2004 June 13 Sunday
Security Workers In Saudi Arabia In League With Al Qaeda?

The killing of BBC cameraman Simon Cumbers and non-fatal shooting of BBC technician Frank Gardner happened in spite of their being under the supposed protection of a Saudi government assigned and driver. Well, there is an interesting twist to the story: the minder and driver have both been arrested on suspicion of being in league with the attackers.

Visitors to Saudi Arabia are warned not to move around without government protection, despite fears that some officials are colluding with extremists. The minder and driver who accompanied Gardner and Cumbers were arrested after investigators refused to rule out the theory that they tipped off the attackers.

This fits into a larger pattern in Saudi Arabia where after each attack well informed figures are quoted claiming that Saudi National Guardsmen or police or other security figures were providing information and other assistance to attackers. The support for the attackers may be so high that protection of Westerners in Saudi Arabia may simply be impossible at this point.

One Westerner (quoted uder a pseudonym) says that in spite of all the claims that the radical clerics have been replaced with moderate clerics he can hear cries for Jihad from the mosque next to his living quarters.

A mosque overlooks Mr McDonald's wall in the compound. "I was in the pool last Friday when l heard them shouting about jihad during the prayers. I know things won't be right. They found photographs of the compound inside the mosque last year."

My guess is that the biggest thing protecting the oil producing equipment is the belief of the Jihadists that they can drive out the Westerners and get control of the government without blowing up the oil fields, oil processing facilities, and port facilities. The oil facilities have not been blown up because Al Qaeda doesn't want to blow them up. Suppose the Jihadists change their minds. Then what?

The Saudis can probably gradually replace non-Muslims with Muslims in order to keep the oil fields operating. Suppose the Saudis do that and the princes remain in power. Will Al Qaeda at some point 2 or 3 years down the road decide it is time to interrupt oil production in order to bring down the regime and hurt Western economies? The Saudis can hire many of their own citizens to guard the places. But the insurgents (terrorists, revolutionaries, they are all those labels) can just bribe or intimidate the guards or simply appeal to the religious convictions of the guards or get their own people to apply for jobs doing guard work.

We should not let ourselves be in the position of relying on the strategic calculations of Al Qaeda's leaders to allow enough energy to flow for our economy and those of our trading partners to continue to function. We face both an economic threat and a national security threat from the conditions within Saudi Arabia. Energy strategy is an element of national security strategy and conditions in Saudi Arabia are a threat to our national security.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 June 13 04:23 PM  Politics Grand Strategy

gcochran said at June 13, 2004 6:24 PM:

Like I've been saying - the anti-American fraction of some Arab countries is so close to one that friendly governments can't even staff the security apparatus.

This wasn't the case two years ago. Things were not good, but nothing like this.

Why do they hate us a good deal more than they did two years ago? You get one guess.

Fly said at June 14, 2004 8:36 AM:

One guess, huh? So you must want a simple answer.

Okay, 70 billion dollars spent by the Saudi’s over thirty years promoting the Wahabi sect of Islamic hatred. Islam has always been an aggressive cult advocating conversion by force, intolerance, and dominance over non-Muslims. The Wahabi sect pushes the most extreme form of hatred of non-Muslims and “religious” violence. The Saudi money allowed this sect to spread worldwide, including in the mosques, schools, and prisons of the US. This network is now actively recruiting members and funding numerous Islamic terrorists groups around the world.

This threat grew while the West focused on containing the Communist threat. After 911, the threat could no longer be ignored and the US struck back at Islamic terrorists. The Islamic faith teaches that whenever any infidel attacks a Muslim all Muslims must defend the Muslim and attack the infidel. So any non-Mulsim country that targets a Muslim group will be attacked by all Muslims.

So why isn’t the West united in this war against terror?

Two reasons. First, transnationalism. Many people want a world government so that one nation cannot dominate the world. Most people outside the US don’t trust the US. While historically the US has been a “good” superpower there are enough examples of bad behavior that critics can cite as reasons for distrust. The US it too powerful to confront directly with military or economic power so nations use international organizations to contrain the US. For many countries it is more important to constrain the US than to fight terrorism.

Second. Nationalism. Each country works in its own best interests. China, Russia, and France in particular incite and take advantage of world turmoil.

So why isn’t this obvious to the whole world?

The ME media is Muslim controlled.
The European media favors Transnationalism and European “nationalism”. The media, with the exception of a few British papers, toes the “political elite” party line.
The US media favors Transnationalism and is strongly Democratic.
The Asian media is mixed. Their own nationalism means they’d like the US to be constrained. However they do see the bigger picture and will report on it.

So is this the “one guess” you expected?

Brock said at June 14, 2004 9:10 AM:

Fly, don't confuse the poor man. He only wanted one reason, and probably a simple one. Your nuance and sophistication have probably left him with some very uncomfortable cognitive dissonance. Quite rude of you, old chap.

Randall Parker said at June 14, 2004 10:02 AM:

Fly, What has changed since 2 years ago though? You are talking about the longer term trends. Greg is talking about more recent events.

I certainly do believe that the invasion and the handling of the occupation of Iraq has angered a lot of Muslims and shifted attitudes in a direction that is even more hostile to the United States.

Look, if it was so incredibly important to invade and democratize Iraq then it was worth doing it a lot better than it has been done. Now it has been handled so poorly that the Muslims see their distrust as justified.

Worse yet, the US has no alternative strategies to seriously pursue.

gcochran9 said at June 14, 2004 1:03 PM:

Everybody's always complaining about my lack of sophistication. Yep. But my predictions often come true and theirs never do - evidently that's the mark of sophistication.

The answer is the invasion of Iraq. That caused world opinion to go very far south - more so of course in Islamic countries, extremely so among the Arabs. I have had other people come up with similar long-term explanations for this short-term phenomenon - why would they do that? Because the truth is unpleasant, I suppose.
It was predictable - I predicted it.

Randall, you think that we could have done a substantially better job in Iraq. I don't.

Randall Parker said at June 14, 2004 3:11 PM:


I do not think we could have done a good enough job to produce a net good outcome. I think we could have made the situation less bad, but still bad. Yet to have handled it better would have required so much more capability than we had going in that it was never going to be an even moderately bad outcome.

But my other point is that the neocons are so keen on going around reengineering the world and yet they show no signs of grasping the scale of the project they are proposing. Their idea of what they think they are doing is literally orders of magnitude off from what would even be an effort that would produce a lousy outcome and even that effort would take decades.

Proborders said at June 16, 2004 5:56 PM:

Quoting from former Congressman John LeBoutillier's "U.S. Needs to Prepare for Saudi, Middle East Collapse":

"We must move to fuel cell technology with the urgency and speed of the Manhattan Project...

Not a 20-year plan that assuages a few environmentalists; this Project Independence needs to be implemented today"

Perhaps the Bush, Kerry, and Nader campaigns will support a "Manhattan Project" for alternative energy.

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