, including Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen, to prove, as the US administration has always demanded, for Middle East countries to assume greater responsibility to keep the region safe. This has saved Yemen from Iran’s imperialist clutches. The Kingdom also took lead in forming the Islamic Military Alliance to counter terrorism. The Kingdom is also working with Egypt and the rest of the Arab countries to form a joint Arab force to be tasked with the responsibility of countering terrorism.
There have been press reports that the US Congress is drafting a law to hold Saudi Arabia liable in its courts for the Sept. 11 attacks. Although your administration has warned of the consequences of such a move, we Saudis are extremely embittered by this bizarre situation emerging from Washington.
Saudi Arabia knows that there are no free rides in politics and that’s why it took all these initiatives. Saudis understand that their strategic relationship with your country is an integral part of the Saudi political doctrine. But, as they say, it takes two to tango. And both sides need to synchronize their steps to be in the same rhythm.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view