Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have piled on outrage after Hillary Clinton condemned the weekend slaughter in Orlando and directly linked the oil-rich monarchies to the funding of terrorism.
In separate letters to Fairfax Media, the embassies for both countries in Canberra took exception to reporting of Mrs Clinton’s call to “stop supporting radical schools and mosques around the world”.
“Accusations levelled against the Kingdom of being lax or of supporting extremism fails to recognise the Kingdom’s leadership role in combating terrorism,” the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia wrote.
Kuwait’s embassy said it “wishes to convey its disapproval of the criticism and allegations stated by the presumptive candidate Ms. Hillary Clinton”.
The diplomatic stoush follows the rampage that killed 49 in a gay nightclub and a call by gunman Omar Mateen to emergency services where he pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
In forthright remarks about the global threat of terrorism, Mrs Clinton had complained “it is long past time for the Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organisations”.
But the Saudi embassy said Saudi Arabia was also a target of terrorism, with 26 attacks in the last two years.
“The Kingdom has long had it as a national priority to stop the men, the money and the mindset that foments extremism, especially violent extremism.”
The embassy said the Saudi government had also ensured mosques are not used as a platform for inciting extremism, and law prohibited the collection of money in mosques or charities transferring funds abroad “that could reach the wrong hands”.
But human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have accused Saudi Arabia of using counter-terrorism to crack down on peaceful activists, and the country is also ranked among the lowest for media freedoms.
The kingdom has also been criticised for the practice of the death penalty – often by public beheading. Amnesty said Saudi authorities carried out at least 158 executions last year.
Saudi Arabia said the region preached “tolerance and non-violence” and called the allegation it was exporting extremism and radicalism misguided, “if not absurd”.
“Saudi Arabia has and will continue to stand firmly against all violent extremists,” the embassy said.