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Saudi Arabia Deepens Its Isolation

The kingdom’s rejection of UN Security Council seat does not convey more proactive foreign policy.
Saudi Arabia's Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf (front, 2nd R) walks with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Abdulatif al-Zayani (front R) to attend a meeting of Gulf Arab monetary and finance officials in Riyadh October 5, 2013. The central bank of Saudi Arabia, one of the world's top holders of U.S. government bonds, said on Saturday it was not worried by the political deadlock in Washington that could cause the United States to default on its debt. The U.S. Congress must agree on a measure
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Saudi Arabia is currently facing not only a major setback in its regional Arab diplomacy, but also an increasing isolation in international forums despite its recent election to a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. On Oct. 18, a day after it was voted in, Saudi Arabia turned down the seat as a protest against the international community’s unresponsiveness to its agenda, mainly in Syria, where direct military intervention gave way to diplomacy. Previously, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal canceled his speech at the UN after military intervention was ruled out. Saudi Arabia is putting itself in a corner and increasing its isolation, while entertaining grandiose plans that exceed by far its own capabilities. 

To remedy the situation, Nawaf Obaid proposes that Saudi Arabia revitalizes Arab alliances against regional threats. He anticipates a transformation of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy in that it will become more proactive and assertive in ways that free Arab countries from dependency on Western support, now that this support seems to be undermined by the recent American-Iranian rapprochement. 

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