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Sunday, July 29, 2007

'Our 'friends' the Saudis'

If this is what the US considers a friend, what does it call an enemy?

Douglas Farah reports that six years after 9/11, the Saudis remain an obstacle to fighting terrorism:

Two recent stories shed a clear light on the huge damage the Saudi royal family and business elite continue to do in hindering meaningful progress is shutting down the hate speech, bigotry and twisted theology that drive the jihadist movement, financed by these actors.

The first was in the Wall Street Journal by Glenn Simpson, outlining the role of the al Rajhi family and banking institutions in funding radical Islamists, and what the U.S. knew about the activities.

In every case when U.S. officials could and should have been raising the issue publicly to force action, the administration opted for “quiet diplomacy,” resulting in nothing.

While there is only circumstantial evidence the Al Rajhi network directly aided terrorists, it is clear that Islamic banks, while mostly doing legitimate business, are the institutions extremists rely on. Why? In part because they are sharia compliant, and in part because the Islamic banks are largely exempt from Western (pagan) banking regulations, and have virtually no transparency requirements.

The article drops another interesting tidbit in the middle: That Saudi Arabia has never set up the commission, promised several years ago, to oversee Saudi charities, the lifeblood of many Islamist groups.

And, my sources tell me, they never set up the Financial Intelligence Unit either, and there has been virtually no cooperation on the financial side at all.

In essence, we still have the rivers of money flowing to spread wahhabism around the world, with no control, oversight or interest in stopping the spread of that venom. Hardly bolsters the claim of the Saudis being a “strong partner in the war on terror.” I wonder what a weak partner would look like.

The second shoe to drop is the splits with the Saudis over Iraq-a mess to be sure, and one with no easy answers. As the International Herald Tribune reports, the Saudis are intent on crippling the Shi’ite led government there and trying to use apparently forged documents with U.S. diplomats to convince them it is all an Iranian plot, let by the prime minister.

And perhaps it is, the waters are murky enough for many interpretations.

But aside from using apparently-forged documents to go after prime minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki (and there is plenty to go after there), the most interesting thing is the number of Saudis still making their way to Iraq to fight U.S. troops. And, of course, the very little effort the Saudis put into stopping them.

With friends like this, who needs enemies? Read the whole thing.

The Jerusalem Post nails it with tomorrow morning's editorial:
It his hard to escape the impression that we are witnessing the return of a "realist" US foreign policy that Bush spent the last six years working to discredit and displace. If Iran is the center of the axis of evil, then Saudi Arabia is the center of the axis of "realism" and the pre-9/11 worship of "stability" as the strategy for safeguarding Western interests.

None of this is to deny that a potential confluence of interests has developed between the Sunni Arab states, Israel and the US in confronting Iran and its proxies. It is not even to deny that the West should prefer the existing Saudi regime to one that Iran might want to see in its place, or that the Saudis have a role to play in pushing back the Iranian threat.

What we would argue is that throwing weapons at the Saudis, in classic pre-9/11 fashion, is not the solution. Instead, the West should start demanding that the Saudis pull their own weight in the struggle that they say is a common one.

These demands should include helping the US in Iraq, cracking down on "private" funding for extremism, ending their dalliance with Hamas, and taking serious steps toward normalization with Israel, including the ending of the constant barrage of anti-Israel resolutions in the UN. These Israel-related demands should not be seen as doing Israel a favor, but as a central part of ending Saudi complicity in the Islamist jihad against the West, of which the quest to destroy Israel is just one part.


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