Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has heaped praise upon Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying he will be “one of the most important leaders of his time.” In his new book, ‘Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love,’ Pompeo devotes a significant portion to US-Saudi relations and defends the need for close ties with Riyadh.
The Washington Post has criticized Pompeo for his book in which he said the media was trying to “fracture” Washington’s ties with Saudi Arabia. “Much of this had to do with Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the heir to the Saudi throne,” the former top US diplomat writes. “The progressive Left hates MBS, in spite of the fact that he is leading the greatest cultural reform in the Kingdom’s history.”
“When MBS became the crown prince, one of his first efforts was to assist the United States in rooting out Iran’s destabilizing influence from Yemen and assisting in the provision of food to avoid famine there,” Pompeo said.
The US has ended support for “offensive” operations conducted by the Arab Coalition against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen under the Biden administration. He said that Saudi Arabia would “gladly withdraw” from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave and that Riyadh would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance.
“Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.”
Pompeo writes that the “US strategic partnership with the Kingdom matters to Americans from New Hampshire to Iowa and from South Carolina to Nevada.”
Saudi needed for oil stability
Pompeo said a strong partnership with Saudi Arabia was not easy but credited former US Ambassador to the Kingdom John Abizaid for helping. Cooperation with Saudi Arabia on its oil production helped Washington’s ability to sanction Iran without imposing “huge” fuel costs on Americans, the former secretary said. In what seems to be the start of an unannounced presidential bid, Pompeo said that “as President of the United States,” he intends to ensure America is pursuing its national interests and contesting countries that wish harm.
Citing Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil-producing nation behind the US, Pompeo lauded the Gulf powerhouse for working “closely with us” and being “very responsive to my requests” to keep oil prices at reasonable levels. “Stable and affordable energy prices depend on Saudi Arabia’s output,” he said in his book. “Political instability in the Kingdom would be a nightmare scenario for the region and American national security.”
Will Saudi Arabia normalize ties with Israel?
While the Trump administration was able to broker peace deals known as the Abraham Accords between the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco with Israel, Saudi Arabia has not joined. Saudi officials have repeatedly stated that there needs to be an independent State of Palestine before peace can be reached.
Any potential normalization should be based on the Arab Peace Initiative, which was endorsed by the Arab League in Beirut in 2002, Saudi Arabia has said. According to Pompeo, the US tried hard to bring Saudi Arabia into the accords. “We came ever so close, thanks largely to Mohammed bin Salman,” adding that the Abraham Accords would never have come into being “without the tacit approval of MBS.”
An excerpt from the chapter on normalization reads as follows: “The world owes him a debt of gratitude for what he did. It is not an easy thing for the leader of Saudi Arabia to bless steps toward peace with Israel. Saudi Arabia occupies a special place in Islam, not least because it hosts the great pilgrimage, the Hajj, and is home to the first and second most holy sites in Islam in the cities of Mecca and Medina.” Heaping more praise on the Crown Prince, Pompeo said no Saudi leader had ever moved this quickly to reform the Kingdom. “And I venture that no other leader could have.”
Credit: Independent News Pakistan-INP