Is Saudi Arabia Just as Radical as Iran?

In President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the Middle East, he delivered a speech which even his harshest critics had trouble complaining about. In it, he called on the leaders of Saudi Arabia to join the fight against Islamic terrorism, and he put it into such strong terms that it seems clear Trump believes that Saudi Arabia is a major sponsor and safe harbor for radical Islamic terrorism.

He did not accuse the Saudis of nurturing terrorist programs directly. But, he made it clear that he expects them to take responsibility for the region’s unrest and to join the fight against it. However, the president has also targeted Iran by name as a state sponsor of terror.
  
This leaves us with questions. First, does Donald Trump believe that Saudi Arabia does not sponsor Islamic terrorist groups? That is unlikely. It would be unrealistic to expect him to stand in front of a room full of the world’s most powerful supporters of Islamic terrorist groups and call them criminals to their faces. Donald Trump may be an extraordinary patriot and businessman, but looking into the eyes of the world’s richest cartels would move even the strongest of men to use diplomacy.

The second question is, who is a greater sponsor of terrorism, Saudi Arabia, or Iran?
 
We know that the Saudis deal sharply with the rest of the world over their oil reserves. They have heads of state with major controlling shares of conglomerate media firms in the U.S. They are one of the United States’ biggest clients in terms of weapons deals, and they are well-known to support Sharia law – which regards women as disposable property, executes gays, and dictates that Islam be spread by violence and deception.

These and other reasons give us cause to regard Saudi Arabia as having among the worst human rights records in the world. Considering them to be complicit in global terrorism is no great leap from that point.
 
How does Iran stack up by these same standards? Not well. The country has long been considered as one of the world’s preeminent state sponsors of terrorism. As of 2015, according to the State Department, Iran “remained the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in 2015, providing a range of support, including financial, training, and equipment, to groups around the world.”
 
The Islamic Republic has been known to support Hezbollah, Hamas, as well as Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. In 2015, Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear program, yet reports continued to stream in that the country did not stop pursuing the enrichment of weapons-grade uranium.

Following the release of that report, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country had no intention of working with its enemies. He singled out the United States and Britain in his speeches, referring to both as ‘evil.’
 
The Ayatollah accused the U.S. of having a lack of commitment to uphold its end of the nuclear bargain that had been agreed upon by six major state powers. He said, “America has continued its enmity towards Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. It is a huge mistake to trust evil Britain and the Great Satan, the United States.”
 
In addition to marking Iran as a major state sponsor of terrorism, the State Department’s report also cited Sudan and Syria as major contributors to radical Islamic terrorist groups in the region. The report also listed ISIS as the world’s greatest terrorist threat, although it made no direct connections between the terror group and any particular government.
 
The State Department’s acting coordinator, Justin Siberell told reporters, “The international community made progress in degrading terrorist safe havens– a significant reduction in the territory held by ISIS, in Iraq and Syria, as well as their finances and foreign fighters. However, instability in key regions with weak governance, sectarian conflicts, and porous borders still to provide terrorist groups the opportunity to extend their reach, terrorize civilians, and mobilize new recruits.”
 
While Donald Trump’s comments to Saudi leaders insisting that Iran is the world’s largest supporter of Islamic terrorism are controversial, there’s reason to believe that he is not alone in his perspective. His attempt to garner the cooperation of the Saudis in combating them can be interpreted as an attempt to curtail Saudi sponsorship of terrorism.

It may seem hypocritical for the president to single out Iran while giving the Saudis a pass, but the reality is that Riyadh has historically been far more willing to work with America to achieve common national security goals. Until the Iranians are willing to make this same sacrifice, Trump’s administration must continue maintaining this distinction.

~ Conservative Zone


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