Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Killers in Iraq: The Saudi Connection

Almost half of the insurgents American troops are fighting in Iraq came from our staunch ally, Saudi Arabia.

According to U.S. military figures just published in the Los Angeles Times, “About 45 percent of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15 percent are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10 percent are from North Africa.”

The Saudi government knows that and says it is doing everything possible to prevent Sunni extremists from migrating to the killing fields of Iraq. But is it?

The signals are getting decidedly mixed. Until recently, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was ambassador to Washington until 2005, had Bush and Cheney eating out of his hand. But then last month, his uncle, King Abdullah told Arab heads of state that Americans in Iraq were “an illegal foreign occupation.”

“Saudi frustration,” the New York Times reported this weekend, “has mounted over the past four years, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated. King Abdullah was angry that the Bush administration ignored his advice against de-Baathification and the disbanding of the Iraqi military.”

Now questions arise: How hard are the Saudis trying to stem the tide of their Sunni jihadists into Iraq? To what extent is exporting troublemakers in their domestic interest and part of an unspoken policy? How much pressure are they putting on the Bush Administration to stay in Iraq by threatening to support Sunni fighters against Iran-backed Shiites if we leave? Behind it all, how much of American policy is driven by placating the Saudis to ensure the continuing flow of their oil to which we are addicted?

In the Middle East, keeping up with your friends can be as exhausting as fighting your enemies. Pakistan is another example. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Capt. Fogg said...

When Bush said the other day that we're fighting the people who attacked us in 2001, it didn't occur to me that this is what he meant.