How does the US justify its relationship with Saudi Arabia when half its population is, in essence, property i.e., slaves (women)? Besides the oil, and if that is all, how do we in the US reconcile our condemnation of Boko Haram, the Taliban, and so forth?

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    It's not only Saudi Arabia, but all the extreme dictatures of the thirld world that have any natural ressources have extremely good relationship with US (and all other occidental powers). They prefer to lick the ass to dictators and complain about political asylum refugee from those countries that fleds the persecution, rather than finind a real solution to the problem, because they want the natural ressorces and lots of income for short term profit.
    – Bregalad
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 8:15
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    US gov policies have many more inconsistencies. This is reflection of the fact the gov is not about to be consistent in their behavior rather than about some individuals choices and beliefs.
    – lowtech
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 17:31
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    Please watch Bitter Lake by Adam Curtis. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 19:58
  • No, the US does not rely on Saudi oil, but to maintain its influence and to ensure it is freely available for the rest of the world.
    – r13
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 1:37
  • Whilst women in Saudi do not have the same legal rights as men, they are far from being slaves.
    – Ben Cohen
    Commented Feb 4 at 14:42

3 Answers 3


Saudi Arabia is one of the few stable governments in the Middle East. Ultimately, stability is desirable- it allows those involved to produce more and consume less foreign aid and, of course, more stability means they can secure the area and avoid allowing extremist groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda to grow. While it's true that many of their policies are seen as oppressive, this has to be taken in context with the surrounding area. Israel is another instance of a country that is supported by the US despite questionable actions- again, they exist in a volatile area and serve to stabilise it. The growth of stable, non-hostile states is a good thing in any unstable area, but especially in the Middle East.

It's also worth mentioning that there is an ultra-conservative element in Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism, which is kept from doing any real damage. The country was essentially founded that way- a deal between the Saudis and the Wahhabi. It is worth helping the Saudi Arabian government simply so they can keep a check on them and avoid them causing trouble, or even better, use their fanaticism to our advantage.

Another note is that Saudi Arabia are good trading partners. Besides the fact that stability and military ability help with this, if they keep their deals and don't default on their debts, that encourages you to keep dealing with them. So, deal-to-deal, it just makes sense.

Morality doesn't come into it that much. It never does. While we often go up against states that abuse human rights, they are also often belligerent. Morality might help some justify government action, but in reality, it's never going to be the primary motivator behind anything, especially not business.

Btw, it's important to note that the biggest arms deal in history was between the UK and Saudi Arabia, so it's hardly just the US.

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    One fact your are neglecting to mention is that the vast majority of violent fanatics come out of SA. How is that considered stabilty?
    – user15138
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 14:44
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    That's still stable. The governments of the world don't care as much about ideologies such as Wahhabiism compared to more overtly violent ones like what IS preaches. That's to their detriment, of course, because it's allowed some toxic ideas to grow in the middle east, but that's how it is. So they don't mind SA exporting ideas like that, because they're not directly, immediately threatening. Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 15:18
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    It's only stable in the short term.
    – Bregalad
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 18:32
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    "t's also worth mentioning that there is an ultra-conservative element in SA, Wahhabiism, which is kept from doing any real damage." - please explain Bin Laden, who was a product of this Wahhabiism. And you might want to watch "Bitter Lake" by Adam Curtis. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 19:57
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    @Joze Yeah, I've rewritten it because that bit didn't really make sense. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 9:22

People forget that the United States is a global superpower that wants influence over the Middle East and proxies like Saudi Arabia can help with that. There is a Second Cold War proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran with the US supporting Saudi Arabia and Russia supporting Iran. Saudi Arabia helps the United States through proxy get back at Russia (and North Korea and the current Iraqi government who are supporting Iranian in this conflict) and fight against Iranian influence in the region that reduces the influence over the region for the United States & allies like Israel. It is basically similar to when the United States once supported the Taliban/Mujahideen to make sure the USSR did not win Afghanistan.

This is important because I am pretty sure this is how politicians and people in the US government justify giving Saudi Arabia money to themselves despite the human rights violations: internally, they justify it by saying the ends justify the means and how you don't want Iran and North Korea and Iraq to 'win', similar to how the government during the Cold War justified supported the Taliban by portraying it as heroic freedom fighting to prevent the Soviet Union from 'winning' in the region.

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    The question is how the US justifies it, not about the realpolitik reasons for the alliance.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 15:49
  • @StuartF Ok should add to it, but I think that is part of it internally - they justify it by saying the ends justify the means and how you don't want Iran and North Korea and Iraq to 'win'
    – Tyler Mc
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 14:38
  • "It is basically similar to when the United States once supported the Taliban" The US didn't support the Taliban. They supported the Mujahideen, and some members of the Mujahideen joined/formed the Taliban. That's like saying that Turkey supported the Nazis because they were Germany's ally in WWI, and many of those Germans then became Nazis. Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 21:33

Besides the oil, and if that is all ...

You are underestimating Saudi Arabia's power.

Saudi Arabia is probably one of the most (if not the most) important allies of the USA in the world.

First of all, Saudi Arabia keeps the USD most powerful currency in the world through Petro-dollar system.

Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil exporter, and oil is priced and traded in US dollars. This means that countries that want to purchase oil from Saudi Arabia must first acquire US dollars, which helps to increase demand for the US dollar and thus strengthens its position as the dominant global currency.

Saudi Arabia has the world's most valuable corporation called Saudi ARAMCO. This company has a market capitalization of $2 trillion USD. This company controls the world's oil price.

Secondly, The Saudi Arabian riyal has been pegged to the US dollar at a fixed exchange rate since the 1980s. This means that the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), the country's central bank, maintains the exchange rate between the Saudi riyal and the US dollar by buying or selling US dollars in the foreign exchange market.

By pegging its currency to the US dollar, Saudi Arabia effectively outsources its monetary policy to the US Federal Reserve. This means that Saudi Arabia's monetary policy is closely tied to that of the United States, which helps to promote stability in the global financial system. It also makes it easier for international trade and investment to take place, as businesses can transact in US dollars without having to worry about fluctuations in the exchange rate between their own currency and the US dollar.

Thirdly, Petrodollar Recycling refers to the process by which countries that export oil, such as Saudi Arabia, invest their earnings from oil exports back into the global economy, often by purchasing goods and services or by investing in financial assets denominated in US dollars.

Petrodollar recycling helps the US economy by providing a source of foreign investment that can be used to finance government debt, support economic growth, and create jobs. As Saudi Arabia earns US dollars from their oil exports, they often choose to invest these dollars in US Treasury bonds or other financial assets denominated in US dollars. This provides the US government with a source of funding for its operations and allows US businesses to access capital at lower interest rates. Additionally, petrodollar investments can create demand for US goods and services, which can help to support economic growth and job creation.

Fourthly, The Saudi PIF (Public Investment Fund)'s assets in the United States are not publicly known. However, it is estimated that the PIF has invested billions of dollars (if not trillions) in the US market. The PIF has invested in a wide range of sectors, including technology, healthcare, and real estate.

Also, Saudi Arabian private investors from the royal family hold significant stakes in US companies and real estate worth billions of dollars.

According to the US Treasury Department, Saudi Arabia held $115.8 billion in US Treasury securities as of March 2023. This makes Saudi Arabia the 10th largest holder of US Treasury securities.

So, you have to give Saudi Arabia its due share of respect.

How does the US justify its relationship with Saudi Arabia when half its population is in essence property i.e. slaves (women)?

This information isn't based on any evidence.

Besides the oil, and if that is all how do we in the US reconcile our condemnation of Boka Haron, the Taliban, and so forth?

What do you mean by "we" - Are you talking about the US population or the US government?

If you are talking about the US government, then the answer is already given above.

If you are talking about the US people, then you have to take into account the allies of the USA as the USA cannot stay as a superpower without its allies.

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    This doesn't answer the question!
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 15:50
  • @StuartF, Sure, it does.
    – user366312
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 15:54

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