Sentenced to Be Crucified

Western governments bite their tongues as Saudi Arabia legitimizes fundamentalism and intolerance in the Islamic world.

Comments: 174

  1. Nick, we should never have been silent.

    These Saudi religious reactionaries are opposed to everything that the American Revolution can be thought to stand for - freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, etc. They were materially responsible for inspiring the attack on 9/11, and for hundreds of attacks since then. They are the progenitors of ISIS and Al-Qaeda. They are a curse upon the human experiment.

    Truthfully, when compared to these loathsome reactionaries, a predator like Saddam Hussein was a comparatively benign influence in the region - and by eliminating this predator, we removed perhaps the one man who could go where no American soldier could likely ever go, to the heart of Saudi Arabia. By removing an arrow aimed precisely at the heart of this dubious kingdom, we allowed a cancer to metastasize, all in an effort to safeguard our corporate petroleum interests (and the imagined security interests of another alleged "ally" in the region).

    If Saudi Arabia is an American "ally", then either the term is devoid of meaning or we are not who we imagine ourselves to be.

  2. Exacting these sorts of punishments and holding them out so publicly as a form of deterrence seem to me to have a lot in common with ruling on the basis of terror. I am sure the Saudi government has a stronger basis for its rule than that. They would look far more impressive in my eyes if they used it instead.

  3. A PUZZLEMENT How do we, the US, and our allies, deal with the pending beheading of a young man who, at 17, was jailed for political activities? Do we say that it's just the internal workings of a sovereign nation and leave it at that? Or do speak up and risk the displeasure of the Saudis at a meeting that's supposed to bring adversaries together as allies on certain issues?

    Is there a secret backchannel? Now's the time to use it! Obama, Kerry and other diplomats can register their protest via private phone calls and not report them, perhaps due to the interests of national security.

    It's also possible to announce the sub rosa diplomatic efforts after the meeting with Iran, thereby saving face for everyone.

    Another idea strikes me, glaring in its absurdity. We sit by and watch idly, biting our tongues, as Saudia Arabia and Iran go after each other for human rights violations?

    Gee, that should be a rich conversation!

  4. Couldn't agree more. The US' silence on Saudi Arabia makes a mockery of our values. Can you imagine our response if it was Syria or Iran engaged in these sentences? The Saudi monarchy has struck a Faustian bargain and we are actively abetting it.

  5. abetting?....we are the devil they have struck the bargain with!

  6. "Saudi Arabia isn’t the enemy, but it is a problem."

    Second part of this sentence is correct, first part is wrong. WHY are the awful, awful leaders of this country seemingly protected from up on high by the Prince of Darkness to the point where a famous columnist for the New York Times feels the need to emphasize that Saudi Arabia isn't the enemy?

    Wahhabism is the most crazed, fanatical, intolerant strain of Islam the world has ever seen in modern times. And it is--yes, I'll go there--the most toxic and hate-filled ideology the world has had to deal with since Nazism. Two entire countries--Afghanistan and Pakistan--have seen their societies destabilized and close to destroyed by Saudi influence in the form of money for those horrible madrassas.

    All that defense spending by America, in the trillions--if it can never be reined in, can it PLEASE be redirected towards treating Saudi Arabia as the enemy?

  7. Please note that it was CIA and Saudi money that created taliban, before that period, that aweful wahabi venom was kept to its source.

  8. Looks like we need to review what enemy means?

  9. Saudi Arabia is a black hole. It legitimizes so many things, that we, in the Western World abhor. Yes the World needs their oil, but they desperately need the money coming from oil since it is the only thing that keeps this kingdom going. It is time to distance ourselves from Saudi Arabia and treat it only as a oil well.

  10. At current oil prices and oil-plentifulness, Saudi is running a deficit eqy=ual to 28% of GDP. At this rate, and oil is losing value almost daily, now down to $43 a barrel, saudi has 5 years until effective bankruptcy. The years ahead will beharsh on Canada's expensive tar sands and US frackers, but Saudi will break.

    And what evil lurks in the darkness of its people? Even the Shadow may not know. The weed of evil bears bitter fruit, eh? And that's no joke.

  11. All praise be to Oilah, the petro chemical supreme being that rules the world and owns our government.
    Or just maybe an energy tax now to fund clean renewable energy.
    Global warming and running out of carbon based energy sources are real threats.
    But they are more than three days away so no problem.

  12. And this is our partner in the Middle East. We need a long, hard look at ourselves as a country. What do we stand for? Tolerating dangerous business practices in China as we send more jobs overseas, demonizing Mexico for sending us cheap labor, turning a blind eye to the Saudis as they practice brutality and fund terrorism, and the list goes on. We need a rich national dialogue about our future as a nation.

  13. To see "Crucified" in a headline, and for it to convey literal rather than metaphorical meaning, and for the planned crucifixion to be preceded by a beheading, and for those atrocities to be perpetuated in the public square, by an official government with which we not only do regular business but whose king our own president recently welcomed to the White House—there are no words to adequately address this modern, state-sanctioned horror.

    We will look back on our continued relationship with this beastly state as a national shame. We just spent treasure and the life of a rescuer to bravely halt a mass execution by terrorists in Iraq. Yet these equivalent horrors go on under our eyes, by our "friends," with barely any official comment or reproach.

  14. Saudi Arabia is the source of Sunni extremism. From Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi schooks extremism has spread around the world. Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boka Haram are Wahhabi creations. The medieval justice system that will crucify a protester is Saudi. The atrocities of the Sunni terrorists were learned from Wahhabis and demonstrated in SAudi Arabia. Our alliance with these despicable tyrants is an international disgrace. End it President Obama!
    America can't aid Saudi Arabia in Yemen where they protect ISIS, and fight ISIS in Iraq. Does anyone really expect our European allies to follow our lead down that rat hole? We can't afford an alliance with primitive tyranny. We can't hope to promote democracy while we coddle degenerate monarchies.

  15. "But it’s incumbent on those of us who object to this demonization to speak up against genuine extremism."

    Actually Mr. Kristof it's the responsibility of Muslims themselves that object to demonization to not only TALK, but ACT in a way to combat extremism.

    The Charlie Hebdo massacre, the lack of understanding of the difference between a cartoon and reality, and the rights of a free-press in a different sovereign nation, the rights of women, the rights of gays, and the rights of Jews and the right of Israel to exist are places to start.

    All of these rights are not readily recognized, not only in the majority of the Muslim world, but by many of those who think that they should be "taken care" of by Germany and the richer nations in Europe, when the going gets tough for them in their home countries.

    If perception is reality (which in many cases it is - whether it is the truth or not), then Muslims themselves, especially in the Western nations have to speak up much more, and much more loudly than they have been doing to repudiate the actions of the extremists.

    Don't pick on the Saudi's only. It's a shared problem throughout this region and religion. They Saudi's will likely retain their power as they have the money. We know the Saudi's are not democratic or share our cultural values, so give us some other ideas of who you think in the islamic world will carry the mantle of being the "reasonable" state. And write an article on that.

  16. Chris well meaning western intellectual trying to judge a situation he hardly understands . Using the the word " crucified" has emotive power but the substance of the subject is drowned in politics that Chris will have difficulty to explain to anybody in the region .
    Dear Chris try listening to the hearing by the head of joint chief of staff and Sec. Carter and their apt questioning by Sen. Graham .about the Syria situation .If you listen carefully the word ' crucify " start to understand the danger to the people of condoning or condemning policies and practices in culture you failed to understand , the transitory nature of the historical change , and faults of people being executed , and the people who donot even apologize for mass crimes committed . We just witnessed Blair apologized for " crucifying " thousands of Iraqis .
    Your well meaning approach is fine but should not be taken seriously and maybe your advised to temper your involvement in something you hardly know the consequences .

  17. Fawaz, please tell us a little about the "faults of people being executed" in your Muslim culture that we fail to understand. Share with us also just one good reason why a woman should not drive a car.

    While you're at it, tell me why a classmate of mine from your neck of the woods jumped away from me, with an audible gasp, when I tapped him on the shoulder.

    How could any sane person in the world in this century even want to understand such a "culture?"

  18. Silence is complicity. Saudi Arabia is presenting the world with some of the worst violations of human rights of our century. Do we want a President who would remain quiet in the face of such evil? President Obama needs to do much more.

  19. Do the saudis realize this is the 21st-century? These hypocrites are a disgrace to the modern world. Crucifixion? Do they think they are living in times of the Roman empire?

  20. 100% correct and has been the case since the modern country was formed.... will anything change? Not while the Royals have wealth and are aligned with Israel against Iran. If the U.S. officially can't even talk about doing the right thing with regards to the Palestinians, welcomes back a dictator in Egypt, no one cares about the rights of a few Saudis.

  21. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

    Perhaps we should stop trying to reform these barbarians and shift our military focus to just taking the oil we need, decimating their military, cut of all aid and their foreign assets, and leave them to kill each other.

  22. It shouldn't come as a big surprise that the US is two face. Remember when Saddam was our "friend"

  23. Why aren't the 1.6 billion Muslims outraged by this?

  24. Many Muslims are outraged, but they dare not speak out, for fear of their very lives.

  25. You are not in a position to speak for 1.6 billion Muslims, Tom.

  26. why arent the 350mm americans who've elected leaders supporting these policies for the last 60 years?

  27. To put it eloquently: Whoa.

    This is the kind of thing that leads me to believe the human race is surely doomed...

  28. Simply put, the Saudi authorities have fueled the modern world, but they are very much not of it.
    I am surprised that this article somehow left out the Saudi nurturing of the world view which culminated in the 9/11 attacks. It is all of one piece.

  29. Genuine extremism is provided official cover by the 45 Muslim majority nation states that signed the Cairo Declaration of Islamic Rights. Intended as a response to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it was motivated by statements such as this:

    "Raja’i Khorasani, an Iranian official and representative to the UN claimed in 1982 that the UDHR was a 'secular understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition' and that it is impossible for Muslims to implement it without contravening Islamic law." -London School of Economics, Middle East Centre.

    An honest reading of the Cairo Declaration leads to the horrific understanding that it represents a very public raping of the very concept of human rights. And this is mainstream, moderate Islam that is talking, mind you.

    Freedom of conscience is what Islam specifically denies others, and its own members. Until the West can recall its own reasoning and arguments, we will continue to be mired in the attempt to tolerate the intolerable. No sect, religion or ideology that preaches and practices the denial of this fundamental freedom should be afforded official recognition as a religion.

    Certainly we should rethink our relation with Saudi Arabia, but in the context of the problematic belief set, Islam, that frontally contradicts human rights and denies the values we hold dear. This is, unfortunately, not just a problem of extremism, but of basic canon. Bad news, but centuries old.

  30. I just read the document U referred to and it seems pretty much ok. Idk wat u are talking about could u please put up some examples of why the Islamic human rights doc is so bad ?

  31. Don't forget that Saudi Arabia is head of the UN's Human Rights Council as
    well. That's not a parody-but it is.

  32. And let's never, ever forget that the 15 of the 19 hijackers of the planes of 911 were Saudi citizens.

    It's worth observing too, that the Saudi have not taken any of the refugees from the Syrian crisis.

    Saudis are definitely not our friends.

  33. Not even desperate Syrian refugees want to go to Saudi Arabia. Better to just die.

  34. They don't seem to be friends with Muslims from other countries either.

  35. Thank you for putting this all together for us! Please tell us what we humble citizens can do to at least let our outrage be known.

    The Saudis' crimes against the people who live in Yemen is strongly supported by Washington. This topic, nor any of the other Saudi crimes that Washington has long supported either tacitly or explicitly, has never even been mentioned in any of the carefully staged "debates" that the two parties have put on for us. There does not seem to be an entry point into the political process for those of us who think that morality and ethics matter.

  36. us humble citizens have no ability to do anything as long as the US government tolerates the immoral behaviour of the Saudis. It is to the benefit of the USA to not interfere in Saudi cultural affairs no matter how distasteful. The ideal thing is to let the victims of Saudi intolerance leave the country and abandon their culture.

  37. Let me see now. Who would an intelligent human choose as an ally to lead the Middle East into the modern age? Saudis Arabia, Turkey, or Iran?

    Obviously, business would prefer the Saudis. They've got the oil!

    Rational government should prefer the Turks or the Iranians, but right now the Iranians would appear to be the most stable and reasonably, reasonable alternative.

    One way or another, the thing that the Middle East needs the most is a religious 'melting pot' with a little extra room for some serious 'tribal melting'.

  38. Saudi Arabia is NOT practicing extremism Islam, it is practicing Real Islam. Perhaps Mr. Kristof should acquaint himself with the tenets of this political ideology clearly illuminated in Quran.

  39. Perhaps you should acquaint yourself with some,American,Muslims. I know several and they are intelligent, industrious,and peaceful, Maaybe you haven't heard of the three Muslim college and dental school students,who were slain in North Catolina. They were pretty typical Amerocan students who attended public schools, raised money for and performed charitable dental work for poor people here and in their father's native country. The only difference was that their religion. if we,took our instruction from the Bible, we would be a barbaric people. We don't and neither do most Muslims living in the free world.

  40. Real Islam? That's super scary if they still crucify people.

  41. So Muslims in your town do not follow real islam bc they do not execute peopl who speak out against govt? No where in the koran does it say that a rich spoiled hypocritical royal family should rule over a nation and execute those who challenge them and say it's part of Islam so the masses in Arabia do not wake up the the fact THER religion has been corrupted by THEr rulers

  42. The price of oil - encouraging horrific brutality and global instability.

  43. Thank you, Mr. Kristof. It has been obvious for years that this "ally" exemplifies many extensive violations of basic human rights - it is officially and extremely misogynistic, homophobic, intolerant of others' religions, and cruel and unusual in its system of justice and punishment. We need to reassess our marriage of convenience with them.

  44. In the name of realpolitik. What a name for a book. Or a designated undergraduate course, on the short list of those that would would meet basic distributional requirements. An absolutely factual curriculum would be demonized in a second by legislators or alumni who hadn't taken the time to read the syllabus, and its proponents driven from the academy. Or in other words, what a great idea: From Winston Churchill's adventures in the First World War, to those of John Foster Dulles and Henry Kissinger, with special attention on the Politics of Oil. Or more generally, Natural Resources, under which China and Japan could be readily included in the curriculum, just so no one is accused of anti-Western bias.

    Of course the problem is that no one would no where to start. So by way of a modest proposal, let a question or two from Mr. Kristof make their way into each of the remaining Democratic Presidential Debates. Including a follow-up with an infusion from Political Science 101: At what point (Madame Secretary) do we lose our legitimacy, or more specifically, the right to remain in government.

  45. Dear Nicholas Kristof: You forgot to mention that 15 of the 19 hijackers of 9/11 were Saudi. Two others were from the UAE (Saudi Arabian peninsula). Why then did the USA attack Afghanistan and Iraq?

  46. We attacked Afganistan because GWB and his advisers thought it would be an easy win. What ignorant fools.

  47. Our alliance with the Saudis is immoral. They are barbaric and tacitly support terrorism. How long would it take us to impose an embargo or find a pretense for military action if these policies were being practiced by Venezuela or Cuba?

  48. I can't wait for the world outside of the Middle East (Saudi Arabia in particular) to wean itself from their oil so that we can stop cow-towing to these people. They, their religions and culture deserve to be marginalized and ignored - but we can't at this moment. Someday we will.

  49. We ignore Saudi intolerance for one reason only.It is a three letter word, OIL

  50. Barbaric, but are these kinds of tactics the reason Saudi Arabia is stable?

  51. No.

  52. This column, possibly, has been overtaken by events.
    In a search using Google News, I find that The British
    newspaper Independent has an Oct. 20 story citing the Foreign
    Secretary claiming that the Saudis have been persuaded not to

    A little searching in _this_ newspaper's own archives shows
    that coverage of the kid's plight is inexcusably absent. The
    death sentence was handed down in May 2014 for the "crime"
    of political protest that occurred in 2012.

  53. All the Republican pundits should take note that a few years ago when Saudi Arabian women started a movement to defy the no driving ban, our own Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood with those women and condemned the ban. No Republican nor other head of state came to their aid.

  54. No, Saudi Arabia should be our enemy. Among other crimes committed against the U.S. most of the 9/11 attackers were Saudis. Bin Laden was Saudi. They hate all Christians and Jews and any other creature that is not Sunni in nature. They hate the U.S. and western Europe. They hate our values. They are as arrogant as arrogance can be. They ought to be our enemy and the west needs to contain those savages.

  55. Nick, al Qaeda considers the Saudis to be the near enemy, the us to be the far enemy. Which Saudis are u saying are our enemy ?

  56. Oh, they hate US alright. They hate our culture, our values, our religions (or lack of religion), our secular society, our media images, our movies and TV and books.

    But they LOVE LOVE LOVE our money.

    End of story.

  57. This is an absolute disgrace. The fact that this country is an ally of ours is a huge stain on this country.

    Obama needs to make clear: this is beyond the pale, totally unacceptable.

  58. Ally? Only because it is anti Iran.

  59. Mr. Kristof, why defend Islam as a "diverse faith" when polls of its adherents show that a majority favor death for blasphemy, death for (women's) adultery, death for insults to the Prophet, death for homosexuals?

    Sure, all religions are baseless and harmful, but only Islam has a political wing underpinning such as ISIS, Al Queda, etc,

    Your statements are PC gone wacko; Mr. Mayer's are reality-based.

  60. Is it a majority of Muslims on stable countries or ones like Arabia ? Bc if it's just in the Middle East wher polls show this then it's a cultural thing if it's everywherre that Muslims think this its part of religion

  61. What does "diverse faith" mean in the context of a faith whose adherents murder those who disagree with them even if the cities are Muslims and they do it in the 21st century.

    Failure of common sense in the service of dangerous and suicidal political correctness have made it impossible for us to assess the situation in the ME.

  62. And what about the Saudi prince whose private jet was found to be carrying millions of dollars' worth of the stimulant drugs favored by ISIS fighters? We need this "ally" to act like one.

  63. Citation, please?

  64. Somehow, I'm reminded of the picture of George W. Bush kissing the Saudi King Abdullah and I realize that no matter how atrociously the Saudis behave, no matter how many of the 9/11 and subsequent terrorists they provide, fund, and embolden, we will never actually do anything because they have oil and many in America (including oilmen Bush and Cheney) profit mightily from oil.

    Oh look: ISIS just decapitated another person! How barbaric!

  65. Atlant, sadly we routinely decapciate people in our TV shows, video games that our kids watch and play! We are becoming numb to violence and brutality. Instead of feeling compassionate towards those who are brutalized, we glorify violence, crime, horror on TV and Hollywood, video game entertainment!

  66. It's difficult to understand how a culture that is essentially the same as it was a millennium ago is existing today.

  67. God I feel so helpless.....what can we do to save these men???? WHAT??

  68. This needs to be said and reprinted every day. For as long as it takes. NYT please use your power and influence to make sure this column and its message is not ignored.

  69. Oil, plain and simple. Reduce our dependence on this commodity and focus on renewable and sustainable forms of energy.

  70. This is a necessary column, since it brings to light atrocities that are only sporadically covered by the Times. On the morning of 9/11 George Bush was attending the AGM of the Carlyle Group in Washington, where members of the Bin Laden family were in attendance. Later, in a long piece with three by-lines about the image problem s of the Bin Ladens, the story said that the family was ending its relationship to the Carlyle Group, which it described as an investment group run by "luminaries of politics. " No mention of the presudent's father or the fact that three members of the Nixon cabinet wee also players. It was for me a Pravda moment. The Saudis solve their problems either with money or the sword, and luminaries of politics are all complicit, from the Bushes to HRC. They will probably handsomely endow the Obama library, while continuing to cut off people's heads--by most estimates more than 100 this year.

  71. We are on the wrong side.

    We side with these guys, against secular government, against moderate Islam.

    We support them doing this.

    We help them wage war on those who won't do this, wars they wage because their targets won't do this, won't live with their version of religious requirements.

    This isn't recent. They were against us in Iraq, supported those who attacked our troops, and opposed our efforts to create a government. They refused any relations with that government while their oil money found its way to kill Americans in Iraq.

    It was their money that re-established autocracy in Bahrain by force, and Egypt by subsidy of dictatorship.

    They are the ones destroying Yemen, using food as a weapon by blockade, which we help them do.

    We are on the wrong side. We bring major problems on ourselves, conflict with many, in order to be on the wrong side.

  72. Let's get clear. The US Government is on the wrong side. Not we. Not you or I or the any of the many commenters here who are revolted by the way our presidents kowtow to Saudi kings.

  73. This is why American energy independence should be a priority. If we didn't import middle eastern oil from Saudi Arabia the place would just be another barbaric nation trapped in the sixth century. Instead the black stuff coming out of the ground makes them an important player on the world stage. If we stopped needing their oil then they would be someone else's problem and just another exporter of global terrorism for us to treat accordingly.

  74. American and European billionaires involved in defense industries, finance, oil have been been engaged in business arrangements with the Saudis since the early 1920's.

  75. If our government would allow alternative fuels at the pump, we could be converting natural gas into methanol, an alcohol that burns substantially cleaner than gasoline. A computer adjustment of present engines is all that is required. Methanol can be made and sold profitably for under $ 2 a gallon. Imagine what competition at the pump could do to already depressed gasoline prices. With fewer petro-dollars flowing in, neither Saudi Arabia nor Iran would be quite so free to create mischief.

  76. If we kept all our oil here we would be energy independent but our oil companies want us to export our oil to China! We get the environment damage related to the fracking and the Chinese get the oil and the oil companies get what they always get: exactly what they want!

  77. I would be interested in seeing the analytics from an article in Arabic on the op-ed page. I opened it in google translator and read it to the bottom before I found out it was by Nicholas Kristof. It was very interesting to see the change in "voice" from the writer that I knew to someone whom I did not recognize. Is there in the very language a tone and perspective difference? I have to say I found that voice very authentic and compelling and additionally an dimension that Nicholas is not known for, a more poetic sensibility that adds a kind of grace to the article that I have come to know working in drama and read plays translated from Arabic and Persian.

    That said, politically, the difference between the people and the political is also something I also recognize. It makes me think of the article yesterday about zero tolerance and the resulting assault of a child who had merely used her phone in class. In this case, the officer was fired and there are articles raising the incident to national level of discussion.

    What must it be like to live in a country where that girl would have to rely on, hope that that discussion will be had in another country because it is forbidden in her own? Why is Saudi Arabia so above scrutiny and or being held up responsible? Why is Europe at a time of economic stress being inundated with refugees from a way that Saudi Arabia plays a key part? Why are oil prices political not long term economically driven?

  78. First, Mr. Blue, Saudi Arabia is a player in the Mid-East conflict, but not a region of the kind of unrest that gave rise to the Arab Spring. Saudi Arabia's only axe to grind is that its oil riches be not threatened, and that it be left alone to continue as before.

    From when Abdullah Aziz Ibn Saud unified the Arabian peninsula in 1931 until today, Saudi Arabia's power lies in two things: its nomadic social structure has, with the brief exception of Portuguese squatting in the 16th century, been undefeatable in war since time immemorial -- a deterrent to both England, first, then the USA and Russia. (Even the world's so-called great powers shied from conflict with Arabs in their own desert.)

    Second, because England, the first to seek oil in the peninsula, were defeated at Aqaba; Abdullah Aziz Ibn Saud unified the peninsula, on England's promise to barter with him to exchange international currency riches for oil if he made the country one nation, Britain's reign their was then followed by the USA, after a drunken Englishman murdered an Arab (and the USA subsequently defended its power over the Middle East in WWII), oil has defined Saudi Arabia's history, both protecting it and isolating it.

    It is not in the interests of the West to insist on change in Saudi Arabia. Only the Press and other country leaders protests shining light on isolated events in Saudi Arabia can effect the king -- who makes all final decisions, appearances to the contrary.

  79. The US/Saudi connection goes back decades, to soon after the 1920's and the division of the region by the League of Nations. It's not just about oil, it's about arms, defense industry contracts, finance , the GOP, Bush family and other industry/political connections from the very beginning.

  80. Being a senior, I have had many years, and more than normal interest, in trying to analyze what drive the USA to be the country it is. My conclusion seems to be coming down to "corruption". Meaning money and power. We retain Saudi Arabia as an ally for oil and armaments sales, as well as a few other reasons mentioned in the article, so-called stability in the ME, etc. So, we are a corrupt government (I think most US citizens are NOT corrupt) with Congress people going from their position to becoming lobbyists, with most of both parties bought and paid for through their terms anyway.

    Now we come to the farce of a presidential election, where the chief saleswoman for US armaments as the SecState is the presumptive Dem candidate. Like in Saudi Arabia and North Korea, it is "her turn" because she is of a family hoping to build a political dynasty, with her and Bill proclaiming that Chelsea is the real talented one in the family. They'll be making that claim for the granddaughter soon enough.

    Corruption. Through and through. For the US to lecture other nations is complete hypocrisy, but that reflects the qualities of those we are so foolish to elect to "lead" us.

  81. America still has democratic forms but is not in fact a democracy. The President, the Congress, and the Courts that they appoint, don't care what the people want. They do what the rich donors want. This has been proven.

    They can get away with it because the press distorts the news and is mainly a mouthpiece for the people who bought government.

  82. We also coddle Saudi Arabia because they keep the price of oil low which most hurts Putin. The Iranian truce can open a new oil spigot and reduce our need for such deference. Perhaps that is why Putin now cuddles with Iran through Syrian intervention? He wants to breakup our improving relationship. If his subject Sunni's raise a fuss, he can expand his domestic oppression. What fun in a KGB sort of way.

    But China's economic slowdown will keep crude prices low anyway. And, China, historically one of the best bargaining nations in the world, has used current events by 'helping' Russia with energy deals that will lock in lower prices for sometime to come.

    Maybe it is time for us to muster the energy to talk back to Riyadh?

  83. "We also coddle Saudi Arabia because they keep the price of oil low"

    Actually, for the half century of OPEC we have coddled them for keeping the price high by limiting their production, but not too high by not limiting it too much. We agree with them on a target price.

    This protects the US oil companies from oil production costs in Saudi that are cheaper than water there, and twenty times higher here or more.

  84. what can u say, an ally with unlimited wealth and yet barbaric suppression of its own, there are no excuses for them (or us in turning a blind eye). when will middle east countries prove they have a right to respect as humane members of a civil global society, when will they stop killing each other, when will they care for their own arab refugees, when will they prove thru action that islam faith based governance deserves respect, when will we stop being politically correct and ignore or worse participate in the atrocities.

  85. This was a necessary and logical shift in reporting for Kristof, hopefully for more than a moment in time. I have a lot of respect for Nicholas he is a passionate empathetic reporter but he has insulated and produced fodder for the regressive left for quite some time now. Culture can be a wonderful expression of collective, individual and historical identity but it is not infallible.

    At some point in time, regressive liberals must look themselves in the mirror and critically ask themselves whether they are, in reality, just apologists for the pervasive cultural expression that is incontrovertibly prevailing much of the Islamic world, or in favor of modern, civil, secular, democratic society, the real tenets of liberalism. At some point we all must recognize that the death cult, martyrdom, theocratic impulses that are alive and well all across the muslim world is a direct interpretation/extrapolation of koranic and hadith txt.

    I am nauseated at this point by self proclaimed liberals claiming the despotism and theocratic impulses in the muslim world is somehow a direct product of western foreign policy. This is insane self-defeatism. We all should and must be critical of our foreign policy, the mistakes are unbounded, but this is an ideological war where liberals must be on the side of tolerance, not what has become a liberal self-righteous meme in which culture is somehow infallible.

  86. It is an essential plank of lefty liberalism that the west -- and very specifically the USA -- is at fault for absolutely everything (that is, everything bad or everything goes wrong).

    Every other nation and culture and religion are innocent.

  87. Saudi Arabia is not a gift to Islamophobes but a real life example of what a certain type of Sharia justice system looks like. It is not so much a "gift" as a "warning" and a rebuke to those who disingenuously claim that Sharia is consistent with US constitutionalism when this version at least is not.
    The call for reform means that Saudi Arabia's Wahabbi version of Islam is a false interpretation - absent regime change in Saudi Arabia or a sea change within Islam itself after 1,400 years, good luck with that line of reasoning.
    Discussing Islam must be done with an open mind. One way not to do it is, as Kristof does, to equate any critique of Islam as an an attack on all Muslims. Any fair hearing of Maher's critique, for instance, shows why such a knee jerk discussion-killing retort is off base. Maher and others speak to the written words and interpretations of Islamic texts not to whether any particular adherent is a religious fanatic. Islamic State, Hamas and others link their action and goals to specific passages in the Qur'an and hadiths. Only respected Islamic theologians can counter them on these grounds. That they seem unable to engage on the basis of Islamic theology, though, is telling and tends to support Maher's claims about the texts.
    Jewish and Christian theologians reinterpreted out of existence the harsher statements in their scriptures that were no longer fit or acceptable to a modern, industrial, urban, scientifically oriented world. It's now Islam's turn.

  88. Western leaders remain silent while this young man along with seven others facing this gruesome sentence keep quiet not wanting to stir up a hornets nest as Saudi Arabia spends a fortune in military hardware.
    The West has no right to criticise Russia or China for human rights abuses when by their silence, they condone such barbarism from a friend.

  89. Too many American lives have been lost trying to stabilize the Mideast when there is a very rich country living off of the deaths of our children, middles class tax money and the villanization of the American poor. We spend money on killing Mideastern women and children while children in America go hungry and their parents jobless. Meanwhile the rich Saudi Royalty buys up the world and comes to our countries where they can forget their pretended purity by forgetting their own religious code and overtly treat Americans as chattel as they do the people in their own countries.

    Let the Saudi Princes use their vast fortunes to police the Middle East and keep ISIS and their ilk off their doorsteps. Meanwhile lets take middle class American tax money and rebuild America putting our children back to work here in constructive ways instead of using them as cannon fodder to bolster Rich Kingdoms half way around the world.

  90. So true Patty. We will not be around to see it certainly but what will happen to these countries - Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Libya et al when the oil finally runs out? And it will eventually. What then? Will the western countries which now grovel and bow down to these dictators give a good g.d. about them then. I think not. I hope not.

  91. Best comment so far.

  92. How can we have an ally that crucifies people? How can we tolerate Saudi Arabia, with its oil, its influence and its fearsome fundamentalism and its very rich and degenerate royal family? Flogging a man to death with 1000 lashes? The Saudi prince in Los Angeles who said "I am a prince and I do what I want"- and got what he wanted, depravity, alcohol, drugs and debauchery in a rented Los Angeles millionaire's mansion? It is easy to be intolerant of the Wahabi Muslims, who scourge the Saudi people and peddle extremism, intolerance. oppression of women. Who can be tolerant of the imminent beheading and crucifixion of Ali al-Nimr, who participated at age 17 in anti-government protests? The country of Saudi Arabia, our ally, is led by a terrifying medieval ethos. We are dumbfounded by Muslim extremism in that country and exported to neighboring countries of Islam. It was fascinating that Nick Kristof's excellent apologia, explication of Saudi Arabia, was first published in the NYTimes in Arabic, and that readers had to click for an English translation. Since when has Arabic been the language of choice in the Opinion section for American readers of The Gray Lady? Understood, Kristof's column in Arabic is an attention-grabber. And attention will be paid - in time - to the Arabian peninsula and its corrupt fundamentalist leaders, but not soon enough. Kristof wants "a frank discussion" about our ally, Saudi Arabia. Hopefully, he will receive honesty instead of hypocrisy.

  93. SA has also funded madrasas and mosques in wealthier nations like Turkey. In case anyone is wondering why secular Turkey is having problems with a fundamentalist resurgence.

  94. Weasel words from Mr. Kristof. If Saudi Arabia is not the enemy then who is? As he has made clear it is certainly an enemy of humanity. I suppose he means that it is a friend of the US government. Mr. Kristof likes to believe that he is a friend of humanity, but in fact he is a friend of the US government.

    Mt. Kristof needs to decide which side he is on. Humanity or US Government? It can't be both.

  95. Consider for a moment how the US currently demonizes Assad and Putin while supporting Saudi Arabia to the hilt, and you realize just how deranged and obscene a political culture the US has spawned. And the same goes, too, for the UK.

  96. One of the problems in Saudi Arabia is the large number of people who live the high life with no real work on what is really very generous government welfare. Add to this the seemly endless number of princes who have never done any work and you have a lot of people who really believe that they are the masters of the universe and act accordingly.

    Another problem is American policy has always chosen to cozy up with countries for short term gain and not realizing we are laying the ground work for future problem. We are not good at long term planning

  97. The House of Saud is the root of so much evil in the Arab world. And it looks like they're following the Obama administration's example now that they've bombed a Doctors without Borders hospital in Yemen. Why do we always align ourselves with the worst (i.e., most oppressive) regimes in the Middle East? It no wonder the people there hate us.

  98. The US Government has to ally with the oppressive regimes because no popular regime would want to ally with the US. Our government has no interest in anybody's welfare, including us at home. It is interested in power. If the US controls the oil of the Middle East it controls the countries of Europe.

  99. The only evidence known to who is the confession? The thing is, cases are not tried in the media. We have no idea if this man is guilty of a serious offense or if he's just gotten the ear of a sympathetic Westerner, to wit you.

  100. It's about time somebody says this out loud. Thank you.

  101. Some of us have been saying it for a very long time. Moreover, some of us have been saying out loud that this 'friend' and 'ally,' far from promoting stability, is actually redirecting the unrest of its citizenry - more appropriately directed at their (mis)rulers - toward us. As long as their people are flying planes into our skyscrapers and planting bombs in our public places, instead of storming the palaces of the House of Saud, they're safe.

  102. It seems to me that the main difference between Isis and the Saudi government in how they mete out justice is that Isis covers their face.

  103. Another difference is the Saudi government is considered legitimate and recognized by the rest of the world and the United Nations' Human Rights Committee looks the other way and pretends nothing untoward is happening there.

  104. "Western governments have tended to bite their tongues because they see Saudi Arabia as a pillar of stability in a turbulent region..."
    Has this country learned nothing since a collection of Saudi monsters perpetrated 9/11? Reading about this country is nauseating.

  105. The combination of oil wealth and an extreme Wahabi Saudi clerical establishment has made for a lethal combination since the oil shocks of the 1970s. Millions of foreign workers have been imported into Saudi Arabia since then, exporting to their homes (Egypt, Pakistan etc) a violent version of Islam at historical odds with the moderation in their countries. In addition Saudi money has been allowed to flow to funnel extremism from Al Qaeda to ISIS under the noses of the Saudi regime, which tacitly accepts this for its own survival, despite public exhortations to the contrary.

  106. Thank you for telling the truth about Saudi Arabia.

    There are over a billion good Muslims in the world, but the plutocratic rulers of Saudi Arabia are pure evil. I have long felt outrage at our government for treating that horrible country as an ally. It must be insulting to our better allies, too.

    I don't believe in "realpolitik". I do believe that we should not cuddle up with evil nations, and not sell them weapons.

    I also believe we should never have fought the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq or (now) Syria. Our foreign policy needs higher morality. That means not only not fighting stupid wars, but also not allying ourselves with countries like Saudi Arabia.

  107. "I’ve defended Islam from critics like Bill Maher who, as I see it, demonize a diverse faith of 1.6 billion Muslims because a small percentage are violent extremists." That is the problem we won't admit it isn't a "small percentage" it is swaths of the Islamic world that are extremists and would love to topple the West. And we are allowing it to happen.

    A small percentage, really? If that truly were the case that part of the world wouldn't be in the mess it is. You equate it to Nazism. We'll the German people overwhelmingly bought into that philosophy, it wasn't just a few. And the world blew up. Same with the Japanese. Islam in that part of the world no matter what sect it seems is fully embedded in the middle ages. Even the more secular countries are outnumbered by the extremist regimes.

    Yes, Saudi Arabia is a flagrant oppressor, but it isn't just their brand of Islam that is to blame. I don't know in this politically correct world how the West is going to deal with any of this. You can't say the truth because you are a attacked if you do. And I am guessing as far as foreign policy the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    Beheading, crucifixion and flogging! Sounds like the Game of Thrones not the modern world. And yes "Winter is coming", coming to the West if we don't contain it in the middle east where it needs to stay if it must survive in our modern world. The migrant from that part of the world is a time bomb waiting to go off when they can't assimilate.

  108. the biggest muslim country in the world is Indonesia with a population of 300 million. It is moderate religiously, although it has its flashpoint areas where Christian and muslims (and others) clash sporadically. It is also democratic. The biggest problem is the corruption that still lingers after the right wing - and CIA supported - regime of the Sohartos was toppled about 15 years ago

    Can islam integrate with democracy? of course it can. Will it while the west - and the USA and Britain in particular - are supporting regimes like the Saudi regime? No. The Saudis have no interest in showing that islam is compatible with democracy. Because then those awful princes and the other [words fail me at this point] in the Saudi government would be shown to be a footnote to history.

    Im Australian. Where I come from we regard Americans as naïve about the world. We have a joke: 'war is gods way of teaching americans geography" (not that many of us here believe in god). America has been making bad decisions in the world ever since the end of WW2. You guys don't know as much about the world as you guys think .

    American used to stand for good ideals. Its debatable whether it still does - it doesnt appear to live up to most of them. American interference in world events has been counterproductive for decades. Keep your overseas bases, but stop doing anything in the world, including backing regimes - of any sort. You guys always get it wrong and you only make things worse for everyone.

  109. Saudi Arabia is morally bankrupt. Any country that would crucify a teenager, regularly behead people, requested - and got - that the UN remove LGBT rights from the UN's Global Goals, allows young girls to be burned in a building because they were not properly attired, and their over all treatment of women needs to be brought before the Hague on Human Rights abuses. That Saudi Arabia is deemed an "ally" to whom we sell billions of dollars of military hardware is one of the more depressing aspects of our foreign policy. While we condemn others for human rights abuses - they get a free pass. This needs to stop.

  110. For decades we have given billions in military aid to Saudi Arabia and Israel and then we look the other way when they behave horribly. I don't thonk we can change them but I think we can and should stop arming them.

  111. Unfortunately the American weapons makers and the politicians they support think otherwise.

  112. Yeah but get THIS; after the 9/11 attacks, conducted by folks mostly from, guess where, Saudi Arabia, we go ahead and invade, are you ready, IRAQ!
    Make about as much sense as bombing Mexico after Pearl Harbor.
    But oil prices are dropping, the outrageous profits and behaviors associated with various "hypocritical" sheiks and princes may have to be curtailed and Lamborghini may have to lay off a worker or two; sad times for the 'rich and famous' from Saudi Arabia (Oh yes, there's that Yemeni and DAESH thing going on; bad for them, good for American arms sellers).
    Let them exchange ambassadors with Israel, recognize it's existence then, perhaps, they can start becoming a tad more 'civilized' (We use 'drones' for executions; beheadings are SO messy. Ooops, didn't mean to say that!).
    All in all, America needed the oil; where it came/comes from is irrelevant. If Satan had oil, Shell, BP, Exxon/Mobil would all be going to hell to reap the dividends. What's that you say, they're going there anyway?
    Sorry, I do not discuss "religion".

  113. Dear Mr. Kristof,

    We all know (those of us who are honest and who care to know) that none of our enemies like China and Russia are much, if any different, from us and our allies in term of barbarism and criminality.

    But most of the time the U.S. media, including the NY Times, do their best to support the U.S. government's attempts to shape our views by slanting stories, omitting important information, or failing to even report on important stories.

    While we criticize Bashar al Assad (surely a horrible person), it might be appropriate to reflect that Mr. Assad has historically protected Syrian Christians from Muslim extremists...while a Christian who prayed in public in Saudi Arabia, our ally, would be arrested and possibly executed...and most U.S. conservatives would never bring this up, much less complain about it.

  114. The Saudi regime with its link to a dark side of Islam has been fighting our main values and making us spend money and lifes to fight their accolades like ISIS and Al Qaeda.We should ask ourselves where their money comes from.The Taliban murderes have guns and bullets but no food as the NYTimes recently in an article showed.They Have been used under the world of Allah as cannon meat.It worked against the soviets with our help and now they are doing the same with us.We need to stop to give them room to kill us and instead of going after the poor idiots in the battle field get to their masters that supply them with resources and by the way obtained by selling Us oil.

  115. "Sadly, Saudi Arabia is a gift to Islamophobes; it does far more damage to the reputation of Islam than any blaspheming cartoonists."

    This is a cheap shot and not a good argument. Saudi Arabia is one of the many ugly faces of Islam, and no, it is not a gift to anyone. The entire civilized world is horrified by the beheadings, dismemberments, stonings, floggings, and crucifixions, including Bill Maher, whose arguments are much the same as the ones you make in this article.

  116. Bit of a non-sequitur - "this is a cheap shot", "Saudia Arabia is one of the many ugly faces of Isalm". The second point is exactly what the Mr. Kristoff is saying, you don't make a case for why this is a "cheap shot".

  117. As a Republican, it isn't often I find myself in agreement with a NYT columnist, but thank you, Mr. Kristof, for this column. No political or religious differences among us, no differing sides in a culture war, should divide us as Americans when confronting the naked brutality and oppression that Saudi Arabia is demonstrating in this and similar cases. No realpolitik should silence us to voicing our outrage, our dismay and our fierce objections to such cruelty.

  118. Less should reflect equality of actions and constraints for all

  119. America's wise leaders have chosen time and again to ally with the brutal Saudi dictators in exchange for access to cheap oil and oil development profits. We should do everything in our power to develop clean alternative sources of energy and modern energy policy so we can finally turn our backs on this absurd and retrograde group.

  120. By this paper's own admission, nine out of ten of the world's worst places to be a woman are majority Muslim nations. It is not just Saudi Arabia that is the problem with contemporary Islam.

  121. Saudi Arabia is a country named after its ruling family. The House of Saud has maintained itself in power largely by doing what its British and then American sponsors want from it. The ugly truth of the situation is that this hateful regime serves the interests of US corporate and financial elites. That is why even Kristof has to insist that the regime "isn't the enemy" in spite of the overabundance of evidence that it very much IS the enemy.

    What the many atrocities of the Saudi ruling elite really reveal is the utter amorality of the American and global elites who happily do business with them. Every President of the US for the past 90 years has been in bed with these rogues. That they rule by the most barbaric and medieval methods is of no concern to them so long as the profits of Exxon and co are secured.

  122. Makes you think a bit more critically of the movie Lawrence of Arabia, doesn't it?

  123. For love of oil!

  124. I think it's useful to compare Saudi Arabia to tobacco companies. Both have made billions by selling products that do harm and that are slowly going out of style. Smart tobacco companies have dealt with this trend by diversifying. In the distant future, they will be making a profit selling food and drink, long after most people have stopped smoking. The Saudis have reacted by blowing wad of cash on yachts, mansions, alcohol, and sex vacations. When oil runs out and their disgusted friends won't return their texts, many of them will be in trouble.

  125. You forgot to mention that the saudis are artificially keeping oil prices down. Besides harming our ability to maintain oil independence by making fracking less economically feasible, it is lowering our nation's commitment to electric vehicles and other alternative energy sources. Gas is too cheap.

    If climate change is real, the saudis are among the most dangerous promoters of strategies to doom the planet. With friends like these...

  126. Aren't the Bushes good friends of the House of Saud and isn't Jeb Bush running for president? Somebody should ask Jeb how he feels about the floggings, crucifixions, beheadings and lack of human rights done by his family's buddies.

  127. And, how about asking Hillary Clintion how shee feels about floggings, beheadings and the lack of human rights when the Clinton Foundation has accepted millions and millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia.

  128. Fine piece. Saudi Arabia should not be allowed to be a U.S. ally. We spent immense amounts of money supposedly to defend access to Gulf oil. Really all we did was to uphold the Gulf tyrannies. See which is sponsored by a number of organizations calling for a complete end to the alliance with the hereditary dictatorship of KSA. We should not sell weapons to the Saudi princes nor participate in their aggression against Yemen. As arms salesmen we are "merchants of death" something that needs to be radically changed. Read Los Angeles Congressman Lieu's letter about Yemen and ask him to lead a fight to break with the Saudi regime.

  129. Thank you, Mr. Kristof for exposing the ultimate hypocrisy of our continued coddling of Saudi Arabia. This is truly a medieval monarchical society that with its extremist form of of Islam, Whhabism, was the home of Osama bin-Laden and most of the 9/11 attackers who founded al-Qaeda which has now morphed into ISIS. It's time for everyone to wake up to the toxic effect the Saudis and their immense wealth have and are playing in creating turmoil in the Middle East. From their recent U.S. supported invasion of Yemen to their ultimatum to the U.S. to continue to support the now clearly ill-advised regime-change or ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Saudi Arabia poses a much greater threat than Iran which behind its facade of Shia Islam is a fairly modern country. Hopefully, with the recently concluded nuclear deal with Iran and its involvement in talks to resolve the Syrian civil war, the U.S. is moving toward a more balanced position in the Middle East. With our newly found oil independence due to fracking and the move away from fossil fuels to combat climate change, we are now in a position to confront the medieval monster that Saudi Arabia truly is.

  130. No wonder the refugees from Syria are not heading to their Arabic brothers, but to Europe.

  131. Saudi Arabia is a member of the United Nations. Why is this barbarity not a matter for this world body to discuss and condemn? Why is the Security Council silent on this matter? Why is this country allowed to participate in world commerce or any other form of interaction at all? The rest of the world sees our hypocrisy when we coddle this regime, and fume against Venezuela and Cuba, and still claim to champion human rights. May be foreign governments don't, but their people certainly do.

  132. Thank you for writing the truth, Mr. Kristof.

    From the time the Saudis were whisked away on the tarmac that hideous night of 9/11, I've suspected our relationship with the Saudis was "special" in an extremely perverted way. But the longer we tolerate the intolerable for political reasons (oil less so these days) the clearer it is e've made a pact with the devil.

    This paragraph about Saudi edicts on alcohol is particularly cogent:

    "There’s also an underlying hypocrisy in Saudi behavior. This is a country that sentenced a 74-year-old British man to 350 lashes for possessing alcohol (some British reports say he may be allowed to leave Saudi Arabia following international outrage), yet I’ve rarely seen as much hard liquor as at Riyadh parties attended by government officials."

    When I worked as a translator for the Italian state energy consortium I had occasion to have dinner with a young Libyan who came to Milan for oil production training. The man drank like a fish. He showed me the disconnect between hardline edicts on liquor, on dress, and behavior that drove citizens to disgrace themselves outside the country.

    We must be careful about our associations, because this pact with the devil easily can haunt us. We have a pretty poor record of making Arab "friends" whose support we need but whose policies go against every single thing America stands for. Who is the most hypocritical here?

  133. About damn time someone said this! Let's not forget the willful imprisoment of Saudi women who are sometimes not even allowed out of their homes!

  134. Perhaps Obama should have considered these points before recently selling the Saudis our latest high tech planes and weapons, and before promising to defend SA from Iranian aggression. Obama is as bad as Bush when comes to the Saudis. Either we acknowledge this, or we keep coddling that vile country.

  135. there is so much that is wrong with this article. for one Saudi does NOT crucify people sentenced to death and they don't hang them in public squares as a warning. yes they are beheaded but in private, just like the electric chair. a police officer attending a beheading took a video once and he was sentenced to 6 months in prison and was fired from the force. two, Ali was relying to overthrow the government, which is considered treason. and most countries have that law not just muslim countries. third, you bring up Yemen as something Saudi did to kill people. Saudi saved Yemen from the the extremist group the houthi's when they were killing innocent people. their president took refuge in Saudi and asked for help. so the Saudi government with the UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Sudan, Bahrain and Kuwait are rallied for help. the airstrikes targeted the Houthi's just like how American airstrikes in Syria are targeting ISIS. is America the villain in this? no. the blockading of ports was because the Houthi groups were getting weapons from Iran. but Saudi searched all ships coming in and let the food and supplies in. plus, Saudi spent millions on supplies and food for the the Yemen people. if you have done your research, you would have seen yemen People celebrating this. naming a highway "King Salman highway" in his honor for helping them. the prince in LA was someone who got high on too much power, and its not representing the entire country. its a one-sided article from the eyes of a hater

  136. According to Amnesty International. Saudi Arabia is in fact one of the very few countries that does publicly execute people. To quote from Amnesty Internationals website: "Most executions in Saudi Arabia are carried out by beheading, or in some cases by firing squad. In certain cases executions are carried out in public and the dead bodies and severed heads are put on display afterwards."

  137. I listened to an informative radio program on NPR last Sunday concerning water as a resource. The Saudis have purchased thousands of acres of land in Arizona and are pumping water from the aquifer. They grow hay for export to Saudi Arabia for their dairy industry. The Saudis destroyed what little water they had with rapacious agricultural policies, and can no longer grow anything in their own country.
    The US condones and facilitates their numerous atrocities. The US must stop selling them weapons, and stop buying their oil

  138. When I lived in Khamis Mushayt in the late 90s there was an area next to the Souk called "chop square." it wasn't called that for nothing.

  139. I think that we need to honestly admit that the Saudis are not our allies, even if they pretend to be. They are only interested in maintaining their own power in the region. They will actively destabilize the surrounding governments when it suits them to do so.

    These are the kinds of "allies" that will smile to your face but stab you in the back.

  140. Much appreciated points not mentioned before, one about fueling sectarian hatred, and the Saudi's intervention in Yemen.
    An amusing combination of wealth and permissive disrespect to humanity thrives. obscene creative forms of homicide are practiced and exported.
    In the absence of any from of alternative knowledge to the Saudi population , neither political pressure nor military might can expel the wahabi metastatic cancer.

  141. "Saudi Arabia is a gift to Islamophobes." I'd go further and say that Saudi Arabia might be creating more Islamophobes than the (official) terrorists do. There are always going to be people who take any ideology to an extreme, but Saudi Arabia makes the extreme mainstream, and creates a perfectly justified fear of what might lie in store as Islam grows in the west and as Muslims find themselves in positions of power. 

  142. Go to London right after Ramadan has ended and the wealthy Saudis flee the summer heat to relatively green and cool England. Those folks drink (to great excess!), smoke, scream, race $300,000 cars up and down the streets all night and generally raise hell for several unpleasant weeks. Its a period of time Londoners try to escape their own city because it is overrun by some of the most foul, entitled, obnoxious DRUNKARDS on Earth. Hopefully low oil prices are here to stay and eventually the madness will end.

  143. America has done some great things in the world, but history shows that far too often we have sacrificed our values to protect our pocketbooks. It may be hard, and disruptive, but we can live without Saudi oil. Let's send them a message.

  144. Let's be clear: medieval Wahhabism is a form of terrorism and Saudi Arabia exports this terrorism wherever it can, using the billions the post-Enlightenment world pays for its oil. If there was ever a country that deserves a total economic embargo for its policies, both domestic and foreign, it's Saudi Arabia. Compared to Saudi Arabia, our enemy, Iran, is a model modern democracy - hey, women can drive!
    Let's be equally clear, an embargo isn't going to happen, Saudi Arabia has oil, and lots of it. This is the Faustian bargain the civilized world has struck with one of the cruelest theocracies ever seen.

  145. By failing to take any action on Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses the US is making a mockery of the principles it purports to stand for in the world. Our government has used the abuse of human rights as a justification for even military intervention around the world. To do nothing in the face of the blatant abuses of the Saudi government creates the appearance that we have been bribed by Saudi money and we have no real principles at all.

    Oil prices are low and world demand is low. This means that whatever leverage Saudi oil has over US policy is also at an all time low. If we cannot act now then we will never stand for human rights in the region, at least not in a way that is credible.

    Finally, need any of us remind ourselves that most of the 9/11 attackers were Saudi's, not Iraqi's? Or that the fundamentalist unrest in the region is being fueled by the conservative Saudi Royal family? If there is anything positive to come out of this human tragedy maybe it will be more open debate about US policy with one of the regions most undemocratic and abusive regimes.

  146. "It’s time for a frank discussion about our ally Saudi Arabia and its role legitimizing fundamentalism and intolerance in the Islamic world." What is this, understatement day? It was time for this frank discussion decades ago.

  147. The Saudi people and Gov do a lot of good and have their strengths, but they also have fundamental weaknesses that could gradually erode their vitality.They have some serious challenges they have to work on: Fully understanding MERS ,by working with their western partners and others creating a vaccine for it and containing it completely from crossing borders;As it is shown in a Times article few days ago that region is in for a big surprise some decades from now, i.e it is likely that the weather will turn in the upside direction that staying out for longer than some hours will be fatal and how about working towards emergency preparedness;Focusing on accommodating as much of the refugees and easing their plight and eliminating the root of the dislocation,etc.The Saudis want to b counted among those serious, modern and important Nations, but engaging in savage and pre-medival tactic to inflict pain on someone whose view they didn't like sabotages these goals of theirs.Natural disasters, whether it is caused by an upward swing of the Temp ( El Nino just triggered flooding in Somalia and 10s of 1000 have become refugees ) or an earth quake can best b coped with and much better mitigated in places where there is a sound infrastructure.But the Taliban, ISIS,Al-Shabab,Boko-Haram etc. r Wahabism inspired outfits and their main contribution is destroying well governed state and infrastructures and they made the people there most ill prepared to handle adversity. TMD,Math person.

  148. Saudi Arabia (named after the house of Saud) is a dictatorship, pure and simple! It is not a legitimate government chosen by the governed. In the name of Islam, Saudi Arabia subjugates its citizens and exports its intolerance. For the most part, the Saudi government remains in power because of us. We continue to support and protect this dictatorship, this is unAmerican!

  149. Religious fundamentalism is the mortal enemy of freedom and self expression.It creates a mental prison that is almost impossible to escape from. The Saudi government has made a truly Faustian bargain with the Wahabi clerics. They have given them control of the educational system and hundreds of millions of dollars in return for stifling anti-government dissent. They have allowed this extreme sect to incarcerate the minds of Saudi youth. Remember the 9/11 hijackers. The U.S. Alliance with Saudi Arabia,in exchange for oil. is the epitome of a kind of corrupt amoral cynicism.

  150. If I remember correctly Bandar bin Sultan, a member of the Saudi royal family, was the Saudi Ambassador to the United Sates under both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. He was so close to the Bush family that Barbara Bush called him the "other Bush son" and George W. referred to him as "Bandar Bush". He was a strong advocate of toppling Saddam Hussein and other Cheney policies in the Middle East. The Bush ties to the oil business and Texas oil money is common knowledge. The brutality of Saudi laws and their exporting their brand of Islamic fundamentalism know as Wahabism has been well known for generations. Foe generations the United States has been supporting policies in the Middle East that favor the Saudis and have led to the current human and political disasters we are now reaping. And we want another Bush in the White House? Shame on us for allowing ourselves to sucked into this quagmire for the benefit of the few.

  151. You can be critical of a toxic ideology, which Islam is, without demonizing the unfortunate people brainwashed as children to believe it. That is Bill Maher's position, which I support. Islam is a stone-age mythology without any redeeming qualities, but that does not mean we should be prejudiced against those raised under its influence. But we should definitely seek to discredit and tear down all governments based on islamic ideology such as the abomination that is Saudi Arabia.

  152. Oil money. If forty years ago we'd had the sense to develop solar power, we wouldn't need to have such vicious friends.

    And Turkey. People have for ten years at least turned a blind eye to the creeping state-mandated fundamentalism, the persecution of journalists, the purging of secularists in the military -- say why? We want, because of the nature of the region, to be friends with Muslims -- any Muslims -- and so we pretend not to be seeing what we're seeing.

    Pakistan? Our new friend, Iran?

    Oddly enough, only Syria, Libya, and Iraq, crazed as they were, had sizable, sensible middle classes. Oops.

  153. Maybe one of the Bush family can help. They have a lot of connections in Saudiland. Remember? As they looked away the Saudi families left the US after 9/11. A couple of Saudis owe someone for this.

  154. this is a fact not well known. The Saudis after 9/11 were permitted to leave the US immediately. wonder who they paid off.

  155. We have no business doing business in any way with this brutal Salafist regime so long as it remains a bloody and ruthless theocracy that supports Wahabbi Salafist madrasas and this kind of brutality worldwide. Rather than isolate Iran, we should be isolating and impoverishing this band of monsters, if necessary by destroying the oil empire and wealth we have built for them. The world will get over the destruction of the Saudi wealth that enables them to cause such discord in the world. It may well not get over Wahabbi Salafism.

  156. It's hard to agree with Bill Maher that a religion with 1.6 billion mostly peaceful adherents is inherently evil. If Judaism was judged by the actions of the 10% of Israeli's who are apparently intolerant religious zealots you would be tempted to right off that religion as well. But when entire states are governed by their most extreme 10%, and when Islam seems to have the odd problem of it's mosques being the epicenter of intolerance, cruelty, and war-mongering, it does seem like the religion IS the problem, even if it's only being used by cynical schemers for their own ends. Saudi Arabia may be oil-rich, stable, and an "ally", but it has given us bin Laden and most of the WTC bombers, funded the madras's that fuel the unrest throughout most of the world, and served as the epicenter of misogyny. How much "Realpolitik" can we stand?

  157. Why are oil rich countries the most repressive? they use religion to legitimize and enforce their existence. They use oil to seek allies. The governments are a self perpetuating virus using any vehile it can to exist.

  158. Israel is a democracy.

    Saudi Arabia is a monarchy.

  159. Whom should we support in the Thirty Years War that has engulfed the Middle East? Support whom ever happens to be losing at the time. Let them continue killing each other until the point of exhaustion which hopefully may be followed by some sort of Age of Reason akin to Western history with it's Thirty Years War and subsequent Ages of Enlightenment and Reason.

  160. The Saudis are not our friends. They are merely allies of convenience and, if it became convenient for the Saudis to cut all ties with us, they would do so without hesitation. In the meantime, they support terrorists around the world including, indirectly, the Osama Bin Laden group that attacked the World Trade Center. We have been repeatedly used by the Saudis. It's time to use them for a change. We could achieve peace in the Palestine if we could get the Saudis involved in a meaningful way, but they want to have their cake and eat it too.

  161. Oil or no oil, Saudi Arabia should be treated as a pariah-nation in much the same way as we regard the "People's Democratic Republic" of Korea. The government is entrusted with the holy sites of al-Mecca and al-Medina; fine and dandy but that shouldn't afford them carte blanche treatment by the rest of the Islamic community let alone by the "infidels" (i.e., us) who have to deal with the consequences of those subsidies they provide to Wahhabi clerics. If someone is paying your enemy to speak out in favor of attacking you he, too, becomes your enemy and should be regarded as such.

  162. Saudis are not our enemy? I disagree. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers that perpetrated the atrocities of 9/11 were Saudis. Wealthy Saudis financed the operation, as well as most of the expenses of bin Laden and his murderous crew al-Qaeda.

    In fact, Saudi Arabia may be our most dangerous enemy.

  163. As I understand it, the Wahhabists helped put the house of Saud in power in Arabia in the first place, hence the adherence to this extreme sect of the Muslim religion though in private the royal family has been far from devout, often chastised for their "western" ways. Because of the relationship between the royal family and the Wahhabists, there is little chance of change anytime soon.

  164. Saudi Arabia is a brutal regime. Ms. Magazine once called it the largest women's prison. Most of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia funds terrorism. It is a disgrace that the U.S. holds it as an "ally".

  165. Is this the same Saudi Arabia that contributes millions of dollars to HRC's "foundation"? I guess their treatment of women and disregard for human rights doesn't make their money dirty enough for her to not suplicate herself to them. This should totally destroy her last shred of dignity, but she's so narcissistic, it won't. If Donald Trump could command her to go to his wedding, just think what the Saudi's will make her do.

  166. When I was a boy I remember that THE primary use of American diplomacy and force was to assist the peoples of the world in becoming free peoples, democracys, able to choose their own leaders and futures. Were we ham handed? Were we wrongly persuaded, miscalculating, partially driven by special interests? Of course. But the idealistic heady days of bringing peace and democracy have seemed to fade into a preference for a 'live and let live' hands off mentality that is just excuse and permission for ignoring the inevitable horrific domination of the rich and powerful over the weak and poor. As the USA retreats (put politically correct phrase for retreat here) the message to the world is quite clear and obvious.

  167. Yes! Yes! and Yes! Nichloas Kristof finally takes the gloves off against a most worthy enemy. The fact of the matter is that Iran should be our 'natural' ally in the fight againt Al Qaeda/ISIS because the Saudis are somewhere in the background supporting those lunatics. Why this is never debated is beyond reason? Hopefully the 'candidates' will be quizzed on this is future debates.

  168. As long as there is money to be made, there is nothing, absolutely nothing a nation can do that will prompt the U.S. to do anything. 15 of the 19 attackers on 9/11 were Saudi so we invaded Iraq.

  169. Where is the UN's Human Rights Council on this?

  170. Saudi Arabia isn't the enemy? What would you call a country that has been bank rolling Islamic terrorism for decades and produced substantially all of the 9/11 attackers including their leader Osama Ben Laden.

    I am sick of government officials and columnists engaging pretzel logic to prove to us that a cruel, violent, brutal theocracy is the "enemy". Unfortunately for Americans, our leaders have more respect for the theocratic princes of SA than they do for American citizens, their lives, their culture or their treasure.

    For too long our leaders have been enamoured of the power exerted by these theocrats and sometimes I think they say I'd like some of that. It's chilling how close we are to these theocrats.

  171. Last fifty years of American foreign policy has created two Islamic monsters - Pakisthan and Saudi Arabia - one is the creator of State sponsored Terrorism and another is the Human Right violates of unimaginable proportion. Both of this states are used to protect the so called Americzn interest and the whole world is now facing the consequence. To correct it, American foreign policy need to show unimaginable courage and strength - world will not fall apart if West impose sanctions against these two states to force them to change their behavior. In a haste, West imposed sanctions against Iran and Russia, why the same tool should not be used for these two countries. Time has come to solve the Islzmic problem and the sanction against these two countries is a major policy for that, not more American troops to Syria and Afganisthan.

  172. Left wing academics will sign public letters boycotting Israel for actions they perceive to be unjust. However, I don't see them writing letters to the Guardian suggesting a boycott of Saudi Arabia -- a country where women aren't even allowed to drive, for heaven's sake! The same applies to the Iran deal -- try being openly gay in Tehran. What hypocrisy. The universities, and they left wing university professor leeches are too busy building new buildings and endowing chairs with Saudi money to think any of this through.

  173. And Saudi Arabia Want to promote Human right and democracy in Syria?