Monday, October 29, 2007

Whose Side Are They On?

How much did the Saudis know? The Associated Press said that "King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia accused Britain on Monday of failing to act on information the Saudis provided that might have averted London's deadly July 7, 2005, suicide bombings."

The king did not specify what information Saudi Arabia provided. However, the BBC reported Abdullah's remark was linked to a long-held Saudi leadership claim that it gave Britain information that might have averted the 2005 attack. Months before the July 7, 2005, attack in which four suicide bombers killed 52 people and wounded hundreds on London's transit network, Saudi Arabia told the British and U.S. governments that it had arrested a young Saudi man who confessed to raising money for a terrorist attack in crowded areas of the British capital, officials have told the Associated Press.

But the information apparently wasn't specific enough to include the names of the actual perpetrators.

The Saudis obtained information that the attack would involve explosives and a Syrian contact for financing, and that at least some of the four attackers would be British citizens, according to officials in several countries with direct access to the information. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was classified. The officials said at the time that the investigation had not connected any players from the July 2005 attacks to the original Saudi warning and that the information provided in December 2004 did not provide attackers' names, a date, specific location or time of attack.

The Telegraph thinks the Saudi accusations are an attempt to pre-empt British criticism of the Kingdom. A BBC article says the Saudi King is facing criticism for its human rights record.

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, urged Prime Minister Gordon Brown to tell the Saudis that their human rights record was "totally unacceptable". She added: "Mr Brown's message should be - reforms need to come, and they need to come quickly."

The leader of one of the British opposition parties, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, is boycotting the state visit to Britain of Saudi King Abdullah, in part to protest a government decision to squelch an investigation charges of corruption in connection with an extremely large arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The Al Yamamah deal "is the name of a series of a record arms sales by the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia, which have been paid for by the delivery of up to 600,000 barrels of oil per day to the UK government. The prime contractor has been BAE Systems and its predecessor British Aerospace. ... It is Britain's largest ever export agreement, and employs some 5,000 people in Saudi Arabia." Conservative shadow defence secretary Liam Fox,  was quoted as saying that Cable's move would be seen as "juvenile gesture politics" and risked insulting one of Britain's main allies in the Gulf.

The question of "how much did the Saudis know" about the London bombings is really a variant of a larger question which is "on whose side are the Saudis on?" That in turn is part of an even larger political debate which asks whether the West is better off supporting the current government in Riyadh or insisting on reforms and risking bringing another regime even more hostile to the West.


Blogger eggplant said...

A couple days ago, I linked a scary article written by Caroline Glick about the up coming attack against the Iranians. Though tempered with fear and trembling, I support this action. Now Spengler has produced a scary editorial about the up coming attack.

It's coming and there's no stopping it! Who can guess what will happen after this new Pandora's box is opened?

10/29/2007 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

The Saudis are on the side of the Saudis. Confusion stems from the fact that sometimes they act in their short-term interests, and sometimes they act in their long-term interests. Saudi leadership is currently "riding the tiger" due to an unholy alliance with Wahabi fanatics. They support wahhabism, but prevent it from overthrowing their corrupt government by encouraging the jihadis to emmigrate elsewhere.

Osama targetted America directly on 9/11, but his real target was the alliance with the Saudi government. That's why he used Saudi stooges for the attack.

10/29/2007 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

Remembering that the interests of the House of Saud is generally different than the interests of Saudi Arabia.

10/29/2007 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Peter Grynch said...

"Saudi leadership is currently "riding the tiger" due to an unholy alliance with Wahabi fanatics."

The al Saud family are Wahabi fanatics. However their dilemma is deeper. Their political power emanates from controlling the holy cities of Mecca and Median. They acquired those cities by overthrowing in 1924 the descendants of Mohammed (the Hashemites). That overthrow has obligated the al Saud family to be "holier than though". When they lose their religious credibility, they fall as a ruling power.

10/29/2007 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger falcon_01 said...

Conflict with islamofascist nations is not something we can avoid indefinitely. Already we face a conflict between "allies" of Turkey and the Kurds... and the potential loss of a needed supply line. Iran and even Saudi Arabia are more overt. What the people fail to see are the subtle jihads playing out through extensive purchases of US resources and infrastructure by foreign entities such as the UAE.

10/29/2007 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger LarryD said...

"The al Saud family are Wahabi fanatics."

Some of them are, but far from all. There are over a thousand princes in the family, and they have the same kind of diversity of viewpoint that Washington has.

I don't always agree with Spenger, but this is one of the many times I think he's got it right.

This should not be attempted like the Osirak reactor strike, because of the threat of Iranian counter strikes. Instead, we should target all of Iran's trouble making ability. The best plan for this, that I know of, is the Herman Option

10/29/2007 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

The West has no choice but to attack Iran, because Iran believes that it has no choice but to develop nuclear weapons. Make no mistake: this attack will destabilize the entire region, past the capacity of the king's horses and king's men to reassemble it. The agenda will shift from how best to promote stability, to how best to turn instability to advantage.

I do not know if Spengler's crystal ball is better than anybody else's but at least he has overcome the likely delusion that a nuclear armed Iran is a neutral, inconsequential circumstance.

If you accept the conclusion that a nuclear Iran is no different than a nuclear Russia, China et al do you not also have to accept the premise that Iran's trigger pullers think exactly the same way and have the same interests and objectives as the Russians, Chinese et al? Krushchev blustered but he never said that the casualties from a nuclear exchange were "acceptable" as have some Iranian leaders. Plus, why oh why should we totally discount the fact Iran's inner circle now comprises more of the Apocalyptic Crowd than it did even a few years ago? The change in nuclear negotiators is but the most recent move in that direction.

Spengler also bops the stability shibboleth on the head. State, in particular, is always working for "stability" which means invariably status quo even as the scenic background changes from calm to storm and the actors unsheathe their daggers. I suppose if stability means that no ME Islamic state goes nuclear then I'm all for it, but if stability means accepting a nuclear Iran and hoping that the Saudis and everybody else stands still it's a delusional strategy.

And speaking of everybody else, I have not seen a single article that ties Syrian nuclear construction into the Iranian bomb building project. Iran and Syria are allies even if only for convenience. Whether Assad was looking to promote himself to a full partner or Syria was to be the source of enriched uranium for an Iranian bomb I do not know. In my mind at least the mere fact that Syria was going nuclear is proof positive that Iran is also - if anybody had a doubt, that is.

Perhaps a firm, unified Western position would be enough to turn history, but what can we take from British and NATO appeasement during the sailors' hostage fiasco? That the West will hang tough? Hardly.

10/29/2007 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

I said:

"The al Saud family are Wahabi fanatics."

LarryD then said:

"Some of them are, but far from all. There are over a thousand princes in the family, and they have the same kind of diversity of viewpoint that Washington has."

I stand corrected.

I actually knew an al Saud (a classmate) when I was in graduate school and he was a decent guy.

I believe the people actually running Saudi Arabia are not directly hostile to the United States. However I believe there is a significant faction within the al Saud family that is actively supporting al Qaeda. This sort of dynastic intrigue is similar to what went on within the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.

It's crazy that this sort of government effectively controls the world's energy supply.

10/29/2007 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

"House of Cards" by Michael Young in Reason on July 21, 2004:

"The real difficulty with Saudi Arabia is that it poses a problem with no solution, at least in the short term: The despotism, brutality and corruption of the Al-Saud has reinforced domestic Islamists, many of whom sympathize with Osama bin Laden and detest the United States; yet democratic elections could well bring these people to power. At the same time, if the Al-Saud crush Al-Qaeda in their midst, this would allow the royal family to ward off real change, generating new forms of violent opposition."

"That said, the idea of domestic Saudi reform is laughable. The Saudi royal family will never transform itself into something more enlightened—not, for example, when so much state funding goes to paying lavish salaries to the kingdom's estimated 7,000-8,000 princes and princesses. ... Nor can a nation of institutions peacefully replace a kingdom that is named for, and mostly run as a private domain, by a single family. For the near future, nothing short of enforced change, internal or external, will alter power relations in Saudi Arabia."

10/29/2007 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

"Remembering that the interests of the House of Saud is generally different than the interests of Saudi Arabia."

This is untrue. There is no Saudi Arabia in the sense that there will always be an England. Arabia is a place, a peninsula governed by about a half dozen regimes. Saudi Arabia is the portion of Arabia governed by the al-Sa'ud family.

Saudi Arabia is not a nation state in the way we think of them in the modern world. It is a family possession. The current ruler, King Abd'allah is a son of the founder of the dynasty, ibn Sa'ud, who died 50 years ago. At the beginning of the 20th century ibn Sa'ud was a penniless desert bandito. His family had historic claims to the area in eastern arabia around Riyadh and a historic alliance with the heretical and militant Wah'habi dynasty of imams. Ibn Sa'ud put together a tribal alliance, blessed by the Wah'habi, called the Ikwan. After WWI, he conquer the Hijaz, the western province of Arabia containing Mecca and Medina and displaced the British clients, the Husseini sherifs (See, Lawrence of Arabia), who were in turn rewarded with monarchies in Jordan and Iraq.

Ibn Sa'ud, the ruler of most of Arabia, became the luckiest and richest man in the world, when American engineers found oil in his eastern provinces in the 1930s. When he died in the 1950s, the royal treasury, which was a chest kept in his tent, was stuffed with gold. His children have run the kingdom as their private property ever since.

Here is the important fact. There is no theory of legitimate inheritance of a kindom in Islam. The first born son of the first wife is not a more legitimate heir to the throne than the seventh son of the seventh concubine. Islamic regimes have developed ways of dealing with this problem. One is that many heirs were designated before the old king died. The Ottomans had the charming and effective custom of having the successor to the throne strangle all other then living male heirs to the throne with a silken bow string upon his succession. It was part of their success. Their decline began when they abandoned it.

In years past, such as when ibn Sa'ud's son and sucessor, ibn Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud, was deposed in 1964 because of his mismanagement and wasteful
spending, the family was able to act on a unified basis. Of course, it was a much smaller and more cohesive entity at that time. It is worth noting that the younger Sa'ud's sucessesor was his brother Faisal, who was, in turn assasinated by one of his nephews.

The most recent previous king, Fahd, was born in 1922 and is also one of ibn Sa'uds sons. In 1995, he had a stroke which basically made him a vegetable. Before the stroke he had designated one of his brothers, Abd'allah (born 1923) to be the Crown Prince. After Fahd's stroke, Abd'allah took active control of the kingdom. Reference

When Fahd died, Abd'allah continued to rule the kindom, but he is 82 years old. The ranks of the sons of ibn Sa'ud have been thinned by the years, but there are hundreds of grandsons and thousands of great-grandsons and great-great grandsons. It is possible that any given succession will go smoothly, but it is also possible that there will be a civil war. At this point you should stop reading this and re-read Shakespeare's histories of the War of the Roses.


"The crown prince himself has appointed a successor, Prince Sultan, who is second deputy prime minister and defense minister. A successor to Prince Sultan as second deputy prime minister would have to be chosen, which could open the way for a younger generation of Saudi royals to rise.

"But Prince Nayef, the interior minister - who like Fahd, Abdullah and Sultan is a son of the kingdom's founder, King Abdel Aziz al-Saud [ibn Sa'ud] - is widely favored for the position, thanks to his success in Saudi Arabia's battle with terrorism in recent years, Mr. Alani and others said."

OTOH, Out of the thousands of male heirs of ibn Sa'ud, there is, no doubt, at least one who is saying to himself: "These senile old men will lead us into ruin. We need strong young leadership to survive the American assault on our world. I am that man."

As I said above, there is no promogeniture in the Islamic world. And history shows that even where there was, disputed successions have happened and have led to civil war.

Like I said, read Shakepeare, not me.

10/29/2007 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Fat man said:

"The Ottomans had the charming and effective custom of having the successor to the throne strangle all other then living male heirs to the throne with a silken bow string upon his succession."

I strongly recommend visiting Istanbul and touring the beautiful architecture there. The Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Sulimanya are examples of the world's finest buildings. Next to some of the major Ottoman mosques, you'll find these royal tombs called "turbahs". Take a look inside a turbah picked at random and you'll see lots of coffins wrapped in green cloth. Unfortunately it is typical that most of these coffins are quite small (child size). I'm sorry to say that many of the occupants of these small coffins were innocent boys murdered by their own family. They were killed as the Fat man described when a new sultan rose to power.

10/29/2007 11:00:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

The Hagia Sophia is a Christian church built by the last Roman Emperors. I do not expect the Pope or any Orthodox bishop to be saying Mass there anytime soon but the world would be a better place if they did.

10/30/2007 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

A couple days ago, I linked a scary article written by Caroline Glick about the up coming attack against the Iranians. Though tempered with fear and trembling, I support this action. Now Spengler has produced a scary editorial about the up coming attack.

It's coming and there's no stopping it! Who can guess what will happen after this new Pandora's box is opened?
You don't understand the most important question regarding the the israeli attack on the syrain nuclear installation.

Its a sherlock holmes question.

Why didn't the dog bark?

When you have the answer to that -- report back.

10/30/2007 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

I think the saudi comments have to do with how the saudis have noticed that the quality of info that the Anglo/American alliance works off of is pretty profound.

for example here's an article about some saudi financiers funding phillipine terrorists. Their funding efforts were shut down this fall.

If the saudis had access to anglo america signals intelligence they could head off efforts to curtail the work of their nationals.

I saw a tv show this morning in which an interview talked with king faud. faud mentioned that he proposed an intelligence sharing effort among all the nations some time in the past. everyone agreed to it. but nothing happened.

He would like for something to happen.

So the news about Saudi warnings is an effort to show that the Saudis would not just be a consumer of Anglo American intelligence.

I think it would be a poor use of US-UK_Austrailian- et al tax payer money to allow the Saudis such access. Nor do I don't think anyone in the national security establishment--or anywhere else in the US government would seriously think the saudi would be trustworthy in this regard.

The most important thing the USA and allies can do now is get the freak off dependence on foreign oil.


10/30/2007 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Charles said...

"The most important thing the USA and allies can do now is get the freak off dependence on foreign oil."

Wise words. I suspect the Saudi oil will run out before we figure out how to live without it.

The good news after the oil runs out is we're no longer dependent and the Saudis are in the toilet. The bad news is we're in the toilet next to the Saudis.

10/30/2007 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I just finished a quite readable book called "Paramedic to the Prince", written by a Californian who worked in Saudi Arabia, and actually was on Abdullah's staff for some years.

He mentioned several things in passing of which I was not aware:

1. Not only are they using up their aquifer at an alarmingly fast rate, but there are also sink holes opening up with would suggest that much of the Kingdom might be built over a large complex of caves. At any rate, if you dig down 30 feet into the sand, chances are you'll run into great gaping holes in the earth.

2. The National Guard which supported Aziz back in the early 1900's are now on permanent pensions paid for by the government. Included in these pensions are all their EXTENDED family members, which means that a huge percentage of Saudi's are literally on the government dole for life.

3. Problems with illteracy still running rampant throughout the country, not only with ignorant women being kept locked up but also with Bedouin men who see no need to learn how to read.

Finally, a comment of my own is that if you check into Prince Naif's background you should find that he is an active contributor to the Golden Chain of wealthy Saud's funding Wahhabi terrorism throughout the world. Was an active contributor and is an active contributor.

I have also been told that there is a story that Naif used to like to take prisoners up in the air to execute their sentences by throwing them out of planes at 20,000 feet. And not just one or two prisoners, but hundreds if not thousands.

Sending Condi Rice in to meet with characters like this is like sending a lamb into a lion's den. I wonder if Arnold is looking for a new job as Secretary of State. Failing that, I vote that we either nuke them, or jigger their landscape so that it collapses into underground caverns left by the retreating aquifer.

10/30/2007 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger saudimedic said...

I read that book as well "paramedic to the Prince" really opened my eyes to the real Saudi Arabia. I did not know that they have over 50% unemployment. That is just the males, females do not count. Minister of the Interior Prince Naif really is an anti-american devil and even his 9year old son is spewing ant-Jewish propaganda. What a great book. Now I will ask you. How many 9/11 hijackers were from Iraq? 15 were from Saudi and The Jihad fighters in Iraq are mostly from Saudi as well. The Bush family and friends have made billons off their relationship with the Al-Sauds.. Paid for in American blood.

11/07/2007 11:31:00 PM  

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