Saudi Arabia moves center stage

The Arab kingdom that straddles most of the Arabian peninsular, has suddenly become critically influential.

July 17, 2013 12:01
Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi (R) meets with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal

Morsi meets with Saudi Arabia's FM 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Suddenly the world’s spotlight has turned onto a player in the Middle East political drama who, until quite recently, has been assigned only a modest role. Out of the blue, commentators have taken to describing Saudi Arabia as “the region's most powerful influence-peddler” and “a mid-east powerhouse.” The Arab kingdom that straddles most of the Arabian peninsular and, despite its enormous oil-fuelled wealth, has never seemed a contender in the power struggles of the Middle East, has suddenly become critically influential.

In a telephone call on Saturday July 13, US President Barack Obama and Saudi King Abdullah shared concerns about the effect on the region of Syria's civil war. They agreed to continue supporting the rebels seeking to overthrow the Assad régime.  Obama and Abdullah also found themselves in broad agreement about the situation in Egypt. Immediately after Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was removed from power, Abdullah had sent the military a message of congratulation. Obama told the king he hoped for an inclusive, democratic process to be set in train in Egypt, to allow a return to civilian government.


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