April 4, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci-NEO) - US President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia confirms what many even causal political observers have begun to suspect regarding recent US political history, that Washington’s values aren’t just nonpartisan, driven entirely by special interests permeating both sides of the political aisle, but are altogether non-existent. To understand why requires an understanding of both US-Saudi relations, not just during the Obama administration, but over the past several decades, as well as a basic understanding of Saudi Arabia itself.
Despite the integral role Saudi Arabia plays in US foreign policy, particularly but not limited to the Middle East, many know very little regarding this nation. American, British, and European media intentionally serve up disjointed reports regarding the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Should ever a complete picture be given to global audiences and the same amount of attention given to the shortcomings of Saudi Arabia as is given toward the perceived enemies of the Western world, clear limitations would be demanded by the public in regards to their respective governments’ relationship with the Saudis until badly needed reform was undertaken.
Saudi Arabia: By Western Standards, a Nation In Need of Reform
Even the name of Saudi Arabia itself is problematic. It is literally named after the family that has ruled it, uncontested, for decades, the House of Saud. Thus, Saudi Arabia means, “Arabia of the Sauds.” The House of Saud rules the majority of the Arabian Peninsula under one of the last remaining absolute monarchs on Earth. Elections are held, but only for local administrative posts, and even then, half of the population is disenfranchised, as women are entirely barred from voting. In addition to this, women are subjected to a ban on driving and other restrictions based solely on their sex.
Women are not the only victims of the House of Saud’s brand of governance. Those accused of apostasy, adultery, witchcraft and sorcery, homosexuality, and of course the House of Saud’s political opponents (charged for treason, sedition, or terrorism) face public execution by sword in a place known as “chop-chop square.” Short of execution, prisoners may also be flogged for their alleged misdeeds.
The overall perspective of Saudi Arabia, as seen through the lens of the West’s impressive number of prominent human rights organizations is abysmal. The World Economic Forum’s 2013 Global Gender Gap Report (PDF) ranks Saudi Arabia as 127 out of 136 nations in terms of gender parity. Freedom House’s 2014 “Freedom in the World” report (PDF) lists Saudi Arabia as “not free,” while Human Rights Watch’s 2013 World Report (PDF) alleges that Saudi Arabia has suppressed or failed to protect the rights of 9 million Saudi women and girls and 9 million foreign workers. The report also cites thousands of unfair trials and arbitrary detentions.
Based on the given pretexts the Western World has used to justify a belligerent foreign policy toward other nations, it would appear that Saudi Arabia is a suitable candidate to likewise be subjected to sanctions, internal political meddling, and open calls for regime change. Yet for some reason, it most certainly is not. Instead, it is clearly protected by media self-censorship and diplomatic double standards across the West.
While the US recently closed Syria’s embassy in Washington and ordered Syrian diplomats out of the country claiming, “it is unacceptable for individuals appointed by that regime to conduct diplomatic or consular operations in the United States,” the US gladly continues its close relationship with Saudi Arabia. This is even after revelations have come to light that the Saudis have been funding and arming terrorists listed as such by the very US State Department that shuttered the Syrian embassy in D.C.
Reuters had reported the creation of the Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) in its article, Insight: Saudi Arabia boosts Salafist rivals to al Qaeda in Syria, however, while it mentions Liwa al-Islam as one of the founding members of the new front funded and armed by Saudi Arabia, it fails to mention that Liwa al-Islam has been documented to regularly coordinate with Jabhat al-Nusra, an internationally designated terrorist organization with direct ties to al-Qaeda.
Confirming this is the US “Institute for the Study of War” headed by many of America’s foreign policy architects and backed by the West’s most prominent arms dealers, in its 2013 “Middle East Security Report 9: The Free Syrian Army” (PDF) stated specifically that, “Liwa al-Islam is known to cooperate with Jabhat Nusra and conduct joint operations,” and that “Jabhat Nusra is the most prominent Salafi-jihadist organization in Syria and is associated with al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Due to the overlap in leadership structures between AQI and Jabhat Nusra, the organization was designated a foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States on December 10, 2012 as an alias for AQI.”
Surely then it should be unacceptable for individuals appointed by a government funding global terrorism to conduct diplomatic or consular operations in the United States. But for Saudi Arabia, apparently an exception to the rules has been made and it is an exception that has transcended multiple US Presidential administrations from George Bush Sr. all the way to the current US President, Barack H. Obama.
Good for the Goose, Good for the Gander