Saudi Arabia, United States, Salman discussed on Overnight re-air of day's programming
I can finally see something I could see my country in what it's supposed to represent. And I'm seeing it through the eyes. My children. On NBS south. Look he came to the job with no bills to pay. He owes no one anything. He does nothing to any click. He's willing to rock the boat upset the status quo. Take the responsibility previous approach to reform was retailing slow. He's all about going wholesale wholesale. He's the first person to confront things head on in Saudi society and not sugar coat it. So that's that is my sense of things in the kingdom, admittedly from a slice of a certain part of the of the of the society. But it is really unlike anything I've seen in years of going to the Kingdom, I will just spend one or two more moments on something that Robert asked us to think about which is sort of trends in the region kind of prospects for twenty nineteen I will say not only from this trip. But from lots of other soundings I've done including last fall in the Gulf. There is a deepening sense of doubt and concern. Good evening Zayed's among our closest US partners about US commitment to the region. Partners are hedging or they're going full on past hedging to to take up policies and relationships that are clearly at odds with where we would like them to be and we have that in the Gulf within a rush for an unconditional raprochement with the Charlotte side, and we have the sense with Israel Israel, having a sense of having to go. Go it alone in terms of dealing with Iran in Syria. I will say as a former foreign policy practitioner, what is alarming to me, and what is also reflected in these conversations is a thinning out of key US, bilateral relationships in the region lack of ambassadors in twelve of eighteen of our embassies or twelve at eighteen relationships constant turnover back here in Washington at the cabinet level in the national security community positive high level engagement to way. And then finally what was remarked on during the trip. But also in my previous engagements who really speaks for the administration, and I think that really came to a head in December over the president's announcement of the troop withdrawal from Syria, and in the follow-up trip that national security adviser Bolton did to Israel and Turkey when you had just completely contradictory. Messaging coming out senior levels key developments in the face of all of this. What I see right now is. The prospect for the bilateral U S Saudi relationship really heading into the deep freeze for a variety of reasons. Congressional. I think Dana is going to address that. But also because I think structurally, there's some real problems with the way Washington is is carrying out the relationship, and that would be, you know, one of the things that has got to change if we're going to be able to pull the relationship in the direction east to go Yemen slow unraveling notwithstanding the UN process, unless the administration really gets serious and gets engaged there and Iraq, I think the troops issue is going to become toxic very fast inside Iraq, and it will have reverberations back here. And we could see a replay of two thousand eleven that cheery note, I will turn it over to you. Does Barbara Lee is a former US ambassador to the United Arab Emirates speaker is Dennis Ross. Former White House senior Mideast adviser live at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Byron. I'm going to complemented lot of both in a positive sense. And then also in terms of a division of labor complement a lot of what Barbara was describing. I made two trips to Abu Dhabi in Dubai to speak at conferences little over six weeks ago. And then I went to Israel, and then I went from Israel to Saudi Arabian, and I came back to Israel, and I want to talk about broad impressions that that I had from those conversations in in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. I did see a number of of Saudis both official and non-official Saturdays. And then when I was in Saudi Arabia. I was air primarily seeing officials Saudis. I would start with one general observation the point that Barbara made about questioning where the US is somebody that comes through both in my trips to Abu Dhabi and Dubai in Saudi Arabia and Israel. The there's an I would even cast it a little bit differently. Questions. I got actually everywhere was really maybe Trump is not an exemption. Trump seems a lot like Obama to us in terms of not wanting to be in the region, not equating the two but saying that basically we wonder whether the US really wants to be in the Middle East, and whether what we're seeing now is a new normal. And I just put that out is a kind of reality that you get when you're when you're in the region in Saudi Arabia itself and with with Saudi today's I spoke to both prior to being there. And then when I got there what I found was kind of interesting mood, initially when I was first seeing Saudis in the Emirates, they were quite shaken by the effect of kashogi, the international reaction to it. There was a desire to sort of get out from under this. There was a feeling of great discomfort that one as one person said to me, we haven't felt this way since nine eleven they really wanted to get over it. Three weeks later when I went to Saudi Arabia. I found a move that was really different and it was much more. I would say reflective of a kind of anger. There was one of the things you I think you have to recognize is. Mohammed bin Salman has been seeking to replace ISM with a different form of legitimacy and the former legitimacy the new pillar of legitimacy is not just modernisation, but nationalism, and when you make nationalism the form of identity will win the outside world seems to be gang up on you. What a shock that. It produces a backlash. But that's exactly what I found when I was there a very strong sense of Saudi Arabia being singled out unfairly, and in a sense kind of coalescence kind of circling of the wagons. And that was especially true as it related to Mohammed bin Salman. I found a range of opinions about whether or not there should be some senior counselors him some checks and balances, but there was no range of opinion on his centrality to the changes taking place in Saudi Arabia. And if anybody thought that if you somehow could succeed in pushing him out, which they didn't think you could. But if you could the dark forces in Saudi Arabia would be back anyone who thought that. Somehow this move towards transformation of Saudi Arabia would continue if he wasn't there was engaging in luge in that this this was not possible. And if you want to see the transformation continue, then in fact, he has to be kind of the focal point of this. I've I found at the same time while there was this kind of anger at least among officialdom, I found this very sort of sober. Sense that okay. We got a problem with the United States. We know it's not going to go away right away. We realize. The we realized what's going on in the congress. We're not happy about it. But we just we have to persevere, and we will it'll take some time. But we will same time. I found a very strong impulse towards not walking away from reform doubling down on it continue to open up things within the society. I mean, the fact when I was there the Formula one car race was there and Ricky glasses was there literally too. Something like thirty or forty thousand people were there observing this. And this was presented to me with a lot of enthusiasm. And also as kind of marker is how things are changing within Saudi Arabia across the board. I found a determination just overall depressed ahead with the reform process. I was told when I raised questions about the the guardian rules. I was told there may not be anything that is as open as a decision on women driving. But there's simply our series of steps that are just being taken. As a matter of fact, so women at this point no longer have to have male approval to apply for a job to get a loan. The same thing doing any kind of banking the same thing that more and more of what will be very practical activities. Certainly commercial activities will be made without any reference to having any kind of approval from guardian from male relationships. The idea of pressing ahead in terms of overhauling the educational system was made to me very clearly and again with the idea of. Transforming the role of education. So that in fact, you create a knowledge-based society interestingly enough, there is a standing committee now that is reviewing the overhaul of the educational system. Kind from soup to nuts. And I was told that. Hollered bin Salman is on it. But also is Muhammed Alisa on it who is the secretary general of the world Muslim League. And if anyone who's paying attention last week to the article that he wrote on holocaust remembrance day to look at that article into think that it came from someone who's a Saudi is almost hard to imagine. I have to say Barbara my first trip to Saudi Arabia was March nineteen Ninety-one because I was with Baker when we went in immediately after the conclusion of the Gulf war Dennis Ross lie to have been going there since since that time, and it does feel like an entirely different country when you're there. And when you see someone like Mohammed, Lisa, right? The things that he does say the things that he does you feel like you're you're certainly dealing with kind of a different realm. She's been radio programming from Thursday. Doubled UCSB from washed. Now, I had a number of messages. I felt like I wanted to convey and rather than conveying would I did. I'll simply say that. I still think those messages I about to go through him. I think is what the US policy ought to be. So what are the things I would like to see this administration pushing right now. One. I think we need to we need to push transparency in the trials that are going to be held for those who've been accused Saudi Arabia of carrying out the kashogi murder. I think the more transparent that is it'll be at least part of a story that the Saudis can put out that they actually have a legal system that is dealing with us. A second thing. I would like the say like CD administration push administration ought to be saying to Mohammed bin Salman. Okay. The policy of trying to convince dissidents to come back to Saudi Arabia or disci- their criticism. When grievously wrong leaders went policies. They're responsible for go grievously, wrongly assume responsibility. And you water assume responsibility for this you say, you're you're changing the policies. Okay. You're changing the policies because you know, what went wrong. I would like to see since there is clearly an effort to continue the reform process there. It's clear that the crown prince I think needs to rebrand himself again as a reformer hard to do that so long as the wing women activists are in jail. I would like to see them released. I do think that there's been a and again the immigration. I think should be pushing that there has been a kind of confusion of the demonization of Saudi Arabia in the crown prince over kashogi with Yemen. So the story what's going on in Yemen is on the one hand completely legitimate to expose the kind of starvation and the the real human deprivation..