Skip to comments.Saudi Arabia's naked emperor
Posted on 08/07/2003 12:36:30 PM PDT by yonif
'The emperor has no clothes" was the message the US administration sent Saudi Arabia in deciding not to publish 28 pages of a voluminous report on acts of omission and commission by the American intelligence community in the years preceding the 9/11 terrorist attack.
The classified pages, leaked in Washington, relate to links between the Saudi Arabians associated with the attack and representatives of the royal House of Saud. Their publication, administration spokesmen explained, was liable to harm not only the continuing amassing of intelligence on Saudi terrorists but also relations between the two countries and the Saudi royal house itself.
The terrorist Islamic Jihad developed under the gold-embroidered robes of King Fahd, Crown Prince Abdullah, and other princes. Fifteen of its members participated in the 9/11 attacks, and in recent years many others attacked American targets in Saudi Arabia itself. According to US media, the 28 pages that have been kept secret contain details of suspected links between Saudi palace representatives and al-Qaida. The administration gives no immunity to the people of King Fahd, who is very ill and being kept alive by morphine injections.
This week American TV broadcasts kept up continuous coverage of the murky link. The royal house's talented and elegant Washington spokesman appeared on every network in a futile attempt to refute the accusations and suspicions leveled at his employers. He repeated the position of the Saudi foreign minister, quickly expressed in an emergency meeting requested with President George W. Bush last Tuesday: The US must publish the classified part of the report so Saudi Arabia can prove it is false.
But the Bush administration refused. The Saudi affair has become a major issue, reaching such proportions as to cause Mahmoud Abbas's fabrications about the "Israeli wall" to be forgotten.
Being challenged, for the first time, by the American administration constituted a public slap in the face for the Saudi royal house with all its oil. We have emerged from that long period during which the FBI and the CIA allowed the Saudi regime to investigate itself and hide embarrassing facts. For more than two years a harsh exchange of words has been going on behind the scenes between US law enforcement authorities and the Saudi security services. This administration could not permit itself to give the Saudis preferential treatment, turning a blind eye as previous administrations did, while Americans are being murdered and the US has declared total war on terror.
The FBI and the CIA have demanded total transparency from the Saudi Arabians in the light of their double game: contributing, on the one hand, millions of dollars in "charity" not only to Hamas but also to other extremist organizations in their country, while at the same time ostensibly supporting the US in its war against terror. THE CLASSIFIED, or censored, report is only a weak echo of the struggle between Washington and Riyadh that is going on away from the public eye. It will now be easy to understand why, more than a year ago, Crown Prince Abdullah sponsored a Saudi initiative holding out an illusory solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This dubious initiative was sold by the Saudis' PR person in Washington, and Crown Prince Abdullah marketed the idea with no difficulty to Tom Friedman of The New York Times.
The Saudi "peace plan" was, naturally, based on an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, after which Saudi Arabia would participate in achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and the Arab countries in general.
Friedman of course praised the Saudi royals for the initiative. For a moment, his Times column seemed to herald the coming of the Messiah. Today, after the total, overt crisis of confidence between the White House and the House of Saud, it is completely clear that what the Saudis were doing then was trying to divert attention away from their responsibility for Islamic Jihad terror and focus it on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. In the spring of 2002 the State Department was looking for a way to get Israel to make concessions to long-time Saudi ally Yasser Arafat, and accusing Israel of "rejecting the Saudi peace initiative" was a lot easier than confronting the Saudi terrorist hothouse.
It is now clear, despite the pathetic efforts of Friedman and the Times, that the Saudi initiative was simple political duplicity. In any case it didn't help the royal house, and the American investigative report proves something is rotten in the desert kingdom.
The time is past when Saudi Arabia could threaten the US with an oil embargo, as it did during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when it frightened Republican president Richard Nixon.
The current Republican incumbent has a detailed contingency plan for how to act in Saudi Arabia if its corrupt, unstable royal house falls. Even in such circumstances, then, it would continue pumping oil from there.
In Iraq too, this decisive policy from the US, the greatest empire in the history of the world, is also finding expression in the intention to introduce democracy to that rabble-ridden country. If what is happening is not understood in neighboring Iran and Syria, if they continue to support terror and develop weapons of mass destruction, the empire will strike again.
A new man has come to the global village. His name is George W. Bush, and he has laid down totally new rules of the game.
So it's worth paying attention to what Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told his closest aides when he returned from his talks in the White House: "I achieved far-reaching strategic understandings with the American president."
The writer is Israel correspondent of The New York Post.
A new man has come to the global village. His name is George W. Bush, and he has laid down totally new rules of the game.I wonder if any foriegn government will attempt to intervene overtly, covertly etc. in our next election cycle for precisely this reason. A Dean or Kerry or Gephardt presidency, for example, and we would once again outsource our foreign policy to the UN as during the Clinton interregnum.