File - Free Syrian Army fighters carrying weapons move towards their positions prior to an offensive against forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Khan al-Assal area, near Aleppo, in this April 20, 2013.(REUTERS/Abdalghne Karoof)
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Differences between the United States and Saudi Arabia over Middle East policy persist, despite attempts to shore up their old alliance, and may prove calamitous for Syrian rebels.Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been funding the rebels for years now, arguing that the war in Syria is a battle for the future of the Middle East, pitting pro-Western forces against Riyadh's main enemy Iran and Islamist militants.However, while the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama also blames Assad for the violence and wants him to leave power, it sees the conflict very differently.In private, American and Saudi officials defend a relationship that in many ways remains strong and broad based.If the Saudis felt stymied, so did the Americans.The former U.S. diplomat said this still influenced Riyadh's view of Washington's nuclear talks with Iran, despite attempts by Obama and other officials to assuage Saudi fears.
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