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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  February 1, 2015 6:30am-7:01am EST

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victory in itself. a little nudge in the direction of the web. you see the main feature is free aj staff. the release of three journalists that we are calling for. aljazeera.com - all the other stories that we are covering right there. a level of delegation led by the president of the united states paid a condolence call. sympathy for the last of king abdullah, and the first contact with the new king salman. it's "inside story".
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hello, i'm ray suarez, american relations with modern saudi arabia is complicated. the state has sold advanced weapons equipment. trained saudis in their youth and watched the royal family fight those who fought hard to destroy israel, a close ally. in 1973, saudi arabia and o.p.e.c. helped to type the u.s. economy into distress with massive rises in the price of oil. saudi arabia spread money across the muslim world, building mosques, hiring cleric, distributing education materials, encouraging the growth of fundamentalist worship that has been a challenge to american interests around the world.
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at the same time, saudi arabia has been willing, for instance, in the gulf war to allied with the united states to expel iraq from kuwait and support the overthrow of the islamic state. friend, foe - necessary. how has the u.s. government looked at saudi arabia. >> reporter: president obama and michelle obama arrived on the tarmac, greeted by the new king. paying respects to the late king and speaking with the kingdom's new king. the 4-hour trip after president obama cut short a trip to india. the u.s. has a long history with saudi arabia, but changes lay ahead:
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the official u.s. delegation ipp cruded james baker and condoleezza rice and john mcgain. president obama's stop over was brief, underscoring the saudi arabia relation-to the united states as the u.s. confronts i.s.i.l., iraq and syria, and deals with rivalries, conflicts and instability in the region, including in yemen. this time on "inside story", the death of a king and the
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succession of another, a look at u.s. ties. let's start with senior washington correspondent mike viqueira, welcome back to "inside story". you know, the president and presidential face time is a very coveted resource. there's a new power on the scene, narendra modi - why did he cut short his visit. >> symbolism, appearances and substance. it's a measure of the economic importance of saudi arabia. a country that president obama described as a key to a complicated group of nations. it may be an understatement. let's be honest, the president would be sightseeing, visit the taj mahal, maybe upset that he couldn't do that. he cut short the trips to asia. >> if he had done that, and he
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hadn't been in saudi arabia. with a large delegation, you outlined it there. eyebrows would have been raised. if he had gone forward with the original plan, the president and vice president would have been out of the country at the same time. the white house wants to avoid that. president's absence, vice president's absence, and a top official, and the "charlie hebdo" matter - it was a factor in sending president obama. it's a clear message about the importance with which to view the relationship. >> importance of the relationship. what are the main pending issues between the two countries. >> i was with the white house. the president had been to netherlands, belgium, stopped in rome, vatican to see the pope and tacked on riyadh. the president was compelled because the saudis were upset with president obama's policy in
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the region. first of all the talks over iran's nuclear programme. the situation in i.s.i.l. with i.s.i.l., the president trying to push forward. saudi arabia planes flying in the american-led coalition. at that time saudi arabia is very much - they are disappointed with president obama from backing israel, after bashar al-assad had deployed chemical weapons killing innocent civilians. nothing came to it. the chemical weapons programme was destroyed under the auspices of russia. the deal was struck with russia. the relationship has been repaired. the white house wants to cope it going. the word used was continuity. >> looking at the passage of time, talks with iran continues. they continue. the fight against i.s.i.l. is
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still to be determined. but in syria - where are the two countries far apart? >> well, i think the israeli palestinian conflict is a sore point. this is the fundamental issue in the middle east and in the bit lateral relationship with the united states and saudi. on the economic side, white house officials say after the meeting they did not speak to the two leaders about oil prices, but spoke about oil stability within the energy sector. they didn't talk about the price of the pump. the move by saudi arabia to keep up production, to keep the price of a barrel of oil at record low et cetera, given the rate of inflation, a lot look at that, wandering what they are up,
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pushing zlairgeal players, many operating in the united states. including fracking. trying to push them out, put the squeeze on them. making it unprofitable for them. so the saudis keep it going, drop out and the price of oil goes up. they are playing a complicated discussion. >> there is an example. it's a time where everybody talks about the alliance. here is the saudis with an aggressive play, and making american production in places like that simplest profitable. >> right. but there are areas where there are public displays of cohesion. take, for example, a plan where they vet some moderates. saudis agree to do it on their territory. there's a lot of hoops to jump through.
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it's not up and running at this point. none of those rebels at this point are in the saudi territory, it's something they agree on. they've been going on within syria. we want to see the united states take a forthright action. for months, years, trying to get permission from the mann pads, shoulder-launched missiles to the syrian opposition. they need the united states to do that. it's not been forthcoming. >> that's al jazeera america's mike viqueira. we'll take a break. when we come back, who is king salman. for on the succession in the region and we'll dig deeper with the ambassador. stay with us. it's "inside story".
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america primetime. you are watching "inside story," i'm ray suarez. as saudi arabians mourn the death of king abdullah, we look at the relationship between the king and the united states. military, economic, and cultural, the two countries often see eye to eye and often don't. for the rest of the program i'm joined by director of the institute for gulf affairs, and ambassador james smith, u.s. ambassador to saudi arabia from 2009 to 2013, and a senior counsellor at the co-jep group. -- cohen group. you heard mike viqueira. you were the man in riyadh. does it agree with what you saw when you were in place? >> absolutely, and the first
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issue is offering condolence. it's a wonderful tradition. three days after the passing. the fact that you have brought a delegation going back four different presidencies. people that knew king abdullah, sending a symbol of respect, and i am sure it was embraced and treasured by people there. there are substantive issues. and by other members of the delegation. they decide the intelligence community, and members of congress. again, they get a say in the relationship as well. it was a powerful signal. >> are the two countries really friends, or given the state of play in the world, do they simply get pushed into each other's arms. >> it is a great friendship between the saudi arabia and the
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u.s. government. absolutely. they have difficulternalent interest. for the most part saudi arabia has served the united states more than the other way around. if you look at the middle east, a country that has a lot of american troops sent and wage wars. iraq, attacks on houthis. familiar with that, because it happened during his term. and even against the population. the effort against the opponent in the country, and, of course, in the region as well. it's a mutual relationship, ben fush for both - -- beneficial for both. the monarchy and the government. >> do the people of saudi arabia perceive it the same way? when you say the monarchy, that
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takes in thousands and thousands of people because of the long extended family of the saud clan. if we stopped in a mall in riyadh for jeddah and talked to those shopping, how do they feel about the united states, the way the people in the saudi arabia cabinet do? >> you have a problem, because people fear terrorism. but if you look at the u.s. government state forces, 1955 until now, it rarely appears. relationships with his high possess and so on. that has been the american priority in the relationship is pleasing and protecting. the reality is the fact that the u.s. has supported more weapons to saudi arabia, than anything else. for example, there is a crisis of housing in saudi arabia. almost 80% of the population do
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not own a home in this large country. because the u.s. did not put a priority and pushing housing or health care or even university education. schools as well, most are rented houses. priority is protecting the ruling family, not helping the people. in terms of human rights. that is also an expression indicating where the u.s. prities were. >> -- priorities were. >> does geography and oil shape the relationship in way that is make the way we relate to the saudis from any other similarly situated country. >> perhaps. let me comment. i travel to all 14 provinces in saudi arabia. and i can't comment on everyone. but i would tell you the saudi people are among the most warm,
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generous hospitable on the face of the earth. either i had a small sampling in my travels, or i missed the warmth of that population towards the united states. they have a great capacity to separate political views, american geopolitical decisions from america and americans. so they'll come to school here, travel to america, vacation here - notwithstanding fundamentally different positions than the united states government like palestine. saudi arabia has been the - in the eye of the storm for four years now. it has - the east has challenged. not just houthis, but yemen has been a change. and then al qaeda to the north.
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for many years, and now, it has formed. saudi arabia feels around it. feels like they are in the eye of a storm. >> as a part of it, we don't import that much oil to the united states. our role in this is to guarantee asia. >> because of its keystone nature, flanged as it is by israel, other middle eastern countries and yemen, some of them problematic places, do they get slack in their internal dealings and give to other countries. does the united states say certain things, that we would be upfront about in other nations? >> this is not a binary ability or human rights.
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ali's organization, human rights watch, amnesty international are keeping visibility on human rights issues in saudi arabia and the rest of the world. the challenge is how do you deal with it. what we found is human rights issues, you are better dealing with them privately. women's rights religious freedom is a dialogue going on all the time. the fact it wasn't visible does not mean that the government doesn't agree with some of these issues. >> you are shaking your head. >> i have many meetings with the state department. for example, the school textbook issues. this is privately. i came 10 years after this and
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said "you have done this for 10 years. the result is zero. this is an excuse, a fig leaf to say we do it. i know for a fact that i've been here in washington, and have connection with activists and officials. thing. >> i want people to understand what you are talking about with textbooks. >> saudi government enforced text backs. >> what was the problem? >> it's a sectarian text box. it disparges all muslims. >> it matters what i.s.i.s. is teaching its people. we raised the issues about the way the school called for the murder of every jew, and the eternal hatred of christians in terms of
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classifying muslims as those that should died. the textbook has not changed. >> let me get a quick reaction from the ambassador. you are aware of this problem. >> yes, and we worked it every year. we have 100 saudi students studying in the united states. either they are not paying attention to this in school, or it's not working. >> it's only a tiny section of students students. >> about 10%, yes. having said that we are continually with the saudi arabia - a focus on the agenda to the exclusion of everything else. and that has bread a sense of
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intolerance that we think has contributed to many of the challenges in the region. i would not dismiss the effort over the years. >> we'll be back with more "inside story" after the break. when we come back we'll continue the theme - can the instincts and chess moves that got saudi arabia from the end of the otto man empire to the digital age help with enemies on the borders, regional and sectarian on the move. stay with us.
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development... >> we have an exclusive story tonight, and we go live... we are back with "inside story", luis suarez - the death of king abdullah, the arrival of king salman and the arrival the united states with pressures in the region. what should americans know about the new king, salman? >> he is a very long practised practitioner in saudi arabia since 19. he ruled the cabinet of riyadh for 52 years, so is in tune with society.
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he has a gift for remembering and knowing people of the the been is i don't think his health will be very well. and still, early onset of alzhiemer's. john hopkins from the clinic are his team. this well erases the -- the fact that he'll be a figure wet. there is a number three guys, and the son with a defence minister. >> as part of the transition, they have named a crown prince. we know, effect, who the next king will be. is it important?
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into well, it's important we know him. i think they make two announcements. first, the crown prince. the youngest son of king abdullah, and the end of the line of king abdullah. also they have designated the minister of interior as the deputy prince and the second deputy prime minister, so the number three position. not a guarantee of succession, but at the powerful signal that they are ready to move to the next generation. >> is it important to signal and unleash a fight among many sons. >> it's important that king salman sent a signal of stability at the top, over the next 30 years.
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prince mukran was a fighter pilot, training at cram well undergraduate. he went to montgomery. he served as the governor for 20 years. the governor of medina for six years, before becoming head of intelligence and was replaced next to king abdullah in the last few years. an avible person. very connected to people. successor. >> ali, there are pressures on saudi society for modernization. all around - is it a good time to be running saudi arabia.
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>> i think we heard the story before, during the revolution. the awed -- saudi monarchy like to portray us as a threat. they don't give rights to the people. they say we are at war now, so if anything happens, nobody say anything. that's the saudi style. i have met them. there's not a strong leader. king abdullah used the third place holder to fill the place for his son. it didn't work. he'll be a nominal figure. the power now, the guy that runs the country, in saudi arabia, you have to be one of the head of the security forces to have a shot at being a king. minister of the defense or interior or the national guard - i don't think national guard is strong. the u.s. has been delaying
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national guard acquisition of planes, because that's what abdul ghani wanted. -- king abdullah wanted. the u.s. delayed it. what i'm saying is that the region as been unstable. a large part of that is due to saudi intervention. since 1978 india met with saudis going to fight with i.s.i.s. and other groups. all of these things are a product of it. >> ambassador, we are almost out of time, as saudi arabia created problems. i know it's a tough question. i wanted to get there before we sign off. >> there's plenty of blame to go around. you can look at the saudis advancement. they are conservative
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and unyielding, not willing to knowledge any other interpretation of islam. >> we'll have to continue the conversation another time. good to see you both. that brings us to the end of this edition of "inside story". thanks for being with us. in washington, i'm ray suarez.

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