Here’s a paper I wrote back in the day about Bob Baer’s Work
Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and the Oil Connection to Terrorism
“You want to know what the business world thinks of you? We think that in 100 years ago you were living here out in the desert in tents chopping each others heads off and that’s exactly where you’ll be in another 100. So yes on behalf of my firm I accept your money.”
–Matt Damon in Syrianna
The beginning of Robert Baer’s book ‘Sleeping with the Devil,’ describes a nightmarish scenario, one where the largest oil processing plant in the world, Abqaiq is taken out of operation by the Muslim Brotherhood. This attack would have an equal effect on America to that of the OPEC embargo in 1973. (Baer, xxi) Our economy is not the only thing that we should be fearful of being affected by the Saudi’s. This is mentioned to emphasize the importance of Saudi Arabia in the American and for that matter the global economy. The people of the United States have consistently over the past four years not received the information that it needed on what I believe is the most important country in what has quickly become the center of the world media’s attention. This is even though a frightening percentage of Americans still believe the made up Iraq-9/11 connection, 15 of the highjackers on September 11th 2001 were Saudi Arabian citizens.
The founding of modern Saudi Arabia is an interesting one when compared to the other colonially founded Middle-Eastern countries such Iraq and the British protectorates such as Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. In 1902 `Abd al-`Azīz Āl Sa`ūd (from this point on known as Ibn Saud), the head of the Saud family took Riyadh with 20 men (some sources say 60) reclaiming his families land that was taken by Ibn Rashid in the late 1800’s. (Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia) With the help of a militant group of Wahhabi known as the Ikhwan, Saud was able to conquer the rest the area now known as Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was officially formed with the help of the British who provided support from the Royal Air Force to defeat the Ikhwan when they wanted to spread their militant form of Islam across the Middle-East. The shrewdness of this move should not be ignored, Ibn Saud (a Wahhabi himself) knowing that a powerful Ikhwan would not be good for his families continued hold on power made allies with a Christian country to defeat them. Ibn Saud received international recognition, promised stability in the region, cash and arms flow (to fight against the Ottoman Empire). (Abukhalil, 78-86)
Now King Saud stated “The state, and its countries, and its lands are to God, and then they are mine.” (Abukhalil, 86) This quote summarizes perfectly how the next century (so far) of Saud rule would be. This sort of deal was only the first of many, especially with oil just about to be discovered.
The British relationship faded as the second world war began, and the new power in the world, the United States moved in to make its deal with the Saudi’s. This time the Saudi’s had an upper hand, on March 3, 1938 oil was discovered in tremendous amounts. The site of the original oil discovery, Dammam Number 7, would alone over the next five decades produce 32 million barrels. (Lippman, 24). With this discovery we also saw the beginning of oil companies pushing for a favorable opinion of the kingdom in Washington. In 1943 President Roosevelt, with most of the normal distribution lines for oil cut off officially saw Saudi Arabia as an ally, thus eligible for the lend-lease act. (Lippman, 27) By the end of the war Saudi Arabia would receive over 33 million dollars. Immediately after the Yalta conference in February of 1945 King Saud and President Roosevelt finally met on board the USS Quincy to talk about their countries growing bond. In the meeting the two leaders discussed the issue of Palestine and the idea of a Jewish state there, Roosevelt was looking for help from King Saud, he found none even though in previous occasions discussing the Palestinians the King called on Arabs to “…resort to quiet, and to end the strike to save blood; relying on God and the good intentions of our friend the British government…” and, talking to a reporter he did not want to put the Saudi’s “…in a position that would embarrass [the UK and the United States]. (both quotations Abukhalil, 182-183). This is just another example of King Saud’s readiness to put his people and his own beliefs (once called Jews “a race accursed by God”) behind the chance to make money. Although Roosevelt, who died two months later, was swayed by King Saud to not go forward with the creation of a Jewish state, Truman (a supporter of the Zionist movement) officially recognized Israel several years later. While this greatly angered the King it did not change his or his predecessor’s closeness to the United States.
As I stated earlier the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded by Wahhabists. The founder of Wahhabi, Muhammad Ibn Abd al Wahhab, met Muhammad bin Saud in 1744 and formed an alliance with the House of Saud thus giving the Saud’s conquests religious legitimacy. Ibn Wahhab based much of his teachings on the crusade era writings of Ibn Taymiyyah. Ibn Taymiyyah gave the Kharijites a great amount of respect, the Kharijites who in the 600’s practiced extreme versions of Islam and was the first to find it acceptable under the Qur’an to kill fellow Muslims, even “the children of ‘deviant’ Muslims. (Abukhalil, 54) His idea that non-believers (those that do not believe in their exact reading of Islamic law) “…should be fought until they abide by the laws” is probably the greatest influence on modern Islamist groups such as Al-Qa’idah and the Muslim Brotherhood of Saudi Arabia. (Abukhalil, 55) While the House of Saud certainly has not directly shown that they practice any of the strict beliefs of the Wahhabis or muwahhidun as they call themselves they certainly strive on the appearance of support. With that said some of the family feels as though they can have their cake and eat it too. After September 11th a handful of the Princes were not exactly horrified by the news of American dead, many claiming it were a Jewish conspiracy (citing rumors that many Jews did not go to the towers that day); Prince Nayif did not believe until months afterward that the attacks were done primarily by Saudi citizens.
The Saudi Link:
I am not about to make the leap that there is a criminal connection between the House of Saud and the attacks by 15 of its citizens. The family has far too much to lose by directly attacking the United States their number one financial supporter, but the connection is there. For years the Saudi family has been living magnificent lives at the expense of its citizenry. With 25,000 members or the royal family (and quickly growing), many receiving 180,000 dollars in benefits there is not much left to trickle down. Unemployment is extremely high, per capita income is down from $25,000 in 1980 to $7,000 in 1999 (Saudi Arabia Wikipedia) and the use of forced or slave labor doesn’t help much. All of this obviously builds a great amount of resentment to not only the royal family which on top of its benefits can take any land or business as their own but to the guest workers which make up a considerable amount of its population many of which are American. To offset the royal family’s non-Wahhabi practices they spend massive amounts of money on building new mosques, such as the Casablanca mosque, the third largest in the world. The first two are of course the Holy Sites Medina and Mecca which the rebuilding of went to (as nearly all of these projects do) the Saudi Binladin group, who have been the contractors for the royal family for decades. (Unger, 22-23) The most audacious of their ‘for show’ spending has to be the large number of mosque schools run by Wahhabi extremists that direct the youth of the kingdom toward the west. These are the foundation for the expansion of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qa’idah. They have for years been helping the nations that harbor and train our enemies such as Afghanistan and Pakistan (before we invaded and or became allies with) with shipments of “as many as 150,000 barrels of oil a day…in off the books foreign aid.” In the 1970’s Pakistan received over $1 billion to create its own nuke so that it would not be outdone by India. As if to add insult to injury Saudi Arabia also planned to build pipelines across Afghanistan, thus giving financial aid directly to the Taliban, an American company Unocal would of course benefit from the contract. (Baer) All of this is not to ignore that in early 2001 President Bush himself would sign a check for 40 million dollars in aid to the Taliban.
There is only so long that they can keep this façade of a religious state up, something that no one in the United States seems to want to face, especially the long time business partners in the White House. The Riyadh attacks in 2003 and 2004 put a large mark in the facade, the militant form of Islam that the Kingdom was built on was coming back to bite them in the ass. In the Summer of 2002 nearly 80% of the people visiting an Al-Qa’idah website were living in Saudi Arabia, something tells me that these aren’t all from college students doing book projects.
Saudi Arabia spent in 2002, according to the CIA World Factbook, 10% of its GDP on military expenditures that’s somewhere around $18-30 billion (some put it much, much higher). What does this country that has no enemies surrounding it, hasn’t fought in an international battle in over half a century, and has the world’s last remaining super-power, the United States’ Navy stationed off its coast spend all this money on? Robert Baer, a former CIA agent, says it’s to pay for personal security for the most part. The Saud family is scared, and it should be there is only so much time left before the dog that they’ve been feeding all these years turns and bites them. While Wahhabism calls for respect of your leader (i.e. you can’t overthrow them) that’s only going to last so long. There’s going to be a revolution soon and America is not going to like the ones who take over. The United States needs to take a long hard look into the eyes of our supposed friends and see the enemy that is within. The scenario described in the introduction of this paper is not that far off if we don’t start doing something about it. It’s going to be tough there’s no doubt about it, for the Saud’s are not going to release power without a fight.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not some sort of rogue state, to be added to the list after Iran and Syria that we must attack but possibly the only country in the middle east that we may be able to ‘nudge’ in an appropriate direction. By ‘appropriate direction’ I mean one away from being a safe haven and education center of the, as Daniel Pipes coined “Islamist” movement to something more moderate. Saudi Arabia is never going to be Westernized, not even something like the Baghdad prior to Saddam it simply cannot. Any country that holds within its borders the two holiest places in Islam has to be somewhat of a strict Islamic state. With a quarter of the worlds known oil supply and family connections to another30% stability not only in the Middle-East but of the whole world now relies on a solid Saudi Arabia. A monarchy (which Islam does not allow), especially one such as the Saud Dynasty with all of its history and connections with Islamists movements cannot stand, and it won’t no matter what.