Thursday, September 22, 2016

False Ally, Saudi Arabia Facing Scrutiny from Congress

Despite the statements of President Obama and others that Saudi Arabia is an important ally, I, as noted in many prior posts, see Saudi Arabia as a leading, if not number one, financial supporter of  Islamic extremism and the terror that seems to go hand in hand with Islamic fundamentalism and Wahhabi strain of Islam in particular. Add to this Saudi Arabia' horrific human rights violations and the nation should be anathema to America and its founding principles.  Thankfully, members of Congress form both parties seem to be waking up to the reality that with a "friend" like Saudi Arabia, one doesn't need enemies.  The Washington Post looks at the much deserved Congressional scrutiny now facing America's false ally.  Here are excerpts:
A series of bills before Congress this month is the surest sign yet that Saudi Arabia can no longer claim the privileged status it has held largely unchallenged for decades in Washington.
As the fight over terrorism escalates, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are taking aim at the longtime U.S. ally with a double-header of legislative rebukes to the Kingdom over its alleged ties to extremists and military campaigns in Yemen. The first came Wednesday, when the Senate voted on a resolution to restrict arms sales to Saudi Arabia until it stops targeting civilians in Yemen. Congress is also preparing to override an expected presidential veto this week of a bill to let the families of Sept. 11 victims sue Saudi Arabia over alleged ties to the terrorists who carried out the attack.
While the two measures will not both get through Congress – there is wide support for the Sept. 11 bill, but senators voted down Wednesday’s attempt to stop the arms sale – experts say the current scrutiny of the U.S.-Saudi relationship is unprecedented.
“We haven’t seen this much anti-Saudi activity on the Hill in a quarter of a century,” said Bruce Riedel, director of the Brookings Institution’s Intelligence Project and an expert on Saudi Arabia. “Criticism of Saudi Arabia has come out of the closet, and I don’t think it’s going to go back in.”
Though the Kingdom remains a critical ally in the global fight against terror, Western leaders have publicly criticized it for financially and politically promoting an Islamic fundamentalist worldview espoused by many extremist groups. International human rights groups, meanwhile, have openly condemned Saudi Arabia for violating the laws of war in Yemen with “logistical, tactical, and intelligence support” from the United States.
Saudi Arabia has a serious image problem it must confront. . . . Nowhere is that trend clearer than in the Sept. 11 victims’ bill, which would give courts the right to waive claims to foreign sovereign immunity in cases involving terrorist acts on U.S. soil.
Riyadh launched a formidable campaign to kill the bill with Saudi Arabia spending in excess of $3 million this year on lobbying contracts, according to Foreign Agents Registration Act documents. . . . s Congress prepares to soon override an expected veto of the bill, Saudi Arabia has launched a last-minute lobbying blitz.
Representatives of the government and its allies have been frequenting lawmakers’ offices to plead for help.
According to a recent study published in the Guardian, one in three Saudi-led raids in Yemen hit civilians. . . . . Recently, images and videos from Yemen have suggested that Saudi Arabia is using U.S.-produced white phosphorus in Yemen as well.
Yet the measure’s authors say the arms sales are part of a greater, problematic trend that the United States is allowing Saudi Arabia to get away, literally, with murder.
“We have largely turned the other way and allowed for the Saudis to create a version of Islam which has become the building blocks for the very groups that we are fighting today. And we have plead with them, we have asked them to stop, and the evidence suggests they have not,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said during an event at the Center for the National Interest this week. 
[E]xperts said criticizing Saudi Arabia has become “almost fashionable” and congressional scrutiny of the alliance is only likely to grow more intense.
“I think the era in which you could get $110 billion worth of arms through the Congress with virtually no debate on the Hill is over,” he said. “And if there’s an ugly settlement over 9/11, and the Yemen war continues, that debate will get tougher and tougher for the Saudis to win.”
As noted before, a top American national security goal should be to expand alternate energy sources and a sharp decline in dependence on oil.  If America and Europe can reach self-sufficiency, then Saudi Arabia's ability to engage in economic blackmail will be gone as will its ability to fund terrorism.  Americans need to wake up to the reality that the Saudis and the toxic religion they support are our enemy.

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