U.S.-Saudi ties have withstood crises in the past and will withstand this one, says As’ad AbuKhalil.
Washington and Rihyad Have Had Worst
Crises and Will Survive Khashoggi Murder
By As`ad AbuKhalil
Special to Consortium News
Nobody in Washington, Republican or Democrat, welcomes the crisis in U.S.–Saudi relations prompted by the murder in Istanbul of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist, on October 2. Maintaining good relations with the Saudi royal family has been a high bipartisan priority since President Roosevelt and King Faisal made their Faustian bargain in 1933: The U.S. would shield the Saudi kingdom’s tyranny from criticism in exchange for a share of oil revenues and Riyadh’s political loyalty (and American arms sales).
The relationship has continued this way in the decades since—and will still do so. The U.S. has covered up a long history of Saudi crimes and conspiracies; during the Cold War it used the Saudis to spread extremist jihadi ideologies to counter secular Arabs that tilted towards Moscow. More recently, the Saudi regime was not freelancing when it cultivated the likes of Osama bin Laden: He was part of a Saudi-U.S.-Pakistani effort to recruit, arm, and finance fanatical Muslims from around the world to undermine the progressive secular regime in Afghanistan.
If history is any guide, it is highly likely that Washington and Riyadh are collaborating behind the scenes to cover up the truth of the Khashoggi case and preserve the relationship as it has been for the past 85 years.
Beside the current crisis, there have been other dust-ups in the history of the U.S.-Saudi relations. The 1973 oil crisis was the most serious, and it nearly undermined the alliance. Back then the Saudi regime couldn’t ignore the rising tide of Arab sentiment against U.S. intervention on the side of Israel in the 1973 war.
King Faisal was adamant in discussions Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s secretary of state and national security adviser, that Israel should withdraw from occupied Arab territories in return for lifting the oil embargo. Contrary to his public statements, Faisal hadn’t rejected Israel’s occupation of Palestine since…