Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The USA's Misplaced Trust in Saudi Arabia

Why did the American government make a weapon selling deal worth $20 billion with Saudi Arabia? Saying that Saudi Arabia's efforts to fight Islamic terrorism are unconvincing is an understatement.


Yesterday at the Egyptian sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Robert Gates and Condoleezza Rice, respectively the US secretaries of defence and state, had a meeting with Israeli and Arabic representatives. Rice announced that the American government will conclude a military selling deal worth about $63 billion with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and 5 other allied Arabic countries from the Persian Gulf.

Secondly, this military deal is also aimed to counter the "negative influence" of Al-Qaeda, the Hezbollah, Iran and Syria. According to the deal, some money will be granted to some countries - that are deemed to be the USA's allies in the war on terrorism - so that their aviation, naval fleet and national army can be reinforced. Why did the American government make a weapon selling deal worth $20 billion with Saudi Arabia? Saying that Saudi Arabia's efforts to fight Islamic terrorism are unconvincing is an understatement.

Above all, what was the point to make a weapon sell deal to countries that have too much difficulty to talk to each other?

As Anthony Weiner, a Democrat at the US House of Representatives, said it, "[the] Saudis have not been an ally of the United States." To make things clear, the USA officially considers Saudi Arabia as its ally. Nonetheless, to make a very vulgar comparison, this Middle Eastern oil monarchy is to the fight against Islamic terrorism what Paris Hilton is to show business.

Saudi Arabia has always been fertile to international Islamic terrorism. According to the CATO Institute, Saudia Arabia joined the USA to fight Islamic terrorism "only in response to intense pressure [...] following the [September 11, 2001] attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon." Despite its joint efforts with the USA to financially pull the rug under the Somalian and Bosnian branch of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, the cooperation of Saudi Arabia is still not impressive.

In fact, Saudi Arabia has fuelled criticism over its laxity to act against terrorist organizations. According to a CRS Report for the Congress (USA) called Saudi Arabia: Terrorist Financing Issues (December 8, 2004), "funds may be flowing from Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries to terrorist groups, largely under the guise of charitable organizations." Furthermore, some of these organizations (mostly funded by some members the Saudi royal family) are "linked to Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda organization or like-minded entities."

Let's think about the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). Besides the USA, Philippines, Indonesia and Crotia accused the IIRO of being more about politics than about humanitarian aids addressed to Muslim countries for this non-governmental organization turned out to support Islamic terrorism (especially to Al-Qaeda). For instance, Filipino authorities found out in 1994 that Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden’s brother-in-law and former director of the IIRO, was financing the construction of training camps under the scrutiny of the Abbu Sayyaf Group, a Muslim separatist movement based in Southern islands of the Philippines.

Moreover, a report from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) written in September 2003 concluded that the Saudi government's legal definition of terrorism "does not conform to the standards as expressed in the [United Nations] Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Financing." Aside from that, we can really wonder why has Saudi Arabia waited until August 2003 to adopt a law describing money laundering and terrorist financing as criminal offences.

Moreover, it's needless to say that some Saudi citizens also finance the construction of madrassas abroad (i.e. Islamic schools) that encourage racism against Westerners...

All in all, one of the main reason why Saudi Arabia is not effective in fighting Islamic terrorism it's because of the fact that some members of its royal family are financing organizations that are not as clean as they look. To make a hypothesis, either some members of the Saudi royal family are cunts who want to be part of an international problem or they didn't know anything about some of these charitable organizations (that have no difficulty to take roots in Saudi Arabia).

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