Obama in Saudi Arabia, and 9/11 Looms Large
Tensions are especially fraught with an old ally
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2016 6:24 AM CDT
President Obama, accompanied by the Commander of 89th Airlift Wing Colonel John Millard, walks to board Air Force One upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

(Newser) – President Obama landed in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday morning at a time when relations between the two countries are especially dicey. Here's a look:

  • USA Today digs into five big issues, most notably a bill in Congress that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudis. Friction over how to deal with Iran is also a problem.
  • Tensions have gotten worse in recent years "under the more assertive King Salman and his ambitious son." The Guardian explains.

  • Another "delicate" issue: Before he left, Obama supported the idea of releasing 28 confidential pages from the 9/11 Commission suggesting that Saudi officials in the US had some role in the attack, reports the New York Times.
  • The Washington Post takes a deeper dive into the long-simmering allegations that the Saudis were involved.
  • Despite the tensions, "there is little chance the President’s sojourn in Riyadh will bring any significant changes to America’s long-term alliance with Saudi Arabia," according to an analysis at Time.
  • From a more international perspective, al Jazeera notes that the wars in Syria and Yemen will be high on the agenda of a defense summit Thursday.
  • The Intercept has a critical analysis: "Obama is making his fourth trip to Riyadh, having presided over record-breaking US arms sales to Saudi Arabia while offering only muted criticism of the kingdom's human rights violations."
  • Along those lines, the Washington Post editorial board wants Obama to speak up for imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi.