On Tuesday, a couple of days after Donald Trump touched back down in America after his trip abroad, the State Department decided to hold a press conference. Officials decided to hold it in order to highlight a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia and the establishment of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology. The entire deal is controversial considering most of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia and allegations from ex-Senators that the country played a direct role in the terrorist attacks. But, the Trump Administration decided to go ahead with the deal anyway and now they are telling Americans that it is a great deal. Okay.
During the presser, Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones was given the job of answering questions from the press and it did not go well (He’s like the State Department’s Spicey, haha). At the end of the event, Agence France Presse reporter Dave Clark asked Jones about some curious hypocrisy from the Trump administration:
While you were over there, the secretary criticized the conduct of the Iranian elections and Iran’s record on democracy. He did so standing next to Saudi officials. How do you characterize Saudi Arabia’s commitment to democracy? And does the administration believe that democracy is a buffer or barrier against extremism?
The question left Jones visibly stumped. His face scrunched up and the reporters heard crickets for an extended period of time. You could almost see the wheels turning in his head and him saying,”Fuuuuckkkk how am I supposed to defend this?!” Finally, Jones stuttered out:
I think what we would say is, that at this meeting, we were able to make significant progress with Saudi and GCC partners in both making a strong statement against extremism and also putting in place certain measures through this GCC mechanism where we can combat extremism. Clearly one source of extremism–one terrorism threat–is coming from Iran. And that’s coming from a part of the Iranian apparatus that is not at all responsive to its electorate.
Watch as Stuart Jones, a high-level acting official in the State Dept, is asked why they criticize Iranian elections but never Saudi Arabia: pic.twitter.com/RLkKGn48Z7
— Alex Emmons (@AlexanderEmmons) May 30, 2017
There really was no good way to answer that question and that is why was so stumped. In case you don’t follow international news closely, let me explain. Last week Iran held a free election and the citizens of the country re-elected their moderate president, Hassan Rouhani. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is a monarchy which, as I said above, has strong ties to Islamic terrorism (even Trump has said so). And yet, the State Department still thought it was a good idea to criticize Iran’s democracy while standing next to the Saudis. The irony.