Discussion: President Obama in Saudi Arabia

US President Barack Obama made his fourth and probably last visit to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, against the backdrop of an increasingly strained relationship between Washington and Riyadh. Among the issues that have created friction between the old allies are the ongoing fight to stop ISIL, regional conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, and challenges posed by Iran. According to officials, Obama reiterated in a closed door meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz that Saudi Arabia, along with other Persian Gulf nations, needed to rely less on the US for their security.What will that mean for the region? Will this further strain the US-Saudi relationship? Saudi Arabia has also been threatened by Washington’s cooperation with Tehran. Are the US’ alliances in question? And as Saudi Arabia’s military spending has grown to $87.2 billion, how should we view the growing ambition of this Middle Eastern power? Join us in a panel discussion with Patrick Clawson, Director of Research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Khaled Batarfi, a professor at Al-Faisal University; and Prof. Mohammad Marandi, Associate Professor with University of Tehran.

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