Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Picking and Choosing an Ally: Not U.S. Best Skill, Talent, or Trait

Not a Pretty Picture to Remember 

Osama bin-Laden was born into the family of 
Saudi billionaire Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden

Now this Comparison: ISIS and Saudi "Justice"

[click images for larger views]

Let’ face it, the U.S. has a lousy record of picking and choosing allies – classic example (kind of): Saudi Arabia.

Whether they’re kissing and holding hands or bowing, American presidents of both parties can be counted on to show their affection for the House of Saud – which is a tradition dating back to the days of FDR.

As the only country in the world with “spare production capacity” — enough extra oil that they can affect global energy prices at will — Saudi cooperation is crucial in order to keep the U.S. economy humming. 

Since 9/11, the Saudis have also provided aid and intelligence to the U.S.-led war on terrorism and cracked down on violent extremists in the kingdom and across the border in Yemen (see Yemen below.

Yet questions remain about the degree to which members of the Saudi royal family still provide financial assistance to Al Qaeda. The U.S. also relies on Saudi Arabia’s stabilizing influence in the Middle East as a counterweight to Iran and as a mediator with the Palestinian Authority. In 2010 alone, the relationship was further cemented by a $60 billion weapons deal including fighter jets.

Yemen and their leaders: Previous President Ali Abdullah Saleh and currently, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who who fled Yemen earlier this year.

Hadi’s government is currently based in Saudi Arabia, which is leading a U.S.-backed coalition that has been striking the Iran-supported rebels from the air since March.

Yet, Yemen's conflict pits an array of forces against the Houthi rebels, who are allied with security forces loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. 

The conflict has killed more than 4,000 people, leaving the Arab world's poorest country in the grip of a humanitarian crisis and on the brink of famine. Several previous attempts to get the parties to end the conflict have failed, and it has proven nearly impossible to arrange a humanitarian pause to deliver desperately needed aid.

This a good article on the subject is here, even though it is a bit dated (changes since 2011 when it was published), but it gives us a good idea about how we conduct foreign affairs and with whom as it were. Check it out and other research as well (here) and (here).

My point of this post however, is the comparison of ISIS and the Saudi “justice” systems seen in the chart above and to emphasize that we have poor record of picking allies.  

We can’t keep citing human rights and our brand of democracy and justice around the globe as we do so often and with great results, but then wink and nod when we see some of our allies with systems like that depicted above. Just saying … Thanks for stopping by.

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