WaPo: White House suddenly concerned about Iran-Saudi eruption

posted at 8:41 am on January 4, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Gee, and to think that seven years ago we might have had some influence over this. Yesterday, Saudi Arabia booted out Iran’s diplomatic mission after Iranian demonstrators torched the Saudi embassy in Tehran. The escalating tensions have the Obama administration concerned that it might impact cooperation on the anti-ISIS fight, but these tensions go a long way back — and have been exacerbated by Barack Obama’s shift to appeasing the Iranians:

“We believe that diplomatic engagement and direct conversations remain essential in working through differences,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said Sunday. “We will continue to urge leaders across the region to take affirmative steps to calm tensions.”

But the public call for calm papered over long-simmering disagreements over Iran and other matters between the United States and Saudi Arabia, its powerful Middle Eastern ally, and threatened a serious rupture.

Administration officials were privately critical of the Saudis for provoking the weekend’s upheaval with the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric who was arrested two years ago and sentenced to death for fomenting dissent against the ruling Sunni royal family.

According to the Washington Post, the criticism flows in both directions:

“Enough is enough,” said a person authorized to convey Saudi thinking on the condition of anonymity. “Tehran has thumbed its nose at the West again and again, continuing to sponsor terrorism and launch ballistic missiles and no one is doing anything about it.”

“Every time the Iranians do something, the United States backs off. The Saudis are actually doing something,” the person said.

That’s the heart of this new eruption in the ancient Sunni-Shi’a conflict. The US had aligned itself with the Sunnis ever since Ruhollah Khomeini took over Iran, not because the Sunnis were moderates — the Saudis certainly aren’t that — but because they were the most rational option. The Saudis wanted to continue to do business in the post-Versailles Middle East order, unlike the Iranians and Saddam Hussein, who wanted to lead a pan-Arab nation but got bogged down in war against Tehran before taking his first step in Kuwait. While the West remained engaged on the side of maintaining the Versailles status quo, the Saudis had no reason to upset the applecart. Even Israel was less of an issue for the Saudis than an easy resource for domestic propaganda.

All that changed when the US began tilting toward Iran. First, they pulled out of Iraq and gave Nouri al-Maliki carte blanche to welch on agreements with the Sunni minority, and all but gave Baghdad to Tehran. Next, the Obama administration fumbled the so-called “Arab spring,” allowing the radicals in Egypt to take over and conducting a coup against Moammar Qaddafi with nothing to replace his regime. Obama and his administration called for Bashar al-Assad to step down but did little to press the matter, and Syria has joined Iraq and Libya as failed states — all three with thriving ISIS centers of power. American policy has set the region on fire, and now the Saudis have very little incentive to play along with Western attempts to keep the lid on sectarian imperialist impulses in the Middle East.

So now the White House wants to express “deep concern” over the diplomatic rupture between Riyadh and Tehran. The Shi’a-Sunni war long precedes the Obama administration, and for that matter the US and the European presence in the Western Hemisphere. However, the sudden shift toward Tehran and the key step of allowing the Iranian mullahs the opening to pursue nuclear weapons has changed all the calculations for the Saudis. The proxy war in Yemen was just the opening bid. The Saudis are not going to tolerate Iranian attempts to undermine their position, and direct force will be almost inevitable now that the US has expended its superpower credit with the Sunnis.

Everyone has “deep concerns” now. Too bad the White House didn’t have those concerns in 2010-11, when they might have made decisions that would have mitigated some of those now.


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Comments

He’s just worried someone’s going to piss off his Iranian handlers.

CurtZHP on January 4, 2016 at 8:45 AM

Why would ValJar or Biden do anything to help the Saudis against their friends the Mad Mullahs?

Steve Eggleston on January 4, 2016 at 8:45 AM

SMART POWER!

leave a power vacuum in the area, get WW3, thanks Obama (and Paulian) foreign policy

Rogue on January 4, 2016 at 8:46 AM

Kerry,Rice,Powers,Jarrett,Bamster,Biden,Cankles and the DOD tool ——Winning!!!!

Goodie on January 4, 2016 at 8:49 AM

Commie / Marxist Obama got a terminal case of the dumb a$$.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 4, 2016 at 8:51 AM

A lot of people said, before O was elected, that many people were going to die because of him.

A lot of people were right. The slaughter is about to begin, and this time we are not immune.

BobMbx on January 4, 2016 at 8:51 AM

Is the WH concern anything like a concern troll? Just curious.

platypus on January 4, 2016 at 8:51 AM

Inheritance from dear leader

cmsinaz on January 4, 2016 at 8:52 AM

So, muslims can’t get along with muslims either?

Who is the problem here?

fossten on January 4, 2016 at 8:52 AM

Sounds like an extra-added attraction to my next visit to Israel in two weeks. Everyone is going to be mad at everyone.

Walter L. Newton on January 4, 2016 at 8:52 AM

Obama has left nothing but chaos and destruction in his wake both at home and abroad.

Pest on January 4, 2016 at 8:53 AM

So, muslims can’t get along with muslims either?

Who is the problem here?

fossten on January 4, 2016 at 8:52 AM

Any infidel with head still attached is a problem to muzzies. What is an infidel? Anybody a muzzie doesn’t like that day.

platypus on January 4, 2016 at 8:54 AM

Of some note:

The P. C. America add firm needs to be hired by Trump.

Get the message out clear, cheap, timely, on point.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 4, 2016 at 8:55 AM

Still dealing with the failed Bush foreign policy …

/ThisIsYourBrainOnKoch

ShainS on January 4, 2016 at 8:57 AM

Commie China is a fraud.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 4, 2016 at 9:01 AM

The Climate Change lie is all fraud.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 4, 2016 at 9:02 AM

It’s snowballing. UAE has partially withdrawn from Iran and Bahrain and Sudan have cut ties completely. Bahrain is majority Shia, but with a Sunni government. Add to that the majority of residents in almost all of these gulf states are foreigners, and things could unravel rather quickly.

As for Sudan, they have the manpower the Saudis would desperately need to fight, Saudis have the money Sudan wants. Could be an interesting alliance, and a regional war.

forest on January 4, 2016 at 9:02 AM

Fraud Don’t Sell.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 4, 2016 at 9:02 AM

Bahrain kicked the Iranians out this AM. I’m sure the mullahs and oil billionaires are moving all kinds of funds around Switzerland today.
Interesting times.

Limerick on January 4, 2016 at 9:03 AM

ehran has thumbed its nose at the West again and again, continuing to sponsor terrorism

That is rich. Oh, that is rich.

HugoDrax on January 4, 2016 at 9:04 AM

Who here did not see this coming? Bunch of affirmative action idiots in the White House led by Val Jarrett and her connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.

And the last thing we need in the Middle east is a proxy War between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It will spill out of the region quickly.

Johnnyreb on January 4, 2016 at 9:05 AM

Only sure thing is that Obama will screw things up much worse for one more awful year.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 4, 2016 at 9:05 AM

As usual, the Marxist has his head up his rectum. Bring out the red marker, James!

Krupnikas on January 4, 2016 at 9:07 AM

Just all part and parcel of Bubble Boy’s plan to “fundamentally change” America. Just add the ME, hell, the world, to the mix. Alinsky should be very proud. Bubble boy, the Mooch and their offspring will be enjoying the good life in the place of their choice while the rest of us try to survive his machinations.

vnvet on January 4, 2016 at 9:12 AM

Can we start calling him the Anti-Christ yet?

CurtZHP on January 4, 2016 at 9:16 AM

White House suddenly concerned about Iran-Saudi eruption

The concern here is about Obama’s legacy and the impact on domestic politics. That’s the only strategy the rat-eared wonder has had when it comes to international affairs.

Happy Nomad on January 4, 2016 at 9:18 AM

Buy oil stocks.

artist on January 4, 2016 at 9:27 AM

I hope all those EU countries that took in all those immigrants are watching this. It’s their future. A lot of countries get their oil from SA. A war could disrupt drilling, and delivery. Good thing we have a lot of oil and a long pipeline. oh, wait…

Kissmygrits on January 4, 2016 at 9:30 AM

Well, we know that Valerie Jarrett is really “fired up” about this, and is screaming at the Saudi ambassador.

Joseph K on January 4, 2016 at 9:31 AM

Is ‘deep concerns’ one of those BHO ‘red lines’, i.e., he doesn’t really mean it?

steveracer on January 4, 2016 at 9:35 AM

“Now watch this drive”

– Golfer in Cheif

Pain Train on January 4, 2016 at 9:36 AM

And the last thing we need in the Middle east is a proxy War between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It will spill out of the region quickly.

Johnnyreb on January 4, 2016 at 9:05 AM

Obligatory…

Rogue on January 4, 2016 at 9:37 AM

Every time the Iranians do something, the United States backs off.

SmartPower!

jnelchef on January 4, 2016 at 10:19 AM

Barry and Val and the Muslim Brotherhood need the chaos to bring about the Muslim Caliphate.

albill on January 4, 2016 at 10:21 AM

Nothing that a good #hashtag can’t fix.

lymond on January 4, 2016 at 10:26 AM

Is Obama Shiite or Sunni? I’m betting he’s a Shiite Head.

NoPain on January 4, 2016 at 10:28 AM

According to the news the idiot president is only worried about “guns” and the climate change. Nothing else seems to bother him. The Christians who were burned in caskets didn’t seem to phase this ass either.

garydt on January 4, 2016 at 10:28 AM

End relations with both the Iranians and Saudis and destroy them both economically with our oil production price undercutting. Lock down immigration and business with both countries. ISIS may require involvement, but no boots on the ground. Instead I propose such a response that all sides in the area would fear us getting involved.

dominigan on January 4, 2016 at 10:40 AM

Buy oil stocks.

artist on January 4, 2016 at 9:27 AM

The irony is the frackers in Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and elsewhere probably voted 80 percent against Obama in 2012, yet if you didn’t know better you’d swear the president must be in their back pocket, in doing everything he can to really get a Middle East war going to jack oil prices back up towards the $100 level and restore the 60 percent of rigs that have been idled in the past year.

jon1979 on January 4, 2016 at 10:42 AM

Is Obama Shiite or Sunni? I’m betting he’s a Shiite Head.

NoPain on January 4, 2016 at 10:28 AM

I believe your betting correctly.

wifarmboy on January 4, 2016 at 11:14 AM

Everyone has “deep concerns” now.

I’ll bet Valerie still doesn’t. What, did you think she wasn’t still pulling 0bama’s strings?

GWB on January 4, 2016 at 11:15 AM

I’m no expert, but it seems to me that the problem lies in the fact that Islam is not merely a religion, but a political and economic system as well.

Therefore anything us infidels do that has major economic or political impact in any majority Muslim country will be seen as taking sides in the eternal Sunni/Shi’ite war by those participating in it.

Anything. A trade agreement, or lack thereof. Denouncing them for human rights abuses, or failing to do so. Buying their oil, or not buying it. Sending in Special Ops people for _____ mission, or failing to send them. “Responding to the needs of the Muslim community” in your own country, or not.

Anything at all.

Heads I win, tails you lose.

GrumpyOldFart on January 4, 2016 at 11:24 AM

So, muslims can’t get along with muslims either?
Who is the problem here?
fossten on January 4, 2016 at 8:52 AM

If they weren’t such a blight on all hominids, Heinlein’s “unfriendly peace lovers” designation would fit nicely….

We all – all groups – have engaged in low brow antics, but the silly caricature they conjure up of the 2001 gangs at the water hole are especially offensive in their ethically null and void, degenerate justifications for such things.

RL on January 4, 2016 at 11:26 AM

Too bad the White House didn’t have those concerns in 2010-11, when they might have made decisions that would have mitigated some of those now.

Yeah, right. You do know the amateur in the WH, Obama, has no earthly idea what he’s doing. Other than being a “Constitutional Scholar” that knows there are no punitive measures written in the Constitution, the GOPe don’t have any cahones, and he’s just wiping his arse with it. He’s a petulant man-child.

TulsAmerican on January 4, 2016 at 11:38 AM

Facts rule.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 4, 2016 at 11:48 AM

Keep in mind that the Saudis are Arabs and the Iranians are Persians. When I was in Saudi and UAE during Desert Storm, the Arabs made sure we were clear that the Persian Gulf is in fact the Arabian Gulf. So there’s always that rivalry from the waaaay back machine.

Big John on January 4, 2016 at 12:20 PM

Hillary and obama own all the messes, domestic and foreign.

Schadenfreude on January 4, 2016 at 1:01 PM

Let’s see, who do I like better, the whahabbi terrorist state of Saudi Arabia who’s people slaughtered over 3,000 innocent people in the World Trade Center, or the Sunni terrorist state of Iran?

Neither! I hope they nuke each other. The only good muslim is a dead muslim!

earlgrey on January 4, 2016 at 1:13 PM

Chalk another international conflict up for the Nobel Peace Prize winner!

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is undoubtedly suffering from recurring bouts of “awarder’s remorse”, though the award to Obama isn’t the first dubious award, and probably won’t be the last.

Can anybody name one international conflict that Obama helped settle? Seem like we have all the ones that were underway when he took office, plus several dozen more.

s1im on January 4, 2016 at 2:36 PM

Too bad we didn’t worry about this twenty seven years ago when the first of the bush clan was inaugurated president. Since then we have had a succession of presidents who have initiated wars with tyrants who mostly were neutral to the United States and who were bad people, but in each case resulted in worse tyrannies who were unfriendly to the Unite States.

burt on January 4, 2016 at 3:05 PM

“Tehran has thumbed its nose at the West again and again, continuing to sponsor terrorism and launch ballistic missiles and no one is doing anything about it.”

Not to detract from Obama’s MANY foreign policy screw ups. But Aren’t these the same Saudis who also sponsor terrorism and teach death to the infidels in their Wahhabi Schools?

“Hey US, please continue ignoring our sponsorship of terrorism. But for Allah’s sake, you can’t ignore Iran’s!”

Oxymoron on January 4, 2016 at 3:16 PM

Sounds like what we need is an Executive Order!

All fixed!

CitizenX on January 4, 2016 at 4:05 PM

Can we start calling him the Anti-Christ yet?

CurtZHP on January 4, 2016 at 9:16 AM

The Anti-Christ supposedly has an injury to his head. Perhaps Obama was dropped on his, as a child? There’s definitely something wrong with it.

End relations with both the Iranians and Saudis and destroy them both economically with our oil production price undercutting. Lock down immigration and business with both countries. ISIS may require involvement, but no boots on the ground. Instead I propose such a response that all sides in the area would fear us getting involved.

dominigan on January 4, 2016 at 10:40 AM

Not economically, militarily.
Seventy years later, the Japanese still remember not to make us too mad. We need to teach the Muslim world, Arab and Persian alike, the same lesson.
With the same “board of education”, if you see what I mean.

ReggieA on January 4, 2016 at 5:28 PM