What It’s About: Unlike its enduring value-based cultural, religious and heritage relations with Western Europe and Israel, U.S.-Saudi relations are based on replaceable commodities and services: profits for security. While this economic arrangement has endured many obstacles and threats for 80 years, it’s becoming increasingly unpredictable at best and irrelevant at worst due to unprecedented advances in technology, steady increases in other sources of energy, and U.S. fracking innovation. At the same time, Saudi Arabia has proven to be an enemy of democracy and a producer of deadly terrorists, individuals and groups that not only threaten American interests abroad, but also the safety of America and its democratic system at home, as exemplified by the 9/11 attack carried out by Saudi nationals. These developments and recent Saudi foreign and domestic reckless and ruthless policies against its neighbors and citizens are making it increasingly difficult for lobbyists and decision-makers to consider Saudi Arabia worthy of American protection and partnership.
Presenter: Dr. Ali Alyami is the founder and Executive Director of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, based in Washington, D.C. He was born and raised in Saudi Arabia and is an avid advocate for political reforms there. Previously, he was a Senior Fellow at the Saudi Institute in D.C., Director of an educational peace program for the American Friends Service Committee in San Francisco, and a representative for the Arab Organization for Human Rights, a Cairo-based group. Dr. Alyami has a Ph.D. in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and a Master's Degree from California State University. His doctoral thesis was: "The Impact of Modernization on the Stability of the Saudi Monarchy." He has provided expert testimony regarding human rights in Saudi Arabia to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, has spoken at conferences in the U.S., London, Egypt, Sudan and Israel, and has a frequent media presence.