Saudi Arabia’s mysterious ‘crown jewel’

By Anthony C. LoBaido

The flags of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Saudi Aramco fly side by side in Dammam, Saudi Arabia (Photo: Anthony C. LoBaido)
The flags of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Saudi Aramco fly side by side in Dammam, Saudi Arabia (Photo: Anthony C. LoBaido)

 (Editor’s Note: This is Part IV of journalist Anthony C. LoBaido’s series “Arabiana.” In this installment, LoBaido investigates the possibility that Saudi Aramco, the world’s richest company, will issue an initial public offering, or IPO, and what that might mean for Saudi Arabia, the U.S., the complex global energy markets, and related ancillary issues. You can read Part I, Part II and Part III as precursors by clicking on the links.)

“The Saudis appear to be selling out of desperation. Potential investors have to weigh the question: is this a golden opportunity or another Saudi gimmick to ride out a cash-flow crisis?”

–Spencer Jakab, Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2016

DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia – Mysterious, elusive and celebrated all at once, Saudi Aramco remains the richest company in the history of the world, rivaling the British East India Company, which conquered India and became the crown jewel of the British Empire.

Saudi Aramco produces one out of every eight barrels of oil on Earth – 9.5 million barrels per day. The outfit began back in 1933 as the California-Arabian Standard Oil Company. Soon afterward, the Ghawar was discovered, and even today it remains the world’s largest oil field. Saudi Aramco also owns Safaniya, the biggest offshore field on the planet. Saudi Aramco’s oil reserves are at least 261 billion barrels (10 times ExxonMobil) and 263 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Now Saudi Aramco is entering a new phase involving foreign investment. The Wall Street Journal estimates Saudi Aramco’s initial IPO will be worth around $3 trillion. The U.K. Guardian claims the worth of the company could be $10 trillion. Saudi Aramco bought out its American partners back in 1980, as U.S. ownership waned after the 1973 Arab oil embargo.

This journalist’s personal unofficial estimate – after four years of research and hundreds of hours of interviews with Saudi Aramco personnel at the main Saudi Aramco compound in Dhahran – sets the ceiling of Saudi Aramco’s worth at $37 trillion. (That’s roughly twice America’s national debt and twice the gross domestic product.) This would include both upstream and downstream operations, chemical feedstock, future gas stations under the Saudi Aramco banner, patents developed by Aramco’s elite scientists, the potentiality of end-user products that could in theory be produced from A through Z – like petroleum jelly/Vaseline, expansion into Indonesia, offshore real-estate investments, gold and silver mining, offshore banking and clean energy. The idea of privatizing and outsourcing Saudi Aramco’s incredible Research & Development Center (which I christened “Kirkland” in honor of Capt. James T. Kirk of Star Trek fame) is tantalizing and perhaps lucrative depending on its future projects.

The idea of ringing the Mediterranean nations with solar power capabilities, enabling them to sell clean energy to Europe during peak summer and winter months, could one day impact regional and global energy markets
The idea of ringing the Mediterranean nations with solar power capabilities, enabling them to sell clean energy to Europe during peak summer and winter months, could one day impact regional and global energy markets

By “clean energy,” one might refer to the solar-powered vision known as the Med Ring. One person at Saudi Aramco, a well-respected, popular man plugged into many areas of the company, described to me a system in which “the nations ringing the Mediterranean that have been identified as the best locations to absorb and store solar energy, ranging from North Africa to Syria to Cyprus and elsewhere, would be fitted with high technology enabling those nations to store solar power, and then sell it to Europe during peak times in both the summer and winter.”

Saudi Arabia was prominently mentioned in terms of the Med Ring. Saudi Aramco, because of its reputation, global reach and financial might, can recruit scores of elite scientists. As such, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the Med Ring could actually one day become a reality. After World War II, Saudi Arabia had around three million citizens. Today, there are more than 30 million. As such, the domestic demand for energy has greatly increased. In 21st-century Saudi Arabia, clean energy falls under the guise of “necessity is the mother of invention.”

Yet for now, the Med Ring remains an old wives tale – enticing fiction for clean-energy enthusiasts. That said, one should remember that today’s science fiction could easily become tomorrow’s science fact. If such a solar project were to become feasible, and was led by Saudi Aramco, it would most likely augment the company’s balance sheet. A prolific scientific look at the idea of the Med Ring can be found here. Often it seems like the known unknowns of Saudi Aramco cannot begin to rival the unknown unknowns. Whatever you imagine the greatest transnational corporation in the history of the world to be, in terms of personnel, global reach, financial power, brain power and innovation, Saudi Aramco will exceed your wildest dreams.

According to the U.K. Guardian article, “Saudi Aramco – the $10 trillion mystery at the heart of the Gulf state,” when one speaks of Saudi Aramco being a “black box,” they are perhaps referring to the fact that “the company does not publish its accounts or even its revenues, never mind its profits. What is known about Aramco by anyone outside the company tends to come from bland information provided by its official websites or an annual review of ‘facts and figures.'” Aramco’s oil alone could be worth as much at $4 trillion. Yet this writer was told several “boogeyman ghost stories” in Saudi Arabia saying Aramco might have several other fields like the Ghawar in its portfolio, and these fields are a highly guarded secret. Of course, no one can say for sure if this is true or not. But if it is true, would anyone be surprised? Could such a secret be kept? Wouldn’t the CIA eventually find out, or British intelligence, the Russians and Chinese, major oil competitors and/or billionaire transnational financial players? Saudi Arabia’s future designs on the energy resources of Yemen, and the idea of hidden energy treasures that might lurk beneath the Rub al Kali – and the wild, arid spaces between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, as well as Saudi Arabia and Oman – was also a frequent topic of discussion.

Resource nationalism has been in play in nations like Russia, Mexico and Brazil. Saudi Arabia is no different. In fact, Saudi Aramco has functioned as a “state within a state.” The oil just flows out of the ground at Saudi Aramco, so it’s incredibly cheap to produce. As such, Saudi Arabia is able to take on high-cost oil producers around the world. Just as Gasprom has been used as a foreign-policy tool, the Saudi royals have their own toolbox.

Referring again to the British East India Company, Queen Victoria was the empress of India, and she ruled South Africa, Rhodesia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other outposts to the four corners of the Earth. It is said that “the sun never set on the British Empire.” Similarly, in the micro-sense, the Saudi royals have Saudi Aramco. They also have their own designs on Yemen. The Saudis have been interfering in Yemen since the late 1970s through the funding of rivaling tribes. And some Gulf states seek regional expansion via a future land bridge from Yemen into North Africa. Surrounded by ISIS in Iraq, and Shiites in Bahrain and Iran, the south beckons.

Changes in attitude, changes in latitude

Saudi Aramco also has new leadership for its new era. CNBC weighed in on the new bosses. The U.K. Guardian writes, “The assumed wisdom about Aramco is that it is relatively well run but is used as a personal piggy bank by the ruling family as well as an income to fund government social and other policies. There are question marks over why the company is reported to be running four Boeing 747s and four other jets as well as a number of football stadiums around the country.”

In “Young Prince in a Hurry,” the Economist notes:

“The Al Sauds once again hold court in Diriya, their ancestral capital that was laid waste by the Ottoman empire and is being lovingly restored as a national tourist attraction. This is where the Al Sauds forged their alliance in the 18th century with a Muslim revivalist preacher, Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab – a pact that to this day fuses the modern Saudi state with the puritanism of Wahhabi Islam. And this is where Muhammad bin Salman, the 30-year-old deputy crown prince who is the power behind the throne of his elderly father, King Salman, receives foreign guests in a walled complex.

“As the man who ultimately controls the Public Investment Fund, the destination for many assets to be sold, and who has taken direct oversight of Aramco, the prince is already the subject of some muttering. What is true is that, for all his talk of transparency, his government continues to treat royal and state expenses as one and same; the royal component is a state secret.

Another article explained the change in leadership thusly:

“Mohammed bin Salman, as chair of the government’s Council for Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), has been officially credited with a plan to separate state-owned Saudi Aramco from the Ministry of Petroleum, to which the state oil company was formerly joined at the hip.

“Instead of taking orders from the petroleum ministry, which traditionally has used Aramco to implement its policies, King Salman has now decreed that the state petroleum company will henceforth be overseen by a 10-member Supreme Council for Saudi Aramco, headed by his son.

“Some analysts have applauded the move as likely to result in better governance of Aramco, freeing it from political interference from the petroleum ministry and even OPEC, as its management seeks to trim costs and improve operational efficiency in order to preserve the company’s ability to generate and re-invest cash flow in what many see as a new era of lower international oil prices.”

This writer was told by a top and well-respected person inside of R&D at Saudi Aramco that their unit might be privatized. This would be revolutionary since Saudi Aramco possesses one of the world’s best-funded, private collections of scientists. As noted, potentially this could be another revenue stream. Saudi Aramco is indeed a “black box” where information is tightly controlled. Yet there are subgroups at Saudi Aramco which, like Lego, form their own building blocks, and each of these micro-groups has their own nuanced set of stories to tell. There are the Texas people, the Texas A&M people, the Baylor people, Christians, Hispanics, Africans, gays, art and culture people, Spanish-speakers, Koreans and, of course, the scientists. Personally, I’ve been fortunate to interact with all of these Saudi Aramco subgroups.

There are also Islamists and Christians who quietly meet together to discuss global problems like Fukushima, Ebola, the moral collapse of Western civilization, the lack of role models and similar issues. When the U.K. Daily Mail reports Lindsay Lohan is studying Islam and might convert, this kind of news helps people to see Islam as a genuinely religious faith that can help girls like Ms. Lohan avoid her next coked-out DWI crash in the Hamptons. (Although, when the U.K. Independent reports a Saudi therapist is offering advice on “how to beat your wife,” one wonders if we’re talking about random craziness or the need for serious institutionalization.)

We all need mentors to help us walk on the narrow path. We all have free will. Yet we live in a world of constant distractions and mass media stimuli leading people into self-destructive behavior. In effect, in terms of morality and drugs, we are in a post-apocalyptic, Road Warrior situation. Saudis who study American culture intensely are sometimes surprised we don’t see mutants, Road Warrior-style, running around with chain saws, and wearing NHL ice hockey pads on the outsides of their clothing. If America’s debased culture is scary to you as a normal American, just think of how it is perceived by the Bedouin, the Houthis and the Saudis. (Just as Americans become totally freaked out when the Saudis blow up Yemen’s School for the Blind, attack Mother Teresa’s hospice, cause the starvation of babies and stuff like that.)

To be frank, there aren’t many Allah-less liberals in Saudi Arabia. There is no post-Quran era. There’s no Woodstock and no Haight Ashbury. You can’t kill your baby and traffic the body parts for 21st-century “scientific research.” Saudi teens aren’t taking ecstasy on the school bus. Darwinism isn’t an unofficial state religion as it is in the United States. If you told the average Saudi you believed you actually evolved from a complex organic compound into a bowl of soup, and then into a tadpole, and into an Apex predator like a crocodile, before becoming an ape, and then a man or a woman, they might believe you to be clinically insane. Just ask the average Saudi about the CIA’s fake polio vaccination program in Pakistan and see how far that gets you. For a polio primer read here, here, here, here and the “never again” paean here. Can you imagine explaining to the Saudi Arabian Religious Police the morality of American TV shows like “Shameless,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and the hit cartoon series “Archer“?

Their faith and prayer time remain at the center of their lives. Saudi Arabians believe in and need order. They don’t believe everything came from nothing and an explosion of random chance. To insult their belief in the Quran is suicide. Yet the whole ninja, dress-up-in-a-burqa thing is now mostly cultural. Many Saudi women have iPhones, nice shoes, makeup and even Victoria Secret underwear – which is a big seller in the kingdom. “Saudi women unveiled” offers a glimpse into a world of Saudi women rarely seen before. A New York Times article on Saudi women winning the right to sell lingerie is a must read and can be found here.

28 pages

Because of the looming IPO and other domestic reforms, Saudi Arabia and Saudi Aramco will likely be under the microscope as never before. (The Economist sets forth the agenda here.) The two are interchangeable in many respects. Without Saudi Aramco, the military, economic, financial, social and technical might of postmodern Saudi Arabia probably would not exist. Saudi Aramco is the “mother ship” from which much or most of the kingdom’s energy wealth flows. For example, entirely on its own, on any given day, Saudi Aramco can produce as much oil as the entire United States of America. Saudi Aramco is worth more than Google (Alphabet) and Apple put together – probably several times over. Compared with other oil and energy giants, there is no comparison. If Saudi Aramco is the New York Yankees, then its competitors are a bunch if children playing whiffle ball in the backyard.

One would be remiss if they did not mention the missing 28 pages from the official 9/11 report, and the very notion that rogue (or officially sanctioned, non-rogue) elements within the Saudi government gave financial and logistical help, as well as theological inspiration, to some of the hijackers. Massive class-action lawsuits could eventually come forth. This has been debated by President Obama, as well as Republicans and Democrats. The courts have been involved. Seymour Hersh of the New York Times offered his musings about the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

Not only might the families of the 9/11 victims sue, but also the “first-responders,” such as the firemen, police and EMTs. Saudi Arabia has threatened to cause financial harm to America if this whole scenario plays out in a way the kingdom finds unsatisfactory. One should also hold an ace up their sleeve in regard to this whole affair – that being that Saudi Arabia officials did, in fact, have nothing to do with 9/11. Who can say for sure that such talk is all cowboy hat and no cowboy? What remains is fear and loathing. Patrick Buchanan claims that America is no longer a serious country. For example, have you read about top U.S. soldiers in charge of targeting ISIS fighting in court over being “b-tched out,” in madcap, archetype high-school drama that would make even the flightiest prom queen blush? Yet ordinary Americans want the missing, redacted 28 pages to be released and analyzed with a fine-toothed comb. They’re now very, very serious.

This article says the 9/11 Commission did not clear the Saudis. Perhaps no evidence and linkage was found because powerful stakeholders behind the scenes didn’t want it to be found, goes the cynical notion. (More on this below.) Bruce Fein presents his case for 9/11 complicity here.  Others say this is a mere diversion from more important issues. The U.K. Independent says Saudi Arabia “is in for a nasty shock” once Obama is no longer president. Global Research takes a stab at the issue here.

The United Nations gets all cranky pants about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record here. A snarky article asking America to “dump our double-dealing allies” can be found here. Yet another journalistic piece asking why America should cover up for Saudi Arabia can be read here. Some question America’s entire Middle East policy in the broadest strategic sense as a colossal failure, as is the case with this article. Ivan Eland is a smart guy and a talented writer. His article on how the Global War on Terror sometimes actually makes things worse in terms of security for the United States can be found here. His most salient points should be studied, deconstructed and put to memory. This calls to mind the notion that the entire 20th century was a mistake based on the stupidity of World War I. Other articles are purely fishing expeditions in need of clarification and follow-up. It’s the Super Bowl and the Home Depot for conspiracy buffs. The same people asking “Who would Jesus Christ kill?” are now finally asking, vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia’s alleged involvement with 9/11, “Who wouldn’t Muhammad kill?”

Echoing Saint Augustine, who said, “The truth is like a lion, the lion doesn’t need to be defended, set the lion free and the lion will defend itself,” the U.K. Guardian published an article entitled, “Saudi officials were ‘supporting’ 9/11 hijackers.” It reads in part, “A former Republican member of the 9/11 commission, breaking dramatically with the commission’s leaders, said he believes there was clear evidence that Saudi government employees were part of a support network for the 9/11 hijackers and that the Obama administration should move quickly to declassify a long-secret congressional report on Saudi ties to the 2001 terrorist attack.”

Saudi Arabia is known for seeking weapons of mass destruction from Pakistan. This is troubling on many levels, especially when we’ve just learned Chernobyl will remain dangerous for the next 3,000 years. We’ve also been told that Fukushima could be an “extinction level event.” A nuclearized Saudi Arabia only adds to a world burdened by nuclear waste, atomic weapons and genetic deterioration of the human race via radioactive poisoning. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article stating that South Korea and Japan may soon develop their own nuclear weapons. This development has greatly displeased mainland China. Speaking of China, there are those who believe Saudi Arabia should implement China’s erstwhile “one-child” policy to curb its runaway population explosion – Mao-style – and raise the national GDP.

Gandhi said, “I would have become a Christian had I not met so many.” This was because of the antagonism he found in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War, in which he served the British Empire in the Ambulance Corps. Being a Christian in Saudi Arabia is not for the timid.

One terrible story really stands out above all others – the Saudi girl who had her tongue cut out and then was set on fire by her own father (a government official no less) for converting to Christianity. The idea of Jesus Christ as a human who is actually the Son of God is disgusting to Islamists. When you make a mistake in Saudi Arabia, Saudis often say in Arabic, “Jebt Eleed” which means, literally, “I brought Christmas.” Their idea of Jesus is not what you’d imagine.

Yet many Islamic believers from Afghanistan to the Philippines and beyond do see Jesus Christ as a prophet. They also hold the Virgin Mary in high esteem. Some Muslims see Christmas as an event that’s family oriented and fun. They view Christmas and what it can offer in a positive manner in the same way as there used to be a Muslim group for former NFL player Tim Tebow. Muslims are not unhappy to see Christians bowing in prayer and acknowledging there is a God who is holy and demands obedience and devotion. While in Saudi Arabia, we kept our Christmas lights up every single day, and turned them on every night without fail. We were told they would be confiscated at the airport, but that was not the case.

Saudi Arabia may decide on listing part of state oil firm Aramco within a few months amid the oil slump. Bloomberg TV Malaysia’s Jacalyn Kow explains why the energy producer is considering the share sale as part of its move away from oil revenue dependence:

[jwplayer x89n9Seq]

I’ve got peeps

It should be noted that most Saudi Arabians are good, kind people who would rather visit Cuba on their honeymoon, eat at KFC and go shopping at IKEA than ever be involved with violence and terrorism. One Islamic Saudi Arabian student, studying at Wichita State, tackled a would-be suicide bomber at a mosque in Saudi Arabia that this writer had visited. This Wichita State student died. His story was detailed in the New York Post. He was just about to get married. Just in case you wanted to know, his name was Abduljaleel Alarbash. He ran down a fanatical suicide bomber and in the process saved many other innocent people. Indeed, there are Saudis who strive for heroism and purity and goodness every day.

Former Wichita State student Abduljaleel Alarbash, a Saudi national, was killed in Saudi Arabia when he ran down and tackled a suicide bomber who wanted to blow up a mosque
Former Wichita State student Abduljaleel Alarbash, a Saudi national, was killed in Saudi Arabia when he ran down and tackled a suicide bomber who wanted to blow up a mosque

Islam is a genuinely religious faith that opposes abortion, drunkenness, illegal drugs and similar harmful things. It should also be noted that some Saudi Aramco employees from the United States went to Saudi Arabia with the explicit purpose of protecting their children from political correctness, Darwinism, Freud, drugs, abortion and the whole Paris Hilton-Dennis Rodman as role models paradigm. One such employee, a father of six, told this writer, “Isn’t it sad that we have to leave America and come to Saudi Arabia to protect our children” from our sick society?

Saudis become alarmed when they hear about Robert Bales gone wild in Afghanistan, the murder of Abeer Hamza in Iraq, or how a U.S. Special Forces soldier was actually attacked for confronting a nativist child rapist in Afghanistan. Sometimes it’s hard for Saudis to make sense of these types of stories. They, too, struggle with the concept of evil and what humans are capable of. The U.K. Guardian published an article about the 100-year sentence handed out in the bizarre, socially deviant and deranged Abeer Hamza murder-rape case. It can be read here. It is without a doubt the most chilling, terrifying and sad story in recent memory. It is the antithesis of D-Day, Iwo Jima and everything good the United States of America claims to stand for.

The story of Saudi Arabia’s alleged involvement with 9/11 grows with each passing day. Yet most Saudis are against ISIS and see terrorism and jihad as a perversion of Islam and the Quran. Many Saudis pray five times per day. They constantly think of their god, Allah, and how they can live a moral life and achieve salvation. They are friendly and welcoming. Similarly, such ordinary people can be found in the Congo, India, Iceland, Namibia and Indiana. The average Saudi Arabian is painted with broad strokes, where a nuanced work of art is sorely needed.

Most people living in the Middle East are kind and decent and don't want anything to do with terrorism, jihad, bombings and wars (Photo from Doha, Qatar, by Anthony C. LoBaido)
Most people living in the Middle East are kind and decent and don’t want anything to do with terrorism, jihad, bombings and wars (Photo from Doha, Qatar, by Anthony C. LoBaido)

More on 9/11

Zero Hedge published a piece about why both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia don’t want the whole Saudi-9/11 issue revealed to the public. It can be read here. This is bad news for Saudi Arabia.

Its financial reserves (between $600 billion and $700 billion) have taken a giant hit due to the robust decline in oil prices, Saudi Arabia’s overly generous domestic subsidies for ordinary citizens and the disastrous war in Yemen. This war has enabled al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, to make various gains, has led to no military and/or political advantage, and unleashed a famine threatening hundreds of thousands of Yemeni babies, toddlers and children.

In fact, this famine has caught the ire of the United Nations, as well as groups like Save the Children. Sarah Leah Whitson is a writer, lawyer and the executive director of the Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Division. Her writings on Yemen are a must-read for anyone concerned about the average Yemeni’s suffering in 2016. Sarah Leah’s recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times can be found here. Some say her journalism should be studied and memorized. LoBaido’s most recent Yemen article is here.

Yemen, an ancient nation, was home to the biblical Queen of Sheba. It is said that a major city in Yemen was founded by Shem, a son of Noah who sailed on Noah’s Ark. Yemen is also one of the poorest nations on Earth, and Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, backed by the United States and United Kingdom, is one of the great tragedies of postmodern times. An interesting analysis of the Yemen problem can be found here. AQAP is no garden variety al-Qaida franchise, as it has big terror plans for the American mainland. The global War on Terror is very real. The idea of AQAP gaining strength, financial resources, military training and equipment is positively chilling. If AQAP ever manages to blow up LAX, one might look back at the debacle in Yemen as its final springboard.

“The Secret behind the Yemen War” is another must-read, as it laments the contradictory nature of America’s policy in the Arabian Peninsula.

The article reads in part:

“The single most incoherent aspect of U.S. policy in the Middle East … On one hand, the United States claims to be fighting Al Qaeda, and indeed AQAP, regarded as one of Al Qaeda’s most aggressive franchises, has been a prime target of U.S. drone strikes ever since the war on terror began.

“At the same time, though, the U.S. provides military backing for forces led by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Persian Gulf petro-states that welcome AQAP fighters into their ranks as full and active participants in the anti-Houthi crusade. The U.S. opposes Al Qaeda, on one hand, but supports elements that ally with it, on the other.”

The blood sport in Yemen is but an extension of Saudi domestic violence. By now you’ve probably heard that the Saudi Arabia executes people like pancakes, and this has become problematic for the United States. As hard as this might be to believe, the Saudis actually bombed Yemen’s School for the Blind. Additionally, the Washington Post’s “Dead Baby of Yemen” story shocked the world, and should be read by all normal people in the United States, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

We have now learned:

“… Of a murderous raid on a hospice for the elderly founded by Mother Teresa herself, an attack which left 16 people dead, including four nuns who managed the facility. The incident was an ‘act of senseless and diabolical violence,’ said Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, and Pope Francis ‘prays that this pointless slaughter will awaken consciences, lead to a change of heart and inspire all parties to lay down their arms and take up the path of dialogue.'”

Panelists debate the war on Yemen: 

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Saudi Arabia's war on impoverished Yemen has brought world condemnation as famine, blood and death are the order of the day, instead of glory, honor and security for Saudi Arabia's elites and ordinary, everyday citizens. Saudi Arabia's energy wealth enables its foreign adventurism
Saudi Arabia’s war on impoverished Yemen has brought world condemnation as famine, blood and death are the order of the day, instead of glory, honor and security for Saudi Arabia’s elites and ordinary, everyday citizens. Saudi Arabia’s energy wealth enables its foreign adventurism
There are those who believe that if a person can control the present, they can control the past. As such, the narrative about 9/11 and Saudi Arabia rivals the national come to grips with reality tale attempted by Clint Eastwood in "Flags of Our Fathers"
There are those who believe that if a person can control the present, they can control the past. As such, the narrative about 9/11 and Saudi Arabia rivals the national come to grips with reality tale attempted by Clint Eastwood in “Flags of Our Fathers”

Sandstorm of the Century

Just recently, the Washington Times published an article calling for Americans to be allowed to sue Saudi Arabia over its “alleged complicity in 9/11.” Another article lobbying for such a suit can be found here.

Kristen Breitweiser penned a piece titled, “Shying away from 9/11 evidence.” Kristen asks, as others have, if no linkage was found between Saudi Arabia and 9/11 because there are those who didn’t (and still don’t) want it to be found. You can read her article in its entirety here. Before you delve into it, you can, as a precursor, read the entire official 9/11 report right here.

Breitweiser, a 9/11 widow, writes:

“Indeed, chapter 5, ‘Al Qaeda Aims at the Homeland,’ and chapter 7, ‘The Attack Looms,’ provide most of the vital pieces of information surrounding the 9/11 plot by citing Khalid Sheikh Mohammad’s [KSM] interviews as their primary source. Why would any laudable historian … base an official accounting of the worst terrorist attack since Pearl Harbor on the bogus ramblings of a detained, tortured terrorist? That’s why anything and everything … should be questioned for its veracity – and motive.

“After all, if the person in charge of torturing KSM wanted to obscure the Saudi role, is it a surprise that KSM would say what his torturer wanted to hear? Moreover, is it a surprise that the person or persons in charge of KSM’s torture, who wanted to obscure the U.S. government’s awareness of the threat and indeed specific knowledge of many of the terrorist activities before the attack, would elicit a story consistent with that goal?”

Finally she adds:

“It was Zelikow and Snell [custodians of the 9/11 narrative] who ‘re-wrote’ the entire Saudi section of the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report — leaving out all the damning, incriminating information. Where is that missing information today? Available for public review?”

The big brouhaha over 9/11 comes in the form of the belief that the Saudi embassy in Los Angeles gave logistical and financial help to the 9/11 hijackers. Read the allegations here.

The latter states:

“Past suspicions of an official Saudi role in assisting the hijackers has focused on the two Saudi al-Qaeda operatives, Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdhar, who moved to the San Diego area in early February 2000 and were immediately assisted by a Saudi man who was suspected by Saudis in the San Diego area of working for the Saudi intelligence service.

“What many have cited as even more suspicious is the fact that $130,000 in certified bank checks were sent to the wife of Omar al Bayoumi, the suspected Saudi intelligence agent, by the wife of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi Ambassador to the United States and – more than a decade later – head of Saudi intelligence.”

The henna tattoos of Yemeni women are considered artistic, feminine and lovely. The brutality of the current war in Yemen is influenced by sectarian strife and great power proxy battles (Photo by Anthony C. LoBaido)
The henna tattoos of Yemeni women are considered artistic, feminine and lovely. The brutality of the current war in Yemen is influenced by sectarian strife and great power proxy battles
(Photo by Anthony C. LoBaido)

If you can’t make up your mind about whether the official 9/11 report cleared the Saudis or not, then you need to deconstruct and analyze this article line by line.

An article from Global Research offers a chilling look at the U.S.-Saudi dynamic.

It reads:

“Washington needs to sell the fiction that the House of Saud is always an ally in the ‘war on terror,’ now fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. (Even if they don’t.) And Washington needs Riyadh for Divide and Rule purposes – keeping Iran in check. This does not mean that the House of Saud may not be thrown under the bus in a flash, should the occasion arise. As the source close to Riyadh advances, ‘the real nuclear option for the Saudis would be to cooperate with Russia in a new alliance to cut back oil production 20 percent for all of OPEC, in the process raising the oil price to $200 a barrel to make up for lost revenue, forced on them by the United States.’ This is what the West fears like the plague.”

Another interesting journalistic work addresses the Saudi role in Syria.

It reads:

“The Syrian High Negotiations Committee is Saudi-made. Some reports show that Saudi Arabia’s intervention and support for terror in Syria are nothing compared to the estimated tens of billions of dollars spent by the Saudi regime to topple Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad by recruiting terrorists and purchasing weapons needed for the five-year war on Syria.

“Most of the leaders and high-ranking figures of the so-called Syrian Opposition are living with their families in Saudi Arabia. Dozens of them stay in five-star hotels in the kingdom and abroad at the Saudi Intelligence Organization’s expenses. The 200,000 Euro gift awarded to each one who attended the recent Riyadh Conference was published and admitted by HNC members themselves and reported by news agencies.

“Thus far, Jayshu al Islam has showed up in Geneva through their representative Mohamad Alloush. As a member of the Syrian internal opposition delegation to Geneva 3 conference, I personally complained to Mr. Stephan De Mistura about the presence of the terrorist leader Alloush at the peace talks. The event took place during our second meeting with the UN special envoy. I told de Mistura: ‘How come the top diplomats of the UN receive killers and terrorists in UN buildings?’ I carried on saying: ‘This will affect the credibility and reputation of the International Organization. Alloush had burned little children alive inside the ovens. He also threw some others from high buildings, caged civilians as human shields in metal framed open air prisons on buildings roofs, beheaded people, raped little girls and shelled civilians with mortars in Damascus. Moreover, he is responsible for shelling the Russian Embassy in Damascus, along with his late terrorist brother Zaharn Alloush, a Saudi Sharia University Graduate, who was killed later by a Syrian army air-raid.'”

Can the American military power provide solutions to intractable problems gripping the Middle East and much of the Muslim and Islamic world?
Can the American military power provide solutions to intractable problems gripping the Middle East and much of the Muslim and Islamic world?

Final thoughts

Saudi Aramco’s history is the story of the “discovery and development of the greatest energy reserves the world has ever known and the rapid transformation of Saudi Arabia from desert kingdom to modern nation state,” according to the company. Its long-time pledge is to “maximize the value of the country’s petroleum reserves for the benefit of the kingdom’s citizens.” Now foreign capital will open up a kaleidoscope of questions and issues. A five percent sell-off of the company will still allow Saudi Aramco to maintain control. But they will have to be more transparent with their financial balance sheets. If and when the Arab Spring hits Saudi Arabia, will Saudi Aramco still be a Third World, nationalized oil company, or will it already be foreign owned?

The Economist published this graph showing Saudi Arabia's government budget balance sheet
The Economist published this graph showing Saudi Arabia’s government budget balance sheet

The Economist, considered one of the finest magazines in the world, has examined the current changes in Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent, Saudi Aramco. “The Arab Winter” article can be found here. A transcript of the Economist’s interview with Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince can be found here. The aforementioned “Young Prince in a Hurry” is another important article. The Saudi blueprint to dominate the region and revitalize its economy can be read here. A Los Angeles Times article about the initial meeting between FDR and the Saudi king in 1945 can be read here. PBS recounts how JFK sent fighter jets to Saudi Arabia right here.

Saudi Arabia watchers have long understood that Saudi Aramco is the center of power inside the kingdom. Vast energy riches enable Saudi Arabia to buy technology, hire talented and elite personnel, buy military equipment and munitions, and leverage diplomatic influence – not to mention the preponderance of the petrodollar. Since the 1930s, Saudi Aramco in its various forms has flown under the radar. It could be argued that without Saudi Aramco, the U.S. petrodollar would not be the world’s reserve currency. If that’s true, one could also argue that the economic prosperity the United States has maintained since World War II (especially since the 1973-1974 petrodollar genesis) and the ability of the U.S. to export its inflation to the rest of the world through the petrodollar, is owed in large measure to Saudi Aramco. An interesting Ivy League treatise about the petrodollar was authored by David E. Spiro. It is titled, “The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets.”

Saudi Arabians are a tribe not unlike the Hmong of Laos, Kampas of Tibet, Zulus of South Africa, Montagnards of Vietnam, Karen of Myanmar, Houthis of Yemen, Bedouin of Jordan, Kurds of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey, and the Matabele and Afrikaners of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and South Africa. Over the past 500 years of human history, these and different tribes like the Mayans, Incas, Cherokee, Navajo and others have all experienced great tribulation. Some say this is because tribes, wherever they may be, don’t fit into the globalist, one-world paradigm. Others say tribes like the Aborigines of Australia are in possession of ancient esoteric knowledge that somehow makes them dangerous to the transnational elite. This is a matter of faith, history, power politics and transgenerational agendas. No one has ever been able to offer an accepted unified theory and sweeping narrative explaining why these tribes have all been ruthlessly persecuted without fail. Can the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula escape this vortex, and if so, for how much longer? Will the oil run out? This article says that’s already happening.

Will the Arab Spring eventually find its way to Saudi Arabia? Considering Saudi Arabia is home to the two holiest sites in all of Islam, one can only wonder about the repercussions
Will the Arab Spring eventually find its way to Saudi Arabia? Considering Saudi Arabia is home to the two holiest sites in all of Islam, one can only wonder about the repercussions

Examining the combined fate of the Earth’s tribes, including those currently battling on the Arabian Peninsula, is probably more important than determining if Saudi Arabia is merely “North Korea with sand and oil.” Since the 1970s, the United States, through the Brzezinski Doctrine, has used Islam to push upward against Russia from its southern flank, and against mainland China from the west. This long-running geostrategic tool has created tremendous instability in the Middle East and Central Asia. Using Islam as a weapon against atheistic states like the former USSR and Mao’s China made sense at the time. Does it make sense today? The greater question is: Can Saudi Arabia’s elites usher in a new era of sustainable prosperity through their reforms, or will they one day wind up fleeing for London or Switzerland to live in exile?

It is indeed troubling that the energy wealth delivered to Saudi Arabia via the harnessing of that nation’s natural resources enables the kingdom to bomb Yemen’s School for the Blind, as well as Mother Teresa’s hospice in Yemen. Should Saudi Arabia’s vast energy wealth empower the kingdom to slowly starve babies to death in Yemen? Is this the will of Allah the Merciful?

Wouldn’t this incredible wealth be better spent on agricultural research, ending instead of causing famine, fighting childhood diseases, medicine, health care, education, STEM curricula, ecological cleanup, getting the plastic out of the oceans, infrastructure, high technology, fresh-water protection, bringing the Internet to those who don’t have it, space exploration and similar worthy projects and needs? As for the bloodbath in Yemen, is this what Noah’s son, Shem, envisioned for the future when he stepped off Noah’s Ark and headed south toward Sana’a?

On April 7, 2015, a sandstorm almost the size of the continental United States swept across Saudi Arabia and Yemen in an act of nature that made global headlines
On April 7, 2015, a sandstorm almost the size of the continental United States swept across Saudi Arabia and Yemen in an act of nature that made global headlines

In April of 2015, as reported by the U.K. Daily Mail, when the Supreme Being sent a sandstorm across Arabia almost the size of the entire continental United States, was this some kind of a sign that all the killing and maiming and bombings and famine are displeasing to the Almighty? Tongues are being cut out. Christians are being set on fire and crucified. Babies look like skeletons. Mothers are weeping. ISIS is rising from Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama’s “junior varsity” status. The School for the Blind is a pile or ruble. Mother Teresa is turning over in her grave. Abeer Hamza was raped and murdered, along with her family. Afterward, according to this story in the USA Today, the killers held a BBQ and ate chicken wings. Believers in God and Allah, as well as atheists and agnostics, metaphysically walking in the footsteps of Shem, were all astonished by the sheer immensity of this phenomenon of nature – the Sandstorm of the Century – that swept across the Kingdom of the Blind. Again, was it a reminder of the wrath of the Creator? Does Abduljaleel Alarbash ride the divine wind as an avenging angel, showing us all the errors of our ways?

Somewhere amid the violent, titanic sandstorms and silent strikes of lightning occasionally gripping the vast desert of the Rub al Kali, one can hear the faint whisper of Russell Crowe’s epic line in the film “Gladiator” as he speaks truth to power. “The time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end.”

Anthony C. LoBaido is a writer, journalist and photographer. He has published 360 articles at WND from 53 nations around the world. Some of his favorite adventures include attending the British army’s jungle warfare training in Belize, retracing Lawrence of Arabia’s World War I trek through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, investigating the blood diamonds of Sierra Leone as popularized in the Leonardo DiCaprio film by the same name, meeting “CNN hero” Aki Ra at one of his land mine digs in extreme northern Cambodia, working with Time Magazine’s “Hero of Asia” Lek Chailert on her crusade to assist injured and abused elephants in Southeast Asia, rescuing HIV/Aids throw-away babies in the garbage dumps of Cape Town, South Africa, visiting a leper colony in Myanmar, as well as debriefing a woman who escaped from North Korea not once but twice.

LoBaido’s articles have been cited by Ivy League universities such as Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. As a photographer, LoBaido made National Geographic in 2014. His photographs were auctioned at the 2015 St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital “Miracles by the Bay” Gala in San Francisco. St. Jude’s carries out premier research for childhood diseases. Its founder, Lebanese actor Danny Thomas, made a promise to St. Jude, the Patron Saint of Lost Causes, that he would “build a shrine” if the Supreme Being would help Thomas find his way in life. The hospital and the state-of-the-art research it carries out are now in effect that shrine.

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