For all the talk of “change” (which seems to be every politician’s go-to mantra these days), we know of one thing that’s apparently going to remain exactly the same under Donald Trump: Washington’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge the incontrovertible fact (as opposed to “alternative facts”) that Riyadh is the problem when it comes to Sunni extremism.
The new President’s ban on refugees from countries supposedly harboring “radical Islamic terrorists” doesn’t include the nation where an extreme interpretation of Islamic law is official state policy.
Nope, Saudi Arabia didn’t make Trump’s list, despite the fact that the kingdom is unquestionably the world’s foremost proponent of Wahhabism. Indeed, the radical interpretation of Sunni Islam that underpins ISIS and al-Qaeda’s self-styled “jihads” is championed by the Saudis and used to justify executions which totaled 153 in 2016 (a slight “improvement” from the 158 people executed the previous year).
And of course the ultimate irony is that it’s the Saudis funding and arming the Sunni opposition in Syria.
But it’s not as if Trump doesn’t know this. In 2011 for instance, he said the following:
It’s the world’s biggest funder of terrorism. Saudi Arabia funnels our petro dollars, our very own money, to fund the terrorists that seek to destroy our people.
And as The New York Times noted last year, Saudi Arabia’s role in promoting and exporting the very same Salafi ideals espoused by ISIS and al-Qaeda is so readily apparent that it’s barely worth reporting on. Indeed, I hesitated to write this post precisely because everyone already knows how absurd it is that Washington has anything at all to do with Riyadh. Here’s the Times:
Hardly a week passes without a television pundit or a newspaper columnist blaming Saudi Arabia for jihadist violence. On HBO, Bill Maher calls Saudi teachings “medieval,” adding an epithet. In The Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria writes that the Saudis have “created a monster in the world of Islam.”
The idea has become a commonplace: that Saudi Arabia’s export of the rigid, bigoted, patriarchal, fundamentalist strain of Islam known as Wahhabism has fueled global extremism and contributed to terrorism. As the Islamic State projects its menacing calls for violence into the West, directing or inspiring terrorist attacks in country after country, an old debate over Saudi influence on Islam has taken on new relevance.
Right. And given Saudi Arabia’s connection to 9/11 and San Bernardino, you’d think Trump would have put the country at the top of his “here’s where the terrorists are” list. But he didn’t. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find any countries on Trump’s list from which terrorists who have caused harm to the US have actually come.
On that note, I’ll just leave you with the following clip: