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Jewish World Review Jan. 16 , 2002/ 3 Shevat, 5762

Don Feder

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No stability in Saudi House of sand

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- IN Afghanistan last week, local commanders released seven high-ranking Taliban prisoners, over U.S. protests. Over the weekend, Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, said his nation will finally sever its ties with Kashmiri terrorists. (India isn't holding its breath.) As allies, both nations leave something to be desired.

But the Afghans and Pakistanis are true-blue friends, as devoted to America as the Gurkha battalion is to the British Army, compared to the Saudis.

Earlier this month, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, de facto ruler of the kingdom of bedsheets, managed to give a speech about terrorism without mentioning Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda, or acknowledging their ties to his nation.

Bin Laden is a scion of one of the country's most prominent families. Of the Sept. 11 hijackers, 15 were Saudis. Al Qaeda has received millions of dollars from Saudi businessmen.

Instead, Abdullah focused on what he perceives to be the root cause of terrorism -- "the destruction and massacres inflicted on our Palestinian brothers," leaving the impression that if the Washington were serious about fighting evil, it would have spent the fall bombing Tel Aviv.

The Saudis must think we're stupid. Correction -- they know we're stupid. Look at what we put up with from them, post Sept. 11.

They refused to let us use our airbases there to strike at the killers of 3,000 Americans. They won't run traces on the hijackers. They have yet to freeze suspicious bank accounts.

They're afraid of where an investigation would lead. Robert Baer, a retired CIA officer who was stationed in the Middle East, says, "The rank and file Saudi policeman is sympathetic to bin Laden." Likewise the average Saudi businessman, professional and soldier.

Most of the Taliban's financial support came from its fellow Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia. Saudi oil money established radical Islamic schools in Pakistan and eventually co-opted the Pakistani intelligence service.

Apologists are forever telling us that the medieval monarchy is a source of stability in the region. Sure, the way Beijing provides stability in East Asia.

The Israelis recently nabbed a courier who was bringing Saudi money into Gaza to finance Hamas. Over the past three years, 9,000 Christians have died in religious cleansing in Indonesia. Saudi Arabia is the paymaster for their executioners in the Laskhar Jihad.

U.S. special forces who recently arrived in the Philippines may soon encounter another recipient of Saudi charity -- the Abu Sayyaf terrorists. What would the region look like if the Saudis were a source of instability?

The house of Saud is as enlightened at home as abroad. In its 2001 report, Freedom House notes that in Saudi Arabia, "Political parties are illegal, the king rules by decree," "freedom of expression is severely restricted," "the legal system ... allows for floggings and amputation, which are widely practiced." Death by beheading is the prescribed penalty for a variety of offenses, including adultery and apostasy.

While President George W. Bush preaches tolerance of Islam, the rulers of Saudi Arabia revile us infidels.

In a letter published on Dec. 21, 2001, in a London-based Arabic newspaper, Dr. Sahr Muhammed Hatem of Riyadh said the Saudi educational system taught him "that anyone who is not a Moslem is our enemy, and that the West means enfeeblement, licentious, lack of values."

For this we have 5,000 troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, to keep Saddam Hussein from storming the sandcastle. In gratitude for their phantom friendship, American consumers continue to pump billions annually into the coffers of Saudi oil barons.

Lobbyists for the Saudis (including officials of past Republican administrations) tell us we must grin and bear it -- for the sake of 1.5 million barrels of oil a day, because whatever would follow the fall of the current regime would be infinitely worse, because Prince Abdullah and company generously allow our military to be stationed on their sacred sand.

Last August, when he was fuming over our failure to pressure Israel on behalf of the suicide bombers, Abdullah wrote to Bush: "A time comes when peoples and nations part. It is time for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to look to their separate interests." From his lips to Allah's ear.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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© 2002, Creators Syndicate