Saudis in the worst squeeze play yet.
October 28, 2001 3:53 PM   Subscribe

Saudis in the worst squeeze play yet. SA is in a triangulation of criticism from Afghanistan, from within the country, and from Washington. The fall of this Muslim regime, a US ally, with a horrible human rights record and repressive culture, the largest supplier of oil in the world, and huge supplier of contract business for the US, is not something to take lightly. Catch-22.
posted by mmarcos (10 comments total)
BTW, for those who are suspicious: the Christian Science Monitor is a not a religious rag as the name belies. It is published by the The First Church of Christ, Scientist, but it is a veritable jewel of independent journalism and, thankfully, they publish everything online. They do their own reporting, no wire services. In my opinion, it has the best foreign news coverage of any US paper, with far less resources outshines the NYT.
posted by mmarcos at 3:54 PM on October 28, 2001

they had a boring interview with johnny depp the other day :)
posted by kliuless at 4:14 PM on October 28, 2001

The Monitor had the important story of senior Saudi clerics' recent fatwas against the royal family, which should be read on this topic, all the way back on October 12. The Economist just picked up the story and has it as fresh news today, with less background and analysis. I grew up in a family that subscribed to the CSM, and I think it's amazing how relatively unknown the newspaper has remained among those who would find its international coverage worth reading.

The CSM is updated once daily (like the NYT used to do, ca. midnight ET), and doesn't publish on the weekends. If you don't like the front page, you can survey the last week of their coverage here.
posted by Zurishaddai at 9:27 PM on October 28, 2001

If anyone wanted proof that the US cares more about maintaining its economic superiority over the world than promoting democracy and human rights, Saudi Arabia is it. I only hope that whatever follows the fat lazy kings is something closer to democracy.
posted by laz-e-boy at 11:45 PM on October 28, 2001

Someone's earned his cognomen here.
posted by y2karl at 1:06 AM on October 29, 2001

a recent New Yorker analysis of the Saudis:

> There is little that the United States can do now, the
> diplomat said. "The Saudis have been indulged for so
> many decades.They are so spoiled. They've always had
> it their way. There's hardly anything we could say that
> would impede the 'majestic instancy' of their progress.
> We're their janissaries." He was referring to the captives
> who became élite troops of the Ottoman Empire.
> "The policy dilemma is this," a senior general told
> me. "How do we help the Saudis make a transition
> without throwing them over the side?" Referring to
> young fundamentalists who have been demonstrating in
> the Saudi streets, he said, "The kids are bigger than the
> Daddy."
posted by jfuller at 6:40 AM on October 29, 2001

it's not just saudi arabia either:

In the Middle East, South and Central Asia, where the Bush administration hopes to achieve the greatest cooperation, most governments sit very uneasily. Extreme pressure by the United States on the political leaders of these nations places them in a bind. If they don't cooperate, they risk military retribution by the United States. If they do cooperate, they risk being overthrown or removed from office, or even assassinated by extreme elements in their own societies. A few examples illustrate this point...

what's a cognomen? :)
posted by kliuless at 7:46 AM on October 29, 2001

Many people in the Middle East -- and elsewhere -- strongly believe that the US policy is propping up the House of Saud -- the royal family who rule with an iron fist -- purely of out selfish, US interests. They believe that the 1991 Gulf war was to protect and preserve the Kuwaiti royals, another group of people who don't really care about human rights or their own subjects.

The problem is -- the alternative, especially for the US in particular, and the West in general, is worse. Forces who want to replace the currant regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere tend to be extremists. (Iran may be an exception -- where the moderate forces have the backing of the majority, but the conservative Mullahs dominate the military, police and the courts). Therein lies the US foreign policy quandary.

The Saudis may feel squeezed -- or triangulated -- but what is the alternative? If the US pulls the troops out of Saudi Arabia, then bin Laden et al have won, and we certainly DON'T want that, do we?
posted by Rastafari at 8:07 AM on October 29, 2001

Certainly we do not want bin Laden to win by having the Saudi monarchy fall, but with their legitimacy dropping every day, what is the US and the Muslim world doing to insure a stable alternative? I think the US should encourage nascent efforts from within the Muslim world, one that promote democracy, freedom, etc.
posted by laz-e-boy at 9:02 AM on October 29, 2001


Both status quo and alternatives look dangerous.
posted by mmarcos at 2:39 PM on October 29, 2001

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