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'WE ARE NOT FREE RIDERS'

Prince Turki Al-Faisal

Saudi prince condemns Obama comments

RIYADH, March 14, 2016

A senior Saudi Arabian prince on Monday condemned comments attributed to US President Barack Obama, saying the American leader had "thrown us a curveball" in criticising Riyadh's regional role.

Obama, in comments to The Atlantic last week, described Saudi Arabia as a "free rider" on American foreign policy, and criticised what he saw as Riyadh's funding of religious intolerance and refusal to come to an accommodation with Iran.

"No, Mr Obama. We are not 'free riders'," Prince Turki Al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ex-ambassador to Washington and London, wrote in an open letter carried by the local Arab News English-language daily.

Prince Turki listed Riyadh's support for Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State group, its humanitarian aid for refugees in the region and its creation of an Islamic anti-terrorism coalition.

Although Prince Turki does not presently hold any official position in the Saudi leadership, his views are described by insiders as often reflecting those of the kingdom's top princes and as influential in Riyadh foreign policy circles.

In his letter, Turki asked whether Obama had "pivoted to Iran so much you eqate the kingdom's 80 years of constant friendship with America to an Iranian leadership that continues to describe America as the biggest enemy, that continues to arm, fund and support sectarian militias in the Arab and Muslim world".- Reuters




Tags: Riyadh | Obama |

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