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Saudi Arabia, False Friend By: Serge Trifkovic
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, December 27, 2002


(One in a series of articles adapted by Robert Locke from Dr. Serge Trifkovic’s new book The Sword of the Prophet: A Politically-Incorrect Guide to Islam)

Austere mosques, women relegated to the background and a puritanical faith that rejects change. A brand of Islam that drives the Taliban and influenced the young American who fought by their side has taken root in the Mecca of modernism, America. The mosques and women in question are in Dearborn, Michigan, the fruits of America’s "special relationship" with the most rigid totalitarian dictatorship in the world. Welcome to the Saudi connection, one of the best-kept secrets inside the Beltway.

The moving spirit behind the project is in Muhammad’s homeland, and the fuel that makes it possible is oil. The Muslim World League was founded in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 1962, and a decade later the Organization of the Islamic Conference, with its headquarters in the Saudi city of Jeddah. Both organizations, and a myriad of ostensibly private charities devoted to Islamic proselytism, are richly endowed by petrodollars from Saudi Arabia’s narrow, ultra-rich ruling kleptocracy. Its members provide aid to countries willing to follow the path of Islamization, and build mosques wherever they can. They send missionaries, provide literature, and run electronic media. The MWL runs the world’s largest printing presses, producing tens of millions of copies of the Koran every year for worldwide distribution.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the most intolerant Islamic regime in the world. The practice of any religion besides Islam is as strictly prohibited now as it was in Muhammad’s lifetime. Even the Taliban allowed more latitude to religious minorities. While the Saudis continue to build mosques all over the world, thousands of Christians among the hundreds of thousands of foreign workers from India, Europe, America, and the Philippines must worship in secret and in fear. They are arrested, lashed or deported for public display of their beliefs.

Because Saudi money helps spread Islamist government to other nations which repress Christianity, like Sudan, Saudi Arabia is now the most powerful and explicit anti-Christian nation on the face of the earth. It is waging a world-wide proxy war against Christianity – and, to be fair, other religions that Islam comes into contact with, like Judaism in Israel, Hinduism in India, animism in Africa, Bahai in Iran, and Buddhism in Southeast Asia – not matched in intensity since the days when the Communists were serious about atheism.

Saudi Arabia doesn’t only disregard the rights of its own people, it tramples on those of Americans, too. In Saudi Arabia, American citizens can be detained indefinitely at the pleasure of a Saudi Muslim father who kidnapped them from their American mother. This has happened to Patricia Roush, whose daughters Alia and Aisha are now clad from head to toe in the black abaya. Alia has been married off to one of her father’s cousins, and Aisha is the next on whom the purdah will fall. The State Department directed the U.S. embassy in Riyadh to remain "impartial." Ray Mabus, ex-U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, explains that diplomats feel they should be working on the "big stuff."

Western politicians lie about Saudi Arabia all the time. "Saudi Arabia is a good and dependable friend to the civilized world," Britain’s Tony Blair declared during a tour of the Middle East in 2001. "Civilization" is a relative term to a high priest of post-modernism like Mr. Blair, but his enthusiasm for the House of Saud may be easier to understand if we consider that Britain’s arms merchants have their most lucrative buyer in the desert kingdom. And we are as glued to the same teat as the British: in only six years (1991-1997) there were $23 billion worth of arms agreements between the United States and Saudi Arabia. This means jobs, and congressmen, in places where defense plants are located.

The dirty little secret is that large sections of the American and European elites are being deliberately fed Saudi money, directly and indirectly, to bribe them to exert pressures at home favorable to Saudi Arabia. The Carlyle Group, for example, is a Washington D.C. investment bank that specializes in investing Saudi royal wealth abroad. It also has a convenient habit of employing people close to the Bush administration. Shades of Clintonesque corruption? To be fair, the smoking gun is not in view, but as citizens, we are entitled to wonder about what are politely called "conflicts of interest." Does anyone look at this and not "get" how the game is obviously played?

Saudi Arabia’s "royal" kleptocracy (a dynasty of antiquity inferior to most decent brands of whisky) owns huge parts of major American corporations, and that is the "big stuff." Suffice to say that the present U.S. Ambassador there is Dallas attorney Robert Jordan, a man with no diplomatic experience, but also the lawyer who defended George W. Bush in a probe of insider trading allegations in 1990. Jordan comes from the Dallas office of Houston law firm Baker & Botts, which has an office in Riyadh and whose client list includes The Carlyle Group. One of the Group’s directors is former President George Bush Sr., while James A. Baker III is the current Baker in Baker Botts. Baker was a classmate of Donald H. Rumsfeld at Princeton. Rumsfeld, the current Secretary of Defense, was the roommate of Frank C. Carlucci. Carlucci, who was head of the National Security Council under President Ronald Reagan, is currently chairman of The Carlyle Group. At least $2 million of Carlyle funding has come from the bin Laden family of Saudi Arabia.

The focus on the "big stuff" also allowed thousands of young Saudis easy access to American visas under various pretexts, many of them hell-bent on waging jihad against the unbelievers. The Saudi authorities issued them exit visas in the full knowledge what they were up to. At least they were keen to get rid of the potentially troublesome hotheads who could stir up trouble at home. Worse still, they may have considered the resulting mayhem, exemplified in the predominantly Saudi suicide teams of September 11, as not necessarily wrong or undesirable. Rather than prevent young Saudis from enlisting in military ventures abroad or silence the sheiks encouraging them, some officials say Saudi Arabia has mostly tried to deflect the problem outside its borders.

On September 12, 2001, Crown Prince Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz, the Saudi leader, and his oil minister Ali Nuaimi decided to break a recent promise to other OPEC nations to cut oil production. They arranged for quick delivery of additional nine million barrels of oil to the United States instead, which helped reduce the price from almost $30 a barrel before 9-11 to under $20 only weeks later. This was a preemptive gesture by people with a guilty conscience. They knew that someone, somewhere in the United States would put two and two together: that whenever there are Islamic terrorists bringing death, destruction, and havoc to the non-Muslim world, there are some Saudis lurking in the background, either as masterminds, or direct participants, or as bankrollers.

All along, the Islamic "charities" that financed terrorists included prominent members of the royal family on their boards. Since 1992, one Saudi charity, the Al Haramin Foundation, has distributed hundreds of millions of dollars, with money often ending up in extremist coffers.

The United States is still reluctant to read the riot act to the Saudis. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, normally not a mealy-mouthed man, on a visit to Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of terrorist attacks appeared strangely evasive on the issue of Saudi funds for Islamic terror, and admitted that he had not asked the Saudis to freeze the assets of people and groups linked to Mr. bin Laden, even though the United States had asked all countries to do so.

Saudi Arabia is an economically and socially dysfunctional society. It has 18 million citizens (and 6 million foreign workers), growing at over 4 percent a year from 1980 to 1998. The average Saudi family now has between six and seven children. Per-capita income has collapsed from a peak of $19,000 in 1981 to $7,300 in 1997. Unemployment is rampant, but young people don’t want the lower-paying jobs held by foreigners. The government can no longer support the generous social welfare system it created at the height of the oil boom. From a peak of $227 billion in 1981 oil revenue is down to under $50 billion. The money earned during the boom was squandered on palaces, corruption, armaments, and foreign laborers who just sent it back to their own countries. The fabulous flow of wealth was not used to create a serious industrial base, despite laughable gestures in this direction. The only expanding industry is that of Islamic extremism.

The Saudi system is not just tyrannical, it borders on comedy at times. In 1966, the Vice-President of the Islamic University of Medina complained that Copernican theory was being taught at Riyadh University. Three hundred years after the Christian theologians had to concede that the Earth went around the Sun the geocentric theory was reaffirmed in the centers of Saudi learning. In 1967 segregation of the sexes at schools was set at age nine, which was the age for girls to start to wear the veil. The King was forced to sack the Minister of Information for "offensive" TV programs: apparently a cartoon passed the censors in which Mickey Mouse gave Minnie a little peck. This is a country where sexual slaves are routinely purchased for harems by the very rich, who have no qualms about jetting off to Paris (the once-delightful and more convenient Beirut having been ruined by civil war) for weekends of recreation they would be beheaded for at home.

The ability of the inherently fanatical and mendacious (as well as profligate and corrupt) rulers of the desert kingdom to square any circles at all is entirely due to its oil reserves, which account for up to one-fifth of all U.S. imports. The Saudis are perfectly aware that this is their only, albeit enormously powerful trump card, and soon embarked on a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign to try to restore confidence in the Saudi-American "special relationship." They see America – a country in which the rich generally work in real jobs, mind you – as decadent and dependent on their precious black goo for its consumer lifestyle. They see our own corruption as the perfect guarantee that they will never have to pay the price for their own.

For the time being the Saudis and their co-religionists have no reason to doubt that the talk about promoting democracy is propaganda for internal consumption and that the US prefers to deal with autocratic rulers, who are much easier to bribe. The end result, for now, favors an oppressive plutocracy without elected representative bodies, light-years and worlds apart from all that America and the rest of the Western world hold near and dear. America and the rest of the West urgently need to set themselves free from the need to pander to Saudi whims, including the non-existent and unreciprocated "right" of its government to bankroll thousands of mosques and Islamic "cultural centers" around the world that teach hate and provide the logistic infrastructure to Islamic terrorism.

Their ability to break free from the Saudi connection is predicated upon their liberation from Middle Eastern oil imports. That liberation is possible and necessary. It only requires political will and monetary investment into the development of new technologies. This is, and has always been, the crucial prerequisite to the development of a meaningful anti-terrorist strategy. To plan on any other strategy is to imagine, with the kind of deal-with-the-devil cynicism that is always too clever for its own good, that America can find its own long-term good in propping up fundamentally evil people who hate us just because they are corrupt enough to satisfy our short-term desires.


Serge Trifkovic received his PhD from the University of Southampton in England and pursued postdoctoral research at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. His past journalistic outlets have included the BBC World Service, the Voice of America, CNN International, MSNBC, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Times of London, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He is foreign affairs editor of Chronicles.


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