West should stop deferring to Saudi petro-dollars

By Aditya Ramachandran ’17

Just one day after the U.N elected the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to a special seat on the Security Council, the country’s rulers refused to accept the position and lashed out at the global institution for it’s alleged “double standards” and for a complete failure to protect the peace worldwide. This instance is but a microcosm for the grander, overarching theme of Saudi Arabia’s increasingly sectarian and rebellious political agenda with the rest of the international community.

All that being said, there is something satisfying about seeing the House of Saud monarchy of Saudi Arabia throwing a tantrum on the global stage. The rejection of the United Nations for acting in a manner incongruous with the Kingdom’s wish for a democratic Security Council is ironic in a truly grotesque fashion.

The Al Saud monarchy is, without a doubt, the most repressive and tribal regime in the modern world. The litany of abuses under its purview is well-known and spans from preventing women from driving and working, to mistreating and beheading migrant workers on a regular basis, and for bankrolling the proliferation of extremist Islamist groups globally.

Saudi Arabia is one of the least free countries in the world, and a number of its citizens have defected to the United States to escape their government’s brutal agendas.

That being said, year after consecutive year, most facets of the multi-dimensional United States– Saudi partnership continue as if the bond were truly a fact of the natural world as opposed to a confluence of financial and security interests, which has revolved for decades around the economics of oil.

The enormous geopolitical significance of this United Nations debacle is that it has revealed to the world there never was a true alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia, at least not in the deep and meaningful sense of a partnership grounded in the pursuit of common interests in the world. Instead, the relationship has simply been a transactional one that involved the pursuit of tangible something’s that each side needed.

In the words of a former US diplomatic official who worked with the Saudi establishment closely, “Somebody needs to get on an airplane right now and go see the king,” The official went on to say that the Saudi king is “very tribal,” in his outlook, and, in his mind, “your word is your bond.” It can be argued that the sense of trust has been damaged following recent dealings with the king and President Barack Obama’s administration. That being said, if the Saudi Arabian elite want to react to disagreements through outdated, childish worldviews that are turbocharged by oil-based finances, then this is perhaps a good moment for the United States — and at large the West — to review its bilateral ties.

I believe with conviction that it is time the Saudi-American relationship and the Saudi-Western affair stopped being a relationship dripping with obsequious deference by the West and petrodollars by the Saudis. Western policymakers should begin to critique the spectacle of modern liberal democracies kissing the posterior of an absolute monarchy governed by theological ideas conceived in medieval times.

It is indeed time for the West to stop deferring in such a disgustingly obsequious fashion in the face of Saudi petrodollars and take a stand against this tyrannical and inhumane regime on the cusp of waning international influence.

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