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Sorry, We Are Not Essential to Confronting Extremism

Sorry, We Are Not Essential to Confronting Extremism

Sunday, 5 June, 2022 - 07:15
Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Saudi-US relations are returning to their normal path. We are currently hearing a different American discourse, praising the Saudi role. We are also seeing confused US media coverage; but this is their story… It is another story that needs a separate article.


However, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made some interesting remarks few days ago, when he spoke about the vitality of Saudi-American relations, saying that the Kingdom “is an important partner for the United States, and has great roles in achieving stability and peace” in the region and the world.


He added: “Saudi Arabia is a critical partner for us in dealing with extremism in the region, and with the challenges posed by Iran,” relying on an effective Saudi role in activating the peace process.


Here we must stop at the phrase that “Saudi Arabia is a crucial partner for us in dealing with extremism in the region,” which was translated either with extremism or with fanaticism, depending on the direction of some media outlets in the region.

Someone might say: What is wrong with that?


In fact, we must realize that words have meanings and connotations that should not be tolerated because they are easy to distort, and perpetuate a stereotype. Saudi Arabia is not only important for fighting extremism or fanaticism. The issue is more complex.


Saudi Arabia’s role is vital to the consolidation of tolerance throughout the world, not just the region, especially since the Kingdom, specifically under the reign of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and the supervision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has undertaken the largest reform in the region.


Saudi Arabia today is the Arab country that has embarked on social, religious, intellectual, and economic reforms. The country has seen the most prominent and largest fight against corruption. Its Crown Prince has said that he will crush terrorism and will not waste decades of time as before.


When we say that the story is more complicated, it is because the “expression” that Saudi Arabia is important for combating extremism emerged after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, and was used as an argument to justify Washington’s relationship with Riyadh.


Saudi Arabia has fought extremism, but has now reached a more developed phase. Thus, we must no longer accept such apologetic statement because Saudi Arabia’s real role today is establishing and spreading tolerance. It is this expression that Saudi diplomacy and media must consolidate, repeat and explain, and never relinquish.


Saudi-American relations are important. It’s normal that they regain their regular course, not because Saudi Arabia has made a mistake, but because others realized their own fault and their political unrealism. These relationships are very important, and they should always be clear.


While the United States is said to be a reliable security ally for Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom also constitutes a trustworthy partner for the United States for the stability of energy prices.


Relations are also vital to the stability of the region, and to confronting Iranian harm, which would not have continued without Western American lenience. Moreover, the Kingdom today is a model of reform to be followed.


Therefore, we are not essential to confronting extremism, but rather to consolidating and spreading tolerance. We must constantly repeat this because the difference between the two sentences is huge.


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