Prince Turki bin Faisal amanpour
'Yesteryear' U.S.-Saudi relations are gone
01:02 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

The U.S.-Saudi relationship has irrevocably changed, and will remain so no matter who the next American president is, longtime former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al Faisal told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

“There is going to have to be,” he said, “a recalibration of our relationship with America – how far we can go with our dependence on America. How much can we rely on steadfastness from American leadership. What is it that makes for our joint benefits to come together.”

“And I don’t think that we should expect any new president in America to go back to, as I said, the yesteryear days when things were different.”

His comments come as U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in the kingdom for what will almost certainly be the last trip there of his tenure.

And the times are indeed trying.

President Barack Obama and Saudi King Salman walk to a April 20 meeting in Riyadh.

Relations have been buffeted first by Obama’s decision to advise Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down in 2011, then by his refusal to stand by his “red line” threat of military force against the Assad regime in Syria, and finally by the nuclear deal with Saudi Arabia’s sectarian and political rival, Iran.

Low oil prices and high domestic American production, too, have lessened Washington’s dependence on the kingdom.

“Very bluntly,” said Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, as quoted in The New York Times, “They no longer have us in an energy straitjacket.”

“‘Straitjackets’ and other such terminology is not appropriate I think,” Prince Turki said.

“I’ve always thought that America and Saudi Arabia willingly came together to undertake joint efforts.”

“If you want to change course and establish new grounds for understanding, you don’t have to be insulting.”

Referring to Obama’s suggestion in a recent interview with The Atlantic that Gulf countries were among those “free riding” on their relationship with the United States, Prince Turki said, “Personally, of course it hurt me.”

The latest issue to threaten the relationship is a determined effort by some Americans and U.S. politicians to shed more light on the Saudi government’s role, or lack of a role, in the September 11 attacks.

There is an effort underway, reportedly with the support of Obama, to declassify 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission’s report that deal with Saudi Arabia.

And a bill is making its way through Congress that would allow a group of families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government over its alleged role.

What exactly is alleged is unclear, partly because no officials will speak in public about what is contained in those 28 pages – even those who are advocating for their release. But many families of 9/11 victims, for one, believe that the Saudi government played a role in facilitating or turning a blind eye to the attacks.

“This is all regurgitation of past similitudes and accusations that followed September 11th,” Prince Turki said, while making clear he could not speak for the Saudi government. “All those questions were answered by the commission report.”

“We have nothing to hide, Miss Amanpour.”