Monday, March 28, 2011

Is the U.S. hypocritcal when it comes to the Protesters in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain ?

When the people protested and overthrew the government in Egypt, it was encouraged by the lack of intervention from the west, and the protests and revolt were all over the news.

When the Libyans; emboldened by what had happened in Egypt; attempted to do the same, France (who has heavily invested interests in Libya) stepped in to keep the Libyan military from squashing the uprising. Again, it was all over the news.

But somehow, when protests occurred in both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, not only did no one step in to ensure that the people had their say, but the media coverage of the events (at least in western countries) was scanty at best.

Why is it that the international community in general; and the United States in particular, are not encouraging the governments of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to let the people have their say? Indeed, when Saudi Arabia took matters into its own hand and sent troops to quell the uprising of the people in Bahrain, not one of the western countries so much as said “boo,” let alone spoke out about the injustice.

Why, you may ask, are Saudi Arabia and Bahrain handled with kid gloves when it comes to international relations? Could it have something to do with the fact that Saudi Arabia is the second largest producer of crude oil in the world? Could the fact that the United States has the highest consumption rate for crude oil of any other country on the planet and that over 17% of its oil is imported from Saudi Arabia have something to do with it?

Oil has given the Saudi Royal Family a unique position in a very volatile part of the world. In a country that is primarily Muslim and where the people are sympathetic to fundamentalist beliefs, the precarious alliance between Saudi Arabia and the western countries is one that is tolerated, but not smiled on by the populace, and it would take very little to upset that delicate balance.

The United States may have the most to lose were Saudi Arabia (and by default Bahrain) to cut off its oil supply. But the United States is by no means the only country that would not be willing to taking the chance that the people of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might, if allowed to overthrow the Saudi Royal Family, replace them with a fundamentalist regime that would be hostile to western relations. We may not see eye to eye with the Royal Family, but at least we are able to negotiate with them. Throw a religious divide into the mix, and things could get very ugly very fast.

While this may not be the only reason that the protests in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have received only a minimal amount of media coverage; after all there are many factors to take into consideration when attempting to negotiate the labyrinth of pitfalls that comprises international relations with any country in the middle east; but it would go a long way to explaining why the United States is not taking an active part in encouraging democracy in these particular areas.

1 comment:

  1. If the USA and by extension the western world in general upset the Saudis by backing the dissenters, it's not just them potentially pulling the plug on the oil that's the problem. Where have the Saudis invested their oil billions since WW2? America mainly that's where. They could bankrupt Western capitalism if so chose. Maybe that is the main reason for the kid glove treatment?
    Nothing like a good political sound off on a Monday morning before starting work! :)