US State Dept. literally speechless when asked to justify support for Saudi regime

(This article is published in AlterNet.)

When a top State Department official was asked to justify the U.S. government’s support for the absolute monarchy in Saudi Arabia, hilarity ensued.

During a May 30 press briefing on President Donald Trump’s trip to the Middle East, a reporter from Agence France Presse pointed out the U.S.’s double standards on Iran.

While Trump was visiting Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson criticized Iran, which had just held presidential elections, accusing the country of being undemocratic.

“He did so standing next to Saudi officials,” the AFP reporter noted. “How do you characterize Saudi Arabia’s commitment to democracy, and does the administration believe that democracy is a buffer or barrier against extremism?”

Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, was literally speechless. He stood in silence for a full 20 seconds before stuttering a few barely coherent sentences before finally painting Iran as the source of global terror.

While in Saudi Arabia, President Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal — the largest in U.S. history — despite the war crimes the Saudi military has carried out, with staunch Western backing, in Yemen. The Saudi regime also pledged an additional $200 billion of investment in the American economy.

U.S. government documents have acknowledged the Saudi regime as a key source of the Salafi-jihadist groups responsible for the vast majority of non-state terror attacks, including the genocidal ISIS and al-Qaeda.

Saudi Arabia has spent some $100 billion spreading its extremist Wahhabi ideology throughout the world.

Iran, on the other hand, has been fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria while implementing reforms and making progress toward a more democratic system. The country saw enormous turnout for its election, with nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the eligible voting population participating. President Hassan Rouhani, a popular reformist politician, was reelected by a sizeable margin.

The raw video of the full May 30 U.S. State Department press briefing can be watched below: