In the wake of the Orlando massacre, the United States and Saudi Arabia are vowing to turn up the heat against terrorists and religious extremism in the Middle East.
But these allies have a history of supporting the same tenets of religious extremism that lead to terrorism and repression of human rights.
On June 13, U.S Secretary of State John Kerry hosted Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Kerry’s home in Washington, where the pair shared dinner. The meeting came a day after Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 more at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, apparently pledging allegiance to Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group known in the West as ISIS or ISIL) during the attack.
The pair discussed the incident, according to a statement by Kerry’s spokesman, John Kirby:
“The two reviewed the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia and discussed a broad range of regional issues, including Yemen, Syria, Libya, and countering terrorism. … Finally, the two discussed this weekend’s shooting in Orlando and expressed their shared commitment to continue their cooperation in combatting the spread of violent extremism, both regionally and internationally.”
In another statement quoted Thursday by Al Arabiya English, Kirby praised the Saudi role in Syria. “If it were not for Saudi leadership, we wouldn’t have that first meeting of the Syrian opposition groups back in December in Riyadh,” he said.
Kirby suggested the two nations were relatively unified in their plans for the civil war-torn country. “If you’re asking if there’s this big philosophical divide between the Saudis and the United States on how to move forward on the ground in Syria, the answer is ‘no,’” he said.
Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump advocated increased bombing campaigns against Daesh last week, echoing similar calls for so-called “humanitarian” intervention in Syria. The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that 51 State Department officials signed onto a “dissent channel cable,” a form of internal complaint, demanding regime change in Syria.