|BHO in Arabia [Image Source: Official White House Photo]|
The Independent [UK], in an April 1 article ["Saudi Arabia declares all atheists are terrorists in new law to crack down on political dissidents"] about a new law entitled Royal Decree 44 describes how it criminalises
"participating in hostilities outside the kingdom" with prison sentences of between three and 20 years... Article one of the new provisions defines terrorism as "calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based".
What we found inside was something straight off a movie set. Tall bowls with wrapped chocolates stacked in precise rows. Fresh flowers on every coffee table. A massive gold clock the size of an armoire. Satin upholstery, crystal chandeliers, oriental rugs and luxurious couches with perfectly placed pillows. Photos of the king hung on the walls, including one of him almost touching noses with a horse. [Politico, March 30, 2014]
Soothing Saudi angst was the main aim of Mr Obama's visit, and in this regard it will have been at least a partial success. Mr Obama was fulsome in his comments about the two countries' 80‑year relationship, which he described as "strong", and he avoided antagonising the Saudi leadership by bringing up the kingdom's poor human rights record... It is not clear if the two leaders talked about the attempts by the US secretary of state, John Kerry, to energise the Middle East peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The issue is not high up Saudi Arabia's list of priorities... The Obama administration is already considering the impact that a new Saudi leader would have on the bilateral relationship... Mr Obama's visit may become the prelude to a bigger charm offensive once King Abdullah's successors ascend to the throne.