Middle EastNews

Opinion: America’s Alliance With Saudi Arabia Reminds Me Of A Bad Movie

America ‘reacts’ to Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut OPEC oil production as this ‘bad movie’ continues into its next phase.

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America ‘reacts’ to Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut OPEC oil production as this ‘bad movie’ continues into its next phase.

“Just when I thought I was out – they pull me back in.” This a great quote from a bad movie and one I often find myself relating to when I read the news. I always start out telling myself I’m going to stay calm and that I’m not going to get upset, but inevitably, I do. And that’s when I start writing, even though I have a hundred other things I should be doing.

It’s not just that the world is cruel and violent, which is upsetting enough by itself. It’s the hypocrisy and gaslighting that really get me.

Take America’s reaction to the news that Saudi Arabia was a key driver behind OPEC’s decision to cut oil production. President Biden has promised “consequences” as he stews at the betrayal. The poor guy flew all the way to the Middle East to give MBS a fist bump after all. Surely, he deserves better. He is not alone in his indignation and fury. Members of Congress are discussing legislation to break OPEC’s control of energy supplies. While foreign policy experts are describing Saudi Arabia’s actions as a “sucker punch” that warrants ending one of America’s longest alliances.

I have long believed that America’s alliance with Saudi Arabia is both immoral and counter to its long-term interests. So, I do not disagree with these sentiments. What I find disagreeable is that they were prompted by the prospect of paying a few extra pennies at the pump.

The list of reasons America should end its relationship with Saudi Arabia is long enough to fill a book. Here are just a few of them: the Sauds have turned their country into a draconian police state. They have imprisoned and/or murdered countless peaceful dissidents. They have stolen 1.4 trillion dollars from their people. They have waged a violent war in Yemen that has killed or maimed hundreds of thousands of civilians. They have also spread a violent Wahhabi ideology that has destabilized significant parts of the Muslim world.

Inexplicably, none of this mattered to America’s leaders, who happily sold the Sauds the powerful weapons they use to maintain their rule. Make no mistake – Saudi Arabia would not be the country it is today without America’s unwavering support over these past nine decades. It has not only ignored these crimes but has been actively complicit in them.

In Yemen, for example, America has provided in-flight refuelling to Saudi bombers, targeting assistance, intelligence, spare parts, extra munitions, and the defence contractors that maintain their weapons. Without America, Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen would not have been possible.

All of which makes it both laughable and infuriating when America’s leaders suddenly take issue with its behavior. To be fair, this has always been a rocky marriage of convenience. From the oil embargo of ‘73 to 9/11 there have been times when the differences seemed irreconcilable only to get glossed over (for the kids, no doubt). This latest episode will probably follow a similar pattern.

The value in following it has nothing to do with the story itself, but with the insight it provides into what moves America’s leaders and the cynical and amoral worldview that guides them. War crimes and human rights abuses elicit a shoulder shrug, while higher gas prices cause an existential crisis.

That is America’s foreign policy towards the Muslim world in a nutshell and shows why it has been such a toxic and destabilizing force in the region. Some like to describe America as the arsenal of democracy. And it is – for Europe and the Pacific. Sadly, in the Muslim world, it is the arsenal of apartheid and dictatorship.

Until America finally learns that ALL people deserve to live free under governments of their own choosing, regardless of their skin color or religion or whether it is politically convenient, it will continue to play a destructive role in the region. And I will continue to feel like I’m watching a bad movie.