CIA Director Mike Pompeo met on Monday with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Mohammed Bin Salman has made a slew of changes in Saudi Arabia since becoming crown prince, most notably pledging to eradicate extremism in Saudi Arabia. Rumors have been flying that King Salman intends to abdicate in favor of his son during his lifetime.
For the current Saudi leadership, like many neighboring Sunni states, the number one enemy is Iran. This has been compounded since the Iran Deal made by the Obama administration, which saw Iran gain regional influence at the expense of America’s Arab allies. As a result, Saudi Arabia is moving closer to its old enemy Israel, as mutual fears of the ayatollahs prompt a re-evaluation of national priorities.
A recent Saudi video showed a simulation of Saudi forces conquering Tehran and capturing a terrified Major-General Qassem Suleimani, one of Iran’s top generals.
The Trump administration has been vocal about its goal of reigning in Iran. In October, the president refused to certify that Iran is keeping the conditions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran deal), pushing the issue off to Congress to strengthen the deal. Since Congress has not acted on the deal, the matter will return to Trump in January. At that time, he will need to decide whether to tear up the deal or not.
National Security Adviser H.R. MacMaster and Pompeo have also warned about Iran’s growing influence, especially in Syria. Pompeo’s presence in Saudi Arabia may indicate bilateral coordination on the issue of Iran.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence postponed his long-awaited trip to the Middle East on Monday. His office cited domestic concerns relating to the tax bill and says he will visit the region in January. Pence had been scheduled to visit Israel and Egypt.