Obama said, “I arrived in Riyadh, where I was scheduled to meet King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and the most powerful leader in the Arab world. I had never set foot in the Kingdom before, and at the lavish welcome ceremony at the airport, the first thing I noticed was the complete absence of women or children.” On the runway or airport lounges, there are only rows of men with black mustaches in military uniform or thobe and ghutra. ”
“I was expecting a lot from that of course, this is the way things are done in the Gulf. But I was still amazed at the extent of oppression and sadness that this separate place feels, as if I suddenly entered a world in which all the colors faded.”
Obama indicated that he had moved with his team to stay on King Abdullah’s farm outside Riyadh, but he had reservations about calling it a farm after seeing it. He fell in the middle of the desert. ”
Obama added, “The king himself welcomed me warmly at the entrance to what seemed to be the main residence in the complex. The king was in a good mood that day, and (Saudi Ambassador to Washington at the time Adel) Al-Jubeir acted as translator, and the king fondly recalled the 1945 meeting between his father. Roosevelt, on board the USS Quincy, affirmed the great appreciation for the alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and described his feeling of satisfaction when I saw an elected president.
Obama continued by saying, “The king agreed with the idea of my forthcoming speech in Cairo, stressing that Islam is a religion of peace and pointing to the work that he personally did to promote interfaith dialogue. He also assured me that the Kingdom will coordinate with my economic advisers to ensure that oil prices do not impede the recovery from the crisis.” Global Finance. ”
Obama made it clear that consensus was not present in some files, and said: “The king did not make a commitment and was wary of possible controversy when it came to two of my specific requests, namely that the Kingdom and other members of the Arab League consider taking a gesture towards Israel that might help launch talks. Peace with the Palestinians, and for our teams to discuss the possibility of transferring some prisoners from Guantanamo to Saudi rehabilitation centers. ”
Obama added, “The conversation subsided during the afternoon banquet that the king had for our delegation. It was so luxurious, as if it were a fairytale … a 50-foot (15.24-meter) table full of grilled whole lambs and piles of rice with saffron and all kinds of traditional and western dishes. 60 people, My Schedule Manager Alyssa Mastromonaco and Senior Counselor Valerie Garrett were two of only three women in attendance.Alyssa seemed elated enough as she chatted with Saudi officials across the table, even though she apparently had some trouble keeping her veil from falling off In the soup bowl. ”
Obama referred to a family talk that he collected with King Abdullah, and said: “The king asked me about my family, and I explained how Michelle and the two girls are coping with life in the White House. He explained to me that he had 12 wives (who are not together at the same time) – News reports said that the number of wives is approaching Of 30 wives, 40 sons, and dozens of grandchildren – and I told him I hope you don’t mind asking you, Your Majesty, how can you keep up with 12 wives? ”He said, shaking his head wearily: Very badly, one of them is always jealous of the others. It is a situation more complicated than the politics of the East. Middle “.
After lunch, Obama said: “I moved to the villa where I am staying to work with Ben Rhodes and Dennis Ross (his advisers) to discuss the recent amendments to the Cairo speech, and before we started work, we noticed a large suitcase on the stove mantel. I opened it and raised the top, on the one hand. There was a large desert scene on a marble plinth with small golden statues, as well as a glass clock that worked with changes in temperature.On the other hand, in a velvet box, was a necklace half the length of a bicycle chain, studded with rubies and diamonds that seemed to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Next to an identical ring and earrings. I looked at Ben and Dennis, and Dennis said, ‘A little thing for the lady.’ He explained that other members of the delegation had found boxes with expensive watches waiting for them in their rooms.
Obama added, “Apparently, no one told the Saudis about our laws prohibiting gifts. I raised the heavy jewels, and I wondered how many times such gifts were discreetly left to other leaders during official visits to the kingdom, leaders whose countries do not have rules against taking gifts.”
And he continued by saying, “I thought again about the Somali pirates that I ordered to kill them, all of them Muslims, and many young men like them across the neighboring borders in Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their profits throughout their lives will probably never come close to the price of that necklace in my hand … if it becomes Only 1% of these young people are extremists, and there will be an army of half a million people ready to die for eternal glory or perhaps for the taste of something better. I put the necklace on and closed the box and said, ‘Okay, let’s work.’
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