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Expulsion of Saudi personnel from US

It has yet to be seen if the expulsion of at least a dozen Saudi military students from the US for serious charges like links with extremists and child pornography will affect Riyadh-Washington ties. The mass expulsion came in the wake of a probe into a shooting rampage by a Saudi officer in Florida in December. The Saudi trainee officer, Mohammed Alshamrani, killed three American sailors and injured eight others in a classroom at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. He was in the US on a Saudi military training programme. The eviction of a dozen or more Saudi trainee officers on charges of having extremist mindsets, being in touch with extremist movements and possessing child pornography, should prompt a moment of reflection for Saudi authorities about the state of affairs of their security forces. The US probe, carried out by the FBI, also blamed Alsharmani’s colleagues for not alerting the authorities about his troubling behaviour before the attack. The attacker’s tweets called the US an evil nation responsible for “crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity”. After the fatal attack, their training has been halted. Currently, there are 850 Saudis on training missions in the US.
The deadly shooting, followed by the expulsion of Saudi officers, will damage Saudi authorities’ struggle to improve the country’s image as a progressive state. After 9/11, the oil-rich kingdom has constantly been under the public spotlight in the US, all for bad reasons, as 15 out of the 19 terrorists were Saudi nationals and had links with Al-Qaeda. Such facts, however, have never affected government to government ties. Saudi Arabia has been able to find friends in the Pentagon and White House because of its ability to indulge in billion-dollar businesses, and of course help with matters like the ongoing tension with Iran. This has helped Saudi Arabia get away with war crimes in Yemen and the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The policy of the White House to ignore the wrongdoings of Riyadh, however, does not sit well with most US lawmakers.
Saudi Arabia has not commented on the eviction and it is very likely that its royals will not show any reaction. Nor will such issues affect the US military deployment in Saudi Arabia.



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