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National Security

An Uneasy Alliance

Obama's trip to Saudi Arabia comes at a testy time.

Lewis Morris · Apr. 20, 2016

Barack Obama’s latest trip to Saudi Arabia takes place under the shadow of renewed public interest into the Saudi kingdom’s alleged complicity, maybe even direct involvement, in 9/11.

Two recent domestic events threaten to drive a wedge into the shaky U.S.-Saudi alliance, an alliance that isn’t necessarily doing America many favors. One is growing support for the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. JASTA, long sought by the families of 9/11 victims, would allow U.S. citizens directly affected by terrorism to sue state sponsors of terrorism for damages in federal court. The second is growing public demand for release of 28 classified pages from the 2004 9/11 report, which supposedly outlines greater Saudi involvement than previously admitted by Washington.

These two events are intrinsically linked. JASTA was first introduced last year, but support for the legislation has become a big part of the national conversation after a recent “60 Minutes” story explored the 28 pages redacted from the 9/11 report. Some members of the 9/11 Commission, former Senator and Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Bob Graham, and investigative reporter Paul Sperry have all spoken of evidence that the Saudis played some role in the 9/11 attacks.

Sperry writes that those 28 pages contain “incontrovertible evidence from both CIA and FBI case files of official Saudi assistance for at least two of the Saudi hijackers who settled in San Diego.”

The extent of the Saudi role remains unclear, as does whether the Saudi government had a hand in supporting the hijackers in any way. Obama, for all his talk about transparency and shedding light on the nature of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, has done his best to stonewall the release of additional documents. What does keeping the nature of Saudi Arabia’s hand in 9/11 secret from the American public accomplish?

There is the economic component. The Saudis are threatening to dump $750 billion in U.S. bonds onto the open market if the redacted pages are made public. Such a move would hurt the kingdom in the long term more than the U.S., though, as the riyal is pegged to the U.S. dollar.

The trouble is if Obama continues to sit on the 28 pages for the sake of “national security,” the outcome will look to the world as if the Saudi government just blackmailed the United States. Who next will follow suit? China? Russia? Iran? Unfortunately, thanks to this commander in chief’s feckless foreign policy and spinelessness on the world stage, these countries are already engaging in this kind of behavior against us.

This current trip to the Saudi kingdom is Obama’s fourth, more than any other sitting president. And for all the ink spilled by the Leftmedia over the photo of George W. Bush holding hands with the Saudi king, at least he didn’t bow to him.

As if open subservience isn’t bad enough, Obama’s also turned over a number of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the Saudi government. Last week’s batch of nine Yemenis is just the latest. Many of the detainees that have been let out of Gitmo have ended up right back on the battlefield. If the Saudis had a hand in supporting the 9/11 hijackers, then it would come as no surprise if Gitmo detainees turned over to them ended up back in the fight.

The U.S. does have strategic interest in an alliance with Saudi Arabia, but as time has passed, the Saudi kingdom’s usefulness has shrunk significantly to the point that if they can hardly be considered allies at all. They have harbored terrorists, they have supported terrorists, and they seek to influence our foreign policy through financial blackmail. About the only thing left is Saudi Arabia’s geopolitical balance to Iran. And Obama’s bungling that one, too, telling the Saudis they just need to learn to “share the neighborhood” with Iran.

Is there anywhere in the world that Obama hasn’t made a hash of foreign policy?

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