Saudis feel let down at a time when they believe the US and Saudi Arabia should be together facing threats to the stability and security of the Gulf region, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief and former ambassador to both London and Washington D.C., told Arab News.
He identified the threats specifically as Iran’s influence in Yemen and its use of the Houthis as a tool “not only to destabilize Saudi Arabia, but also affect the security and stability of the international sea lanes” along the Red Sea, the Gulf and the Arabian Sea.
“The fact that President Biden delisted the Houthis from the terrorist list has emboldened them and made them even more aggressive in their attacks on Saudi Arabia, as well as on the UAE,” Prince Turki told Katie Jensen, the new host of Arab News’ “Frankly Speaking.” He was alluding to the Feb. 12, 2021, revocation by the new Democratic administration of the Iran-aligned militia’s designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
“Frankly Speaking” features interviews with leading policymakers and business leaders, diving deep into the biggest news-making headlines across the Middle East and around the world. During his appearance on the video show, Prince Turki offered his views on US-Saudi relations, the war between Russia and Ukraine, and the ever-shifting dynamics of Middle Eastern geopolitics at a time of rising oil prices and diplomatic tensions.
“We have always considered our relationship with the US as being strategic,” he said on the question of whether many Saudis feel they have been betrayed by one of their closest allies.
“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 US, in his election campaign, said that he will make Saudi Arabia a pariah. And, of course, he went on to practice what he preached: First of all, by stopping the joint operations that America had with the Kingdom in meeting the challenge of the Houthi-led rebellion in Yemen against the Yemeni people. And, second, among other similar actions, by not meeting with (Saudi Arabia’s crown prince) and publicly declaring that he would not meet with the crown prince, and, at one stage, withdrawing anti-aircraft missile batteries from the Kingdom when we were facing an increase in attacks by the Houthis using Iranian equipment like missiles and drones.”