President Trump can and should demand that the Saudis begin aligning their domestic policies with their foreign policy by making them less stridently anti-Western
Saudis have a problem and its name is Shia Islam. Shia Muslims are present on the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen and to a lesser degree in Bahrain and with Iran’s funding and incitement they pose a real challenge to the Saudi’s lucrative lock on Islam’s holy of holies, the cities of Mecca and Madina.
Not able to take Iran on by themselves, the Saudis have come up with a policy of suborning America and recently even Israel to fight that fight for them. In doing so they are aided by the fact that Iran is the arch enemy of both America and Israel and that they have something Israel and America badly want: America – money and jos, jobs, jobs, and Israel even the slightest glimmer of acceptance by the Muslim world in the midst of which it resides.
As the recent terror attack in the Pensacola Naval aviation base clearly shows, the Saudis are quite unwilling to pay the real price for help in their fight against Iran, that of realigning their public opinion to be less hateful towards Israel, America, and the West in general. Muhammad A-Shamrani, the Pensacola shooter, published on his social media pages a typical Al-Qaeda inspired manifesto in which he professes hatred for America for its “crimes against humanity” and its support of Israel. This suggests that the House of Saud is utterly unwilling to realign its internal policies and messaging to better agree with its pro-American and somewhat pro-Israeli foreign policy.
This lack of alignment creates a dangerous dissonance that further fuels the flames of anti-Western terror inside of the Saudi kingdom. Caught between rabidly anti-Western and anti-Israeli messaging that they literally suckle with their mother’s milk at home, in school, and in the mosque and the apparent pro-Western and even pro_Israeli policies of their monarch, Saudis assume that their monarchy has been led astray by the evil West and add this to the many sins already present on the Western balance sheet.
The Pensacola attack is even more egregious than all of that. It is more egregious because the Saudi officers involved, A-Shamrani among them, who were chosen to undergo flight training in Pensacola under the auspices of the large F-15 fighter jet purchase by the Saudis, doubtlessly undergo meticulous selection process by the Saudi military and intelligence authorities. A-Shamrani’s radical anti-American sentiments could not have gone unnoticed during this process and he was sent to America in spite of or more likely because of those exact radical convictions.
What this implies is that the Pensacola attack and the three American deaths that resulted from it was not only against Saudi government wishes, it might have been perpetrated by the Saudi government itself, which of course, makes it an act of war.
America has a difficult dilemma when it comes to Saudi Arabia. It is the choice between two evils and all of that. The option to walk away from the Middle East is no option at all as anyone who knows anything about America’s dependence on global trade for its own prosperity well understands. But America needs the Saudis much less than they need America. For them, the struggle with the Shia is an existential issue, a war that has been fought for over a millennium and in which the Shia have recently been getting the upper hand. Thus it would behoove president Trump to adopt a much sharper tone with the Saudis and explore the possibility of finally nudging their internal policies into even marginally better alignment with their foreign policy stance.
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