The former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington, Prince Turki Al-Faysal, issued an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama’s about his past comments in which he referred to the Gulf monarchy as being a “free rider”.
Shocked by the U.S. president’s comments regarding the Al-Saud regime, Al-Faysal stated that Obama had “thrown us a curve ball” in reference to the criticizing remarks that attacked Riyadh’s role in the region.
Obama’s comments to The Atlantic last week, described Saudi Arabia as a “free rider” in regards to American foreign policy, and criticized what he saw as the Al-Saud regime’s funding of religious extremism in Muslim countries and their deliberate intolerance of Iran.
Al-Faysal argued that the Al-Saud regime is not a “free rider”, given the pivotal role they played in arming the Syrian rebels, providing humanitarian aid to refugees, and combating terrorism.
The retired diplomat agreed that Saudi Arabia has been active in the region, but only to help bring peace and stability.
“No, Mr Obama. We are not ‘free riders’” Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ex-ambassador to Washington and London, wrote in an open letter carried by the local Arab News English-language daily.
In his letter, Turki asked whether Obama had “pivoted to Iran so much you equate the kingdom’s 80 years of constant friendship with America to an Iranian leadership that continues to describe America as the biggest enemy, that continues to arm, fund and support sectarian militias in the Arab and Muslim world”.
Although al-Faisal does not presently hold any official position in the Saudi leadership, his views are described by insiders as often reflecting those of the kingdom’s top princes and as influential in Riyadh foreign policy circles.