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End the Noxious U.S.-Saudi Relationship Now

Ali Shihabi tells us [1] that the U.S. will have to keep dealing with Mohammed bin Salman:

But the idea that the United States can magically disentangle Saudi Arabia from its crown prince is fanciful. If Mohammed bin Salman stays, Washington will not be able to sideline him without harming its own vital interests.

Shihabi is right that the U.S. cannot separate the Saudi government from the crown prince, but he draws all the wrong conclusions from this. Mohammed bin Salman is the de facto ruler in the kingdom and heir to the throne, and it is obviously not within our government’s power and it is none of our business to change any of that. It doesn’t follow that the U.S. has to maintain the same relationship with Saudi Arabia while Mohammed bin Salman is in power. The idea that the U.S. would be harming its “vital interests” if it held the crown prince to account for his crimes assumes that continuing to indulge the reckless crown prince has something to do with securing those interests. That’s not true. Saudi Arabia isn’t our ally, and Saudi Arabia under Mohammed bin Salman is a regional menace and a liability. The sooner that the U.S. cuts off its reckless client, the better it will be for U.S. interests.

Shihabi grants that the crown prince is inexperienced, but the bigger problem is that Mohammed bin Salman has not learned anything from his many failures and crimes. The crown prince seems to take for granted that he will always have U.S. backing no matter how many people his government starves and bombs in Yemen and no matter how many dissidents and critics he has tortured and killed. The Trump administration has given him every reason to believe that he can do whatever he likes without jeopardizing ties with Washington, and that guarantees that there will be more of the same reckless and destructive behavior that we have seen over the last four years. Shihabi’s prediction that “Saudi Arabia should have a more measured and thoughtful foreign policy in the future” is based on nothing more than wishful thinking.

If it is true that “his future and the future of Saudi Arabia are indissolubly intertwined,” that makes the case for disentangling the U.S. from Saudi Arabia even stronger. Mohammed bin Salman will likely be in charge of the kingdom for a long time to come, and unless the U.S. wants to be implicated in many more crimes and abuses committed by the crown prince and the Saudi government the time to downgrade the relationship with Riyadh is right now.

4 Comments (Open | Close)

4 Comments To "End the Noxious U.S.-Saudi Relationship Now"

#1 Comment By Sid Finster On March 12, 2019 @ 1:12 pm

Good luck getting Trump to buck his Saudi owners.

Trump is not a man famous for his loyalty, but he is more obedient to MBS than any dog.

#2 Comment By Bob On March 12, 2019 @ 1:20 pm

MBS has billions in unearned wealth to spend with elite US clients and lots of oil to influence those whose lives depend upon it. The noxious relationship will last as long almost as long as the money and oil.

#3 Comment By bkh On March 12, 2019 @ 3:22 pm

Keep the chaotic approach going at home and no one will pay much attention to what is happening abroad. Between Trump and AOC, there is little room to care about MBS.

#4 Comment By Ilhan Omar is braver than any Congressmen On March 12, 2019 @ 9:04 pm

Too bad there is no Saudi equivalent to AIPAC with its level of influence, as 99% of Congress and the President would denounce criticism of KSA as equivalent to anti-Muslimism or anti-Arabism – if there is such a concept.