Tags: Hillary Clinton | Homeland Security | Middle East | War on Terrorism | saudi arabia | king | abdullah

Critics: Fawning Over Deceased Saudi King Whitewashes Reality

By    |   Monday, 26 Jan 2015 09:38 PM

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey's decision to establish a "research and essay competition" in honor of the late Saudi Arabian King Abdullah is likely to stir controversy about U.S.-Saudi ties and the Obama administration's handling of its relationship with Riyadh.

Dempsey said Monday that Abdullah, who died Jan. 23 at age 90, was "a man of remarkable honor and courage" as he announced the establishment of an essay competition in the monarch's memory to be sponsored by the National Defense University.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel described Abdullah as "a powerful voice for tolerance, moderation, and peace," while Secretary of State John Kerry gushed that King Abdullah "was a man of wisdom and vision. I loved my visits with him as a senator and as secretary." Kerry also called Abdullah "a brave partner in fighting violent extremism."

Critics who don't share the admiration of U.S. officials for the Saudi regime reacted with fury, Time noted.

"I wonder if Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger who has been sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes for postings critical of Islam and the House of Saud, is eligible to enter?" one posted on Dempsey's Facebook page.

Some experts on Saudi Arabia question the premise that Abdullah was a genuine reformer.

"There were persistent stories alleging that Abdullah was a reformer, but no one could ever articulate for me what he actually stood for and wanted," the Council on Foreign Relations' Stephen A. Cook wrote on Monday.

Cook added that "there is no denying that the Saudis under Abdullah had an extremism problem about which they were apparently in abject denial until terrorists started targeting them in 2003. More recently, Abdullah oversaw the beheading of 87 individuals in 2014, mostly poor guest workers that no one cares about."

In a secret December 2009 memo released by Wikileaks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear that Saudi Arabia under King Abdullah was a bankroller of terrorism, The Guardian reports.

"More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba] and other terrorist groups, including Hamas," stated the classified memo, signed by Clinton.

"Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide," Clinton continued, adding that King Abdullah had been reluctant to shut that pipeline down.

Writing at National Review Online, Andrew Stuttaford argued that "Saudi Arabia is a repulsive theocracy, a cesspit where self-righteousness and corruption walk hand-in-hand. The influence that Saudi money has had on Islam worldwide has been malign."

Stuttaford says he can "understand why it is necessary for Western leaders to feign a certain amount of sadness over the death of Abdullah." But "if the West wants to signal that it is a, to use bin Laden's phrase, 'weak horse,' groveling like this is a good way to go."

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Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey's decision to establish a research and essay competition in honor of the late Saudi Arabian King Abdullah is likely to stir controversy about U.S.-Saudi ties and the Obama administration's handling of its relationship with Riyadh.
saudi arabia, king, abdullah, death, US, relations, Washington, Riyadh
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2015-38-26
Monday, 26 Jan 2015 09:38 PM
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