The Call

The No. 1 Saudi geopolitical interest isn’t what you think

The No. 1 Saudi geopolitical interest isn’t what you think

Did everyone notice the Saudis suggesting that further sanctions against the Iranians are well and good, but that they’d rather see a quicker resolution? (The FT did, with the Saudis saying that they meant the Middle East peace process. Umm, that’s not credible. And not what they’ve been saying privately.) 

I’d discount hints at support for the more direct approach as 90 percent bluster, since the Saudis know the Obama administration is completely committed to the present course. But the absence of routine communications between Saudi Arabia and Israel gives you the remaining 10 percent — many in the kingdom could think of worse outcomes than having the Israelis "resolve" their looming Iranian nuclear issue through surgical strikes. 

At one level, given the attendant risks in the region, it’s an eye-opening assertion. At another, in the absence of Bush administration hawks willing to keep the "or else" drumbeat going, it’s a little less surprising.  

Having said that, when I was in Saudi Arabia a few weeks ago — the geopolitical issue most frequently brought up was neither brewing tensions with Iran (No. 2 issue) nor the potential for a failed state and cross-border terrorism coming out of Yemen (No. 3 issue) … but the enormous investment opportunities afforded in a stabilizing oil-rich Iraq. Not at all where the Saudis were a year ago. Interesting.