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Saudi Warns Against Attack On Arab States ArabFinance (Cairo, Egypt)
Posted Sunday October 21, 2001 - 11:06:03 AM EDT
Cairo - The Saudi Interior Minister announced that Saudi Arabia will support any Arab country against any attacks launched by the US in its pursuit for terrorists.
He also declared that his country is not happy with what is taking place in Afghanistan. It is worth mentioning that the US and other Western officials believe that many of those who carried out the terrorists' attacks against the US were Saudis.
However, there is widespread skepticism about this in Saudi Arabia, and growing public anger about the treatment of Saudis in the United States, reported the Bahrain Tribune.
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), October 21, 2001
Don't make me laugh. Using our weapons against us? Does he think his pilots are top guns and have the soul to engage us? What is the Interior Minister thinking? Has he gone mad or is it just blustery posturing? I'm beginning to care less about the oil. I hope Dubya can talk the countries in to expelling the terrorists and/or shutting em down but fail that, he needs to do whatever he has to!!!!! We owe it to those who have sacrificed their lives in the past for our freedom.
-- Steve McClendon (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 21, 2001.
I'm ready to tell the Saudis to go fly a kite, too. But what do you do about oil? We've let ourselves become so dependent on them that it's disgusting.
-- R2D2 (email@example.com), October 22, 2001.
If the Saudis are so upset -- and I think they mean support in terms of money -- why did they break off relations with the Taliban right after Sept. 11?
They have been running government deficits for the past 10 years and need the oil sales revenue from us as badly as we need the oil from them. We saved their country in the Gulf War. It's hard to see why they would bite the hand that feeds them.
-- Big Cheese (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 22, 2001.
Alternate hyperlink for same story: http://www.middleeastwire.com/saudia/stories/20011021_meno.shtml
A related story at: http://www.middleeastwire.com/commentary/stories/20011020_1_meno.shtml
The US Needs To Discard Its Old Relationships In The Middle East
Jordan Times (Amman), By Jonathan Power Posted Saturday October 20, 2001 - 09:22:15 AM EDT
Amman - As the bombing progresses, the crater America has dug for itself gets ever bigger. It is not so much that the bombing has stirred up a hornets' nest in neighbouring Pakistan where militant fundamentalist allies of the Taleban and Qaeda itch to get control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, it is that it has destabilised America's carefully nurtured, tight relationship with the main pillars of the Islamic world - Saudi Arabia, with its massive oil wealth and holy sites, and Egypt, with its large population and inbred sense of historical destiny.
If these long-lasting, diplomatically and militarily tight relationships become undone, then the whole script of the Middle East story will have to be rewritten. There will be no reliable fixer of the world oil price; there will be no trustworthy Arab interlocutor with the Palestinians; Israel will be totally surrounded by enemies who have lost all patience with its prevarications; indeed, probably, there will be no one to hold back the stealthy preparations that both Saudi Arabia and Egypt have made to go nuclear.
Suddenly, rather late in the day, the shrewder American commentators have come to see the quandary they are in. The editor of the International Herald Tribune, David Ignatius, writes that "the US has the allies it deserves in the Islamic world." And the New York Times editorialises that "decades of equivocation and Hobbesian calculations have left American relations with Saudi Arabia in an untenable and unreliable state." The belated awakening of some of the foreign policy cognoscenti of America to the essential fragility of the US relationship with the Arab world is long overdue. If it had been realised earlier, the growth of the power of Osama Ben Laden could have been avoided, the Israeli-Palestinian quarrel could be over and done with and democracy, that fragile desert plant, might have sprouted a few more leaves.
The essence of the problem is this: while, on the one hand, the pro- Western Egyptian and Saudi leadership has never had any deep sympathy for the fundamentalist radicals, neither government has ever felt motivated to shut down or seriously counter their ceaseless propaganda against Israel and America. Indeed, they have regarded the wild talk as a safety valve, more acceptable than calls for more democracy or respect for human rights within their own political order. This balancing act - and it was always a precarious one - could last only as long as there seemed to be progress on the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and as long as that day arrived before the militants had made too many preparations of the kind that led to Sept. 11.
There was always a kind of inevitability about D-Day. Everyone who followed the Middle East knew about the growing power of the violent fundamentalists; their handiwork has been revealed since the days of the Reagan presidency and his disastrous intervention in Lebanon. But Washington, supinely followed by its NATO allies, always had an interest in, if not suppressing the evidence of what was afoot, minimising it. It lived with the ambiguities of the Saudi government, never contemplating that as long as America guaranteed the regime's security Saudi Arabia would refuse it the right to make use of its large and sophisticated base. It never guessed that Egypt, which it has subsidised since the days of Camp David to the tune of $2 billion a year, would not, in America's great hour of need, rally itself to give America cover - a visible Arab military ally whose imprimatur would be sufficient to quieten the anxieties of the rest of the Muslim world.
Instead, America has been left almost naked in its quest. True enough, the 56-nation Organisation of Islamic Conference has roundly condemned the bombing of New York and Washington, but their statement, if read for what is omitted, is very much the bare bones of a supportive declaration. Even in the West, one senses, for all the rhetoric of the leadership of Germany and France, a wish by much of the citizenry to hold back from serious military involvement. Only Britain has rushed forward, despite Prime Minister Tony Blair's original conviction that bombing might be counterproductive.
So now America finds itself far out on the longest of limbs. Only good fortune can save its immediate face - the unlikely event that the bombing does "smoke out" Ben Laden. But even his capture would no more end the terrorism than did the capture and eventual killing of the great drug baron Pablo Escobar halt the drug trafficking from Colombia. Undoubtedly, however, his arraignment would give time for everyone to catch their breath.
Yet the bombing offers only a small chance of such success. Meanwhile, the longer it continues, the more it disturbs and riles public opinion. The big changes can only be momentarily deferred. They have to happen sooner or later when sooner is now and later is three months at the most. It means that America has for the first time to use its political and financial muscle to push Israel to dismantle all its settlements on Palestinian land as a precursor to a final agreement, not as part of it. It means that the US and Europe must stop trying to settle the petrodollar problem by marketing sophisticated armaments to the Middle East. Rather, they must seek truly rapid ways of cutting down their dependency on Middle Eastern oil, unshackle themselves from the unquestioning political support of these governments and push more openly and honestly for a marked improvement in human rights practices.
This does not mean not being engaged or friendly with these governments. Quite the contrary. All out embargoes never did anyone any good, as relations with both Iraq and Iran have shown. (If and when sanctions are used, they must be used with discrimination and care, primarily aimed at the military sector.) None of this will mean that the bitter spirits of Osama Ben Laden will go away. But it will drain the swamp in which his mosquitoes hatch. As for him, he should be pursued with the same diligence that the Israelis once hounded Adolf Eichmann. With quiet police work not noisy war work.
The writer is a syndicated columnist and author. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.
© Copyright Jordan Times (Amman), Fair Use for Educational and Research Purposes Only.
-- Robert Riggs (email@example.com), October 22, 2001.