Nasir Khan: It is the overall US patronage of the House of Saud that keeps the medieval despots in Riyadh in their palaces and enables thousands of Saudi princes to control every aspect of the desert kingdom. Human rights, rule of law and gender equality, etc, are unknown notions for the ruling dynasty. When an ordinary blogger, Raif Baidawi, wrote that the people in this country should be able to express their view on matters of common concern he was falsely charged with insulting Islam and given 1000 lashes as punishment for his views. Such is the country that is America’s closest ally and strategic partner in the Middle East after Israel. That speaks abundantly about the US policies in the Middle East.
- theguardian.com, Tuesday 27 January 2015 04.52 GMT
Barack Obama is travelling with a 27-strong delegation to cement ties with the new king of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday as concerns over Yemen and the Islamic State take centre stage in the increasingly volatile region.
Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan, Republican hawk senator John McCain and General Lloyd Austin, head of US Central Command forces in the region, are among the surprise additions to a hastily organised trip that has drawn critical comparisons with the US failure to send any senior figures to Paris following recent terrorist attack.