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The US-Saudi relationship: Oil supply at the expense of US security and moral values

(11/04/05: Update at the end of the post)

Europe and the US seem to be addicted to oil and unable to pursue their security interests and moral values in regard to Saudi Arabia. US government reports indicate Saudi support for terrorism and the lack of counter-terrorism coopertation. The State Department determined the non-existence of religous freedom in Saudi Arabia and the non-compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking. While countries without any oil were sanctioned for these violations, the Bush administration spared Saudi Arabia. And the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee canceled unexpectedly a hearing on Saudi incitement in U.S. mosques.

Now in more detail:
The United States Government Accountability Office reported about the support for terrorism by Saudi charities:

For example, in July 2005, a Treasury official testified before Congress that Saudi Arabia-based and - funded organizations remain a key source for the promotion of ideologies used by terrorists and violent extremists around the world to justify their agenda. In addition, according to State’s 2005 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Saudi donors and unregulated charities have been a major source of financing to extremist and terrorist groups over the past 25 years. In July 2003, a former State Department official testified before Congress that a Saudi-based charity, al Haramain Islamic Foundation, had allegedly financed assistance to the Egyptian terrorist group Gamma al Islamia. In May 2004, the same former State official also testified that some half dozen of the most visible charities, including two of Saudi Arabia’s largest, the International Islamic Relief Organization and the World Muslim League, have been linked to supporting Islamic terrorist organizations globally. In addition, a former Treasury official identified Wa’el Hamza Julaidan as a senior figure in the Saudi charitable community who provided financial and other support to several terrorist groups affiliated with al Qaeda operating primarily in the Balkans. Moreover, the 9/11 Commission report states that al Qaeda raised money in Saudi Arabia directly from individuals and through charities.

 

According to Rachel Ehrenfeld's Front Page Magazine article: 

Former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director James Woolsey testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Government Reform in April this year that “Some $85-90 billion has been spent from sources in Saudi Arabia in the last 30 years, spreading Wahhabi beliefs throughout the world.” The U.S. National Intelligence Reform Act of December 2004 requires development of a Presidential strategy to confront Islamic extremism, in collaboration with Saudi Arabia. So far, says a September Government Accounting Office (GAO) report, U.S. agencies have been unable to determine the extent of Saudi Arabia’s domestic and international cooperation. (...)
Under U.S. pressure, Saudi Arabia declared repeatedly that it would close some charities identified as spreading Wahhabism and funding terrorism. However, the GAO report notes that “in May 2005, ...it was unclear whether the government of Saudi Arabia had implemented its plans.” Despite Saudi promises to establish a new National Commission for Relief and Charity Work Abroad, the GAO said: “as of July 2005, this commission was not yet fully operational.” At least two members of the Saudi government, Riyadh Governor Prince Salman and Minister of Defense Prince Sultan, are sponsors of the Saudi High Commission, which evidence in the 9/11 victims lawsuits shows “has long acted as a fully integrated component of al-Qaeda’s logistical and financial support infrastructure.” Moreover, the lawsuits detail that “the Sept. 11 attacks were a direct, intended and foreseeable product of [the High Commission’s] participation in al-Qaeda’s jihadist campaign.”

Law.com reports that this "charity"

cannot be sued for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks because of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, a federal judge has ruled. Southern District of New York Judge Richard Conway Casey found that the Saudi High Commission was shielded from suit under the act because it presented a prima facie case that it is a foreign sovereign. Because the Saudi High Commission "was formed by order of the Kingdom's governing body, it provides the Kingdom's aid to Bosnia, it is governed by a Saudi official and its employees are civil servants, it is an organ of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," Casey wrote in three of the several cases connected to the Sept. 11 attacks that have been consolidated before him by the Panel on Multi-District Litigation under 03 MDL 1570. The court also found that the Saudi High Commission has not waived its sovereign immunity. "


American Future refers to a Freedom House report, that

provides voluminous documentary evidence that dozens of mosques in major cities across America are distributing documents, bearing the seal of the government of Saudi Arabia, that incite Muslims to acts of violence and promote hatred of Jews and Christians.

A hearing by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Saudi incitement in U.S. mosques scheduled for October 25th was cancelled unexpectedly. Israpundit  believes:

This hearing would have exposed Saudi support for the wrathful dogma of Wahhabism, the rejection of the co-existence of different religions and condemnation of Christians, Jews, and all other non Muslims. It would have revealed their attempts to instill contempt for America and its non Wahhabi-style of government.


According to the State Department, religious freedom is non-existent in Saudi Arabia. While Eritrea was punished for lack of religious freedom under the Religious Freedom of Information Act, Saudi Arabia got another waiver for half a year. The San Antonio Express-News editorilized on October 17th:

Late last month, the State Department informed Congress it was placing commercial sanctions on the tiny East African nation of Eritrea for violations of religious freedom. The export of certain defense items to Eritrea is now banned, marking the first sanctions enacted under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.Under the terms of that act, the State Department is to issue an annual survey of religious freedom. In its report to Congress one year ago, the State Department cited Eritrea, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia as nations lacking religious freedom. In Saudi Arabia, in fact, the report said religious freedom is nonexistent.

While Eritrea is now facing sanctions and Vietnam made commitments to improve religious freedom earlier this year, the Bush administration has given Saudi Arabia another 180-day waiver from sanctions. Moreover, the Pentagon has informed Congress of its intention to sell more than $2 billion worth of military equipment to the desert kingdom.

By failing to confront Saudi Arabia about its religious intolerance, the Bush administration isn't just violating the spirit — if not the letter — of the International Religious Freedom Act. It is also hindering efforts to deal with the ideological sources of terrorism. Religious extremism that originates in Saudi Arabia provides theological and financial sustenance for terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida. Punishing religious intolerance in Eritrea while ignoring the much greater problem in Saudi Arabia makes a travesty of the International Religious Freedom Act.

State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli told the Voice of America  that

American diplomats intend to engage Saudi authorities in the coming months with the hope of developing a plan of action to deal with U.S. concerns, including allowing other religious groups to hold public worship sessions, and giving them the right to possess their respective holy books and other religious documents.





The Daily Demarche writes about the oppression of Saudi women. It's even worse for many migrants: The US State Deportment's annual survey of international human trafficking states:

 
Saudi Arabia is a destination for men and women from South and East Asia and East Africa trafficked for the purpose of labor exploitation, and for children from Yemen, Afghanistan, and Africa trafficking for forced begging.
Hundreds of thousands of low-skilled workers from India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Kenya migrate voluntarily to Saudi Arabia; some fall into conditions of involuntary servitude, suffering from physical and sexual abuse, non-payment or delayed payment of wages, the withholding of travel documents, restrictions on their freedom of movement and non-consensual contract alterations.

The Government of Saudi Arabia does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Saudi Arabia has moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3 because of its lack of progress in anti-trafficking efforts, particularly its failure to protect victims and prosecute those guilty of involuntary servitude.

Criminal cases are adjudicated under Sharia law, and there is no evidence trafficking victims are accorded legal assistance before and during Sharia legal proceedings. The government should consider adopting comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that would punish traffickers, provide for the protection of victims, and facilitate prevention programs. It should also collect and disseminate data on prosecution and mediation efforts, prosecute aggressively cases of physical and sexual abuse using available criminal laws, and increase its efforts to prevent and investigate the trafficking of children for forced begging.


Saudi Arabia is one 14 countries failing to do enough to stop the modern-day slave trade in prostitutes, child sex workers and forced laborers, wrote The Boston Globe on June 3, 2005:

 
Three other U.S. allies in the Middle East -- Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar -- were newly listed this year as nations that are failing to adequately address trafficking problems. The State Department said the 14 countries could be subject to sanctions if they do not crack down.   


Did Saudi Arabia implement the US recommendations in the meantime? The SF Chronicle wrote about the US administration's conclusions three months after the publication of the State Department survey: 

 
Of those 14,
Bush concluded that Bolivia, Jamaica, Qatar, Sudan, Togo and the United Arab Emirates had made enough improvements to avoid any cut in U.S. aid or, in the case of countries that get no American financial assistance, the barring of their officials from cultural and educational events, said Darla Jordan, a State Department spokeswoman.

Cambodia and Venezuela were not considered to have made similar adequate improvements. But Bush cleared them nonetheless to receive limited assistance, for such things as combatting trafficking. In the case of Venezuela — which has had a tense relationship with the United States under the leadership of President Hugo Chavez, one of Latin America's most outspoken critics of U.S. foreign policy — Bush also allowed funding for strengthening the political party system and supporting electoral observation.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, Ecuador and Kuwait — another U.S. ally in the Middle East — were given a complete pass on any sanctions, Jordan said. Despite periodic differences, oil-rich Saudi Arabia and the United States have a tight alliance built on economic and military cooperation.

That left Myanmar, Cuba and North Korea as the only nations in the list of 14 barred completely from receiving certain kinds of foreign aid.


Perhaps the Bush administration did not sanction anti-American Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, because the US imports so much oil from these countries. According to the Department of Energy:

 
During the first five months of 2005, Saudi Arabia exported 1.57 million bbl/d of oil (of which 1.51 million bbl/d was crude) to the United States. For this time period, Saudi Arabia ranked fourth (after Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela) as a source of total (crude plus refined products) U.S. oil imports, and third for crude only. Saudi Arabia is eager to maintain and even expand its market share in the United States for a variety of economic and strategic reasons. During the first five months of 2005, Saudi Arabia's share of U.S. crude oil imports was 14.9 percent, up from 13.9 percent during the first five months of 2004.

 The Department of Energy  believes

Oil is the lifeblood of America’s economy.  Currently, it supplies more than 40% of our total energy demands and more than 99% of the fuel we use in our cars and trucks.

Oil, however, fuels the United States and Europe's foes as well. In August The Atlantic Review wrote that SUV drivers undermine US foreign policy by strengthenening anti-American and anti-democratic forces in oil rich countries. Europe and the US seem to be addicted to oil and unable to pursue their national interests and moral principles in regard to oil-rich countries.






Update 11/04/05:

Fulbrighter Fahmy Youssef pointed us to a graphic that suggests a strong correlation between President Bush's approval ratings and the gasoline price.

Kirk H. Sowell responded to some of the criticism against Saudi Arabia in his Window on the Arab World.

This post was also quoted by Americans for Freedom...Afghanistan Iraq Lebanon Egypt Syria Saudi Arabia Iran Belarus... and inspired GM Roper to write Our Friends, Allies, Adversaries, The Saudis!.

And Dr. Demarche was so kind to call this post "one of the best I have read when it comes to policy issues, oil dependence and terrorism, linking to a wide array of greatly varied sources."

 

Linked at:  The Mudville Gazette, Euphoric Reality,  Cao, , The Uncooperative Blogger, Choose Life, MacStansbury, Iowa Voice, TMH’s Bacon Bits, Everyman Chronicles, Big Dog, Obligatory Anecdotes, Something... and Half of Something, STOPACLUPublius Rendezvous, Political Teen, 10ft2ft,

Thank you all! 

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Dan on :

Considering Muslim aversion to swine and their funding terror with petrodollars it seems almost poetic that a University of Illinois professor discovered a way to convert Pig Manure into to Crude Oil http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/07/0701_040702_pigoil.html Also there is this project I have been reading about for some time, I believe the initial funding was from Berkshire Hathaway and estimates were $11.00 per barrel production cost and obviously selling at what the market will bear. At any rate, they have one plant in production, and are spending money on engineering and architecture on another plant to be built in Colorado so there is some there, there. http://www.discover.com/issues/jul-04/features/anything-into-oil/ http://www.changingworldtech.com/information_center/press_releases.asp?id=19 http://www.res-energy.com/ What I don’t understand is why all the fretting, approximately 1/4 of the worlds population is industrializing so of course this will put temporary pressure on energy prices. But this is a temporary problem, as prices rise workarounds will be found or the occasional better way and fortunes will be made and I will still be enjoying my gas-hog. I suppose some of it is the desire to feel important or at least needed, but these same people look to government for solutions making themselves worse than useless.

stehpinkeln on :

I don't see what the big deal is. The KSA has OIL, America needs OIL, so we buy OIL from the KSA, although not as much as we but from other nations. Yes, the Saudi Wahadi's hate us. So What? We don't like them very much either. Why should that interfer with doing business? "the general aim of the jihad and the mujahadeen is to strike at the foundations and infrastructure of the Western colonialist program or at the so-called world order.... Their defeat means, simply, the elimination of all forms of nation-states, such that all that remains is the natural existence familiar to Islam, the regional entity under the great Islamic state." -Osama bin Laden Yes, they want to destroy the west. Not so much a physical destruction, the destroying the Ideas that are the core of western civilization. Just as we have been doing to them. This IS a conflict of civilizations. There will be only one survivor. Either the western concepts of human rights and universal suferage will win or the Islamic concept of surrendering to god (Allah) will win. For Islam to co-exist with Western civilization, it will have to change to the point where it is no longer Islam, but a watered down, cross between Islam, Christianity and Judesm. This war is about 1400 years old. It has been fought in a sporadic manner because the two cultures were able to ignore each other. Then came the industrial revolution, which the Mulsims passed on. Western society had a need for OIL and the power to take it, so they did. Now Arabs are fighting back. I don't blame them, although understanding their POV doesn't prevent me from cheering everytime another Jihadist bites the dust. The Arabs stand about the same chance the American Indian did, which on a scale of 1 to 10 is zero. They will end up on reservations in about 50 years. If they are lucky. What they are NOT going to do is wake up one morning and stop fighting. "We don't make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value. It has no sanctity." -Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad "All Muslims of the West will be obliged," he said, (of his adherence to Osama bin Laden) to "become his sword" in a new battle. Europeans take heed, he added, saying, "It is foolish to fight people who want death -- that is what they are looking for" -Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammad "The youths also reciting the All Mighty words of: "so when you meat in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks..." (Muhammad; 47:19). Those youths will not ask you (William Perry) for explanations, they will tell you singing there is nothing between us need to be explained, there is only killing and neck smiting." -Osama bin Laden, 1996

shell on :

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MASUD on :

Well u see the thing is that in every country there r people who do the wron kind of stuff -- the West is no exception and neither is any Middle Eastern country, ut branding a whole nation for a fault of the few is not reasonable. Masud

JW on :

Thank you for all your comments!!! @ Dan Thanks for the interesting links to alternative sources @ Stehpinkeln You seem to have strong prejudices against Arabs and Islam. "I don't see what the big deal is." Then, please read the post again. In brief: You finance extremism everytime you buy gas. "The KSA has OIL, America needs OIL, so we buy OIL from the KSA" So you rather have cheap oil than be safe? Do you care about national security, freedom, democracy and human rights? "Not so much a physical destruction, the destroying the Ideas that are the core of western civilization. Just as we have been doing to them. This IS a conflict of civilizations. There will be only one survivor. Either the western concepts of human rights ..." We finance their extremism. How is the concept of human rights going to win, if our governments value oil more than human rights and national security? @ Masud I don't blame a whole nation, but the Saudi government and I blame some of the private and public charities. I appreciate all your comments. Controversial dialogue is great.

At the Zoo on :

The Saudis have proved they are untrustworthy too many times for any sensible person to believe them about what day of the week it is. When they cooperate, it's only because it serves them well to. At this point, what else are we going to do? It's not really an addiction -- it's a necessiity of life in a developed and productive nation, especially one as vast as the US. We waste plenty, but it's not like we waste it all. Much good comes of our productivity for the world. The United States needs oil like China needs food. This problem doesn't rise to the level of just cause to just go and take it, and America would dread ever having to do that because of the constant PITA any involvement in the ME is. So, we put up with it. But it's never too late to really start conserving and investigating domestic sources and to start really pouring money wisely into alternatives. Driving all these trucks and vans is crazy. That would help a lot. Plus, we don't know when Saudi cheap oil will run out. It could be any time. - Kathy K

JW on :

"We waste plenty" We all do. SUV drivers in cities waste most. I agree with your call to "start really pouring money wisely into alternatives." *Thanks for your comment*

Chris on :

Great post... Many of those sources I do not read enough. Thanks.

praktike on :

There's no question that Saudi Arabia has dirty hands where Islamic extremism and probably terrorism is concerned, but the more interesting question in my mind is to what extent the Saudis are cooperating today. As far as human rights go I think we need to be realistic about what is achievable there and in what timeframe. It's clear to me that with the new King Abdullah we're dealing with a leadership that is less extreme than its population and certainly its clergy but is loath to proceed at the reform pace desired by Western critics. But I think that from what I've read the Saudi government, at least, is being largely cooperative as far as Al Qaeda is concerned. Regarding the Freedom House report and the CRS summary, I think much of it is of historical interest at this point though there are doubtless still problems to be addressed.

karthik on :

Check this news : The Saudi version of *Justice.* The Times of India - A Keralite youth is facing an "eye-for-eye" punishment in Saudi Arabia after a court found him guilty of blinding an Arab during an altercation two years ago. The helpless family members of the youth are in tears and prayers hoping that their kin would return unhurt. Puthan Veettil Naushad, who worked as an assistant in a shop attached to a petrol station near Dammam in Saudi Arabia, was the sole bread-winner of the family comprising his parents, wife and two children at Anchal near here. His life took a tragic turn two years ago when a Saudi national came and purchased a battery charger from the shop. After a while, the customer returned complaining that the product he bought was faulty and allegedly roughed up Naushad. The Saudi national's left eye was damaged when Naushad reacted in self-defence. *The incident landed Naushad in court, which imprisoned him and ordered that his right eye be scooped out and given to the Saudi national as replacement for his damaged eye. * However, according to the family members, the court of appeal has directed the Saudi national to consider whether Naushad could be pardoned. As per _Shariat_ , the offender can escape punishment if the affected person pardoned him. As a ray of hope for the grieving family, Naushad rang up his wife Shuhaila from Saudi on Monday to say that he hoped the man who took him to court would show mercy.

Lee on :

Learn Saudis and iSLAM [url]http://www.news.faithfreedom.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=378[/url]

Jim Scout on :

There has been a very good video, sorta a wartime campaign that indicates the real intentions of the US with regards to war. It isn't so much to do with the control of the middle east rather its just the US using their military might to sway the world in which direction they wish, much like the british a few centuries ago with the British India Company, now its just the US Navy.

ahmed Ibrahim on :

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rendra wahyudi on :

Yes God has a heart that all the slaves of rich and poor, the weak and strong Yes God omniscient ruler of the universe all, this day thy servant above induce majesty, the servant asks for mercy love thy Yes please Excellency the servant of God to open hearts to one another all the people I love, love each other, respect each other price O servant of Allah, love please Excellency to the servants who currently need, so that Royal Highness deign to open the hearts of all of this helps to open and distress and unrest servant O servant of Allah is very little need of funds used for the purposes of the servant, and to return to this earth again, O God You are the servants know what to do and do O Allah open the hearts of all your servants made good sense for this slave O servant of Allah, there is hope that people are willing to set aside part of the Worship of funds to this account of the servant: Bank Central Asia Bekasi Branch: Account Number: 0662424046, Thank you O God, this is only on the will of God Worship Yes O God, you can only open and a closed heart, to see the real truth wasalam your servant

Pat Patterson on :

Interesting as the exact same comment was recently placed in the Forbes Magazine published in Indonesia. http://fatihsyuhud.com/2008/05/15/forbes-2008-40-richest-japanese/

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