With friends like the Saudis, who needs an Axis of Evil?

With friends like the Saudis, who needs an Axis of Evil?

Ever since 9/11/01 I’ve been convinced that the real concern of the US Administration is to ‘sort out’ Saudi Arabia, which it sees as the fons et origo of Islamic terrorism. But sorting out Saudi would endanger the US’s supplies of oil, so an alternative source has to be secured first. Enter Saddam, who sits on almost as much oil as the House of Saud next door. For an interesting insight into the essence of the Saudi regime, see Paul William Roberts’s review of Stephen Schwartz’s book about the Saudi regime from the Globe and Mail. A quote to give some of the general flavour:

“What Schwartz terms a “vast mafia of princely parasites” also began to make problems for the Kingdom as the 20th century rolled by and the petro-dollars kept pouring in. Once known for mixing religious piety and political opportunism, the Saudi aristocracy had become an unparalleled symbol of debauchery, ostentation and waste, as well as ignorance, prejudice and brutality.

“Their tastes,” writes Schwartz, “led them to taverns, casinos, brothels. . . . They bought fleets of automobiles, private jets, and yachts the size of warships. They invested in valuable Western art they did not understand or like and which often offended the sensitivities of Wahhabi clerics. They spent as they wished, becoming patrons of international sexual enslavement and the exploitation of children. Yet at the same time, they dedicated a large proportion of their wealth to the promotion of international Wahhabi radicalism, in a desperate attempt to bridge the gulf between pretense and reality.”

How was it that the grotesque duplicity of the Saudi regime — fostering official Puritanism and unofficial degeneracy, proclaiming loyalty to Islam while rooting out its traditions, and agitating for the wholesale destruction of Israel while proclaiming its loyalty to the United States — was ignored for so long by Western leaders and public opinion? A closed society and the political demands of the oil economy are insufficient explanations, although the Aramco partners and the American political and media elites that have served them can take most of the responsibility for the continuation of dishonesty and injustice in Arabia, as well as, eventually, the rise of Islamic terrorism.

If the princes squandered their share of the oil loot, the Wahhabi clerics invested theirs wisely. They controlled schools all over the world; they controlled Islamic publishing almost entirely; they controlled most of America’s mosques, which had their Friday sermons faxed directly from Riyadh. And most of all, they funded terror campaigns, along with the training camps that turned out the warriors for jihad along with the suicide-bombers to spark it. Most of the September 11 hijackers were Saudis and, furthermore, mostly from the same impoverished province of the kingdom famed for the churlish ignorance and witless courage of its inhabitants.

Schwartz devotes the last third of his book to a detailed analysis of the means by which the Al Sa’ud achieved their feat of double-crossing, and although he tries to be optimistic about the current Washington regime’s determination to fight global terror, his breakdown of George W .Bush’s staff and their links to Big Oil is not especially inspiring. Particularly when his account of the meeting between Bush and Saudi Ambassador Prince Sultan also alludes to a rumour that the prince threatened the president with a Saudi-Iraqi alliance and an oil embargo unless the United States stopped its allegations against the Al Sa’ud of collusion with the terrorists of September 11. ”