If the U.S.-Saudi alliance is to continue, the parameters of it must change so that American security interests can be preserved.
President Trump will meet Thursday with Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s deputy crown prince and next in line to the throne.
The Saudi agenda at the meeting in Washington will involve "the strengthening of bilateral relations between the two countries and regional issues of mutual interest,” according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
The president’s agenda for the meeting is currently unknown, and the White House has not yet released talking points on the matter. However, top agenda items in past meetings between the two countries have centered on energy prices and the wars in the Middle East.
The United States used to rely heavily upon Saudi Arabia for the importation of energy resources. But recent discoveries have changed that leverage; the U.S. has billions of barrels of oil that have yet to be utilized, and President Trump has expressed that he wants America to become more energy independent.
Next on the agenda involves analyzing the complicated relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and how to proceed with the alliance moving forward.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s foremost violators of the basic human rights of its citizens. The country treats women (both through legal and traditional procedures) as inferior beings, imposing harsh restrictions that limit their mobility in both their personal and professional lives.
Not only does Saudi Arabia impose human rights violations within its borders, the country is heavily engaged in proselytizing its radical Wahhabi doctrine throughout the world.
Wahhabism, the predominant ideology inside the country, was founded about 250 years ago after the Saudi royal family established an alliance with cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab. This allowed for the Saudi royal family to stay in power while fundamentalists could preach their fringe ideology without question. Today, the treaty still remains in place between Riyadh’s radical Islamic forces and its dynasty.
Critics allege that Wahhabism promotes a fundamentalist version of Islam that leads followers to embrace groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Moreover, individuals within the country (who work inside and outside the government) are suspected of directly funding countless militant jihadist movements.
And, at the same time, Saudi Arabia has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into normalizing its ideology in the West. The Saudis have donated countless millions to establish its Islamist brand in America’s finest academic institutions, such as Harvard and Yale University.
President Trump should ask that Saudi Arabia rein in its anti-American elements and end its domestic abuses. Doing so would be in America’s best interests and could provide for a stronger basis for a real partnership between the two nations. Saudi Arabia should stop promoting dangerous, undemocratic ideologies if it wants a continued partner in the United States.
Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for CR. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel