President Donald Trump officially signed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia on Saturday, and it’s just another sign that Trump is diverging from his campaign rhetoric on foreign policy.
On the campaign trail, Trump said the Gulf state was involved in the 9/11 terror attacks, and previously wrote that it funds terror. Now he’s trying to start an “Arab NATO” with the Saudis and sell them high-grade military tech. (RELATED: Trump Signs Arms Deal And Visits Saudis After Saying They Fund Terror And Were Behind 9/11)
The primary argument for the creation of an Arab NATO is that it would help fight Islamic extremism in the Middle East and be a force for good.
But more concerning than the president’s apparent flip-flop is the deepening ties with a nation that is arguably the leading exporter of Islamic extremism in the world and not exactly a force for stability in the Middle East.
Throughout the world and especially in Europe, Saudi Arabia funds mosques and Islamic schools that teach a fundamentalist version of the faith and undermines any attempts at moderation, according to The New York Times.
These Saudi-funded centers have served as the breeding grounds for jihadis and are a leading factor behind the strength of Islamic extremism in immigrant communities throughout Europe.
Saudi Arabia is itself a theocratic regime built on the tenets of Salafism and appears to have no interest in stopping its spread around the world. It’s doubtful becoming the leading partner in Arab NATO will change their minds on this matter.
In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has funded numerous radical militias in Syria and is currently starving Yemen as part of its role in that country’s brutal civil war.
The Saudis have in the past financially supported the al-Qaeda-backed al-Nusra Front in the Syrian conflict and are the chief backers of slightly more moderate Salafists, who themselves often fight alongside al-Nusra.
Additionally, according to Hillary Clinton and others, Saudi Arabia is funding ISIS.
Saudi Arabia has been using a large portion of its massive military budget to intervene into Yemen’s civil war, which has largely proven fruitless against a much less sophisticated foe. The intervention has appeared to only result in a devastating famine in the country and a high number of civilian deaths from an indiscriminate bombing campaign.
It doesn’t take a genius to see as to what ends Saudi Arabia will put its fancy new weapons to use.
Is it really in America’s interest to fund al-Qaeda-friendly rebels and bomb Yemeni civilians?
This is a question we need to start asking as a country before we start selling them more high-grade military equipment. It’s hard to say you’re putting America first when you’re allying yourself with a country that it’s totally okay with fueling the flames of Islamic extremism in the West.