tv Inside Story Al Jazeera March 29, 2014 11:30am-12:01pm EDT
economy and oil producer in iraq and defense ties and economic situation. but today egypt's hosni mubarak and his successor mohammed morsi has both been overthrown and the military has driven muslim brotherhood underground. and one of washington's closest allies israel, continues to build housing and move settlers into areas that israel occupied. are the united states and saudi arabia in a relationship? change the status to "it's complicated." president obama flew to the saud saudi arabian capitol riyadh.
the president's visit is meant to smooth out relationship trains with 89-year-old king abdullah. they have seen internal and external tensions in the past year. first, saudi arabia lost powerful allies in egypt and tunisia in the arab spring. in both countries the u.s. supported change and publicly backed the will of the people. the will of the people led to egypt's first election with muslim brotherhood winning office there. but mohammed morsi did not last. the muslim brotherhood was ousted by the military after another public up rising just a year later. >> then bashar al-assad used chemical weapons against his own people.
the saudis opened that president obama would back up his statement that the syrians should not cross the red line. nuclear negotiations saw modest breakthroughs and the u.s. eased sanctions on iran for the first time in decades. then the king saw an internal danger, public di dissent crept through the cracks of social media. next came riffs between saudi arabia and it's gulf partner qatar. they pulled their embassies out of doha earlier this month saying that they won't stand with anyone supporting regional destabilization. the president's visit comes during a different era in saudi
american relations. for decades saudi arabia and the u.s. have been close. the king even visited president george? bush at his texas ranch in 2005. but now things have changed. the aging king's long-time bargaining chip oil resources has lost some of its influence. the growing ability to drill for shell natural gas in places like north dakota has made the u.s. less dependent on foreign fuel. >> before we begin our conversation on the strains in the u.s.-saudi relationship, we want to go live to saudi arabia to the white house's correspondent mike viqueira. mike, what have you learned about the meeting? >> well, it was a two-hour meeting, fairly long as far as these bilaterals go.
the president talked about ukraine and the saudis were angry. the saudis are important. it was important for the president to come here and show solidarity with king abdullah. the saudis, as you reported, are upset about iran and the secrecy of talks that took place in oman between the united states and iranians that led to those talks that are undergoing right now in geneva, and what we learned, ray, those two items did dominate that two-hour talk almost to the exclusion of every other item on the agenda. the senior administration officials just got done briefing reporters traveling with the president, and in a nut show said it was important for president obama to fly here and look king abdullah in the eye speaking in the context of iran
but he might as well been speaking of syria as well when president obama backed off last summer the bombing campaign or the pinprick bombing campaign that officials had spoken to in retaliation for the chemical attack of bashar al-assad. a two-hour meeting out of the king's retreat in the desert here in saudi arabia. the president is returning very shortly just as day breaks in riyadh. >> a two-hour meeting, as you say, but who else is in the room? the reference in the western press of the king being aged and infirm, not necessarily able to carry on all of his duty on his own. was this strictly an one-on-one meeting between the president and the saudi king? >> there were other officials in the room as well. but you're right, the 89-year-old king it was noted
those who went into the photo op, he breathed with the aid of an oxygen tank and hose as well. the president for his part was joined by secretary of state john kerry. obviously secretary kerry has been on the move repeatedly back and forth to settle dimc diplomacy with a deadline framework couping up at the end of april. >> thanks to mike viqueira, who joins us live from riyadh, the saudi capitol. the fault lines between sunni and shia among others things on inside story. joining us from due by, mustap mustapha, senior adviser from the regional based gulf center. and lawrence senior fellow from american progress, and carol murphy, independent journalist
and author o . the significance of these talks as you would anticipate them happening, is the talk of a split between the united states and saudi arabia exaggerated or something that we should really be worried about now? >> it's a problematic relation. this is not the first crisis. we had a major crisis in 1973 when they cut the oil supply. we have major crisis in 2001, 9/11. even before in august of 2001 prince abdullah sent a very strong letter to the american president saying we will go in different direction now. so we have so many crisis before, but we are able to
manage the problem. but i think this is different crisis because now we think that u.s. is much weaker than before, loss of credibility, and loss of value. when you can see for three years innocent syrian people slaughtered, and the americans do nothing. this is a different kind of crisis now. >> lawrence, you heard what mustafa if a said. is the united states a weaker partner, and does that change the dynamics between the two countries? >> absolutely not. people talk about obama's feckless policy and withdrawing, we just spent $600 million to increase our naval process in bally. how would it be if we forced ourselves on a muslim country to stay in there when their people
did not want us to. karzai is the one asking us to leave afghanistan, and in syria we couldn't get the united nations, the arab league or the u.s. congress or the british parliament because people realized the benefits that you might get are not worth the potential cost given the fact that the opposition is not unified and has a very significant group of extremists there. >> carol murphy, you heard your colleagues, is this anything more than two different ways of seeing the world? i mean, yes, there are multiple fires burning right now in the eastern mediterranean and near-east, but can two old friends move ahead on the things that they agree on, and just continue to disagree on the things that they don't?
>> i think it's at a turning incident. where both sides will have to look at the assumptions that have prevailed, and reevaluate those assumptions and come to a different working relationship. the long-term interest is the same. that is stability, the secure flow of oil from the gulf, and i don't see how those interests are going to change. they are similar, and that's what a bilateral relationship usually rests, common interests. >> we'll come back and talk more about the point that there have been problems in the relationship in the past. but i wonder if there have been this many at once.
there's more to finical news than the ups and downs of the dow. for instance, could striking workers in greece delay your retirement? i'm here to make the connections to your money real. >> welcome back to inside story. i'm ray suarez. president obama ended his foreign trip with a stop in saudi arabia. it's the first time since the arab spring he visited the kingdom. you could see it's a fenc fence-mending mission between two long-time allies. the meeting was short even though the list is thorny and long of issues that remain between the two countries. saudi arabia looks at iran and is very concerned by what it sees there. there is anger over the continued royaling in egypt, and there is concern that the united states has not stepped up to the plate in syria. earlier
in the program it was said that we have gotten over our problems in the past, but have there been this many big ones at once? >> i don't think so. the arab spring is changing the dynamics in the middle east. the saudis have their own internal problems. we're focusing on external things but there is civil unrest that they have to deal with. in egypt thump caught between a rock and a hard place. morsi was elect: if we can't stand up for those who were democratically elected, who are we. it didn't work out well, but the fact of the matter is we did the right thing there, and the same thing with iran. we're stopping iran from developing a nuclear weapon which would really upset the balance in the middle east, and whatever else a person may think of the talks up to now they have slowed down iran's movement towards developing a nuclear
weapon. >> does anyone in the leadership circles in saudi arabia acknowledge that some of the radicalism in the muslim world is a fire that was in part set by the saudi kingdom itself as part of its international strategy? >> i don't think it's part of national strategy, absolutely not . we have every day the current sending hundreds and hundreds to prison and even to death. if you're talking about the root of this problem, the root of this problem, the american were partners. you're talking about afghanistan, what happened in afghanistan.
owe i osama bin laden did not originate from nowhere. he originated from the jihad occupation where the u.s. was full partner in this war. so it is unfair to say or to blame the saudis. i can give a specific example. the potential in the past three years coming from yemen, it's discovered by saudi intelligence. and the target for u.s. mainland. so the saudis doing as much as possible, and they're doing their part, at least in the war and extremism. if you talk about extremism in syria, when the revolution started there was no isis of al-qaeda
for one year. the undecisiveness to do anything about syria gave room for those people to establish in syria. so why do we have to be blamed? >> it's very true there have been arrests and trials, prosecutions and imprisonments. there have also been mosques built aroun around the world, tt books circulated around the world, clerics exported around the world often bringing a different brand of islam to countries that are not familiar with the saudi version of it, and some of these same mosques became petry dishes in which radical cells germinated. is that not the case in that story that has been widely circulated around the world for the past 20 years not true? >> i think there is a huge exaggeration.
first in the past few mistakes have happened, even the saudis agree their responsibility on the mistake. it is unintentional, not part of the strategy. if you look at new legislation, new measure taken, it's all a crackdown on extremism, whether it's al-qaeda or not, we don't know, but they're doing their utmost best they can do to counter extremism and terrorism. >> kyle murphy, how do you explain to saudis the arab spring turmoil. >> the saudis have always been happy to have a version of islam in which the
good muslim obeys his ruler. if he has anything to say that is critical, he whispers in his ear. this has suited the saudis for a very long time. but in other apri arab countries, we're seeing islamist political groups come to the floor which really want a political role. they want to participate in elections. they want to come to power so that they can rule, and they are quite different in their policy outlook and attitude from the brand of islam that is dominant in saudi arabia. so specifically for the muslim brotherhood, the saudi arabians welcomed the muslim brotherhood 50-60 years ago when they were being persecuted by egypt's leader.
and they were welcomed here. they've lived here. they had jobs here but they have been more politically active than the government would want them to be. i think the government overreacted in declaring the muslim brotherhood a terrorist organization. there is no indication that any of the saudis have participated in the networks of muslim brotherhood in saudi arabia have done anything that is against the government. >> larry, quickly, before we go to a break. >> but that's the context in the background. >> that role that carol just described, has that been a tough place for the united states to walk the fine lines during all of these competing interests. >> the united states would like stability but we also want people to have control of their own destiny. sometimes they come into
>> welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. for decades the united states and saudi rain i can' saudi arad allies but after 9/11 things began to change. it's about power and oil and increasingly diverging national interests. we're continuing our conversation with my staff i my staff if a, who joins us from dubai. an by lawrence and carol. does the oil revolution in the united states modify and weaken that relationship that always had to do with energy resources?
>> no doubt about it. the fact that we're becoming more and more energy independent means we're not as concerned about what happens in that part of the world. if you remember back too the first gulf war when saddam hussein invaded could you kuwa kuwait, the first george bush said we're fighting for oil because kuwait is not a democracy. so yes, it does change our relationship. but i have to emphasize we're not leaving. we just put $600 million there in bahrain because we do want stability. europe, our allies, do rely on that oil, and we would like to see them wean off of russia's energy. >> it looks like they're thinking about sending in advance
anti-aircraft weapons in, is this a step in the right direction? >> absolutely. for priority president obama fighting terrorism is a problem. but for the saudis this is definitely syria is a make or break the relationship. it's very clear that this point arrive in riyadh that syria and a major change in the u.s. policy towards syria is acquired acquired. otherwise it would not revert from the present crisis. i think if mr. obama is not going to offer a major change, especially changing the balance of power on the ground, i don't think this visit will be considered a success. whatever achievement, this is a crucial issue, and there must be
a change in u.s. policy on syria. >> carol murphy, would you assume that this is the last visit between an american president and this king? there is talk of his great age, the planning of succession, and it's a difficult conversation to have inside the kingdom, but what can you tell us about what people are saying? >> up until yesterday saudis looked very worried to the future. they knew the crown prince would become king if and when abdullah dies, but they don't know who would then become crown prince for sure. but yesterday, last night on tv there was a royal decree read in which it was clear that the youngest son of the founder of the kingdom was made second
crown prince meaning that he will success the crown prince when he becomes king. so it seems like the future is known pretty well for the next several years. the saudis i have talked to today about this seem pretty relieved and comforted that they know what's going to be happening after king abdullah dies. >> once we know that, lawrence, without knowing the intricacies of this prince or that prince, is there unio unimity even with all its problems. >> i think once we get over these misperceptions hopefully we'll increase our aid to syria so you could count some negotiated settlement there. hopefully we'll get something
done with iran on the nuclear weapons. when you do that, i think it will go forward. we still cooperated on counter terrorism. we share intelligence, but will it be the same before the arab spring and before the change in u.s.- -arab relationship, no. >> we have one of our major fleets in bahrain which we're expanding even now. >> lawrence, mustafa, carol, thank you all for being with us on this edition of inside story. that brings us to the end of the program. thanks for being with us. the program may be over but the conversation continues. we want to hear what you think about the issues on this or any day show. log on to our facebook page or send us your thoughts on twitter. our handle is aj inside story am or you can reach me directly at ray suarez news. we'll see you for the next
"inside story" in washington, i'm ray suarez. >> good afternoon, welcome to al jazeera america. i'm morgan radford live from new york city. here are the stories that we're following for you right now. russia's foreign minister said that russia won't invade ukraine even though troops are lined up along the border. taliban strikes twice in 24 hours raising concern for next