Oct. 19, 2018
- Take a Deep Breath on Saudi Arabia – Sohrab Ahmari
When it comes to Saudi Arabia and the Jamal Khashoggi affair, everyone needs to take a deep breath. That’s an almost impossible task given the heinousness of the crime and the Saudi regime’s feckless efforts to dodge responsibility for it. An alliance that withstood the melting heat of the 9/11 attacks, carried out by a team of mostly Saudi terrorists, now appears on the verge of collapse over the fate of an op-ed columnist.
Before endorsing calls to scrap the Saudi-American relationship, keep in mind the following: First, the Saudis can be terrible friends. But they are friends in a region full of enemies. What Riyadh did to Khashoggi was awful and appalling. The Saudis do lots of other awful and appalling things, too. Beheadings. Judicial amputation. Outright bans on the practice of religions other than Islam.
Even so, Saudi Arabia isn’t a sworn, systemic enemy of the U.S. Their state is not founded on the mantra of “Death to America, Death to Israel, Death to Britain” (that would be the Islamic Republic of Iran, Riyadh’s archenemy).
Second, destabilizing Saudi Arabia would be an enormous folly. Tightening the diplomatic screws on the Saudi regime could have deeply unsettling effects. As the outcome of the Arab Spring taught Western elites, don’t flirt with a destabilizing rupture with Riyadh unless you are prepared to countenance an Islamist takeover and/or further Iranian encroachments. (Commentary)