U.S. univer­si­ties re­con­sid­er­ing ties with Saudi Ara­bia

Tehran Times - - WORLD IN FOCUS -

Amer­i­can col­leges and univer­si­ties are re­con­sid­er­ing ties with the House of Saud regime de­spite hav­ing re­ceived over $350 mil­lion from the king­dom over the past 10 years, ac­cord­ing to a re­port.

This fol­lows the as­sas­si­na­tion of Saudi dis­si­dent jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi, who was killed af­ter en­ter­ing the Saudi regime mis­sion in Is­tan­bul on Oc­to­ber 2.

The in­ci­dent trig­gered in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion and in the U.S. sev­eral law­mak­ers have called for sanc­tions against the king­dom, while oth­ers de­manded Wash­ing­ton stop its nu­clear talks with Saudi Ara­bia.

Now, the ques­tions about Khashoggi’s death have caused some U.S. col­leges or univer­si­ties to re­con­sider cur­rent or fu­ture deals, The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

The Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (MIT), which co­op­er­ates with Saudi univer­si­ties on re­search projects, has been work­ing with Saudi com­pany Aramco for a long time.

In March, the com­pany pledged to pro­vide the school with $25 mil­lion for re­search in ar­eas like re­new­able en­ergy and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence.

On Oc­to­ber 22, the in­sti­tute said, how­ever, it planned to con­duct a “swift, thor­ough” ex­am­i­na­tion of its part­ner­ships with Riyadh, call­ing Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance a se­ri­ous con­cern.

An­other com­pany, SABIC, has given Bab­son Col­lege, near Bos­ton, $2.5 mil­lion through a con­tract, but col­lege of­fi­cials told the AP they were pur­su­ing events and gath­er­ing opin­ions from their com­mu­nity about how to con­tinue their work with the com­pany.

Bab­son trains Saudi busi­ness lead­ers in ad­di­tion to other ar­eas of work it shares with Saudi univer­si­ties that in­clude re­search and train­ing part­ner­ships.

Mean­while, many other U.S. univer­si­ties have not in­di­cated whether they are re­con­sid­er­ing ties with Saudi Ara­bia.

The Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, said their fi­nan­cial sup­port from Saudi Ara­bia, that is part of a $6 mil­lion con­tract to de­velop spe­cial tech­nol­ogy for re­new­able en­ergy, was not be­ing re­con­sid­ered.

North­west­ern Univer­sity re­fused to say whether it was re­view­ing any of the money it re­ceives from Saudi Ara­bia.

Other schools, in­clud­ing the Univer­sity of Michi­gan, re­fused to elab­o­rate on Saudi Ara­bia’s fi­nan­cial sup­port.

Ac­cord­ing to an ex­am­i­na­tion by the AP, the amount of fi­nan­cial help from Saudi Ara­bia or or­ga­ni­za­tions un­der its con­trol that has gone to 37 Amer­i­can schools since 2011 is at least $354 mil­lion.

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