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Saudis have high hopes for Trump following Syria airstrike

After failing in efforts to push Obama toward further involvement against Damascus in the Syrian conflict, Saudi Arabia is hoping the airstrike launched by Trump against a Syrian air base early this morning is not a one-off.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman meet at the White House  in Washington, U.S., March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTX30ZV3

Saudi Arabia was quick to endorse the American cruise missile attack on the Syrian air base responsible for the horrendous chemical massacre in Idlib. Saudi expectations of future American steps to unseat Bashar al-Assad are likely to be extravagant.

The Saudis have wanted Washington to get rid of Assad for years. Riyadh believes the Assad dynasty is the key to Iranian influence in the Levant. In the 1980s the Saudis tried to get then-President Ronald Reagan to oust Bashar's father, Hafez al-Assad, and in the 1990s they hoped Washington would entice Damascus away from Tehran by a peace agreement with Israel on the Golan Heights. Neither strategy worked, but both relied on American heavy lifting to do the job. Both expected Washington to be capable of delivering more than it could. That is a common feature of Saudi foreign policy: to expect the United States to be all powerful.

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