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SAUDI ARABIA, AMERICA'S ALLY


By Prof. Paul Eidelberg

NewsWithViews.com


    Saudi Arabia, which provides approximately one-sixth of America's oil and has purchased tens of billions of dollars of U.S. military hardware, has long enjoyed friendly relations with the United States.  Washington regards the Desert Kingdom as an ally in the war against international terrorism.  Let us take a brief look at America's ally with the help of Yossef Bodansky, the director of the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.  Here I refer to his extraordinary book BIN LADEN: THE MAN WHO DECLARED WAR ON AMERICA (1999).  But first, some general remarks.
 
    Saudi Arabia has ever been an Arab despotism.  In recent years the ruling House of Al-Saud has been in a state of decay.  Popular discontent on the one hand, and Islamist terrorist attacks on the other, threaten the regime, whose survival actually depends on the United States.  It so happens, however, that the presence of U.S. military forces, that is, of "infidels," in Saudi Arabia, the home of Mecca and Medina, has fueled Islamist hatred against this oil-rich sheikdom. Although Osaka bin Laden, once a Saudi citizen, has been involved in these attacks, they have been orchestrated by Pakistan and Iran using elite "Afghan" terrorists-meaning any Arab or Muslim, of whatever national origin, that has been trained in Afghanistan (or in Pakistan). These terrorist attacks reveal organizational as well as technical skills, and, most significantly, the cooperation of Pakistani and Iranian intelligence.
 
    Now, from Bodansky we learn that, early in 1995, "Prince Turki bin Faisal, head of the Saudi secret and intelligence services, embarked on a series of drastic, desperate measures aimed at reducing the 'Afghan' threat."  On instructions from King Fahd, Prince Turki went to Islamabad for consultations with (then) President Benair Bhutto.  "Prince Turki told Bhutto that Riyadh was extremely apprehensive about the Saudi 'Afghans' operating in and out of Pakistan and Afghanistan."  Turki stressed that Islamabad was the key to the entire Islamist [terrorist] infrastructure because the 'Afghan' camps in Afghanistan were still under the control of the ISI [Interservice Intelligence of Pakistan]." Most worrisome was that Islamist organizations overseas had headquarters and schools all over Pakistan as well as military camps in Afghanistan, and these organizations were for overthrowing the Saudi regime.
 
    Bodansky continues:  "Turki offered Bhutto a deal.  In addition to generous financial assistance, Riyadh would use its power and influence in Washington to lobby for Pakistani interests if the ISI contained the Saudi 'Afghans'; the Saudis would work for the repeal of the Pressler Amendment (which imposed stiff sanctions on Pakistan, including the cessation of all military assistance and deliveries ), would seek economic and technical assistance for Pakistan, and would oversee a public-relations blitz about Islambad's crackdown on militant Islamists." 
 
    Aware of Pakistan's close relations with Iran-their intelligence services cooperated in organizing worldwide terrorist operations-Prince Turki asked Bhutto "for assurances that the ISI would limit the ability of 'Afghans' to travel [i.e., limit their activities] to the Middle East.  Bhutto promised to cooperate with Riyadh."  Accordingly, Riyadh provided great support for Bhutto in her visit to Washington in April 1995.  Moreover, "A personal emissary from Prince Turki went to Islamabad several times to consult with senior ISI officials on the promotion of Pakistan's image in the United States by, among other methods, publicizing its commitment to fighting Islamist terrorism and drug smuggling."  But as Bodansky points out, "From the very beginning Islamabad had no intention of honoring the Saudi requests.  As far as the ISI was concerned, the entire effort was aimed at changing Pakistan's image rather than containing the spread of Pakistani-sponsored Islamist terrorism."
 
    In fact, at an Islamist conference in Sudan, in which Pakistan played a central role, it was decided to support Islamist organizations and operations in Egypt, Libya, Chad, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Eritrea.  Moreover, the Islamist office in Rome was assigned the task of coordinating operations in North Africa; Karachi would support operations in Pakistan, Kashmir, Afghanistan, and Albania-Kosovo; while Teheran would support operations in Central Asia, India, and Bosnia.
 
    In addition-and thanks to bin Laden's preliminary work-the Islamist office in London would be responsible for propaganda and research, while the New York office in Brooklyn would be responsible for financial activities concealed as charitable work and fund-raising for humanitarian causes.
 
    Returning to America's ally, it seems that Saudi Arabia's survival has been made all the more precarious by the resurgence of Islamism throughout the world.  This resurgence, inspired by well-educated and eloquent Muslims as well as by skilled and self-sacrificing terrorists, enjoys widespread support among the Muslim masses.  It will not be overcome with the demise of bin Laden.  Indeed, it will be fueled by Muslim resentment against American support of Saudi Arabia, a corrupt and despised regime.  America is caught in a Catch-22 situation of civilizational profundity.

 

Professor Paul Eidelberg a Political scientist, author and lecturer is the co-founder and president of The Foundation For Constitutional Democracy with offices in Jerusalem and Washington, DC.

 
Professor Eidelberg was born in Brooklyn, New York.  From high school he enlisted in the United States Air Force where he held the rank of first lieutenant.  He received his doctoral degree in political science at the University of Chicago.  While studying at the University, he designed and constructed the electronics system for the first brain scanner used at the Argonne Cancer Research Hospital.
 
Professor Eidelberg wrote a trilogy on the statesmanship of America's
founding fathers:  On the Silence of the Declaration of Independence; The Philosophy of the American Constitution, and A Discourse on Statesmanship.
 
Eidelberg joined Israel's Bar-Ilan University faculty in 1976.  He has
written several books on the Arab-Israel conflict and on Judaism:
Demophrenia provides a psychological analysis of Israel's foreign policy. Jerusalem versus Athens and Beyond the Secular Mind apply Jewish concepts for an understanding of modern problems.  Judaic Man develops concepts for a Jewish psychology.  His most recent book, Jewish Statesmanship:  Lest Israel Fall, provides the philosophical and institutional foundations for reconstructing the State of Israel.  It has also been published in Hebrew and in Russian.
 
Professor Eidelberg is on the Editorial Board of Israel's premier journal
Nativ, as well as on the Advisory Council of the Ariel Center for Policy
Research.  He has written more than 800 articles for newspapers and
scholarly journals in the United States and Israel.
 
Eidelberg has lectured before Israel's Foreign Office and has written
policy papers for various Knesset Members.  He chaired a panel discussion on the topic "Why Israel Needs a Constitution" at the 1997 American Political Science Association conference in Washington, DC.  He has drafted a Constitution for Israel which has been published in Hebrew and Russian.
 
During the past two years, Professor Eidelberg has been conducting seminars on constitutions, diverse parliamentary electoral systems, Jewish law, and related topics at the Jerusalem center of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy.

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