In Brief... World News Review
Saudi Arabia: Trouble Taming the Tiger
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For decades, Saudi school children have been taught anti-Semitic and anti-American propaganda. It was no fluke that 15 of the 19 9/11 terrorists were Saudi Arabian. A recently released Saudi intelligence poll shows that Osama bin Laden could have had thousands more volunteers. Taken just weeks after 9/11, the survey found that 95 percent of Saudi Arabians from ages 25 to 41—with college educations—supported the terrorist.
Clearly, the long-held premise that terrorists are poor and uneducated is no longer true.
Even Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah recently let slip an anti-Semitic remark, saying in a news conference after a terrorist attack on a Saudi oil refinery that the Jews were to blame. MSNBC reported the crown prince's statement: "Zionism is behind it. It has become clear now. It has become clear to us. I don't say, I mean... It is not 100 percent, but 95 percent that the Zionist hands are behind what happened."
The Saudi interior minister followed with this absurd claim: "Al-Qaeda is backed by Israel and Zionism" (Andrew L. Jaffee, "Saudis Blame Jews for Terror," June 19, 2004).
Coming from average citizens, these statements would be unsettling. Coming from the head of the government and a chief aide, they are deeply disturbing.
Anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism were undoubtedly in keeping with the thinking of the Arab peoples of the 1950s. It seems natural for poor people to hate the prosperous. Slandering others—especially Jews—undoubtedly seemed harmless. Strengthening nationalism through denigrating other nations that were traditionally unpopular was the easy way, and the Saudi government chose the easy way.
It allowed, encouraged and funded the radical Islamist Wahhabi sect. When the sect evolved into a threat to the sprawling self-indulgent Saudi royal family, the government continued funding the Wahhabis as virtual protection money. "We will fund you to take your radical actions to other countries; just leave Saudi Arabia alone" seems to have been the understanding.
For the very same terrorist attack that Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah blamed the Jews on Saudi TV, the Saudi government told the Western press that the culprits were al-Qaeda: One message for the folks at home; another for the West. That is, the government has wanted it both ways: anti- and pro-American.
In this cozy little world, back in 1990 Osama bin Laden (living in Saudi Arabia at the time) actually offered his forces to the royal family to help it remove Saddam Hussein's invading troops from Kuwait.
Throughout the decades of teaching little children to hate the United States and Israel—throughout the decades of funding radical Islamic ideas—Saudi Arabia was also an ally of the United States. It made that plain to all Arabs by allowing a U.S. base on its soil in the 1991 Gulf War.
Now the tiger has returned home to attack its keeper. The Saudi's duplicity began to backfire after the United States pressured the kingdom to expel bin Laden in 1994. His al-Qaeda terrorists are now attacking Saudi Arabia from within.
So, we have a truly bizarre phenomenon: Anti-Semitic, anti-American terrorists are attacking Saudi Arabia for being pro-America and therefore pro-Israel, while the Saudi government officials blame the Jews (and therefore America) for the terrorists' attacks.
The Saudis are sitting on a ticking bomb—a nation of people schooled in prejudice and terrorists who no longer honor their protection money. Increasing unemployment and decreasing government handouts make the nation ripe for revolution.