Have you ever had a friend that you knew was bad news, but you stayed with them because it was otherwise beneficial for you? Maybe, maybe not, but this sums up America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.
For those who are unaware, the United States sells literal billions of dollars worth of military armaments to Saudi Arabia, otherwise known as the Arms Deal. Donald Trump has even boasted about it repeatedly. Now, obviously, this deal pumps a lot of money into the nation, which is a good thing, but is it worth the affiliation with Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia is no stranger to civil rights controversies and has proven to generally be a nation that does not align itself with western values. Women only recently gained the right to legally drive, which appears to be a step in the right direction for women’s rights, but there were about a dozen women arrested for campaigning for the right to drive just weeks before. According to “The Guardian,” five women are still on trial as female human rights activists, though Saudi Arabian prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for these women.
Muhammad Bin Salman, the crown prince and current ruler of Saudi Arabia, has shown he is trying to crack down on corruption, but that includes an event where hundreds of people in a hotel resulted in at least 17 of them being hospitalized for physical abuse. But never mind policies that they have in their nation, let’s look at how they are using the military assets we are supplying them.
Along with many other middle eastern nations, Saudi Arabia has an often violent relationship with neighbors. Disputes include a lasting blockade on Guam and brutal war in Yemen. The Yemen war especially has resulted in many civilian casualties and terrible atrocities, including the bombing of a school bus resulting in the death of 40 children. Where did they get the bomb that destroyed that bus? From us.
As if these awful acts the Saudi Arabian government has done weren’t bad enough, recently they’ve done something that goes beyond horrific. The Turkish government has come out and accused Saudi Arabian agents of murdering and then dismembering a reporter named Jamal Khashoggi, a noted critic of the Saudi Royal family. He was a permanent resident of the U.S. and worked for the Washington Post. Now, Saudi Arabia claims these were rogue operatives, a claim Donald Trump has been swift to get behind. The Turkish government, however, insists that the Saudis planned the murder, and many agree with that statement. But not us. We’re still their ally.
We cannot allow ourselves to play bystander anymore. The United States has supported and supplied a nation that has committed awful war crimes and repeatedly oppressed its people. The least this nation could do is recognize that we value human lives over wealth, and that it’s time to cut the Arms Deal in favor of potentially saving lives and preventing more destruction.