"There must be something wrong in their minds or their propaganda. There is no way Saudi Arabia can ever confront Iran unless they are confronting Iran with the American 'stick'," says Nabeel Khoury, a former U.S. diplomat with experience in Saudi Arabia, now a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. "And the American stick is not completely at their disposal, even with this administration."
Khoury considers Salman's domestic crackdowns and foreign adventures – particularly Yemen and threatening words toward Iran – as reckless and increasingly unnecessary for an American economy that is increasingly less reliant on Saudi oil.
"The value of Saudi Arabia to the U.S. is overblown," Khoury says. "And strategically, especially with a reckless leader, they may be more of a liability than an asset."