Mamdouh al-Muhainy
Mamdouh al-Muhainy is the General Manager of Al Arabiya and Al Hadath.

Attempts to Undermine Relationship Between KSA, US

The Saudi-US relationship has always been founded on solid grounds and mutual interests, but the ongoing US internal partisan conflict risks souring this relationship because, at the end of the day, partisans have only one objective: garnering as many votes possible to get their party re-elected. Garnering these votes becomes intertwined with any issue that might help the party in its re-election efforts. Sometimes, this partisan conflict drags into a struggle fought by demagogues in a swamp.

Currently, there is an ongoing heated and controversial debate between democrats and republicans on the issue of immigration to the United States. While Republicans are being accused of racism and closing the doors on immigrants, the Democrats, in turn, are being accused of risking American jobs and letting dangerous fanatics and drug dealers into the country. There is a battle being fought over social issues. Republicans support family values and accuse their opponents of destroying them. Democrats advocate the concept of freedom in relationships and describe their opponents as reactionary and insular. On the economic front, the same is true for the battle raging between capitalism and socialism, and the same applies to the right to bear arms and the kinds of arms that citizens can possess. The battle rages on, especially in light of the social divisions in US society along these lines. The same thing is happening with regard to foreign policy. External issues easily seep into the arena of partisan conflict between the two parties. But the stated goal is sometimes not the actual objective, rather, the real goal is sometimes to harm the other side. But the ramifications go beyond these limits.

For different reasons, files like those of China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia are the primary targets of these campaigns, as they have a major impact; other less important countries are overlooked. Saudi Arabia, because of its close ties to the United States, entered this internal conflict early on. Let us remember that the Trump administration is still being attacked by some Democrats because of its close relationship with Riyadh, and now some Republicans are attacking the Biden administration with claims that it is sabotaging the relationship with Riyadh.

In both cases, Saudi Arabia is turned into a tool for drawing domestic interest, and this will certainly increase, because Saudi Arabia is more global more than it had ever been due to the modernization process led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the large economic, social, and judicial reforms that oppose the extremist forces and regressive movements' projects for the region. And we recently saw the same scene once again after the Khashoggi report was released. The fingerprints of partisan conflict and internal tensions that don't necessarily have anything to do with Saudi Arabia are crystal clear.

The US political scene is open to lobbies, companies, corporations, and public relations, which work to enhance the image of some countries and blemish that of others. At the same time, it is also open to intellectual propositions put forward by research centers that seek to influence decision-makers to either turn down or strengthen alliances and friendships. Of course, there are those who have hostile ideological agendas, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Iranians, and others. It is an arena that has been open to political propaganda, quid pro quos, private interests, money, and ideological alliances for decades, and all factions engage in them.

With that, all these attempts to sabotage the relationship between Riyadh and Washington have not succeeded. However, they have not quieted down. It is broadly known that extremist groups like as Al Qaeda and Iranian militias, through their terrorist operations in America and Saudi Arabia, have tried and failed to ruin the relationship between the two countries. In my opinion, there is an important issue here that must be pointed out; Saudi Arabia has been realistic and chose the right path despite its difficulty, and it has avoided falling victim to a sense that is being targeted by media and persecuted politically. Some other countries and governments did fall into this trap and put their countries and peoples in melancholic mood and deepened feelings of hostility, allowing conspiracy theories to flourish. Then, these countries become isolated and obsessed with their grievances and this sense of victimhood, usually taking wrong decisions based on imagined or real perceptions of being victims. Some incompetent governments have used this sense of persecution to compensate for their economic and political failures and conjure up enemies, drawing their legitimacy from their enmity. Acting with a sense of realism, understanding the nature of the internal partisan conflict, recognizing the sources of the attacks launched by hostile parties, and not being drawn into the narrative of persecution, have kept the relationship between Riyadh and Washington (Republican and Democratic Washington) strong and vital for decades regardless of the noise we hear daily.