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Saudi Arabia Primer

Medea Benjamin - The Saudi-U.S. Sinister Alliance

The Saudi-U.S. relationship takes crucial shape in 1945 when FDR meets with Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, the king of Saudi Arabia, on a U.S. destroyer in the Suez Canal. The essence of the get together was to insure Saudi’s vast oil reserves would be the special preserve of U.S. oil companies. In return Washington would guarantee the security of the kingdom. The agreement has generated a windfall of profits for the oil cartel. Politically it has had sinister consequences. The U.S. has basically ignored the repressive and feudalistic order within the kingdom as well as for its support of Wahhabi extremist fundamentalists around the world. Saudi Arabia is a veritable gold mine for U.S. arms merchants and with those weapons Riyadh has committed major war crimes in neighboring Yemen. With friends like these, as the saying goes, who needs enemies?

 

Madawi Al-Rasheed - Saudi Arabia: History & Politics

Saudi Arabia is a quixotic ally of the U.S., to say the least. Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were from the desert kingdom. In the wake of the attack, the U.S. flew Saudi elites out of the country and then preceded to invade Afghanistan, through no Afghans were involved in 9/11. You figure it out. Saudi Arabia has supported extremist jihadi groups from Pakistan to Syria. In the 1980s it bankrolled the mujahideen in Afghanistan who later morphed into the Taliban. When the latter seized power in the 1990s, Saudi Arabia was quick to recognize the new rulers in Kabul. Torture, hangings and an atrocious human rights record has required Washington to engage in verbal acrobatics to justify its backing of the oil-rich Riyadh regime. Saudi Arabia is a feudal and closed system. How long can it last?

Interviewed by David Barsamian.

 

Richard Falk - U.S. Special Relationships in the Middle East

U.S. policy in the Middle East has for decades pivoted on two countries: Saudi Arabia and Israel. Washington is the guarantor of both states. They are heavily armed by the Pentagon. Saudi Arabia, aggressively promoting its own brand of fundamental Islam, Wahabism, has supported extremist groups starting in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 1980s. Today, rich Saudis stoke sectarianism in Syria and Iraq. Saudi armies invade Bahrain. Its air force bombs Yemen. As for Israel, it occupies a privileged position in Washington’s worldview. No matter the administration, Democrat or Republican, no other country has received as much diplomatic, military and financial support. The Palestinians? Sorry, you’re not special. Palestinians have always been marginal to the geopolitical concerns of U.S. policymakers. They are invited to so-called peace processes, which may lead to Bantustans with a few casinos and malls. 

This event was presented by the Lannan Foundation. 

Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin is a renowned peace activist and social justice advocate. She travels around the world and documents human rights violations. She's co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK. She is the recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize from the Fellowship of Reconciliation. She is the author of many books including Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control and Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection.

 

Madawi Al-Rasheed

Madawi Al-Rasheed is a leading scholar on Saudi Arabia, and a Visiting Professor at the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics. She was Professor of Anthropology and Religion at King's College, London, between 1994 and 2013. She is the author of A History of Saudi Arabia, Muted Modernists: The Struggle over Divine Politics in Saudi Arabia and A Most Masculine State.

Richard Falk

Richard Falk is professor emeritus of international law at Princeton. He is the recipient of the UNESCO Peace Education Prize. He served as special rapporteur for the United Nations from 2008-2014 on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories. He is the author of numerous books including The Great Terror War, Unlocking the Middle East, Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope and Chaos and Counterrevolution: After The Arab Spring.

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