The LA Times quotes Rafik Hariri Center Senior Fellow Richard LeBaron on President Obama’s approach to Saudi Arabia:
Richard LeBaron, a former ambassador to Kuwait and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said he’s seen no difference between Obama’s approach to handling the Saudis and the one used by earlier presidents. If Obama wants to minimize U.S. involvement in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia must play a bigger role in the region, he said.
“Saudis have to be part of the solution to the problem of ISIS and the Iran problem,” he said, using an acronym for Islamic State. “If we get an agreement with the Iranians, everybody is going to be taking a calculated risk…. Those closer to them geographically are going bear the brunt of that risk in ways that we won’t.”
Winning that sort of backing takes “a lot of reassuring,” LeBaron noted. “I think the president has learned that this requires a personal touch. He was hoping that it wouldn’t, I think.”