The Gulf states receive tangible benefits from their alliance with the U.S. The same can not be said for Washington.

John Glaser
December 28, 2014
The National

In October, Vice President Joe Biden publicly accused U.S. allies in the Middle East of supporting terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq. “Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria,” the vice president declared.. “They were so determined to take down Assad…they poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens [of] thousands of tons of weapons into…al-Nusrah and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

Only weeks earlier, President Obama had announced a bombing campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Even after the development of ISIS, which became so brutal al-Qaeda disavowed it, Biden said, “we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them.”

Biden was quickly rebuffed and forced to retract his public indictment of the U.S. allies he implicated, primarily Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. Washington provides these regimes with substantial economic and military support even as they pursue policies that run counter to U.S. interests.

It’s become clear the costs for the U.S. of maintaining these alliances outweigh the perceived benefits.

U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf have a history of directly supporting or at least allowing private funds to flow to terrorist groups. This phenomenon has its roots in the U.S. and Saudi-backed Afghan insurgency against the Soviet Union, which included aid to the so-called “Arab Afghans” who joined the indigenous insurgency. The impact on Saudi society, and the broader Middle East, was profound.

Following the 9/11 attacks, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, many in the U.S. raised the issue of terrorist financing from wealthy private donors, and perhaps even the government itself, in Saudi Arabia. The 9/11 Commission Report acknowledged that charities based in Saudi Arabia provided funds to Al-Qaeda but “found no evidence that the Saudi government” was directly involved. However, the Bush administration excised 28 pages of findings on the subject of possible Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks, citing national security concerns. Current and former members of Congress say those 28 pages contain direct evidence of complicity on the part of certain Saudi officials and entities.

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