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The former ambassador from Saudi Arabia fears that the “stigma” of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon will haunt the subjects of the desert kingdom “forever.”
told editors and reporters at The Washington Times on Monday that relatives of the 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks will regard their lost family members with greater and greater fondness as the years go by.
“For us in Saudi Arabia, it will be the opposite,” he said. “Fifty years from now, we will bear the stigma. … It will be with us forever. … It will remain something that weighs down on us, a perpetual feeling of guilt.”
Prince Turki explained that most Saudis took years to accept the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers, who flew airliners into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and crashed another plane into a field in Pennsylvania, were Saudi subjects and capable of “such a level of barbarity.”
“The effect of September 11 on my country was, to say the least, dramatic,” he said.
Prince Turki, now chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, explained that even members of Congress retained a certain coldness to his country when he was ambassador in Washington from 2005 to early 2007. Four years after the attacks, members of Congress were still reluctant to visit Saudi Arabia.
Before Sept. 11, “we had countless” congressional delegations visiting Saudi Arabia, he said. Since then, “there has been a literal stoppage,” he added.
“You can’t believe how few congressional delegations have come to Saudi Arabia,” Prince Turki said, adding that he could count them on two hands.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned on Monday to complain about ‘s message to Armenian-Americans on the anniversary of the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces during World War I.
, undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry, expressed his government’s “uneasiness” with the tone of Mr. Obama’s statement issued Friday, although the ministry chose not to issue a formal diplomatic protest, according to Istanbul newspaper the Hurriyet Daily News.
Mr. Obama’s message was stronger than those of previous U.S. presidents, but, like his predecessors, he avoided the one word that would have made Turkey, a key American ally, even angrier. As a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama promised to describe the killings as “genocide” and to support a congressional resolution using the word.
The Turkish government insists that tens of thousands of Turks died at the hands of Armenian rebels and that the killings were part of an uprising against the former empire.
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama upset Armenian-Americans by failing to use the word “genocide” in his message and instead including an Armenian phrase, “meds yeghem,” which translates into English as “great calamity” or “great disaster.”
About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
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