Why breaking with Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi would hurt America

None of this should be overstated, and hopefulness for the young prince to make good on his commitments should be tempered. But if the prince can be encouraged to make reforms incrementally and with greater prudence and consistency, it could portend positive developments not only for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but also for the larger Muslim world.

Saudi Arabia is famously the largest customer of American foreign military sales. Unfortunately, this relationship is frequently disparaged as based on greed and nothing more. No doubt American companies and therefore plenty of Americans benefit directly from selling expensive military equipment and weapons to other nations. But the primary reason that the United States invests so heavily in Saudi Arabia is because of its strategic importance.

Saudi Arabia is a crucial counterweight to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran is a sworn enemy of the United States and Israel. It is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq, and for maiming countless other American warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iran regime oppresses its own people and fails to invest in its own economy, because it has prioritized funding Bashar al Assad’s brutal civil war in Syria, enabling him to repeatedly use chemical weapons on his own people.