Saudi Tale of Woe
by Editorial Board
Poor Saudi Arabia. Americans no longer trust its officials, no longer accept its assurances of friendship, no longer are deaf to the hateful harangues that characterize too much of the internal discourse in that land. Sept. 11 transformed Americans' indulgence of this odd nation, which just happens to be the world's primary font for the radical Islamic worldview.
And so, a much-aggrieved Saudi Arabia - used to being considered an exotic but not sinister spot on the map - has been reduced to deploying its officials to denounce Westerners who now understand the truth and to spin fantastic myths regarding Saudi victimhood. This ritual was repeated again this week, when Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign policy adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah, took to the microphone in Washington, D.C. His mission: to insist that his nation had done everything possible to combat terrorism and that Saudi Arabia was as much of a target of al-Qaida as the U.S.
"Ultimately," he said, "it is our two countries that are in the crosshairs of al-Qaida."
We asked Stephen Schwartz, author of The Two Faces of Islam (Doubleday, 2002) and an expert on the Saudi state's relationship to the Wahhabi sect, what he made of this contention. Preposterous, he said. Osama bin Laden has never ordered an attack on Saudi institutions, Schwartz explained, and if he is alive, almost certainly never will.
Indeed, by the time we called Schwartz, he had already penned a few questions of his own for Jubeir, on behalf of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. To wit:
"If, as Adel al-Jubeir claims, the Saudi regime is a target of al- Qaida, where have any Saudi institutions or personalities been directly attacked by al-Qaida?
"Where has bin Laden ever denounced, by name, the Saudi regime or anybody in it?
"Where has bin Laden ever called directly for the overthrow of the Saudi state?"
Good questions. Because al-Qaida has not assassinated any Saudi diplomat, blown up any Saudi embassy or otherwise confronted the Saudi state in any direct way. Saudi Arabia is no more in al- Qaida's crosshairs than is Paraguay.
For that matter, Schwartz wonders, "if, as Adel al-Jubeir claims, 'we have not found a direct link between charity groups and terrorism,' why is it that the Muslim government of Bosnia- Herzegovina, with much smaller resources, has found such links, and has completely shut down the charities involved?"
There is a good reason why al-Qaida has not confronted Saudi Arabia: That nation protects and underwrites radical clerics whose version of Islam is so appealing to extremists, including the Taliban before their rout.
If the Saudis are serious about terrorism, here's an idea: Why not order their top officials to stop spouting vile lies that nurture hatred of the West? Just last month, Interior Minister Prince Nayef blamed Jews for the 9-11 attacks. "I think they were the protagonists of such attacks," he told a Kuwaiti newspaper.
What does the smooth Adel al-Jubeir make of this charge? And why doesn't he denounce it?
Note: The content of external articles does not necessarily reflect the views of Center for Islamic Pluralism.