Today's Article
'Indications are that
Saudi Arabia will
remain an
authoritarian state,'
said a journal
representing U
Foreign Service
The American Spark
The Basis of US-Saudi Ties? Oil, Money And Cheap Labor

By Cliff Montgomery - Oct. 30th, 2018

Should America continue to trust the government of Saudi Arabia in light of the fact that a top journalist
recently ‘disappeared’ at a Saudi consulate in Turkey? Or, more precisely, should the U.S. remain on friendly
terms with a government that quite possibly kills public fact-checkers?

It’s an issue which complicates the reading of a very informative study on current U.S.-Saudi ties,
released a
few weeks ago by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

The CRS report was released on September 21st; Jamal Khashoggi, 59, who worked for the
Washington Post
and often was critical of Saudi government activities, went into the consulate on October 2nd and

On October 19th, after weeks of denials, Saudi officials acknowledged that Khashoggi was killed in the
consulate. They said that the death was the result of a fistfight, and added that they had arrested 18 people.

So don’t be fooled by all the corporate talk in the report of a ‘ bold new world opening up for the Saudi people,
thanks to forward-thinking new leaders in the Saudi royal family’. U.S. capitalists always say that when they
think some foreign leader might open up his country to them, so that they may pilfer it of the only things
capitalists ever really want: natural resources and cheap labor.

Business Insider revealed the true nature of U.S.-Saudi relations when it pointed out that “U.S. Secretary of
State Mike Pompeo went to Saudi Arabia on October 16 to discuss the [Khashoggi]case with the Saudis, who
he said pledged to conduct ‘a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation,’ ” but then added that “the U.S.
received a $100 million payment from Saudi Arabia on the same day Pompeo arrived in Riyadh to discuss
Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“The [U.S.] State Department said there was no connection,”
Business Insider added.

But “after the Saudis acknowledged Khashoggi’s death, Trump largely continued to stand by them,” pointed
Business Insider, “saying he found their explanation about how [Khashoggi] died credible and offering his
support to the crown prince.”

All of this even though in May, the
Foreign Service Journal (a publication released by the American Foreign
Service Association, which represents members of the U.S. Foreign Service) flatly stated:

    “Indications are that Saudi Arabia will remain an authoritarian state, with little scope offered for popular

And that’s not all. A majority of leading Muslim authorities insist that the heart of violent Islamic terrorism
lives “in an ultra-conservative movement that has long played a very special role in the government of Saudi
Arabia” -
a matter we pointed out to our readers in a detailed article last year.

Remember all this as you read the otherwise informative CRS study.

Below, the
American Spark quotes the entire summary of the CRS report on U.S.-Saudi relations:

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, ruled by the Al Saud family since its founding in 1932, wields significant global
influence through its administration of the birthplace of the Islamic faith and by virtue of its large oil reserves.
Close U.S.-Saudi official relations have survived a series of challenges since the 1940s.

“In recent years, shared concerns over Sunni Islamist extremist terrorism and Iranian government policies
have provided some renewed logic for continued strategic cooperation. Political upheaval and conflict in the
Middle East and North Africa have created new challenges, and the Trump Administration has sought to
strengthen U.S. ties to Saudi leaders as the kingdom implements a series of new domestic and foreign policy

“Successive U.S. Administrations have referred to the Saudi government as an important partner, and U.S.
arms sales and related security cooperation have continued with congressional oversight and amid some
congressional opposition.

“The Trump Administration, like its recent predecessors, praises Saudi government counter-terrorism efforts.

“Since 2009, the executive branch has notified Congress of proposed foreign military sales to Saudi Arabia of
major defense articles and services with a potential aggregate value of nearly $139 billion. The United States
and Saudi Arabia concluded arms sale agreements worth more than $65 billion, from FY2009 through

“Since March 2015, the U.S.-trained Saudi military has used U.S.-origin weaponry, U.S. logistical assistance,
and shared intelligence in support of military operations in Yemen.

“Legislation has been proposed in the 115th Congress to condition or disapprove of some U.S. weapons sales
and condition or direct the President to end U.S. support to Saudi operations without specific authorization [...].

“In parallel to close security ties, official U.S. reports describe restrictions on human rights and religious
freedom in the kingdom. Some Saudi activists advocate for limited economic and political reforms, continuing
decades-long trends that have seen Saudi liberals, moderates, and conservatives advance different visions
for domestic change.

“Saudi leaders in 2018 reversed a long-standing ban on women’s right to drive, amid some arrests of
women’s rights advocates and critics of social liberalization. While some limited protests and arrests have
occurred since unrest swept the region in 2011, clashes involving Saudi security forces have not spread
beyond certain predominantly Shia areas of the oil-rich Eastern Province.

“Since assuming the throne in 2015, King Salman bin Abd al Aziz (age 82) has made a series of appointments
and reassignments that have altered the responsibilities and relative power of leading members of the next
generation of the Al Saud family, who are the grandsons of the kingdom’s founder.

“The king’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (age 33), is the central figure in Saudi policymaking.
He has asserted control over national security forces, side-lined potential rivals, proposed and begun
implementing bold economic and social changes, and arrested prominent figures accused of corruption,
including some fellow royal family members.

“Ambitious plans for the transformation of the kingdom’s economy seek to provide opportunity for young
Saudis and bolster non-oil sources of revenues for the state. Abroad, the kingdom pursues a multi-directional
policy and has aggressively confronted perceived threats.

“Saudi decision-making long appeared to be risk-averse and rooted in rulers’ concerns for maintaining
consensus among different constituencies, including factions of the royal family, business elites, and
conservative religious figures.

“Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s assertive and more centralized leadership has challenged this model
of governance. The change is leading Saudis and outsiders alike to reexamine their assumptions about the
kingdom’s future.

“Congress may examine these developments when considering the scope,  terms, and merits of U.S.-Saudi
partnership, proposed arms sales and nuclear cooperation, and security commitments.”

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