US-Saudi Relations Enter Unchartered Waters

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Written by Melkulangara Bhadrakumar; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

The disappearance of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in mysterious circumstances while on a visit to his country’s consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday still remains unexplained. The plot is thickening by the day. The latest reports suggest that he may not even be alive.

The Istanbul Prosecutor has ordered an investigation. President Recep Erdogan has called Khashoggi a “journalist and friend”. Turkey has a troubled relationship with Saudi Arabia, which has a complicated history dating back to the Ottoman era and is entangled with Erdogan’s brand of Islamism. A serious diplomatic rupture may ensue, depending on the outcome of the Turkish investigation.

US-Saudi Relations Enter Unchartered Waters

So far, the Khashoggi affair has been a matter between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. But Khashoggi has influential backers in the Washington Beltway too. A chorus of condemnation of the Saudi regime is building up to a crescendo in the US, portraying Khashoggi as a human rights activist meeting a tragic end.

The US takes a selective approach to human rights. Which way will it act? In the present civil war conditions in the US, President Trump’s opponents will use the Khashoggi issue to draw attention to his erratic behavior – wildly swinging from obsequiousness to the Saudi ruler to rank contempt.

But, there is also a lavishly funded Saudi lobby, which can pull strings among the American elites. Trump chose Riyadh for his visit abroad and son-in-law Jared Koshner is reputed to be a close confidante of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Yet, Trump fired away a stream of sardonic tweets in recent days casting aspersions on Riyadh. Saudi Arabia becomes a celebrated case of the unpredictability of US foreign policies.

Of course, the critical factor will be Khashoggi’s activities while in exile in the US – who his mentors were and, most importantly, whether the US intelligence had got him involved in any project relating to the Saudi domestic politics.

Behind the facade of a close relationship, there is trust deficit in Saudi-US ties. Washington would have preferred if the factions it had backed within the Saudi royal family had come to the top of the heap in the succession in January 2015. Interestingly, Crown Prince Salman is a rare Saudi prince to hold this powerful position who was not even educated in the US.

But then, President Trump put on an extravagant show of camaraderie with King Salman and Crown Prince Salman and the latter also appropriately rose to the occasion to make reciprocal gestures. In a manner of speaking, a cat-and-mouse game was playing out ever since Trump’s famous “sword dance” in Riyadh last November.

This world of make-believe abruptly gave way when some nasty tweets by Trump began appearing lately making disparaging references to the Saudis directly or indirectly – specifically, Trump’s acerbic tweet last week that the Saudi regime would collapse like a pack of cards in two weeks sans American support.

Trump poured scorn on the Saudi King in full view of the Arab Street. For Trump, there was probably nothing unusual in such abrasive behavior, but the Arab princes and rulers treasure their image as a matter of honor. The Saudi ruler, by the way, also happens to be the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, who is a revered figure for the Muslim world.

Suffice to say, Khashoggi affair is unfolding in a poignant backdrop. Conceivably, the Saudi regime was monitoring the influential dissident’s activities in the US from Day 1 of his exile since 2015. Meanwhile, it cannot be a coincidence that American media personalities and think tankers who are known to be wired into the US intelligence establishment have jumped into the fray in real time to castigate the Saudi regime over the Khashoggi affair.

There is palpable angst in Washington. Therefore, whichever way the mysterious disappearance of Khashoggi becomes explicable in the coming days, a potentially serious crack is appearing in the US-Saudi relationship, which may be difficult to paper over.

Indeed, all bets are off if the Saudis have estimated that the US intelligence is manipulating disaffected factions within the royal family and Saudi elite to advance a regime change project in Riyadh aimed at influencing the succession to King Salman’s reign (which would put Crown Prince Salman on the throne.)

Trump has a big decision to take – and the Deep State will be breathing down his neck. An unstable US-Saudi relationship would have serious consequences for the Trump administration’s regional strategies. Saudi Arabia plays a pivotal role in the US’ alliance system, which is irreplaceable today, since Washington can no longer count on Erdogan’s Turkey or the weakened post-Arab Spring Egypt.

Tehran has lost no time to make an overture to the Saudi regime to join hands to resist the US bullying. Again, the present Saudi regime is known to have gone the extra league to have dealings with Israel, which greatly mitigates Israel’s isolation regionally and gave much-needed “strategic depth” to Tel Aviv.

But the good part is that ironically, a US-Saudi rift may also impact the regional security and stability in the Middle East in a positive direction by giving impetus to a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement, which could calm down tensions regionally.

Trump’s attitude toward the Khashoggi affair will most certainly factor in Saudi Arabia’s stature as an energy superpower captaining the OPEC. He sounds frustrated lately that OPEC is not playing a helpful role in boosting oil production. The Saudi and American interests are diverging and Riyadh looks more and more toward Moscow as its key interlocutor on issues relating to the world oil market.

All in all, Khashoggi affair threatens to open a Pandora’s box. What is absolutely certain is that Washington won’t let go Saudi Arabia without an all-out effort to keep that trophy in geopolitics in its sole possession.

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  • NWOD

    It’s hard to imagine relatively civilized Iran coming to an agreement with barbaric Saudi Arabia (or savage Israel). But, hope springs eternal.

    Doubtful the Orangutan will care. He loved it when the Saudis uses the Orangutan”s shiny mushroom missiles to wipe out a school bus in Yemen. He loves starving Yemeni children to death. That gives him and his Zionist entourage/masters a mushroomed boner. No doubt he won’t cry at the death of some fat Arab, unless it interfered with a soft coup plan, as noted in the article. But even then he won’t due much as the Israelis will use the opportunity to their benefit and their Slave Orangutan will do nothing to anger his Beloved Masters.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9p1ZKJHx-xI

    • You can call me Al

      “A chorus of condemnation of the Saudi regime is building up to a crescendo in the US, portraying Khashoggi as a human rights activist meeting a tragic end.”…….gee could this be another divide and conquer or could this all be about trading with Iran and Russia (Turkey + SA) in local currencies; either way, the Yankers and the Kikers are playing their dirty games again and are probably in serious panic mode,

      • Brother Ma

        The reporter was a hateful Sunni islamist good riddance. Yet, the Sauds are worse for being his murderers.

        • peacelover

          Correction needed in ur comment; The reporter was a hateful wahabi hypocrite good riddance. Yet, the Saudis are worse for having bigger of those qualities.

          • Brother Ma

            I do not agree with you. The ottomans were not Wahabi but just Sunni Islamists. They did just as much damage as Isis and Saudi kingdom and muslim brotherhood today. But hey ,thanks for thinking about it.

          • peacelover

            The reporter who is killed not belonged to Ottomans but he was a saudi

          • Brother Ma

            You are saying wahabism is at fault. I am saying no Sunni extremism is at fault even if it is not as bad as Wahabism.

          • peacelover

            Plz make a list of all terrorist attacks throughout the world for about 30 years. From Australia to Indonesia, from subcontinent to middle East, from Africa to Europe, from Russia to America. U will find that all terrorist organizations behind those attacks from Taliban to daaish,alqaeda,bokoharam,
            Al’shabab,Sipah sahaba, etc, all
            were believers and followers of Wahabism. Terror attacks mean killing of civilians not military men in battlefield.

          • Brother Ma

            Oh i agree with you. Totally. Yet your time frame is recent. I am looking out over the last five hundred years,and wahabism is just a form of extreme Sunniism.

            My take is Sunni Extremism is the problem ,Shia Islam is better than Sunni and that Islam itself is very dangerous.

            Islam is dangerous because it is the only religion i know that teaches that all peiple must be converted or subjugated harshly.
            All other religions i know can coexist with others. judaism is on its way there as well but not yet. The Jews are not powerful enough yet.

          • peacelover

            Sorry,I don’t agree.I m a shia person 40 years of age.I used to study my religion very interestingly when I was 12. During 28 years of my deep interest in religion I haven’t yet found that real shia Islam teaches that all people must be converted harshly. The real Shia Islam is totally peaceful one.u can read history to know when our Imam Ali a.s was accused by a Jew in the court when Ali was caliph and Ali was prosecuted like an ordinary person.This was one of many examples that non Muslim minorities enjoying free life in early Muslim society. Same now in Iran where even Jews can live with full freedom.In general Muslim sunni and shia societies throughout Muslim world(except wahabi) it is very unlikely that someone get married on 10th of Muharram. But interesting that there in Iran some wahabis have made ceremonies of marriage at Aashura muharaam with permission of shia authorities. This is the freedom which Real Islam offers to others. Can I talk with u using Facebook?

          • Brother Ma

            Sorry Brorher. I do not have Facebook but we can talk here. I have no problem. I have admitted to you here and elsewhere that I Believe Shia Islam is better. I know that Christians and Moslems live in relative peace in Iran. Sure.I also know that those Hindus of India and Christians in Europe who came across to Islam voluntarily-hundreds of years ago- came across because of Shia/Sufi Islam not Sunni Rite.Also most Alevi and Alawites were Christians and came across because of non-Sunni Rite.

            Yet ,the Shia had the murderous Assassins ,did they not? Didn’t Hezbollah in Lebanon slaughter many Christians in the Lebanese Civil Wars?Also we do not know really how the Shia will behave ruling Christian majorities as they have never had the chance to do so. The Arab and Turk Sunni did that.

          • peacelover

            What happened in Lebanon, I don’t have knowledge. When two parties have a dispute then anything can happen.But I believe those assassinations were not headchoping or burning or any other type of inhuman cruelty.If i do something wrong it can be my personal fault not to inculpate my religion for my deed.As for ur last question, Shias governing non Muslim majority or minority, the Islamic laws and traditions are same.

          • Brother Ma

            I agree with much of what you say.
            Your last sentence. I respond. If what you say is true then most of the Muslims are very ignorant of their religion because most Muslims believe their religion is the only religion and that they themselves are superior to all other people , thus should convert others by force.

            Every Christian in the world however uneducated ,knows the basics of Christianity.

            Love your neighbour(fellowhuman)
            Turn the other cheek(tolerance of all even if they do bad against you
            Love ! Simple ..?Christianity and Jesus simply teaches Love

            So i say to you,your qadis, madrassas and imams /hocas are doing a very bad job of teaching their people what Islam is really about.

          • peacelover

            Those Muslims who believe that Paradise is only for Muslims are really very ignorant.In Islamic principles every human can get into Paradise.And thus Muslims are not superior to all other people, but Islam is superior to all other religions.Convert others by force really fake thinking in some Muslims, it is not belonged to Islam.Let’s look at TURN THE OTHER CHEEK.This is an actual difference between Islam and Christianity. Islam doesn’t allow to turn ur other cheek, but to respond by force.Now for example let’s imagine what would happen if Iran,Syria or Russia turn their other cheeks to USA?

          • Brother Ma

            Chritianity does not say to turn the other cheek indefinitely. It says only to do so in the first instance.

            I have met many Moslems from all countries and both Shiai and Sunni,both educated and secular and not.the majority still believe in what i said. You may live in A majority Shia countey and therefore do not see Muslims in the widerworld as they are in real life.

          • peacelover

            I’m from Pakistan, my father was a secular and a devoted communist.He was a fanatic fan of Soviet Union. Most of my friends are Sunnis and less are shias.These are misperceptions spread by low class Muslim scholars.In Islam any Muslim can go to Hell, and any non Muslim can go to Paradise.This is authentic.

          • Brother Ma

            Once again brother,the victims do not care if they are killed because of lower-class scholars. If you really believe that Islam is good and not violent then it is up to intelligent kind Muslims like yourself to change things. You and your peers must get rid of these scholars and improve the teachings to the people who are poor and ignorant.Only then will others trust and like you.

          • Brother Ma

            Not true,Shia Persia had invaded many countries over time and warred against them.

            In addition, I am a Christian and am happy for Syria to slap back against the Zio Americans and their moslem cutthroats.
            I support Russia,Assad and Iran in Syria.

          • peacelover

            Mistake my brother. That was not SHIA Persia.That was PEhLVi dynasty. That was not a religious government. They never did care of religious principles.

          • Brother Ma

            Brother ,I am also talking about Persia from the 600AD s. In the end the victim does not care if it was a religious Shia Moslem gov killing him rather than a secular gov of Shia Persia killing him . He just does not wish to be killed.
            The best Moslems I have met are secular . I have met them from Pakistan ,Tunisia, Lebanon and elsewhere. Your father sounds like a very intelligent kind man. Someone I would have been happy to meet.

            Pakistan has many murders and killing of shia by Sunni. The gov has lost control or worse actually is behind it as a Deep State. Very bad. Pakistan has the potential to be a very wealthy country.

          • peacelover

            Opposite to yours,according to my view best Christians are religious ones not seculars. My father wanted to send me to USSR for studying and he even didn’t send me to schools here.He was a primary school teacher.He gave me basic education at home.we belonged to a very backward area in the country.But my father’s heart broken by the sudden collapse of Soviet Union.My age was 13 that time.I couldn’t study well because of extreme poverty. We the people of my country have much hopes in Imran Khan to make Pakistan a prosperous and peaceful country.Our nation is peaceful and loving as a whole.

          • Brother Ma

            I also like and respect Imran Khan. I hope the powerbrokers allow him to achieve greatness. Either that or i hope he breaks their backs if they resist. More power to him. I had very good friends from Karachi and Lahore.

            Many people are sad that Russia has fallen . Many not even Communist are upset. Your father must have been a very brave man to be a Communist in Pakistan at that time and especially in the tribal conservative -muslim areas. Very brave indeed! Bravo!

          • Brother Ma

            No friend. Christians in general are secular the world over. Being secular does not mean you are atheist or hate your religion. It means Christians in general know and love their religion and God but are aware of Humanism/Greco -Roman thought and appreciate the Enlightenment. Much of this thought was returned to Europe by the Moslems when they translated Greek into Arabic and into Latin.

            By then Europe has gone into the “Dark Ages”. So you see the moslems were for a period very secular and cosmopolitan mixing with everyone in peace. I believe it was in Harun al rashid’s times.

            The very ignorant christians you probably refer to are in America.

            They are probably the most ignorant of all Christians. Wealthy powerful countries are not guaranteed to have brains as well !😂

          • peacelover

            I think there is not too much difference between secular and atheist. Many of my friends calling themselves secular hate the religion,every religion. Calling religion human made fake stories.

          • peacelover

            U from Russia?

          • Brother Ma

            No i am from an English- speaking ally of America but I think for myself and thus dos not like a lot of what America and my government does.

            I like Russia very much. If i was younger I would be happy to live there.

          • peacelover

            There is a bit difference between u and me. U like Russia but I love her. I appreciate ur knowledge in history and geographical current affairs.These two are my favorites.But I have weak English to discuss frequently.

          • Brother Ma

            Me too . We can speak about history and geo here whenever you want.

          • peacelover

            Do you have any interest in sports especially cricket?

          • Brother Ma

            Yes. Of course. I am old enough to have followed cricket when imran was still playing hahah!

            Do your best to become educated in anyway possible. Try and become a diplomat or representative of your country to Russia and remember me when you are rich and powerful. Put an advert in the main english newspapers calling for Brother Ma! Bahaha

            We willl speak again I am sure and never worry. I have understood you perfectly. I wish my Urdu /Dari was as good as your English! Really!

          • peacelover

            I was a fan of Adam Gilchrist, Steve Waugh, Michael Beven and Brett Lee. Same to you I’m old too. There is no much time left to get educated. Thnx anyway. God bless u for ur well wishes!

          • peacelover

            Modern secularist ideologies have given mankind nothing except violence, oppression, wars and even genocides. It is high time to kick them into the trash heaps of history where they belong and return to a truly tolerant, sustainable and humane civilizational model centered around spiritual, not materialistic, values. Yes, I know, for the media-brainwashed zombies out there religion is not exactly associated with the ideas of tolerance and compassion, but that is just the inevitable consequence of being exposed to particularly nasty and hypocritical forms of religion. That, and a basic lack of education. These things can be remedied, not so much by debating them ad nauseam, but simply by creating a different civilizational model. But for that Russia and the Islamic world will need to look inside themselves and focus on healing their own (still numerous) pathologies and dysfunctions (especially spiritual ones) in order to create such a spirituality-centered alternative to the Almighty Dollar. In the words of Saint Seraphim of Sarov, “acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved”. I think that this is a future worthy of fighting for.
            By THE SAKER

          • peacelover

            When USA invade a country how we can say that Christians are invading?

          • peacelover

            Islam loves those Christians who have faith in spiritual values, not secular ones.Quran says:You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allah; and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, “We are Christians.” That is because among them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant.

          • peacelover

            The records in utmost cruelty been made by only wahabism and their masters and generators and not anyone else.

      • peacelover

        I think there is no game plan behind this murder.It was just stupidity of a dumb arrogant idiot. At this momentum of constant stupid actions MBS will reach his destination soon, the downfall of that bloody evil kingdom.

        • You can call me Al

          For me, I hope that Turkey and the Saudis ratchet up the tensions between them, then let us see a few Saudis fall.

          • peacelover

            Very well. I hope same.

  • BL

    I don’t see any way the Saudis will fall into disfavor with the US. The kike rodent scum literally hand picked Bin Salman to become Saudi’s next King so (((they))) can directly rule Saudi Arabia from Hell Aviv. He’s literally a Mossad agent posing as a Saudi prince. Not that previous Saudi Kings weren’t shills but MBS takes it to an entirely new level.

    • Rodger

      Saudi oil was needed in the past, now they are just the competition. The special US-Saudi relationship is over and done.

      • Brother Ma

        Please God.

      • peacelover

        But still Saudi money is needed.The relationship between two evil partners can never be over. And can u explain that which would be saudi alternative to do the dirty work for US in middle east, having so enormous strategic importance.

    • Brother Ma

      And of course because the Sauds are cryptoJews.They are everywhere if you look hard enough. Churchill,delano roosevelt,pm cameron,pres sarkozy,chancellor merkel,maybe even the Bushs,murdoch media magnate.

  • christianblood

    Arab men look to be very stupid folks indeed! I remember two decades ago
    Saddam Hussein’s two sons in laws returning from Jordan to Iraq a few
    months after they have escaped to Jordan and asked for asylum there and
    were openly briefed by the CIA. Then they were foolishly persuaded by Sadam’s people to return to Iraq
    and were murdered there a few days after they returned. This Jamal
    Kashoggi did the same thing by returning to the Saudi embassy in Turkey,
    he should NEVER have done that, he should have known better! He acted
    like a dumb-ass!

    • peacelover

      But his sacrifice proving better in exposing to world the repulsive nature of that vile House of Said.

      • christianblood

        You are right! Let us hope that his sacrifice starts a domino effect that eventually crumples the Evil House of Saud!

  • Just a thought, last tuesday evening at a campaign rally Trump made the rather surprising statement that the saudi crown prince “wouldnt last 2 weeks” without US military support, whats the betting he already had wind of what had happened to the saudi journalist when he made this statement ?
    Nothing like applying a little bit of preassure on the blackmail victim hey, and while we are on the topic just how stupid and cretinous can you be to murder a political opponent of yours within the grounds of your own embassy and think you can get away with it. Very obviously the moronic saudis have never heard of the old adage of never shi*ting on your own doorstep, duh.