Mid-May, President Trump signed a $110 Billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The deal, which provides Saudi Arabia with tanks, ships, intelligence-gathering aircraft, a missile-defense radar system, and cyber security tools,” is just a fraction of a 10 year, $350 billion contract.
The contract is said to define “strategic visions” between Saudi Arabia and the United States. But what exactly does that strategic vision entail? What makes a country praised for democracy and a kingdom universally recognized for its human rights violations unified? Sources state, the deal is the beginning of increased Saudi – US relations. With a $40 billion infrastructure investment, Trump claims to have created new jobs and increased domestic economy.
It makes one wonder, what other than arms were sold in this deal?
In its establishment, the United States of American began with a population of refugees, people in search of a better tomorrow- either in freedom or in entrepreneurship. Time after time again, the United States has stood up for rights against both domestic and foreign powers. From the early drafts of the Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights and beyond, freedom has been a corner stone of American history.
However, this time around, the United States has empowered a cascade of hate, intolerance, and human rights violations.
The Wahhabi school of thought is the source of extremism in most of the Middle East and it’s mainly sourced by Saudi money. The state department estimates over $10 billion dollar have been “donated to charitable foundations” which educate and attract people to Wahhabism. Over 20% of that money has been traced to extremist groups such that of al-Qaeda, a group the United States has for years attempted to thwart. In 2013 alone, the United States spent $16 Billion dollars on counter terrorism measure. That expenditure has only risen with the recent attacks of European soil.
Wahhabism is strict and unforgiving. Anyone in slightest dissent or deviation in belief is considered an enemy of God and Islam. A clear historic target of Wahhabism has been the Shia Muslim minority. Children are taught that Shia Muslims are outsiders or enemies of God as early as grade schools. Discriminatory education not only trends in Saudi Arabia, but also is exported to other nations in the Middle East/South Asian region. Schools funded by Saudi Arabia all over the world preach the same unforgiving education.
-Political Dissent –
With its actions, Saudi Arabia has made it clear that freedom of any kind is not tolerated. Any sort of domestic dissent is managed in the worst of ways. Take for example the current state of the Awamiya district of Saudi Arabia. Awamiya is a Shia dominated area of the Kingdom. In addition, the region is the source of the Kingdoms most oil revenue. The death toll from the siege in Awamiya continues to rise as the eastern town is blocked off by the Saudi Army. Damage to infrastructure has left town residence without water and electricity. Those injured by the armed forces’ shooting are left to die on streets without access to the basic healthcare of ambulances.
Not only does Saudi Arabia use its funds to thwart dissent domestically, it also imposes its beliefs on Shia populations in the region. Saudi-backed forces in Bahrain have for years, undermined the Shia majority population of Bahrain. Their rights are infringed upon and their voices are left unheard as encouraged by the anti-Shia Wahhabi ideology.
Recent political trends point to the politicization of religion in the Middle Eastern region. Different sects of Islam are pinned against each other as means of political rivalry. By increasing funds that fuel anti-Shiism, Saudi Arabia antagonizes Iran and aims to decrease any source of Iranian expansion.
Saudi actions in Yemen are yet again another sign of Saudi fear of Iranian expansion. Saudi Arabia groups all Shia constituents as forces of Iran. This grouping is not only false, but it has led to the loss of many lives. Thus far, thousands of civilian lives have been lost in Yemen as a result of relentless Saudi airstrikes that damage infrastructure. Many are dying of starvation and lack of basic resources due to a false association of Shia Islam and Iran.
Crime against humanity in Yemen by Saudi forces is not new news. Nor are the number of lives lost as a result of Wahhabi radicalism unknown. Yet, President Trump signed a $350 dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, turning a blind eye towards any and all humanitarian crimes committed by the Saudi kingdom.
With the new agreement, President Trump leveraged America’s democratic and humanitarian values for money. For once, President Trump has carried true to his words. He finally announced a “coherent foreign policy based upon American interests and the shared interests of our allies,” free of human rights.