Saudi Arab

Riyadh-Washington ties irrevocably changed: Ex-Saudi spy chief

Saudi ties with the US have changed forever and would not return to what it was before even under a new president, the kingdom’s former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal says.

“There is going to have to be, a recalibration of our relationship with America — how far we can go with our dependence on America. How much can we rely on steadfastness from American leadership. What is it that makes for our joint benefits to come together,” he told CNN.

“And I don’t think that we should expect any new president in America to go back to, as I said, the yesteryear days when things were different,” Faisal added.

Faisal further criticized recent remarks by US Senator Richard Blumenthal that low oil prices and high domestic output lessened Washington’s dependence on the kingdom.

Saudis “no longer have us in an energy straitjacket,” Blumenthal had told The New York Times.

Faisal said the remarks by the prominent senator were an insult to the Saudi monarchy.

“I’ve always thought that America and Saudi Arabia willingly came together to undertake joint efforts,” said the prince, adding, “If you want to change course and establish new grounds for understanding, you don’t have to be insulting.”

He criticized US President Barack Obama for calling Riyadh a “free rider” on American policies in the region. “Personally, of course it hurt me,” Faisal said.

Faisal does not currently hold any official position in the Saudi leadership, but his views are usually described by insiders as often reflecting those of the kingdom’s senior officials.

The remarks came as Obama met with Saudi King Salman and other Arab leaders in Riyadh, where he reportedly received a cold and embarrassing reception by Saudi rulers.

Obama, however, reaffirmed support for Arab allies of the US.

Washington, he said, will “use all elements of our power to secure our core interests in the [Persian] Gulf region and to deter and confront external aggression against our allies and our partners.”

In recent years, US-Saudi relations have cooled over the US failure to oust the Syrian government, its nuclear agreement with Iran, and a Congress bill implicating Saudi officials over the 9/11 attacks.

The Obama administration has prevented the release of a 28-page document that could implicate Riyadh in the planning of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

Meanwhile, Riyadh has threatened to sell off $750 billion in US assets if Congress passes the bill.

The measure would allow American citizens to sue the Saudi regime for any role it may have had in the attacks, which killed 3,000 people.

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