By Ruth A. Cohen
On Dec. 8, the House of Representatives, in rare bipartisanship, passed by a margin of 407-19 H.R.158, the Visa Waiver Improvement Act of 2015. The Visa Waiver program allows citizens from 38 countries to visit the U.S. for 90 days without first applying for non-immigrant visas. H.R.158 amends the program so that citizens of Visa Waiver countries will be required to apply overseas for visas if they have recently been to Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan.
What is missing from this list of countries? Does Saudi Arabia ring a bell? Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were Saudis.
According to her Pakistani family, San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik was radicalized in Saudi Arabia. One thousand Saudi youth have joined ISIS as fighters. Saudi Arabia leads the world in pro-ISIS tweets. Wahhabism is the ultraconservative version of Sunni Islam that is the official religion of Saudi Arabia. It is said to be behind ISIS’ extremist ideologies. The Saudi regime spends hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide to fund mosques and schools that preach the Wahhabi doctrine and radicalize the Muslim population.
Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has one of the worst human-rights records in the world (i.e. beheading “witches” and crucifying people who express the mildest dissent against official policy), the West regards it as a key ally and has been loath to criticize the kingdom. However, it seems that enough is finally enough. Germany has publicly warned Saudi Arabia against further financing of religious radicals. German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel’s demand to cut money flowing to the Wahhabis comes as some lawmakers are growing weary of Saudi-funded radical mosques.
Why do we permit the Saudis to finance the spread of anti-West and anti-democratic propaganda? Why were Saudis permitted to fly out of the U.S. after 9/11 when Americans were forbidden to fly? Why did President George W. Bush walk hand-in-hand with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah during a 2008 visit to Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas? Why do we treat the Saudis as friends? With friends like these, we don’t need enemies.