On Tuesday, President Trump released a statement defending U.S. ties with Saudi Arabia amid continuing international uproar about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That’s despite U.S. intelligence concluding that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the murder. Trump’s refusal to hold the Saudis accountable is sending a startling message about just how far the U.S. president is prepared to take his “America First” policy.
As well as turning a blind eye to the events in Istanbul, Trump praised the Saudis for making a $450 billion investment in the U.S. economy, though this figure was refuted by the Washington Post and New York Times. The U.S. has been supplying billions of dollars worth of hi-tech weaponry to the Saudis for years and the hardware has been used to push 8 million people in Yemen to the brink of starvation without much scrutiny.
That is beginning to change as the critical humanitarian situation in Yemen becomes impossible to ignore. Even though the U.S. recently announced it would stop refueling Saudi warplanes, large numbers of civilians are being killed by U.S. munitions dropped by U.S. and British-made aircraft. Two thirds of Saudi Arabia’s 365 combat-capable aircraft are of U.S. origin including 171 F-15s. The question being asked increasingly frequently is whether a small number of U.S. jobs should take precedence over holding the de facto Saudi ruler accountable for Khashoggi’s murder and the situation in Yemen.
It cannot be argued that U.S. military technology has formed the pillar of the Saudi onslaught in Yemen and the following infographic shows the value of potential arms deals with Riyadh notified to Congress by year (not all deals resulted in final sales) as reported by the Center for International Policy. House Democrats may use their new majority to probe Trump’s relationship with the Saudis and several bills could halt the arms flow. As the situation in Yemen deteriorates and Saudi Arabia’s international standing plummets, itt will be interesting to see whether Trump will be forced to put his “America First” policy to one side and show the world that U.S. stands for more than just a dollar sign.
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Saudi Arabia foreign conflicts 2018 – Statistics & Facts
This dossier illustrates the current foreign political conflicts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 2017. Though all current foreign political tensions of Saudi Arabia are with its immediate Middle Eastern neighbors, they all are unlike in their nature bare different consequences for the oil rich kingdom.
Since 2015 Saudi Arabia is involved in a war with its southern neighbor Yemen, one of the least developed nations. The upheaval during the Arab spring in 2011 resulted in the dismissal of the former Yemeni regime, but the country failed to implement a new stable government. This helped the uprising of the Houthi rebels who pulled Yemen into a civil war but caused tensions with Saudi Arabia, which shares a porous border with Yemen. Saudi Arabia feared its own security as Houthi missiles are able to reach urban areas within the country. But at the same time, Saudi Arabia has an own Agenda regarding the outcome of the civil war in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign political conflict with Iran can be described as a type of longstanding Cold War between a Sunni-Muslim (more specifically Wahabi) Kingdom and Shia-majority Islamic republic. Both countries did not go to war against each other per se, but in recent years have been involved in proxy wars where both sides have supported in some form opposing parties. For example, the Saudi government accused Iran of supporting financially the Houthi rebels, whose leadership belongs to Shia Islam.
The Qatar Crisis unfolded in Summer 2017 as a diplomatic conflict caused by Saudi Arabia’s allegation against the small Emirate of supporting terrorist groups and giving them a media platform on the Al Jazeera network. Beside Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut off all diplomatic ties with Qatar. Although western countries including the United States decided to stay neutral in this matter, President Trump publicly decided to Side with Saudi Arabia in this dispute, though Qatar is a main military ally in the region and it houses a major US air base.
The latest foreign political crisis of Saudi Arabia involves one of its longstanding allies, Turkey, and was caused by the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The former Washington Post journalist was known for his critical reporting on his native Saudi Arabian government and for which he decided to live in exile in the United States. On October 2nd he attended the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Istanbul to obtain some documents for his upcoming nuptials and was subsequently murdered within a Saudi Arabian mission on Turkish soil.
All those current foreign political conflicts of Saudi Arabia might unfold regionally but they have a wider geo-political implication as Saudi Arabia is one of the largest arms and military equipment buyer. Considering Saudi Arabia’s rivalry with Iran and their proxy conflicts, this can become a serious issue. Moreover as Saudi Arabia has turned internally unstable and unpredictable since the son of the current King, Muhammed bin Salman, has been announced crown prince and turned into the de facto ruler of the country as his father’s health is ailing.