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Saturday, May 24, 2003
The bombings in Riyadh

[Quite frequently, I prepare 90% of a blog and then fail to complete it. Sometimes, I am too busy. At others, an alternative story or item proves temporarily more interesting. Mostly, I can dismiss a tentative piece as 'yesterday's news' and well past its sell-by date. However, I occasionally wish that I had published the original story, particularly when I see what other commentators are writing. This blog, almost completed more than a week ago, fall into the latter category.]

The failure of Saudi authorities to prevent the attack on the Western compounds in Riyadh has led to streams of predictable excuses on their behalf
Criticism of security precautions taken against al-Qaida attacks by Saudi Arabia and British companies in the kingdom mounted yesterday as the interior minister blamed foreign influences for the violence.

In an interview with Abu Dhabi television, Prince Nayef defended the level of cooperation extended to the FBI, and insisted that the violence was not a domestic problem.

"Where do the terrorists spring from? Other countries. Where do the smugglers come from? Other countries that should dry up these sources."
Here's the (16th May) article from which the quotes came.

This sort of buck-passing ought to stop right now: Osama bin Laden is a Saudi-grown phenomenon and most of the 11th September 'martyrs' were from Saudi Arabia. By themselves, these are only two indicators. However, there is one strong reason to link Saudi Arabia with Islamist terrorism.

Among the most vicious versions of Islam, the Taliban take (took) the biscuit. Not far behind comes the Saudi thing: hijabs, public executions and bans on women doing things like driving. The religious police have great powers. Perhaps it's apocryphal but there is a story that they sent some girls fleeing a burning building back inside because they were improperly dressed.

It is not hard to see how repressive creeds breed further extremism; the Taliban are obviously a development of Wahhabi Islam.

Now, it may be that the rulers of the Kingdom are deeply concerned about the terrorism in their midst, admitting it at last. They really have no option. The problem is, of course, that many powerful clerics in Saudi Arabia, by contrast with the members of the ruling dynasty who are themselves relatively liberal, want the country to be even more repressive and fundamentalist. Once the royal family is overthrown, Saudi Arabia could easily become the next principal terrorist base.

So what is happening, now? US forces are being withdrawn, just as bin Laden wanted. If this is an oblique move to prevent the toppling of the ruling family, it may not work. Saudi Arabia could easily turn into the new Afghanistan. With more Saudi oil money behind it, just think of how much nastier al Qaeda could get...

Instead of invading Iraq 'to suppress terrorism and avenge 9/11', perhaps the US should have invaded Saudi Arabia. It would have made more sense.

And here's an article from today's Grauniad saying similar things but with some more useful information on the matter. The article concudes
There are too many contradictions here for the country's rulers to resolve. I don't see how there can be anything but bad trouble ahead.
This time, I really regret having 'spiked' my original blog.

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