Emboldened by renewed US support, Riyadh has moved quickly to demand its partners align their agendas to its own
The Saudi dispute with Qatar is rooted in the region’s two biggest power plays. That a usually reluctant Riyadh would choose to open a highly public feud with the tiny Gulf state so soon after hosting Donald Trump and 40 other world leaders stems from a deliberate calculation within the ruling House of Saud that now is the time to consolidate its status.
Trump’s visit marked a return to business as usual for a bilateral relationship that had remained solid until Barack Obama’s second term. Until then, the US had underwritten the regional order for almost 70 years, assessing – contentiously – that the Saudi leadership had been a plank of regional stability. The pivot to Iran, which offered Tehran regional legitimacy in return for agreeing to wind back its nuclear programme, changed all that.