US President Barack Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia on 29 March comes at a particularly awkward moment in inter-Arab relations, making it that much harder for Riyadh to line up all Gulf Arab oil producers on board a common strategy should the US and the EU move to impose energy sanctions on Russia over the crisis in Crimea. And in a late twist, Saudi Arabian King ‘Abd Allah shuffled the royal deck, appointing a deputy crown prince and future king.

The trip to Riyadh, President Obama’s only stop in the Middle East after his European tour to rally support for harder punitive measures against Moscow, coincides with a tightening oil market, partly due to the political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa. (CONTINUED - 1282 WORDS)