Tensions Linger Despite Obama Visit

President’s Obama’s visit to the kingdom, his second since 2009, was a low key affair this time around. Saudi columnists, who in the days leading up to the visit bemoaned Washington’s Middle East policy shifts in the two years since the Arab Spring, were quick to point out the subtle signals that reflected the current troubled relationship between the two allies.

Although the US president met with both King ‘Abd Allah and Crown Prince Salman during his brief stop in the OPEC state, a columnist for the pan-Arab Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper noted that Mr Obama did not rate a greeting at the airport by the head of state or his next in line, which is the norm for a visiting head of state. In an opinion piece entitled “How Riyadh Expressed its Dissatisfaction,” columnist Jamil al-Thiabi pointed out that Mr Obama was greeted without fanfare by the prince of Riyadh and his deputy. This, he said, followed Saudi Arabia’s refusal to take a seat on the UN Security Council in a jab at Washington over its policy in the Syria crisis. The summit at the oasis town of Rawdat al-Karm, where the Saudi King has been spending much of his time of late, did not result in a significant narrowing of differences over the key issues that were discussed, namely the crisis in Syria, the Iranian nuclear program, the situation in Egypt and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he adds. (CONTINUED - 446 WORDS)