U.S. President Barack Obama’s interview in The Atlantic magazine earlier this month has sent shockwaves across Saudi social media.
In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg published last week, Obama raised questions about Riyadh’s links to terrorist groups that have destabilized the Middle East.
Saudi twitterati were indignant at what they saw as the President’s betrayal of his country’s longstanding ally.
“Obama talked like a little man… reflecting Washington’s poor contribution to global security,” tweeted Salah.
السيّد أوباما يتحدّث على طريقة الصغار.. وكأنه يوضّح الدور"الصغير" لبلاده وسياساتها في أمن العالم..
— صلاح الغيدان (@salahalghaydan) March 14, 2016
“Resorting to terror against anyone who tries to harm us is a badge of honor, I swear to Allah,” wrote Ahmad Alshehru. “America, you think too highly of yourself.”
والذي اعزنا بالاسلام انها وسام شرف لنا ان نرهب من تسول له نفسه الافساد امريكا والله اخذتي اكبرمن حجمك #أوباما_يتهم_السعودية_بالإرهاب_وتمويله
— أحمـــــد الشهري (@AHMEDALSHEHRI3) March 17, 2016
“If you ask the youngest baby in the most remote part of Africa which is the world’s most dangerous terrorist state, he will say: The United States,” tweeted Habibsyria.
“American citizens jailed here get a much better treatment than our inmates in American prisons,” wrote Haledaldosari.
— المعتقل خالد الدوسري (@5haledaldosari) March 16, 2016
“Obama blames Saudi Arabia for terrorism, flirts with Iran and the Shi’ite militias in Iraq and turns a blind eye to Russia’s crimes in Syria,” wrote Dr Ali Alrabie.
“I thought he was kidding,” Men Sanah commented sarcastically. “And the proof is that he plans to visit the Gulf. Obama is nice but he’s sometimes annoying.”
قسم انه يمزح وذكرتها اخرة مرة وبدليل جاي لاجتماع دول الخليج والله ان اوباما حليل بس يعصب احيانا
— عالم جليل وفاضل (@men_sanah) March 17, 2016
In The Atlantic interview, Obama was critical of the Saudis for funneling money to Wahhabi madrassas.
He further told The Atlantic:
“The competition between the Saudis and the Iranians — which has helped to feed proxy wars and chaos in Syria and Iraq and Yemen — requires us to say to our friends as well as to the Iranians that they need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace.”
“An approach that said to our friends, ‘You are right, Iran is the source of all problems, and we will support you in dealing with Iran’ would essentially mean that as these sectarian conflicts continue to rage … we have to start coming in and using our military power to settle scores. And that would be in the interest neither of the United States nor of the Middle East.”
The Atlantic quoted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as asking Obama, “Aren’t the Saudis your friends?”
“It’s complicated,” a smiling Obama replied.
The article prompted Prince Turki al-Faisal, a senior member of the royal family, to pen a piece highlighting Saudi contributions to the war on terror. “We shared with you our intelligence that prevented deadly terrorist attacks on America,” Faisal wrote.
To ease the tensions, Obama will be visiting Saudi Arabia on April 21 for a summit with the leaders of Persian Gulf nations.