- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 4, 2001

De facto Saudi Arabian leader Prince Abdullah is upset with the western press. "The vicious Western media attack against the Kingdom is only because of the ancient spite against Islam and Saudi Arabia's commitment to Islam," he recently opined. Well, no. Saudi Arabia has been getting a lot of bad press lately because Saudi Arabia has worked so hard to earn it.

Saudi Arabia is the source of about 40 percent of the oil America consumes every day. Its royal family sits atop a gusher of cash from its sales of oil to us and other nations. If that gusher were to fail the House of Saud would fall. It may fall anyway, because it is the fattest target on the terrorist hit list. Osama bin Laden condemns the Saudis almost as often as he condemns us. Before September 11, Saudi Arabia was merely a quiet appeaser of terrorism by Palestinians and others. Since September 11, Saudi Arabia has refused to freeze bin Laden's money, refused us the use of Saudi air bases, and refused pretty much everything else we asked of them.

Prince Abdullah's publication last week of a letter he wrote to President Bush on Aug. 27 revealed the fear behind the Saudis' actions. In that letter, the prince warned the United States that a failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would lead to a rift between us and the Saudis. The letter said that "… it is time for the United States and Saudi Arabia to look at their separate interests." It goes on to say that, "Those [Arab] governments that don't feel the pulse of the people and respond to it will suffer the fate of the Shah of Iran."

There it is. The Saudis fear the Islamic radicals more than they value us. We are reminded of the nations that chose appeasement and neutrality in World War II. Of them, Winston Churchill said, "Each of them hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last." So it is with the Saudis.They hope to buy off the bin Ladens of the world by feeding us and the Israelis to them.

Prince Abdullah reigns now due to the decline of his father, King Saud, who vacationed in the West and was familiar with it in personal terms at least. The prince is another matter, less familiar with things Western, and ignorant of much of the history of the Middle East. He forgets how his riches and power are merely derivative of ours. What is his can only be so while we both provide it and protect it. Whether the House of Saud stands or falls is of no moment to us, so long as the oil keeps flowing. We should neither forgive nor forget Saudi intransigence in our time of need. Maybe we will kill the crocodile and maybe we will not. And maybe we will wait until he has his fill of the Saudis. We certainly have had ours.


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