Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabian Information
Saudi Politics will try and demystify Saudi politics and give the reader the ability to read it, so to speak, as she is able to read American politics


"In the first days after the terror attacks... Saudi Arabia supervised the urgent evacuation of 24 members of Osama bin Laden's extended family from the United States...

"..even though fifteen of the nineteen hijackers had been Saudi citizens -- the relatives of the number one suspect in the terror attacks were allowed not only to just up and leave the country, but they were assisted by our own authorities!" (Michael Moore. Dude, Where's My Country?. NY: Warner, 2003: 4).

"..not only has the family NOT cut ties to Osama, but they have continued to fund him..." (9).

"..the bin Ladens have had business relations with [the Bush] family.. for the past 25 years" (6).

Bush Sr. "learned that whenever the dirty work needed to be done, the United States could always turn to Saudi Arabia. When White House aide Oliver North needed money to buy arms for Iran in the Iran-Contra Affair, it was the Saudis who provided the $30 million in secret cash...

"..the Saudi ambassador is the only diplomat in Washintong who receives his own personal State Department security detail, compliments of the U.S. taxpayers...

"Prince Bandar donated $1 million to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Texas" (12).

"Bakar's firm [the Bushes' lawyer] would later represent the Saudi royals in the lawsuits against them by the families of the September 11 victims...

"A major chunk of the American economy is built on Saudi money. They have a trillion dollars invested in our stock market and another trillion dollars sitting in our banks" (13).

"Why have [Bush] and [his] father chosen to align [themselves] with a country that is considered by most human rights groups to be among the worst and most brutal dictatorships in the world?" (14).

"Who attacked the United States on September 11 -- a guy on dialysis from a cave in Afghanistan, or [Bush's] friends, Saudi Arabia?" (15).

"If fifteen of the nineteen hijackers had been North Korean, and they killed 3,000 people, do you think the headline the next day might read, "NORTH KOREA ATTACKS UNITED STATES"?

"Yet, when it comes to September 11, have you ever seen the headline... "SAUDI ARABIA ATTACKED THE UNITED STATES"?

"..so the question must--must--be asked: WHY NOT? Why, when Congress releases its own investigation into September 11, you, Mr. Bush, censor out twenty-eight pages that deal with the Saudi's role in the attack?" (17).

"..traveling by air was forbidden in the days following the attack" (19).

"Yet, members of the bin Laden family were allowed to fly in private jets, crisscrossing America as they prepared to leave the country... twenty-four members of the bin Laden family... were all flown to Paris, out of the reach of any U.S. officials... the FBI was "furious" that they were not allowed to keep the bin Ladens in the country to conduct a real investigation... none of the normal procedures were followed" (Michael Moore. Dude, Where's My Country?. NY: Warner, 2003: 20).


"But like their social system, the Saudis' religion--the puritanical Wahhabi version of Islam--made America uncomfortable. Unaccountable to their subjects, the Sauds, tribal despots, spent lavish sums not just on themselves but on mosques and madrassahs across the Muslim world, promoting the anti-Westernism that was inherent in their faith...

"In response to critics who warned that in invading Iraq the United States was failing to take reality into account, the Administration answered that it made its own reality" (Milton Viorst. "Desert Storm." The Nation, Sep. 26, 2005: 31-34).


"The presence of fifteen Saudis among the nineteen 9/11 hijackers marked a turning point in the way Saudi Arabia was perceived in the United States, a shift perhaps best summed up by the expression "Saudi bashing"....

"...journalists discovered that Saudi Arabia was a theocratic country, that women were segregated, that fundamental freedoms weren't respected, that there were no elections. One neoconservative actually called for military operations against the country, which was regarded as the main propagator of "islamic terrorism," and even suggested partition, with the eastern region--oil-rich and mainly Shiite--to be placed under US control...

"The place of the royal family and its monopolization of power remain taboo subjects, as does religion to a lesser extent. But satellite television--especially the Al Jazeera network, based in nearby Qatar--and the Internet have opened a huge window for Saudi subjects and have made them more open to controversial debate...

""Here, lots of things are free, especially schooling and health insurance," he tells me. He has great confidence in King Abdullah, whose popularity is at its height (his renunciation of the title "His Majesty," as well as hand-kissing, were greatly appreciated). The new king increased the salaries of employees and civil servants by 15 percent when he came to the throne, an indispensable measure, because salaries had been trailing far behind inflation. But even now a civil servant cannot, in general, live on his salary alone...

"...adoption of new legislation protecting domestic servants, all of them foreign, but it has also evoked racism, especially in Jeddah, where many illegal immigrants arrive under cover of pilgrimage to Mecca. And repression has intensified: In Jeddah, during October alone, 14,000 illegal immigrants were arrested.

"Moreover, a new sword of Damocles is held above immigrants' heads: the "Saudi-ization" of manual labor, which aims to replace foreign laborers with Saudi citizens... These plans are being fought by businessmen and -women, who complain that young Saudis are not well trained and above all are not ready to subject themselves to even minimal work discipline...

"There are not enough universities for the tens of thousands of kids pouring out of the high schools each year, and youth unemployment has grown as a result of an unprecedented demographic explosion: By 2006 the population exceeded 27 million, with more than half under 19 and more than a quarter foreign laborers (who represent two-thirds of the manual labor force)... Exceptional efforts are planned in the realm of public investment, especially education, which absorbs more than a quarter of the total budget (construction of three universities and 2,673 schools, renovation of 2,000 others), and health (creation of twenty-four new hospitals, which will be added to the eighty-nine in the process of completion)...

"It's enough to watch these thousands of idle young people hanging out in Riyadh on Wednesday night, before the Thursday-Friday weekend, with no meeting places that can be shared by both sexes, to get a sense of their boredom. Although international culture is flooding the country through the Internet and satellite television, there's still not a single movie theatre in the kingdom...

"There is nothing surprising in the fact that, with boredom never far away, juvenile delinquency and drug addiction are getting worse. On weekends many young Saudis go to Bahrain, an island kingdom connected to Saudi Arabia by a giant bridge, for the entertainment they are deprived of in their own country...

"September 11, 2001, marked a turning point in the history of the kingdom. Not only did relations with the United States, which had always been an ally, become strained, but a part of the royal family became aware of the danger posed by religious extremism, which until then had been encouraged. The May 2003 attacks in Riyadh, in which thirty-four people were killed, followed by a series of other Al Qaeda actions on Saudi territory, intensified the internal debate and eventually forced the clergy to choose between their allegiance to the regime and their sympathy for Osama bin Laden. Although a small faction called for armed opposition, the rest rallied to the side of the monarchy. There followed an intense debate on jihad, the place of Islam and the extremist quality of some religious discourse. At the December 2005 summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a declaration stressed that Islam was a religou of the center (wassatiyyah), which rejects "excess, extremism and narrowness of mind." The debate affected the entire Islamic sphere" (Alain Gresh. "Saudi Arabia, a kingdom divided." The Nationm May 22, 2006: 18-22).


Colby Glass, MLIS