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Looks like the Saudis may kick the US out.
January 18, 2002 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Looks like the Saudis may kick the US out. The US presence in Saudi Arabia has been blamed for a lot of discontent in that country. Sounds as if once the campaign in Afghanistan is considered finished, the US may no longer be the guest of the Saudi royals.
posted by Salmonberry (28 comments total)

 
uh, wasn't it a Saudi who started all this?

i say we stay till we find him.
posted by tsarfan at 3:02 PM on January 18, 2002


Funny this would come only a few days after many top officials in the Pentagon started saying we should leave Saudi Arabia because the country wasn't being very helpful with the war on terrorism.
posted by mrbula at 3:04 PM on January 18, 2002


i wish i could say that this would solve everything... but i imagine some enterprising fellows in al-Qaeda and elsewhere would find other excuses to launch terrorist acts besides their main beef which was supposedly our presence in Saudi Arabia.
posted by moz at 3:11 PM on January 18, 2002


Frankly, it would be better for the US if it got out of Saudi Arabia while it still can.

Saudi Arabia is going to implode when the oil runs out, if not sooner. Their economy is completely out of whack, and eventually they'll run out of funds with which to buy off the populace. They're already starting to cut back, which is probably one reason why they need the US to leave -- they're starting to lose the ability to suppress popular discontent.

When Saudi Arabia *does* implode, the US would be well-advised to stay the heck out of the way. Ya don't hang around inside a burning house, even if the fire hasn't gotten to your room yet.
posted by aramaic at 3:17 PM on January 18, 2002


And on the plus side, women G.I's wont have to dress up in the local garb anymore.
posted by thirteen at 4:11 PM on January 18, 2002


"...war on terrorism..."

Since one of Osama's demands was for the U.S. to get out of Saudi Arabia, that pretty much sounds like we lost "the war."
posted by teradome at 4:13 PM on January 18, 2002


Reminder: these are some of the fab lads responsible for the Palestinian Arabs having no chance for a future, as well as Osama.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:49 PM on January 18, 2002


This is one more sign that Crown Prince cum Regent Abdullah is gaining the upper hand, cleaning out the America-lovers allied with his half brother Fahd. That doesn't mean he doesn't know in his bones that he needs us, but as the article hints, he probably understands that it threatens the stability of the Sa'ud regime. (Personally, I'd think it would have more to do with spoiled princesses keeping virtual slaves, but what do I know?) In any case, the post-9/11 climate was bound to see a realignment.

This will undoubtedly play into discussions about handling the Iraq problem. Since it's largely supposed to be Saudi Arabia's, that makes it a very odd conversation indeed.
posted by dhartung at 5:03 PM on January 18, 2002


Salmonberry - "i say we stay till we find him."
By all accounts he is not in Saudi Arabia, in fact they kicked him out. Certainly you don't believe we have some inalienable right to stay if they ask us to leave. I guess you do. We are guests in their country. I find the arrogance unbelievable, who the hell do we think we are. We make the rules, we enforce the rules, and because we have right on our side, anything action is justified.
posted by onegoodmove at 5:49 PM on January 18, 2002


Uhhhh...onegoodmove. Didn't say that. I assume you direct your comments at tsarfan.

Mad props to ya for the passion in your post, though

I'd like to think that *I* make the rules, not "we". Am I not allowed my delusions?
posted by Salmonberry at 6:09 PM on January 18, 2002


one mefi-ler thinks we may have gone into afghanistan because we saw our end in Saudi Arabia coming and Afghanistan is much more strategic than Saudi Arabia...he may be onto something. gosh darn it i forget his username/number.
posted by wantwit at 6:13 PM on January 18, 2002


Well, It seems I was a bit delusional it was indeed tsarfan, "The Ugly American".
posted by onegoodmove at 8:07 PM on January 18, 2002


There's also the possibility that we got Saudi Arabia to kick us out. The American presence in Saudi Arabia is unpopular in the Arab world, and was one of bin Laden's major excuses for the attacks. Obviously we're not going to leave because terrorists tell us to, but if we're asked or told to leave, we defuse a volatile situation and save face at the same time.

But then I'm just speculatin' about a hypothesis.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:41 PM on January 18, 2002


I guess they no longer fear annexation by Saddam Hussein, so it's "Yankee go home" now. Good enough.
posted by StOne at 9:47 PM on January 18, 2002


It is time to leave; there is something tacky about military backing of people who own countries, so this includes Kuwait also. Since we are on the subject, I would like us to leave Europe, especially since the cold war has been over for a decade and Nato is really redundant anyway. Same for Korea, our presence there isn't helping reunification; time for the locals to work out their own problems: it is called self determination.
posted by Mack Twain at 9:49 PM on January 18, 2002


i say we move in to conquer, then make colonies. then, their oil is ours.
posted by tolkhan at 2:48 AM on January 19, 2002


US military policy has been to hang around in Saudi and, in the event of a threat to the stability of your oil supply, knock a few heads together. That you haven't had to is largely because of enlightened self interest - until now - on the part of the Saudis, who realise that a guarantee of a stable supply will lull you into the false security necessary to prevent you developing demand-threatening energy efficiency measures. A policy which has served them admirably for years (SUV, anyone? - wonderful emissions efficiency legislation loophole, d'you know, and, well, why not?).

The US imports 11 million barrels per day of oil. The proportion of the world's supply of oil that the Saudis and other OPEC countries will provide will rise to 90% over the next 10 years as non-OPEC sources (proportionally) decline. Your entire infrastructure, especially transport, is critically dependent on that oil and therefore on that region. Yet, as a consequence of recent mega-mergers by the oil majors and complacent government policy, there are no buffer stocks - it is a "just in time" delivery system - even a hiccup of a few days will bring your entire country literally to a halt.

There is now a clear and present danger to the stability of the regime that guarantees your supply. "Oh but any regime will have to sell oil to feed its people" - rubbish. A Taliban-like government would starve its people just to spite you. It isn't time to leave - it's time (the underlying theme ever since September 11) for Americans to realise how close the knife is to the throat, and start getting on with the world. I would be asking, very politely, for permission to stay. (Oh, and maybe throw in a domestic taxation policy that reflected "energy security" risk - but then Senator George Allen regarded that as "just flat ignorant". Oops - call the thread hijack police - ignorant European on the loose).
posted by RichLyon at 4:05 AM on January 19, 2002


Our strategic petroleum reserve is >500 million barrels, and it is paid for with our tax dollars. Second, Russia would be more than happy to pick up the slack, and could afford to significantly advance its drilling if the price of crude was raised. Which bring us to the real problem with your analysis: The middle east is not the only plentiful source of oil; it's merely where it's cheapest to extract it from the ground. If they attempt to cut us off, it'll just raise the price to the point where other suppliers (including domestic sources) will be able to profitably fill the need.
posted by boaz at 5:05 AM on January 19, 2002


ummm - have you worked out how many days supply that represents? - I make it about 30. And do you think that represents the number of days you can drive around in an SUV while the military fixes the supply? Hardly.

I'm not sure what, in the context of a finite resource, you have in mind by "plentiful". Not just the amount of stuff in the ground, surely. Fiscal stability? Security of transport? Attractiveness for US investment?- hardly properties you could ascribe to South America, Africa and FSU.

But to facts: the US figure proven reserves are 64.4 bn bbls, Former Soviet Union 65.3 bn bbls (source - bp). These are not plentiful by your consumption standards, and represent around 10% of Middle Eastern reserves. And, interestingly, the market value of oil based on its geographic location and proximity to markets is believed to be around $5. Gulf of Mexico (in fact most places in the world) goes out of business if the price falls below $10. In other words, if the Saudis chose to open the taps they could drive the rest of us right out of business as quickly as you can call the pest exterminators....

Like I say. Ask nicely, and they might let you stick around a bit longer.
posted by RichLyon at 6:10 AM on January 19, 2002


ummm - have you worked out how many days supply that represents? - I make it about 30. And do you think that represents the number of days you can drive around in an SUV while the military fixes the supply? Hardly.

Let's see: OPEC supplies 4 million barrels per day and the strategic reserve is 550 million. It must be that new math, but I get almost 4 months of 100% OPEC replacement. Which must include all those SUV's since we're currently driving them.

But to facts: the US figure proven reserves are 64.4 bn bbls, Former Soviet Union 65.3 bn bbls (source - bp). These are not plentiful by your consumption standards, and represent around 10% of Middle Eastern reserves.

The reason that OPEC's reserves are greater is that they've surveyed and drilled a far greater percentage of their territory than Russia or the US. Proven reserves only represent a small fraction of the total oil reserves of a country.

And, interestingly, the market value of oil based on its geographic location and proximity to markets is believed to be around $5. Gulf of Mexico (in fact most places in the world) goes out of business if the price falls below $10. In other words, if the Saudis chose to open the taps they could drive the rest of us right out of business as quickly as you can call the pest exterminators....

So wait, are they going to cut us off or flood us? It's so confusing. The fact is that we can prevent flooding simply by placing a high tariff on it. We could then use that tariff to buy more oil (while it's cheap, ya know) for our reserves. Since OPEC wants to make more money, not less from their oil, I don't think this is what we need to worry about.
posted by boaz at 7:01 AM on January 19, 2002


Since OPEC wants to make more money, not less from their oil

Precisely. OPEC has never before, and may never be able to, sustain a price hike for any length of time. The incentive for an individual country to cheat is just too great, and somebody always does.
posted by gd779 at 8:41 AM on January 19, 2002


It seems fairly certain that the Saudi monarchy is teetering on the precipice of being overthrown by a fundamentalist Islamic uprising, else why the sudden concern about the U.S. presence? The Saudis see discontent within their borders about our presence there, so to position themselves politically they call for us to leave.

Let me play Devil's advocate for a moment, and suggest that we do exactly what the Saudis want and pull out all our military forces. I would surmise that, within less than five years, the monarchy would be tossed out. Without the U.S. presence, the Iraqis could move on S.A. and Kuwait, and the U.S military would have no choice but to move back in to restore order and ensure that the supply of oil keeps flowing to us.

Then we could introduce a democratic coalition government (possible under the auspices of the U.N.) along the lines of what we're trying to accomplish in Afghanistan.

Would that be a bad thing? It certainly doesn't seem like the majority of MeFites are supporters of the Saudi monarchy, given their repression of civil rights for the populace, women in particular.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:56 AM on January 19, 2002


Would that be a bad thing?
Yes. The US has no mandate, and nothing resembling a right to restore order beyond it's borders. Our need of cheap oil should exist indepent of our foreign policy.
posted by thirteen at 10:54 AM on January 19, 2002


Our need of cheap oil should exist indepen(den)t of our foreign policy.

But it doesn't, and that's my point. We can debate what foreign policy "should" be until the cows come home, but the reality is that a supply of oil is inextricably linked to our national interest, and as such is a perfectly valid thing to defend. Why else did we fight the Gulf War?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:03 AM on January 19, 2002


If 15 of the 19 terrorists were from Wisconsin, I think the good people of Oconomowoc would understand our presence and our reluctance to leave before finding the main Cheesehead.

The term Ugly Americain is generally delivered to tourists, like myself, who are rotten at the foreign tongue, bring huge cameras and thick tour books, and enjoy eating at the McDonalds.

Big difference is our guys arent there on vacation nor are they there for no good reason.

Where's Bush reminding the Saudi royals that he said, "you're either with us or against us"?

This doesnt sound like a country that is with us.
posted by tsarfan at 12:41 PM on January 19, 2002


IMHO, the Saudi are nothing less than the Taliban with Oil and pretensions. They have made a deal with the devil in the form of Wahhabism, and them chickens will come home to roost.

There is an excellent atricle in The National Review, which concludes:

"Since September 11 we have begun learning how the Saudi elite funded a fanatical Wahhabi clerisy that spread its poison throughout the Muslim world. But sooner or later, the zealots will turn their attention back home, to the corrupt, pathetic monarchs they so revile. Abroad, the layers of Saudi deception are slowly unraveling--to America's and the world's horror. Lord help us when they are ripped away from within. "

This is not all good news for us energy consuming types - basically all of us. The only sliver lining in the event of massive energy disruption is that that part of the world is too resource rich and brain poor to have any choice but to keep selling the stuff, no matter who controls the tap.

See "As the future catches you" for an excellent discussion of the trap of resources.
posted by wpeyton at 1:16 PM on January 19, 2002


but the reality is that a supply of oil is inextricably linked to our national interest, and as such is a perfectly valid thing to defend.
I don't see the connection. Our need gives us the right to wage war? That is the justification that criminals use.
posted by thirteen at 2:35 PM on January 19, 2002


Colby King of the Washington Post: Saudi Arabia's Apartheid (Cont'd)--a follow-up to his earlier column about corporate America's Saudi franchises.

"The U.S. fast-food industry's obeisance to "separate but equal" gender segregation in Saudi Arabia is as steadfast as the adherence of white southern restaurant owners to racial segregation before the practice was outlawed...I also know how religion, customs and "the dictates of society" were used for generations to justify slavery and segregation in America."
posted by Carol Anne at 11:50 AM on January 20, 2002


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