Opinion

Saudi Arabia Is Not our Friend—It’s Time to Wake Up

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Posted: Oct 26, 2018 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent the views of Townhall.com.
Saudi Arabia Is Not our Friend—It’s Time to Wake Up

The Middle East runs through Mecca, Islam’s holiest city. Perhaps, that is why the U.S. has enabled them for so long. Or perhaps it is because they produce 13 percent of the world’s oil.
 
The world ran out of patience with them a few days ago when Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist disappeared, and Turkey accused Saudi Arabia of brutally assassinating him. Took it long enough. 

The veil has been cracked and torn and what the U.S. does next could determine a dramatic shift in Middle East politics. So far, President Trump has been reluctant to name Saudi Arabia as the perpetrator. At first, he stayed silent. 

Then, he came swinging in defense of Saudi Arabia declaring a lack of due process. Then, he stepped back and demanded both sides present their cases. A smiling, defanged Pompeo chummed it up with two of the world’s most brutal dictators and key U.S. allies, Erdogan and Mohammed bin Salman. His demeanor did not represent a fact finder; it represented a friend checking in on a friend. 

Many defenders of the president originally argued the Saudis may not be behind it. To them, I would say look at the facts. Khashoggi went to the consulate in Istanbul. After, he was never seen again. The Turks have shown definitive proof that he never left. The Saudis said he did to get away from his upcoming marriage. When asked for their camera footage of him leaving, they said “the cameras weren’t working.” That has a “dog ate my homework” feel to it.  

Moreover, there would be a trail of camera footage, sightings, credit cards, tickets, etc., if he left. None of that surfaced. At the same time, a team of 15 Saudi men, all with ties to the Prince, flew in to Istanbul at in the wee hours of the morning and left that night. They claimed “tourism” was the reason for their visit. Tourists don’t fly in at 3 a.m. and fly back to Saudi Arabia the same night. With a bone saw, no less. Now that the heat has turned up, one of these men that was part of this alleged hit squad conveniently died in a car crash. It’s hard not to suspect foul play. 

Hours before, an aide to the Prince also arrived at the consulate. The Turks produced footage and photos of him arriving. And leaving shortly after this assassination took place. Next, the Saudis privately lined up a general to take the fall. The innocent don’t line up scapegoats. The last dagger is an audio tape the Turks claimed to have. This claim would confirm the assassination. Astonishingly, the Turks essentially admitted to bugging the consulate and spying on their “allies” for quite some time. No one gives up a well of information or cops to such a significant breach of trust without being able to come out gaining something. 

This week, they showed the tape to CIA Director Gina Haspel. This would obviously quell any concerns as to its existence. 

The Turks claim that Khashoggi can be heard being tortured and killed on the tape. They are also searching every forest and field outside the city to find a body. The Saudis let Turkish authorities search their consulate, but not before secretly dispatching a cleaning team to scrub the place. Any proof would be gone by then. However, the Turks found a body buried in the garden of the consul general’s house. 

Saudi Arabia finally admitted he died in the embassy recently. In a “brawl,” they said. They picked out their 18 fall guys and they’ve lined up their officials to be fired for this “accident.” When this was proven to be a ridiculous lie, they changed their story again. Now, they claim “rogue elements” of their government killed him and they will be “held responsible.” This was after claiming these “elements” did this by accident. New scapegoats will certainly be ordained in any Saudi “investigation.” Considering the mountain of evidence stacking up against them, this is unbelievable. Add the fact in that they’ve changed their story more times than Hillary Clinton and it's laughable. 

Khashoggi is dead and the Prince ordered the hit assuming the U.S. would let him get away with it. Simply put, they are lying. 

The president may have proclaimed that this was “one of the worst cover-ups ever,” but in the next, he says, “but the weapons contract is very, very important.” That doesn’t sound like our journalist is getting a fair shake if Trump is already lining up reasons he can’t act against Saudi Arabia. 

President Trump is not the first to go soft where the Saudis are concerned. President Obama signed weapons deal after weapons deal with them, looked the other way through dozens of human rights violations, and even bowed before their king. President Bush didn’t have much to say about the Al-Qaeda connections to the Saudi government during 9/11. And finally, President Trump signed the biggest weapons contract in history with them. All the while, they used our very bombs to blow up children in Yemen. All the while, they funded jihadists in Syria. 

The Prince has successfully marketed himself as a modernizer and reformer. He has overturned some religious laws and allowed women to start driving which by Saudi standards, is groundbreaking. But he’s still a two-bit dictator overseeing a medieval kingdom living under the terror of Shariah law. This year alone, he has committed dozens of war crimes in Yemen, funded jihadists in Syria and Al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, beheaded people, arrested women’s activists and had them beaten, embargoed Qatar on trumped up charges of terrorism, cut off all foreign relations with Canada for criticizing him, took the Prime Minister of Lebanon hostage on a visit to Saudi Arabia and forced him to resign (he later rescinded his resignation), and rounded up political rivals on trumped up corruption charges. Several of these rivals were physically abused in their luxurious prison. 

The Kingdom has always lived in Wahabbism. His reforms will only put a new, likable face to this violent interpretation of Islam. The Saudis fund dozens of madrassas and mosques around the world, several of which have produced terrorists and radicalize their followers. In many ways, they are the greatest exporters and financiers of radical Islam. Yet, our country and every President since FDR has successfully convinced themselves of how useful Saudi Arabia is. 

The U.S. and their 110-billion-dollar weapons deal Trump crowed about is going to an enemy more violent and radical than possibly any regime in the world. We preach democracy and human rights and rebuke the world for doing business with Iran yet empower and enable a country more radical than even it. In August, Saudi Arabia crucified someone. Not even Iran can claim a punishment so heinous. Such an execution would make ISIS blush. In four months within 2018, Saudi Arabia committed 48 beheadings

If we are an ally of liberty and freedom, we cannot continue to stand behind such behavior. A state sponsor of terrorism cannot be an ally of the United States when they so blatantly attack our foreign policy interests in such a way. At the very least, the United States has no business selling weapons to them. 

Worse yet, the U.S. currently provides the Saudis with logistical support, intelligence, and military advice in Yemen. Yemen has become a proxy war between the Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, and the government, backed by the Saudis. U.S. taxpayer dollars are currently being used to fund a proxy war. The Saudi blockade of Yemen has also endangered almost 5 million children. This is U.S.-funded. Our weapons are routinely used to bomb civilians. For instance, U.S. bombs were used to blow up a school bus and kill 40 children

The Saudi behavior this year cannot go unpunished and ignored. Let President Trump make history by being the first American president to do what needs to be done - and stop pretending the Saudis are American allies. 

They shouldn’t be sold one more bullet.