Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A simple question about Saudi Arabia and Democracy causes brain-freeze of Senior State Department official

    Wednesday, May 31, 2017   No comments

Acting Assistant Secretary of State Stuart Jones, who accompanied President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Saudi Arabia last week, was holding a press briefing about the trip’s achievements. Then he was asked a simple question:

While you were over there, the secretary criticized the conduct of the Iranian elections and Iran’s record on democracy. He did so standing next to Saudi officials. How do you characterize Saudi Arabia’s commitment to democracy? And does the administration believe that democracy is a buffer or barrier against extremism?

Jones paused for 20 long seconds to collect his thoughts, then he answered:

I think what we would say is, that at this meeting, we were able to make significant progress with Saudi and GCC [Persian Gulf Cooperation Council] partners in both making a strong statement against extremism and also putting in place certain measures through this GCC mechanism where we can combat extremism. Clearly one source of extremism – one terrorism threat – is coming from Iran. And that’s coming from a part of the Iranian apparatus that is not at all responsive to its electorate.

The moment spells out the difficulty US officials face when they try to explain their alliances with regimes that have no respect for representative governance--such as the Saudi regime.

Watch the clip:

Ed Isr

About Ed Isr

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