Donald Trump was in the news over the weekend because he made his first foreign trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. President Trump and his family were greeted at the airport by King Salman, who rode to the Ritz Carlton hotel with the President. Later in the afternoon, Trump attended a traditional arrival ceremony and royal banquet.
Following the President’s visit, details emerged about the signing of a $110 billion investment deal between the US and the Saudis, which occurred during Trump’s visit. So far, the deal has been widely criticized not only by scores of democrats, but also by those who supported Trump during the campaign because he promised an “America first” foreign policy – one predicated on defeating terror threats and protecting the American people.
While many of the so-called “moderate democrats” oppose Trump’s deal for purely political reasons and couldn’t care less about whether the US supports Saudi Arabia’s destructive and tyrannical regime – as shown by their lack of opposition when Obama enabled Saudi Arabia in its effort to starve millions in Yemen – others are having genuine discussions about America’s unwavering support for the Saudis and questioning whether it should continue.
Though Trump’s deal is very dangerous in many respects, it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and ultimately leads to a fundamental change in America’s foreign policy. To a degree, those who oppose the current US foreign policy – across the political spectrum – have been united in opposition to the deal. Accordingly, left and right-wing media outlets have exposed some of the nefarious dealings of the Saudi regime, which remain surprisingly unknown among the American people.
Exporting Radical Islam
One fact proponents of the US/Saudi alliance often leave out is that the Saudi regime has promoted the spread of Wahhabism – a doctrine which is among the most extreme, ultra-conservative sects of the Muslim religion. For years, Wahhabism has inspired jihadists like Osama bin Laden, who have used violence and terrorism as a means to achieve their ultimate goal – to set up a worldwide Islamic caliphate.
In a recent policy paper, The European Parliament concluded that because of the close ties between Wahhabi movements and terror organizations, Wahhabism is the largest force contributing to the global terrorist threat. As Yousaf Butt writes, Saudi support for the Wahhabi cause has been anything but modest:
For decades the Saudis have also lavishly financed its propagation abroad. Exact numbers are not known, but it is thought that more than $100 billion have been spent on exporting fanatical Wahhabism to various much poorer Muslim nations worldwide over the past three decades. It might well be twice that number. By comparison, the Soviets spent about $7 billion spreading communism worldwide in the 70 years from 1921 and 1991.
In other words, the radical ideology that has destabilized the Middle East and inspired enemies of the United States for decades has been propagated by Saudi Arabia, which is supposed to be an “ally” of the US. Not only has the Saudi regime exported Wahhabism to its neighbors in the region, it has also promoted the spread of radical Islamist religions in the United States.
Directly Supporting Terror Groups
For nearly three-quarters of a century, Saudi Arabia has been an ally of the United States. Justin Raimondo briefly described the origins of the US-Saudi alliance when he wrote:
Our relationship with the Saudi monarchy goes all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt, who cemented the alliance in 1943 by declaring that the defense of their medieval dictatorship was “vital” to our national security: US taxpayer dollars flowed into the Saudi treasury via the Lend-Lease giveaway. The flow hasn’t stopped since that time: indeed, it has only increased.
Since the very beginning, politicians in the United States have justified the US-Saudi alliance under the claim that it is necessary to advance the national security of the US. Thanks to Trump’s new deal with the Saudis, the effectiveness of the US-Saudi alliance has come into question.
The truth is that not only were 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia – as was Osama bin Laden – the Saudi regime has financed and enabled terrorism in several other cases. In a speech at Harvard, former Vice President, Joe Biden, recently explained how the Saudis funded terrorist groups in Syria:
The Saudis, the Emirates, etcetera. What were they doing?…. They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad — except that the people who were being supplied, [they] were al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda, and the extremist elements of jihadis who were coming from other parts of the world.
Essentially, the repressive Saudi regime not only indirectly endorses the spread of jihadism by exporting Wahhabism, it directly funds jihadist groups in conflicts abroad and has for several decades. Based on the Saudi regime’s apparent commitment to perpetuating the spread of violence and radical Islamist ideologies, it would be wise for the American people to question the US-Saudi alliance.
An (In)human(e) Rights Record
The reality is that politicians in the United States often cite human rights violations, promoting democracy, or general intolerance when they try to justify US interventions abroad. Being the intolerant, tyrannical, brutal regime that it is, it remains a mystery that even the US mainstream media – the ultimate perpetrator of lies – can still promote the US-Saudi alliance without revealing too much about the real dealings of the Kingdom.
People can learn a great deal from the title the nation has assigned itself. Even the Kim dynasty in North Korea calls the country the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and tries to maintain the illusion that it has at least a some form of democratic process. Saudi Arabia’s official title is the “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” and it’s quite revealing. In the monarchy that is Saudi Arabia, elections are extremely rare and when they do occur, only men can vote.
Not only are women deprived of the right to vote – if elections do occur – women are not permitted to drive cars or perform basic tasks without the permission of a male guardian. As Mazin Sidahmed wrote:
Under Saudi law, women require the permission of a male guardian to travel, marry, or exit prison and it may be needed to be granted employment or access to healthcare.
Put simply, women have very few rights in Saudi Arabia and the few rights they do have mostly require the permission of their male guardians. Women who disobey the law are often beaten in public or sentenced to prison and men who break the law are not much better off.
To wit, the Kingdom’s “criminal justice system” resembles nothing of the sort. In fact, a 2015 Middle East Eye analysis concluded “the Islamic State (IS) and Saudi Arabia prescribe near-identical punishments for a host of crimes, according to documents circulated by the militant group.” As one might suspect, the Saudi/Islamic State criminal justice system simply does not recognize civil liberties.
Those who choose to practice another religion – such as Christianity – or “insult” Islam in any other way are sentenced to death. Those who commit “acts of homosexuality” are sentenced to death. Adulterers in Saudi Arabia are stoned to death. Sometimes, death sentences under the Saudi regime consist of being beheaded in public and although the numbers are not 100 percent accurate, the consensus among independent journalists seems to be that the Saudi regime beheads more people than the Islamic State.
Not only are the Kingdom’s human rights violations at home reprehensible, in its latest example of foreign adventurism, the Saudi government has cut off Yemen’s food supply and pushed roughly seven million Yemeni civilians to the brink of starvation. Where did the Saudi government get most of the weapons it has used to destroy Yemeni trade routes and starve Yemeni women and children? From its friendly allies in Washington, of course.
To conclude, the Saudi regime has proven to be a danger to its own people, a notorious violator of the most basic human rights, played the lead role in the destabilization of the Middle East, and it is a threat to the security of the American people because of its campaign to fund and promote the spread of the Wahhabi religion and terrorism.
If the goal of US foreign policy is to protect the American people, the people shouldn’t stop after questioning why the US government continues engage in lucrative weapons deals – in which the weapons will likely be used for ends that contradict the interests of the American people – with the wicked Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The American people should go a step further and question the very thought of an alliance between Washington and the world’s Kingdom of Tyranny.