Tuesday, September 3, 2013
"(Reuters) - If President Barack Obama has disappointed Syrian rebels by deferring to Congress before bombing Damascus, he has also dismayed the United States' two main allies in the Middle East.
Israel and Saudi Arabia have little love for each other but both are pressing their mutual friend in the White House to hit President Bashar al-Assad hard. And both do so with one eye fixed firmly not on Syria but on their common adversary - Iran.
Israel's response to Obama's surprise move to delay or even possibly cancel air strikes made clear that connection: looking soft on Assad after accusing him of killing hundreds of people with chemical weapons may embolden his backers in Tehran to develop nuclear arms, Israeli officials said. And if they do, Israel may strike Iran alone, unsure Washington can be trusted.
Neither U.S. ally is picking a fight with Obama in public. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the nation was "serene and self-confident"; Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal simply renewed a call to the "international community" to halt Assad's violence in Syria.
But the Saudi monarchy, though lacking Israel's readiness to attack Iran, can share the Jewish state's concern that neither may now look with confidence to Washington to curb what Riyadh sees as a drive by its Persian rival to dominate the Arab world......"