All-Star Panel: Saudi Arabia breaking up with the US?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 22, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We know that the Saudis were obviously, you know, disappointed that the strike didn't take place and have questions about some of the other things that may be happening in the region. It's our obligation to work closely with them as I am doing.

WALID PHARES, FOX MIDDLE EAST AND TERRORISM ANALYST: What the Saudis are concerned about is the fact that the United States is not consulting with its allies in the region before it goes to Iran or before it takes those important decisions about Syria, being correct in the alliance with each other.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Middle East diplomats tell Fox News that the Saudis are very upset, actually livid about the situation with Syria, U.S. policy with Syria, Iran, and Egypt. We're back with the panel. What about all of this, Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, this is a situation where it's -- the Saudis, who I think are very comfortable saying I will hold your coat while you go have this fight, have been reluctant to come forward, meaning the Arab League didn't come out and support the idea of missile strikes when the United States was trying to get support, gather support in the region.

But their concern is with the Syrians to the extent that the Syrians are supported by the Iranians, and that the Iranians who are, you know, involved in ethnic warfare, you know, one group of Muslims against another, feel like they are getting the upper hand. The Saudis think that that's to their detriment. And therefore they want the United States to not only be more aggressive in terms of getting Assad out in Syria, but going after the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. And they want them to make a stronger stand that will allow them, the Saudis, to play a background role.

The United States, however, has not done that. And now the news about the United States pulling some support from the Egyptians, again, has irritated the Saudis.

BAIER: But it's kind of a unique moment for the Saudis to do this break.


BAIER: At least publicly.

EASTON: I think as Juan says, they prefer to be behind the scenes.  And I think it's the effect of a leadership void in the region as the U.S. has stepped back, particularly on Syria. We have taken a backseat. And keep in mind what's going on with Saudi Arabia right now and Syria. Assad has now said -- the Iranian-backed regime of Assad has said he is not going to step down. He has no intention of stepping down. So we see where that is going.

We have the administration engaging with Iran, which is fine, but there is concern out of the Saudis that this means that we're going to have a grand bargain that enables them to maintain their nuclear weapons capability. I would also add, just broadly -- more broadly speaking and this blame nowhere, which is that we are lessening our oil dependence on Saudi Arabia. We are not going to be a big customer for oil. We've already reduced dependence by 20 percent from OPEC oil, and probably in 2017 we will have gone past Saudi Arabia and Russia as the largest oil producer in the world. That's going to change dynamics big time.

BAIER: Which both parties say is a great thing. Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yeah. All of these things, all of those issues matter, but I think this is about Iran more than anything else. And this is something the Saudis have been warning about for years, a potential change in regional strength and the cast of the greater Middle East if Iran is allowed to get a nuclear weapon.

I remember traveling back when I was traveling with Bush administration officials covering trips to Saudi Arabia back then, and on the front burner the things that would be talked about in the press availabilities and things would be issues that were maybe of minor concern or some concern, but they would be the public issues. And then behind the scenes, of course, it was all about Iran all the time.

I think what you are seeing now is an attempt by the Saudis to say this is our last chance. This is the moment. And I think the important -- another important point to make is this isn't just the Saudis who feel this way. There are countries throughout the region that have sort of had it with the administration, what they perceive to be this disengagement.

BAIER: Just read this quote from the Wall Street Journal, Prince Bandar with Saudi Arabia says "'This was a message for the U.S.,' not the U.N. Prince Bandar was quoted by diplomats as specifying Saudi Arabia's decision to walk away from the U.N. Security Council membership."

That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for some more diagnosis of ObamaCare's website woes. 

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