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US needs Saudi ‘more than ever’ to defeat ISIS: Foreign Policy magazine

Washington's warmth towards the Islamic republic ignores the kingdom’s longterm efforts to eradicate terror groups

Published: Updated:

The United States needs Saudi Arabia more than ever to defeat ISIS, al-Qaeda and other militant groups in the Middle East, a former US army officer and security analyst says.

The anti-Saudi voices that echo around Washington and in US media have grown louder after last year’s nuclear deal with Iran, Michael Pregent wrote in a Wednesday article for Foreign Policy magazine.

However, US warmth towards the Islamic republic ignores the kingdom’s longtime efforts to eradicate terror groups.

“Americans are safer today because the kingdom has foiled numerous al Qaeda terrorist plots targeting the US homeland,” Pregent wrote.

“In fact, it’s Tehran that continues to sabotage US counterterrorism efforts.”

Unlike Saudi Arabia, Iran has not helped the US stop any terror plots, or stopped the Syrian regime from helping al-Qaeda fighters into Iraq to kill US soldiers, the analyst said.

Real help

Meanwhile, Saudi has “real, tangible, counterterror accomplishments” which include forming a coalition of 39 Muslim-majority countries to combat al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the Lebanese militants, and hunting down al-Qaeda suspects on its own soil, the analyst said.

The kingdom is also “key” to fighting ISIS, who have not been dislodged from Iraq and Syria even after multiple bombing campaigns from Russia and a US-led coalition.

“It is a bitter pill to swallow that our country should be seeking to ‘normalize’ relations with [Iran],” he added.

The apparent possibility of Saudi government involvement in the Sep. 11 attacks - involvement that some believed was contained within elusive 9/11 commission documents - has also soured sentiments, the analyst wrote.

The allegations may have fallen flat after Ben Rhodes, a top aide to US President Barack Obama, who had been a member of the commission stated that Saudi individuals, and not the government, had supported al-Qaeda leading up to Sep. 11.

Obama is currently on a visit to Saudi Arabia. On Wednesday, he met with King Salman and other Gulf leaders who had gathered for a summit in the capital Riyadh.

Obama’s visit - likely his last before he leaves office next January - was centered around reassuring Gulf allies on regional security.