Mellanöstern och Nordafrika Tidningen
Published On: Thu, Apr 21st, 2016

The Great Saudi Piñata

President Obama is in Riyadh meeting with our trusted ally, the Saudis. Saudi Arabia has been important to the United States every since we discovered oil there. Just as automobiles run on petrol, increasingly less so in the United States from Saudi Arabian oil fields, so propaganda is well fueled by wealth.

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U.S. President Barack Obama meets with King Salman of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis are skilled at hiring the best kind of public relations firms to assure the American public how they are good allies. The latest media barrage comes from Foreign Policy by a retired U.S. Intelligence officer, Michael Pregent, who assures readers that “Saudi Arabia is a Great American Ally.” The poor, maligned Saudis are described by Pregent as “the new favored piñata by the chattering classes in Washington.” It seems that anyone who dares criticize the Saudis must be a dupe of the evil Iranians. Thus, “For nearly 70 years, Washington has had a reliable partner in Riyadh. Meanwhile, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the United States has faced nothing short of outright hostilities from a state bound by its constitution to export its brand of Shiite extremist Islam throughout the Middle East.” And to top it all off, we are assured that “Saudi Arabia doesn’t sponsor terrorism.”

Seventy years is a long time to have a “reliable” partner, so we should be thankful. I guess that the Arab oil embargo pushed by the Saudis and their allies in 1973 because of American support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War was something we should thank the Saudis for in hindsight. The resulting 1973-1974 stock market crash, stimulated by the oil embargo, was just a welcome gift for the American economy. Saudi rejection of the Camp David Accords was surely helpful to furthering the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. We should also thank the Saudis that they do not allow Jews or Christians to practice their faith in their holy land. In the 1970s anyone wishing to work in Saudi Arabia had to sign a statement that they were not Jewish. Of course, any one who could possibly think that the fact most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens was in any way a reflection on Saudi policies is clearly just a Saudiaphobe. Since al-Qaida and Osama Bin Laden were enemies of the Saudis, the Saudis must therefore be our friends. No self respecting Saudi citizen would ever have funneled funds to terrorist groups because the Saudis are our staunch allies.

Another proof of how great an ally they are is their system of government, a kingdom where a few in the royal family and their cronies are fabulously wealthy, build palaces all over the world and export their particular religious perspective of Wahhabism. Anyone who knows the history of the Wahhabi movement realizes exactly how tolerant they have always been, especially of fellow Muslims. The facts speak for themselves: “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.” Here is real “proof” of a good ally, outspending the communists by more than 10 to 1. And all those executions are simply an eye for an eye or a decapitated head for daring to criticize the king. Just think of the anarchy that would result if individuals in the kingdom were granted legal counsel and basic human rights.

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Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks with member of the Saudi Royal Family during a visit in January, 2015.

Then there are the Saudi royal family values that resonate so well in the land of the free, America. We know that women are not allowed to drive, but, after all, women did not get the vote in the United States until 1920. These kinds of gender issues take time. After all, when King Abdullah passed away, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, praised the departed monarch as “a strong advocate for women.” I guess having between 7 and 30 wives has a lot to do with becoming an advocate. Abdullah was kind enough to basically imprison four of his daughters for well over a decade. It is heartening to see such paternal devotion.

One of the things that appears to make the Saudis a trusted ally is the fact they are buying billions of dollars worth of U.S. military hardware. Of course we know that they will be cautious in using the cluster bombs and strategically locating their bombing raids so not one civilian need ever fear or be in danger. After all the Saudis are “saving” their poor neighbor, Yemen, and it is entirely “accidental” that this had led to a humanitarian crisis that is one of the worst in the world with thousands of civilians killed, children starving, lack of basic medicine, destruction of heritage, and an economy that has ground to a halt. It is all the fault of the “rebel” Huthis and that rascal Ali Abdullah Salih, whose life the Saudis saved only a few years ago. We here in America can sleep at night in peace knowing that the Saudis are arming themselves to save all of us from the evil Iranians nuclear ambitions. Obviously no state in the Middle East should expect to share the space with Iran, because they are “Shi’a” and we all know what that means. It is good to know that the Saudis have dedicated themselves to destroying al-Qaida and ISIS, which have hijacked the Wahhabi faith by actually acting like Wahhabis. They certainly have shown resolve in Yemen, where the local variant of al-Qaida now controls much of the former socialist state of South Yemen.

God forbid that the Middle East become destabilized by not supporting every whim of the Saudi elite. Imagine if nearby states actually experimented with democracy and parliaments rather than royal families and dictators that can be easily bought. President Obama was delusional by saying that the Saudis were free-riders. Far from that, they have invested billions in America. What else could you want from an ally?

About the Author

- Anthropologist and historian with 40 years of experience researching and working in Yemen. Varisco is currently the President of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, a Senior Postdoctoral Scholar at the Institute for Social Anthropology at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and an expert advisor to MENA Tidningen.

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