While publicly condemning a scant portion of the human rights violations routinely committed by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the U.S. government has secretly been colluding with the brutal regime, which is currently funding the CIA’s covert operations in Syria. Instead of answering to the American people, the CIA has become the Saudi government’s obedient lapdog after accepting massive bribes for over three decades with total impunity.

According to a recent New York Times investigation, President Obama covertly authorized the CIA to begin arming the Syrian rebels in 2013, with funding and weapons from Saudi Arabia and a few other countries. Code-named Timber Sycamore, the clandestine operation initially authorized the CIA to provide nonlethal assistance and training to the rebels but not weapons. A few months later, the president amended the parameters by allowing the CIA to arm the rebels and deliver lethal assistance while receiving funding and weapons from Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, the General Intelligence Directorate, including TOW anti-tank missiles and AK-47 assault rifles.

Besides Saudi Arabia, the CIA has also received covert financing from Qatar, Turkey, and Jordan in an effort to support the Syrian rebels. While financing the enemies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the U.S. government has provided funding and weapons to al Qaeda-linked fighters and foreign jihadists invading Syria. Although the CIA refuses to disclose how much money the Saudis have contributed toward arming and supporting the Syrian rebels, estimates from intelligence sources place the cost at several billion dollars.


During the 1980s, the Saudis began bribing the CIA by helping to finance covert operations in Angola, spending millions of dollars to arm mujahedeen rebels fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, and donating $32 million, paid through a Cayman Islands bank account, to fund contra rebels in Nicaragua during the Iran-Contra affair. In the 1990s, current CIA Director John Brennan was the agency’s station chief in Riyadh. Former colleagues assert Brennan remains close friends with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Saudi interior minister tasked with arming the Syrian rebels.

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On September 30, 2011, two Predator drones launched from a secret CIA base in Saudi Arabia, crossed the border into northern Yemen, and fired Hellfire missiles at a vehicle containing Anwar al-Aulaqi, commonly misspelled as “al-Awlaki,” of New Mexico. The government would later learn one of the passengers in Anwar’s vehicle had been another U.S. citizen, Samir Khan. On the evening of October 14, 2011, Anwar’s innocent 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, attended a barbeque with his friends and cousins when a CIA drone butchered everyone in the vicinity.

According to a 2013 NSA memo exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, relations between the U.S. and Saudi intelligence communities became strained after the first Gulf War in 1991. The NSA experienced years of stagnation while attempting to work with the Saudi Ministry of Defense, Radio Reconnaissance Department. But in December 2012, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper authorized sharing signals intelligence (SIGINT) with the Saudi Ministry of Interior’s Technical Affairs Directorate. By providing technical assistance and decryption tools to the MOI, Clapper gave the Saudi government the ability to improve their surveillance systems and spyware against political dissidents, bloggers, and human rights activists.

Each year, the U.S. State Department reports that the Saudi government was once again responsible for arbitrary arrests, denial of due process, detaining political prisoners, human trafficking, torturing prisoners to death, and a myriad of other abuses. A Saudi human rights lawyer and activist named Waleed Abu al-Khair received 15 years in prison for undermining the state and insulting the judiciary. Mukhlif Shammari received 5 years for writing about the mistreatment of Saudi women. While in prison, a human rights activist named Mekhlef bin Daham al-Shammary was hospitalized after government officials poured antiseptic cleaning liquid down his throat.

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Last month, the U.S. government disclosed that the Saudi king had given President Obama and his family approximately $1.35 million in gifts throughout 2014. Before his passing last year, King Abdullah reportedly spent over $9.8 million on U.S. lobbyists between 2012 and 2013.

Although prostitution has become a job requirement for our politicians and lobbyists, the CIA has decided to ally itself with an abusive regime known for public beheadings and crucifixion of political dissidents. After decades of accepting Saudi bribes, the CIA became culpable in funding terrorist organizations in Syria while attempting to support our allies. Despite the fact that the State Department routinely chastises the Saudi government for numerous human rights violations, the Obama administration did not publicly condemn the recent public beheading of dissident Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Andrew Emett is a Los Angeles-based reporter exposing political and corporate corruption. His interests include national security, corporate abuse, and holding government officials accountable. Andrew’s work has appeared on Raw Story, Alternet, Activist Post, and many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @AndrewEmett and on Facebook at Andrew Emett.