How to Build a More Sustainable and Mutually Beneficial Relationship with Saudi Arabia
The United States is not taking Saudi Arabia’s outsized responsibility for human rights abuses within or beyond the kingdom’s borders seriously enough. President Barack Obama did not raise the issue in his meeting last year with the late King Abdullah. On his way to meet the new Saudi monarch, King Salman, in January 2015 the President remarked, “Sometimes we have to balance our need to speak to them about human rights issues with immediate concerns that we have in terms of countering terrorism or dealing with regional stability.” He did not mention that Saudi Arabia’s policies (denying rights and freedoms at home while leading a vigorous, region-wide effort to push back against popular calls for better governance) have themselves contributed to regional instability and undermined counterterrorism efforts. Such policies harm U.S. interests and those of the people of Saudi Arabia and the region as a whole.