Hillary Clinton has grasped what has long been the prickliest nettle in US diplomacy and directly linked Saudi Arabia to the funding of terrorism.
After the Orlando massacre at a gay nightclub, the worst mass shooting in modern US history, the Saudi role in promulgating Islamist hate around the world is on the table.
The WikiLeaks disclosures showed right back in Clinton’s days as secretary of state that she was secretly savage about Saudi reluctance to stem the flow of private cash to extremist groups.
But saying so publicly will be cheered by many people who long wondered why the US has stayed so cosy with the oil kingdom, especially given that 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001, were Saudi citizens.
Osama bin Laden was also the scion of a wealthy Saudi family and the nexus with US foreign policy has served as a power socket for conspiracy theories for years.
But as if to prove the ties are still “complicated”, Clinton couldn’t quite bring herself to single out Saudi Arabia.
It is long past time for the Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organisations,” Hillary Clinton declared in the aftermath of the Orlando attack.
“And they should stop supporting radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path towards extremism.”
Still, for Clinton to even link Saudi Arabia to extremism at all marks what has become a revolutionary realignment in US diplomacy in the Middle East.
For Obama to have questioned the Saudi funding of fundamentalist Wahhabi religious schools in far-off countries such as Indonesia is one thing, given he is near the end of his presidency. Coming from Clinton, potentially about to begin hers, the criticism will sting.
Saudi Arabia is already upset about Obama’s nuclear bargain with Iran, and deliberately timed the execution of a prominent Shia cleric for January, just as the deal came into force.
This despite the US turning an official blind eye to the Saudi crackdown at home and in neighbouring Bahrain during the Arab Spring.
A number of US conservatives have also questioned Saudi Arabia – although notably not Donald Trump, who has been willing with his criticism of the oil sheikhs.
With the US no longer as dependent on Saudi oil for its energy needs, and the malignant role of Saudi money in extremism now open slather, expect the pressure on one of the world’s most repressive regimes to grow.
Saudi Arabia has long been criticised for its harsh social codes and punishments, imposed under its puritanical version of Sharia law.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested in February 2012 when he was just 17 and accused of organising protests. He was sentenced to death by beheading and crucifixion, along with his uncle, a leading Shia cleric. Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, said last month he did not expect the sentence to be carried out. However, murderers, drug dealers and others convicted on purely criminal charges are often beheaded in public.
While women did in 2105 get to register to vote and can stand for local elections, they are still required to have permission from a “guardian” such as a father, husband or brother to travel freely. Wearing modest clothes and a headscarf in public is compulsory. They are also banned from driving – subject of the country’s most visible civil disobedience campaign in recent years.
The regime in Saudi Arabia has been strongly criticized by human rights organizations.
Hashtags #SueMeSaudi and #SaudiArabiaIsISIS has many hits every minute, and many want to mark their opposition and to show their distance to the brutal dictator regime in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia practice Wahhabism ideology, a strictly fundamentalist orientation within Sunni Islam, which in practice is the state religion in the country. It is also ideology direction that has inspired al-Qaida and DAESH.