Monday, October 17, 2016

Off the grid

From Jeffrey Goldberg's Obama Doctrine Atlantic magazine interviews --

A widely held sentiment inside the White House is that many of the most prominent foreign-policy think tanks in Washington are doing the bidding of their Arab and pro-Israel funders. I’ve heard one administration official refer to Massachusetts Avenue, the home of many of these think tanks, as “Arab-occupied territory.”

From the New York Times profile of Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Prince Mohammed bin Salman --

Personal relationships have long been the bedrock of American-Saudi relations, yet the Obama administration has struggled to find someone to develop a rapport with the prince. The job has largely fallen to Secretary of State John Kerry, who has hosted the prince several times at his home in Georgetown. In June, the two men shared an iftar dinner, breaking the Ramadan fast. In September 2015, dinner at Mr. Kerry’s house ended with Prince bin Salman [sic] playing Beethoven on the piano for the secretary of state and the other guests. In May, the prince invited Mr. Kerry for a meeting on the Serene, the luxury yacht he bought from the Russian billionaire [Yuri Scheffler]. His desire to reimagine the Saudi state is reflected in his admiration — some even call it envy — for the kingdom’s more modern and progressive neighbor in the Persian Gulf, the United Arab Emirates. He has influential supporters in this effort, particularly the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who for more than a year has been promoting Prince bin Salman [sic] in the Middle East and in Washington. Crown Prince bin Zayed [sic], the United Arab Emirates’ de facto ruler, is a favorite among Obama administration officials, who view him as a reliable ally and a respected voice in the Sunni world. But he also has a history of personal antipathy toward Prince bin Nayef [sic], adding a particular urgency to his support for the chief rival of the Saudi crown prince. In April of last year, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, led a small delegation of top White House officials to visit Prince bin Zayed [sic] at his home in McLean, Va. During the meeting, according to several officials who attended, the prince urged the Americans to develop a relationship with Prince bin Salman [sic].

The same White House officials who ostensibly disdain Gulf influence on think tanks have no problem giving direct audiences to the same people. When it eventually comes time to explain the barren landscape that is this administration's achievements with Arab countries, the claim of having moved outside the bubble won't be an excuse.

Side note: we've reflected above the abysmal naming convention for Gulf princes followed by the NYT article (i.e. omission of their first name), which makes it impossible to know which prince they're talking about. 

No comments: