Our president is off on the initial leg of his first foreign policy trip. It is interesting that Mr. Trump will be visiting Saudi Arabia first, perhaps the most unsavory — and I’ll add, untrustworthy ally that the United States presently has in the entire world. Turkey, under the increasingly authoritarian rule of President Recep Erdogan, is rapidly headed in the same direction.
So let’s look at our staunch “ally” Saudi Arabia. It is not a democracy, but instead a theocratic monarchy headed by King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud. Under the rule of the House of Saud, women are treated as property. They cannot leave their houses unescorted. They cannot drive. They have no choice in who they marry. Education is limited and the possibility of an independent economic life is zero. Saudi Arabia produced 19 of the twenty airplane terrorists who killed over 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001. Osama bin Laden was a Saudi. If you were around in 1973, you will remember when OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, caused long gas lines in America by stopping oil exports as a way of exacting concessions from the U.S. government. There is no religious freedom in Sunni Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism is the dominant strain of Islam in the country. It believes in a strict interpretation of the Koran. In the past, Saudis have exported and financed this radical form of Islam to countries that become centers for Islamic terrorists. That support continues today. In Saudi Arabia there are periodic be-headings of law breakers, done publicly so as to impress citizens as to the severity of any kind of dissent. People forget that the House of Saud was allied with Nazi Germany during World War II. They’ve never recognized Israel’s right to exist and they continue to obstruct efforts to bring an end to the Palestinian refugee problem, claiming that it’s all Israel’s fault.
So Mr. Trump will be kissing the hem of King Abdulaziz’s traditional thaus tunic just to let him know how much we love his country and value it as a supporter of U.S. policy in the region. It doesn’t hurt that Saudi Arabia wants to purchase over $100 billion dollars of military equipment from us. That just a side benefit of doing business with this “ally.” If you wonder why we do this dance with a country that has it own agenda, it’s not about oil. That used to be the excuse. Now it’s about Iran. Both the United States and Saudi Arabia fear Shiite Iran’s growing influence in the region. The official line is that we need them as much as they need us. It’s the old “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” idea. It’s really nonsense. We never should have gotten in bed with the Saudis. We’ve gained nothing and Saudi Arabia continues to perpetuate its authoritarian rule that limits human rights. You would think that Mr. Trump would recognize this. But perhaps he does and really doesn’t disapprove of the Saudi system of government all that much anyway. Sad.