Time to Re-Assess Our Relationship With the Saudis

by Gary Fouse

As I write, investigators are still trying to find all the facts surrounding the shooting at Pensacola Joint Station in which a Saudi airman shot and killed three people before being killed by police. There are reports that he was on Twitter 15 minutes before the attack railing against the US and Israel. He reportedly referred to the US being an evil country because they were killing Muslims and others. If these are truly the online rants of the gunman, Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, then it has all the earmarks of an act of Jihad. There are reports out there that 6 other Saudis are in custody for questioning and that 3 of them might have filmed the attack. As I write this, much remains to be confirmed.

We now learn that there are hundreds of foreign military members training at Pensacola and that over half of them are Saudis. Of course, nobody needs to remind us that of the 19 hijackers of 9-11, 15 were Saudis. Was that an accident? Hardly. Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most devoutly Islamic countries. Sharia is the basis for Saudi law, and most people in that country subscribe to the Wahhabist strain of Islam, probably the most severe form of Islam out there.

The country, is, of course, considered an ally of the US in geo-political terms. As one of the world’s biggest oil producers, the West has been hostage to Saudi oil for many years. The Kingdom’s royal family’s biggest concern is remaining in power. That has caused it to make deals with the radical clerics and religious forces both within and outside of the country. In short, the Saudi government is duplicitous. They help fight terror on one hand while giving it support on the other.

But beyond the outrageous fact that Saudi nationals have once again come to our soil and taken American lives, it must be remembered that this country is using its massive oil wealth to propagate extremist Islamic beliefs here at home. Many mosques in the US have been financed by Saudi money. Several Middle East studies departments in our universities, mere propaganda centers for hate against the West and Israel, have been financed by Saudi Arabia.

I am not well versed in geo-politics. Those experts will tell us that in spite of its warts, Saudi Arabia is important to us as a bulwark against forces like ISIS, Iran etc. Behind the scenes the Saudis have come to some form of cooperation with Israel. That is fine. If the Saudis come to a full scale war with Iran, it only makes sense to root for the Saudis. Yet, should President Trump send American troops to fight and die for Saudi Arabia? Not in my view. I would not oppose sending military aid to defeat the Iranians, but not one American life. To me, there is only one country in the Middle East we should stand and fight with if attacked by Iran, and that nation is Israel.

I do feel that we need to reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia. First, we need to be self sufficient when it comes to oil. In that respect, we are on track-at least until the next Democrat president shuts it down in the name of the environment. Secondly, as an American citizen since 9-11, I find it outrageous that we continue to put American lives at risk by allowing more and more Saudis to enter our country to train or to study in our universities. For 18 years (1998-2016) I taught English at the University of California at Irvine, and a large percentage of our students were Saudis. I am unaware of any of them belonging to terrorist organizations or carrying out attacks. A large number of them intended to continue in US universities and study engineering. Yet, in the wake of 9-11, it always seemed like an unacceptable risk, but I was not in a position to stop it. I was just a teacher.

President Trump expects the Saudis to fully cooperate in the investigation. But if that just means that some arrests will be made, followed by show trials and a few people being put under the sword, that is not sufficient. The Saudis have been playing both sides for far too long now.  Can they change? I don’t think so. Supremacist Islam is too strong a force in that country.

As far as I am concerned, if Trump were to send every last Saudi military member training here back home, that would be fine with me. At some point, these Muslim majority nations need to understand that we (and the rest of the West) are sick and tired of them sending their jihadists and killers to our countries and inflicting harm on our citizens.


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