I have been regularly critical of America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia(see: Cut Off Weapons Sales to Saudi Arabia, A Tragic Display on Trump’s Saudi Trip, and The International Lunacy of Financing Saudi Arabia for a sample). Despite obvious conflicting interests, America and the West have maintained strong relationships with the Saudis.
It’s a mystery as to why the Saudis retain so much influence on American leaders, even after America has developed oil sources that, by some estimates, will make it energy independent by 2020. Noah Millman attempts to explain this odd relationship at The Week:
The robust endurance of the Saudi-American relationship is the perfect case for illustrating the perversities of geopolitics, but it is far from the only case. Why does the United States continue to maintain close ties with Pakistan, which has been more overtly hostile to American interests than Saudi Arabia has, and who has a regional rival in India of far more potential value to America than Saudi Arabia’s rival, Iran, could ever plausibly be? In part, because imposing sanctions on Pakistan failed to prevent it from going nuclear, but damaged America’s influence within the country, while we were willing to pay for even fitful cooperation against the Taliban and al Qaeda.
So, too, with Saudi Arabia. We no longer need their oil; we are no longer trying to keep their oil out of Soviet hands; our cultures and values have almost nothing in common. But inasmuch as we have interests in their region — and we do — we have a profound interest in them being less-hostile, less-threatening, than we imagine they might be if given their full druthers.
True, distant neutrality is a very difficult posture for a hegemonic power to achieve and maintain. If we forgo influence, it’s hard to see how that helps us. But the only way to maintain influence is to allow ourselves to be influenced in turn. And the next thing you know, you’re in the country that is arguably the leading source of funding for Sunni extremism, praising them for fighting the very forces they fuel, dancing amid the flashing swords.
The Saudis delivered a fresh slap in the face to Western civilization on Thursday night in Australia, where members of the Saudi soccer team refused to stand for a moment of silence for the Australian victims of recent terrorist attacks in the U.K. As the Aussie players stood in line, observing the moment, Saudi players continued to warm up for the game. Hannah Moore of the Daily Mail Australia interviewed imam Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi on the insulting behavior. She writes:
Shia imam Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi told Daily Mail Australia the Saudi Arabian team’s decision not to participate in the minute of silence was not about the minute itself, but about the people who were being mourned.
‘[Muslims] regularly mourn over a person if a leader dies or if there is an attack of some kind,’ he said.
‘They did not stop for a moment of silence because according to Wahhabi Islam – which governs Saudi Arabia – it is not wrong or a sin for a Muslim to kill a non-Muslim. In their eyes the attackers are martyrs who are going to paradise.
‘If they stand for a minute of silence, they are against their Muslim brothers who fought for jihad and fought the ‘infidels’.
He noted this may not be the personal view of every player within the team, but they would have been ‘ridiculed’ in Saudi Arabia had they commemorated the victims of the London terrorist attack.
The Saudi government has since apologized after enduring a storm of anger from the Australian fans, the country of Australia and most of the Western world.
After such a blatant example of the disrespect coming from the Saudis, America and the West should rethink their engagement with the dictatorial monarchy in the Kingdom of Saud.