Abraham’s Bad Seed: Reconsidering Saudi Arabia

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Mid-Atlantic Media Editorial Board

Among the most powerful and feared voices in the Middle East is that of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Wealthy, large, conservative, aloof, sitting snugly in the cradle of Arab and Muslim civilization — Saudi Arabia wields significant political and economic influence in the complex structure of the Arab world.

The kingdom’s actions are monitored closely. Its pronouncements are followed carefully. Yet very few actually believe much of what the kingdom says. Instead, one must examine carefully what the kingdom and its royal family do. And often, it is not very pretty.


Israel’s relationship with the Saudis has improved. The two countries cooperate on security and many economic issues, and share intense enmity toward Iran. The Saudis have also tacitly approved the normalization of relations between Israel and some of her Gulf neighbors. All that is welcome. Yet, at least for now, the Saudis are hesitant to join the historic Abraham Accords — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The Saudis are not our friends. More to the point, we don’t want friends like them. Instead, we have business and political dealings with the Saudis because they are necessary and sometimes convenient, even as we cringe at the outrageous human rights abuses and dishonesty that regularly flow from the kingdom.

It was conservative Wahhabism — the rigid fundamentalist orthodoxy of Saudi Arabia, which holds that those who don’t practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies — that laid the groundwork for Al Qaeda and the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. And it’s the Saudis who have funded fundamentalist madrasas and spawned countless Islamic terror cells and attacks around the world.

In 2018, the world was aghast over the torture, murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a 15-member Saudi team at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. Reigning Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been directly implicated in ordering and seeking to cover up the gangland-style killing.

The Saudi-led bombings of rebel forces in Yemen continues, with the Saudi-led coalition implicated in war crimes and other serious violations of international law. Inside the kingdom, dissent is punished mercilessly. There is no transparency and no accountability. Reports of movie theaters being permitted to open in the kingdom and the trumpeting of notice that the government will allow women to drive is nothing more than window dressing; it is certainly not reform.

The U.S. government has historically shown the kingdom deference due to its vast oil reserves, strategic location and staggering wealth. Yet we have long wondered whether such close relations with the bad seed of Abraham is in America’s interests. President Trump answered the question with an unequivocal “yes,” turning a blind eye to the murders, genocide and human rights abuses, and cozying up to the royals willing to pay generously for American weapons.

We hope the incoming Biden administration will be more circumspect, and will make clear to the Saudis that if they want to be our trusted partner, they must show respect for human life, religious tolerance and simple honesty.

The Mid-Atlantic Media editorial board is composed of media owners and journalists from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Philadelphia.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Well done opinion piece. While it may be at odds with the rabid anti-Trump position of the Board and its constituent parts as well as the general media practice of finding fault with any position held by Mr. Trump, considerations of fairness require a notation that the administrations of Saint Barack Obama and Bill Clinton also felt that it was acceptable to deal with the Saudis and ignore their atrocious record on human rights. There is no reason to think that the Biden Administration will be any different – except that it will pressure Israel to give up what it views as need for its security for a peace with an enemy that still refuses to concede its right to exist. Not all of us have forgotten history…

  2. I agree that Saudi Arabia is a bad actor in several ways but compared to the alternative, its by far the better choice. That’s because the other option is Iran. You can use the same adjectives that the Mid-Atlantic editorial board ascribes to the Saudi’s and add a couple more to describe the mad Mullahs who govern Iran. Iran has openly said that it would wipe Israel off the map, and is at the brink of gaining the means to do so. Simply put that’s a second holocaust with the death of about seven million of our fellow Jews. Iran is also trying to gain hegemony over the entire Middle East, and if successful would add a huge threat to both Western Europe and to us. Mid-Atlantic wonders if allying with the bad seed of Abraham to counter Iran’s objectives is in America’s interest, both myself and the Trump administration believe the answer is an unequivocal yes. That doesn’t mean we love the Saudis but rather we hate the alternative. I fear the position of the incoming Biden administration since it will no doubt be based on the weak, feckless, pro-Iranian position of the Obama administration. If I’m right watch Biden put distance between the not only the Saudis, the emirates and Bahrain but also Israel, putting it in the untenable position of facing the Iranians on its own. We haven’t been successful in verbally altering the Iranian’s behavior and its highly unlikely we can alter the Saudis either.

  3. The relationship with Saudi Arabia is much more important than the way you downplay them.
    First and formemost the Jews and Saudis are the sons of Abraham. So we have an interest to find a common ground with them.
    Second the Middle East has been yearning for regional cooperation.
    The author of this article apparently does not understand the roots of the Jews and Saudis and has no idea how the Middle East works.

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