A counterattack is under way in the war against terrorism declared by President George W. Bush, and it is not being led by Osama bin Laden. While the terrorists who attacked America on 9-11 are on the run, it is the regime that fostered them that is striking back.
The Arab state that has the most to lose by the spread of democracy in the Middle East is Saudi Arabia. There is no avoiding the fact that, of the 19 murdering terrorists of 9-11, 15 were Saudi citizens, and the fact that bin Laden himself is a Saudi billionaire. Questions remain as to how many more Saudis were involved then – and are still involved – in imposing Wahabist fundamentalism through acts of heinous terrorism.
It is this regime that is most threatened by Bush’s courageous stand against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It is the Saudis who fear Bush’s pledge to encourage democracy in the Middle East. They fear him because, unlike presidents who merely paid lip service to these noble ideals, he has invaded Muslim countries to halt the world-threatening proliferation of Islamist terrorism.
In January 2004, the Saudi government daily, Okaz, published an editorial titled, “The American President, George Bush, Threatens the World with War!” It stated: “The American President George Bush … did not stop beating the drums of war in his address! In contrast with his previous address … in which he celebrated the decision to go to war against Afghanistan and announced the war on Iraq, in his last address the American president turned war into an open option and threatened additional wars if the American people elect him for another term …” (translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute).
One reason Riyadh wants to restrict Bush to one term is Iraq – whose vast and virtually unexploited oil reserves will soon be able to challenge the Saudis’ regional monopoly. But along with liberating Iraq’s oil, Bush has freed that country’s Shiite majority – whose branch of Islam is despised by the Saudi Wahabis – from Saddam’s oppression.
Bush’s actions have challenged the legitimacy of the Saudi royal family, which is based on its self-appointed role as defender of Islam’s holiest sites and proselytizer of its doctrine. As Ed Lasky wrote on March 24, 2004, in the American Thinker: “George Bush has become an apostate to the Saudis. It is not merely a matter of interests, but rather an issue of deep principle, fundamentally linked to their own way of life, and to their survival.”
Bush frightens the rulers of Mecca and Medina as a proudly declared born-again Christian who belongs to the religious wing of the Republican Party. To the Saudis – who forbid the practice of Christianity – Bush is a powerful and threatening infidel.
The fanatical Wahabi leaders of Saudi Arabia have long taught their adherents – like Osama bin Laden – that Islam is fighting a holy war (jihad) against the West. Given Bush’s religious identification and the Saudis paranoia about the supposed influence of Jewish neo-conservatives inside and outside the White House, it is not hard to understand how eager the Saudis are to get Bush out of Washington.
The Saudis are acting to end George W. Bush’s career by using their only strategic weapon: oil. If they can raise oil prices until the election, thereby weakening the U.S. economy, this will be reflected in the vote. Riyadh has reduced OPEC output since the end of hostilities in Iraq, driving up oil prices and thereby slowing the American economic recovery. From a low of $23.61 per barrel in May 2003, crude oil prices rose steadily to over $43 per barrel at the beginning of August 2004. If the price continues to climb, the economic consequences for the United States may be as gloomy as the electoral result for Bush.
On the campaign trail, Saudi-funded think-tanks have been forthcoming with articles and interviews critical of Bush. One organization, the Middle East Institute, is run by ex-ambassador to Saudi Arabia Edward Walker and employs another ex-diplomat, Joseph Wilson, who has vowed to help end Bush’s tenure. Wilson has charged in his book, “The Politics of Truth,” that the White House leaked to columnist Robert Novak that Wilson’s wife was a CIA agent, thereby endangering her. Given that Wilson is also a dedicated critic of Israel, the fact he has been hired by the Kerry campaign is a hefty dividend for the Saudis’ investment.
The Saudis are betting on Kerry because he is a liberal like Bill Clinton who has chosen Clintonites to advise him, like Israeli affairs adviser Jay Footlik, a Clinton leftover and supporter of the Oslo accords that led to the last four bloody years of intifada in Israel. Footlik advocates unilateral Israeli concessions and champions “evenhandedness” – giving the suicide bomber and his victims the same measure of understanding. Riyadh is no doubt pleased that Footlik promises to help Kerry be just as bad for Israel as he helped Clinton to be.