The Buzz

America’s Iran ‘Tilt’ Likely Topic as President Obama Visits Saudi Arabia

Jim Phillips, a Middle East expert at The Heritage Foundation, says he expects the U.S. to maintain cooperation with Saudi Arabia on issues like security and counterterrorism.

“Saudi Arabia is [still] a valuable ally for containing and rolling back Iran, defeating ISIS and al-Qaeda, and keeping oil prices low,” Phillips said. “If Saudi Arabia breaks with the United States and pursues its own goals unilaterally, the Middle East will be a much more unpredictable, dangerous and unstable place.”

The best way to manage a complex relationship, McInnis and Phillips say, is for the U.S. to continue to be frank with Saudi Arabia about the two countries’ differences, while hoping they can unite around common goals, despite competing priorities.

“I think fundamentally we can admit our differences we have with the Saudis, and recognize we won’t always be aligned,” McInnis said. “The Saudis support for the promulgation of the Wahhabism ideology [an ultraconservative branch of Sunni Islam] will always be a problem with them, and we don’t like how they treat women and restrict freedom of the press. But if we hope to someday calm down the region, working with the Saudis is better than working against the Saudis.”

This piece first appeared in The Daily Signal here