Reassessing the Saudi connection
I’ve always thought that Saudi Arabia, not Iraq, should have been the main focus of US anti-terrorism activity. So it’s nice to see an article in The Atlantic taking much the same view. Former Middle East CIA operative Robert Baer argues in the May issue that the US’s longstanding ally in the Middle East now deserves a critical look.
Baer points to the facts that fifteen out of the nineteen September 11 hijackers were Saudis, that four out of every five hits on a secret al Qaeda Web site have been shown to come from within Saudi borders, and that, according to a recent U.N. Security Council report, Saudi Arabia has transferred $500 million to al Qaeda over the past decade. Furthermore, Baer notes, popular Saudi preachers call openly for jihad against the West and “[t]he kindom’s mosque schools,” he writes, “have become a breeding ground for militant Islam.”
In spite of such evidence of Saudi complicity in anti-American terrorism, however, the U.S. has not chosen to treat Saudi Arabia any differently than it did before 9/11?namely, as an important ally and business partner. Baer suggests that this is at least in part because “almost every Washington figure worth mentioning has been involved with companies doing major deals with Saudi Arabia.? Spending a lot of money was a tacit part of the U.S.-Saudi relationship practically from the very beginning.”