Mr Obama, We are Not ‘Free Riders'
27 March 2016
By Prince Turki
No, Mr. Obama. We are not ''free riders.'' We shared with you our intelligence
that prevented deadly terrorist attacks on America.
We initiated the meetings that led to the coalition that is fighting ISIS ,
and we train and fund the Syrian freedom fighters, who fight the biggest
terrorist, Bashar Assad and the other terrorists, Al-Nusrah and ISIS. We
offered boots on the ground to make that coalition more effective in
eliminating the terrorists.
We initiated the support — military, political and humanitarian — that is
helping the Yemeni people reclaim their country from the murderous militia,
the Houthis, who, with the support of the Iranian leadership, tried to occupy
Yemen; without calling for American forces. We established a coalition of more
than thirty Muslim countries to fight all shades of terrorism in the world.
We are the biggest contributors to the humanitarian relief efforts to help
refugees from Syria, Yemen and Iraq. We combat extremist ideology that
attempts to hijack our religion, on all levels. We are the sole funders of the
United Nations Counter-terrorism Center, which pools intelligence, political,
economic, and human resources, worldwide. We buy US treasury bonds, with small
interest returns, that help your country's economy.
We send thousands of our students to your universities, at enormous expense,
to acquire knowledge and knowhow. We host over 30,000 American citizens and
pay them top dollar in our businesses and industry for their skills. Your
secretaries of state and defense have often publicly praised the level of
cooperation between our two countries.
Your treasury department officials have publicly praised Saudi Arabia's
measures to curtail any financing that might reach terrorists. Our King Salman
met with you, last September, and accepted your assurances that the nuclear
deal you struck with the Iranian leadership will prevent their acquiring
nuclear weapons for the duration of the deal. You noted ''the Kingdom's
leadership role in the Arab and Islamic world.''
The two of you affirmed the ''need, in particular, to counter Iran's
destabilizing activities.'' Now, you throw us a curve ball. You accuse us of
fomenting sectarian strife in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. You add insult to injury
by telling us to share our world with Iran, a country that you describe as a
supporter of terrorism and which you promised our king to counter its
Could it be that you are petulant about the Kingdom's efforts to support the
Egyptian people when they rose against the Muslim Brothers' government and you
supported it? Or is it the late King Abdullah's (God rest his soul) bang on
the table when he last met you and told you ''No more red lines, Mr.
Or is it because you have pivoted to Iran so much that you equate the
Kingdom's 80 years of constant friendship with America to an Iranian
leadership that continues to describe America as the biggest enemy, that
continues to arm, fund and support sectarian militias in the Arab and Muslim
world, that continues to harbor and host Al-Qaeda leaders, that continues to
prevent the election of a Lebanese president through Hezbollah, which is
identified by your government as a terrorist organization, that continues to
kill the Syrian Arab people in league with Bashar Assad?
No, Mr. Obama. We are not the ''free riders'' that to whom you refer. We lead
from the front and we accept our mistakes and rectify them. We will continue
to hold the American people as our ally and don't forget that when the chips
were down, and George Herbert Walker Bush sent American soldiers to repel with
our troops Saddam's aggression against Kuwait, soldiers stood shoulder to
shoulder with soldiers. Mr. Obama, that is who we are.
HRH Prince Turki Al-Faisal is the co-founder of the King Faisal Foundation
and Chairman of the Board of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic
Studies. He acted as Adviser to the Saudi Royal Court during 1972–1977, then
heading the Kingdom's intelligence service from 1977&38211;2002, after which
he became Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the United Kingdom until 2005, and
Ambassador to the United States until 2007. He studied at Princeton,
Cambridge, and Georgetown universities.