THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: The disengagement of President Barack Obama’s America from the Middle East has forced the kingdom to square up to Iran and Israel
There was a time, not so long ago, when any missiles directed at Iran from Saudi Arabian soil would most likely have carried the insignia of the United States. But that was before al-Qaeda’s murderous campaign against American influence in the kingdom resulted in Washington relocating its military operations in the Gulf.
So we should not be surprised that the latest images of Saudi ballistic missiles directed at Iran and Israel bear the Saudis’ distinctive green emblem of two swords beneath a palm tree. These days, rather than looking to Uncle Sam to protect their interests, the Saudis realise they are very much on their own. As the Obama administration’s inept handling of last week’s removal of Egypt’s first democratically elected government has demonstrated, not even a military coup in one of its most important regional allies will evoke much of a response from the White House.
Indeed, with President Barack Obama determined not to allow the US to be drawn into any of the region’s poisonous disputes, whether Syria’s brutal civil war or the continuing controversy over Iran’s nuclear programme, former staunch American allies such as the Saudis have come to the reluctant conclusion that, so far as their own security is concerned, they must be more self-sufficient in protecting their interests.
This certainly explains the revelations by IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review that recent satellite intelligence photographs show the Saudis have built a new missile base deep in the desert, stocked with powerful Chinese-made DF3 surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 1,500 to 2,000 miles, which are targeted at Israel and Iran.
The fact that the Saudis find it necessary to point missiles at Israel is itself an alarming indictment of the Obama administration’s decision to turn its back on an erstwhile ally. If America were fully engaged in taking care of its allies, then there would be no need for the Saudis to target Israel. After all, as the recent WikiLeaks disclosures revealed, the Saudis share the same strategic objective as Israel: persuading the US to launch military action to destroy Iran’s nuclear programme – or, as one Saudi diplomat elegantly put it, to “cut off the head of the snake”. But with the Obama administration absent, the Saudis believe they have no option but to defend themselves against potential Israeli aggression. » | Con Coughlin | Thursday, July 11, 2013