Saudi Spy Chief Warns of ‘Major Shift’ in Ties with US
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Saudi Arabia intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan said the Persian Gulf kingdom plans to reduce cooperation with the US in protest over Washington's Syria and Iran policies, according to media reports.
Days after Saudi Arabia surprised the international community with its last-minute decision to reject a rotating UN Security Council seat, there were signs of a growing rift between the oil-rich Persian Gulf monarchy and its key ally, the US, AFP reported.
At a weekend meeting with European diplomats, Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief said the kingdom would make a "major shift" in its relations with the United States in protest over Washington's perceived inaction over the Syria war and its overtures to Iran, according to media reports.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, Prince Bandar bin Sultan invited a Western diplomat to the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah over the weekend to voice Riyadh's frustration with the Obama administration and its regional policies, including the decision not to bomb Syria in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons in August.
It was not immediately clear if Prince Bandar's reported statements had the full backing of King Abdullah.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have been allies since the kingdom was declared in 1932, giving Riyadh a powerful military protector and Washington secure oil supplies.
In an interview with Reuters, a source close to Saudi policy said Prince Bandar had also told European diplomats that Washington had failed to act effectively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011.
"The shift away from the US is a major one," the Saudi source told Reuters. "Saudi doesn't want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent."
A son of the late defense minister and crown prince, Prince Sultan, and a protégé of the late King Fahd, he fell from favor with King Abdullah after clashing on foreign policy in 2005.
But he was called in from the cold last year with a mandate to bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, diplomats in the Gulf say. Over the past year, he has led Saudi efforts to bring arms and other aid to Syrian rebels.