The grisly murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi has cast a garish light on what is business as usual in the Middle East. In the U.S., many are aghast that their government is working with a country capable of such an act, and specifically with a leader (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) who could be so reckless and cruel. In Saudi Arabia, there is a degree of consternation as to why Khashoggi’s death has set off such a firestorm, considering Riyadh’s dutiful record as key U.S. ally in the region for decades, and even more so in the past two years. The simple fact is that Washington’s current strategy in the Middle East leaves the U.S. with only unsavory choices, and until that strategy changes, it’s stuck with the devil it knows. Riyadh, meanwhile, doesn’t have much of a choice – it’s been stuck with the devil it can’t avoid since 1945. Fruitful though the partnership has been since Franklin D. Roosevelt and King Ibn Saud shared a Valentine’s Day meal on the US
No Exit From the US-Saudi Relationship
So long as Washington endeavors to counter Iran, it will have to stomach the more unsavory aspects of its relationship with Riyadh.