Don’t Write Off the U.S.-Saudi Relationship Just Yet

Don’t Write Off the U.S.-Saudi Relationship Just Yet
Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, May 15, 2016, Jiddah, Saudi Arabia (Saudi Press Agency via AP).

When Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, delivered her first speech after the weekend massacre at an Orlando LGBT nightclub, she listed a predictable collection of problems contributing to the killings, from the availability of assault rifles in the U.S. to the proliferation of extremist ideologies emanating from the Middle East. Then she delivered a surprisingly blunt message to America’s Arab allies: It is “long past time,” she declared, for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar to stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations, as well as from “supporting radical schools and mosques” that send young people into extremism.

The timing of the message was coincidentally potent. It came on the same day that the powerful Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in the U.S., in a period of uncertainty over the precise future of relations between Washington and Riyadh.

The awkwardness of the relationship became even more evident when that night, the visiting prince dined at the Georgetown home of Secretary of State John Kerry. The two reportedly discussed the shooting and reiterated their commitment to “countering extremism.” The sentiment was diplomatically appropriate, but the fact that Saudi Arabia executes people simply for being homosexual gave it a visible patina of hypocrisy, highlighting again the gulf separating the countries.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.