All eyes have been on Washington as the new
president of the United States has been signing executive order after executive
order in an attempt to curtail the actions of his predecessor.
One of his more controversial edicts enactsa temporary ban on all refugees, and it
suspends the issuing of visas to those from numerous Muslim-majority countries
that are deemed to have an elevated threat of terrorist activities, including
Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Somalia.
Nonetheless, President Trump excluded Saudi
Arabia from this list – a nation notorious for its links with terrorism and
religious extremism. The Middle-Eastern hegemon has beenclosely tied with the September 11 attacks, in which 15 out of the 19 hijackers were citizens of Saudi
A jointCIA-FBI investigationreached a conclusion that there was 'no evidence that either the
Saudi government or a member of the Saudi royal family knowingly provided
support' for the attacks. However, Wikileaks published recordings from US
diplomatic cables which revealed that certain US-friendly individuals from the
Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, were theprimary source of fundingfor al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other infamous terror organisations.
If Saudi Arabia acts as a prominent figure in
funnelling money to Sunni terror groups across the globe, why is the United
States so supportive of them, and why has nothing been done to stop this?
The answer is simple: the Saudis are an
excellent player of the diplomacy game.
Byfunding innumerable lobbyist groups, legislators, law agencies, and political parties, the government
of Saudi Arabia can win the applause they need to sustain their seat at the
table. If President Trump or any future president were to speak publicly
against the Saudi regime - a regime which is more familiar with American
political system than most Americans - they would receive incomprehensible
From a legal standpoint, there is nothing the
United States can do. They have no reason to officially impose sanctions. The
kingdom doesn’t directly fund terror organisations, however, it willinglypromotes an ideology which
incites terrorism. Wealthy individuals contributing to the
budget of Al-Qaeda don’t go unnoticed, they are simply ignored because the
terror groups assist in destroying the influence of Iran and the West.
Acts of terrorism result in the spread of
Wahhabism, and therefore the influence of Saudi Arabia expands. As a strong
enemy of Iran, the Saudis align with US foreign policy. Sanctions are a
leverage on countries which refute American policies; the US has not acted
against Saudi Arabia because it would be acting against its own self-interests.
Since the 1970s,when Nixon abandoned the gold
standard, the US has thrived on the ‘petrodollar’ system. Nixon had
created a new issue by turning the dollar into a fiat currency. The currency’s
value was now dictated by supply and demand.
The Nixon Administration composed a plan that
would allow the US to reap the benefits of money printing without suffering
from hyperinflation. The then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger went to Saudi
Arabia tostrike a dealwith King Faisal for a service Faisal gravely require.
The service in question was military
protection. When you’re in possession of one of the world’s most highly sought
commodity (in this case, oil) then you must also have a large military presence
or an agreement with a nation which does.
In exchange for military protection, Saudi
Arabia offered America an economic advantage which it continues to hold today.
The oil giant priced all future oil sales in US dollars, refusing to price in
any other currency. This way any government, company or individual looking to
purchase oil from Saudi Arabia would have to first get their hands on US
dollars. Therefore, there was forever a growing demand for the dollar.
Eventually the rest of Organisation for the Petroleum Exporting Countries
(OPEC) followed suit and so the ‘petrodollar’ was formed.
The United States cannot simply revoke its
friendship with Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is one of the most influential
members of OPEC, an organisation whichcontrols
80% of the world’s oil reserves. Whilstoil
production in the US is on the rise, the Energy Information Agencypredictsit will slow down by 2020. With a reserve of32
billion barrels, compared with Saudi Arabia’s266
billion barrels, it makes geopolitical sense for America to
want to sustain its partnership.
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