Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by Annie, Jun 1, 2004.

  1. Annie

    Annie Diamond Member

    Nov 22, 2003
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    After the attacks in Saudi Arabia this weekend, the State Department has called for all Americans to vacate. Granted the Saudis failure to provide adequate protection is at fault, but al Queda still wins.,5744,9707441^7583,00.html

    Victor Davis Hanson: Appeasing al-Qa'ida will only encourage militants

    June 01, 2004
    THE recent terrorist murders of Westerners in Saudi Arabia has all the hallmarks of the global war waged by al-Qa'ida and its sympathisers.

    Attack the Western presence in Saudi Arabia to force the departure of foreign experts. Shake the regime - and thus bring Osama bin Laden's minions one step closer to realising the Islamist goal of a Middle East caliphate. With much of the world's oil under the fundamentalists' control, they could strangle the global economy while obtaining the type of weapons that can blackmail the West, destroy Israel and implement a new dark ages in the Middle East.

    We can learn much from this most recent abhorrent slaughter. Once more, the terrorists are politically sophisticated. They chose the time of their attack to coincide with the kingdom's announcement that it would increase oil production to prevent a slowdown of the world economy, now reeling under dramatic fuel price spikes. Appeasement was the Spanish response to the bombing in Madrid; in the Persian Gulf, will we see cutbacks in pumping in exchange for promised calm - a de facto turning over of the daily rate of petroleum production to al-Qa'ida's dictates?

    By cutting and running in Iraq, the Spaniards may think they bought time, but all that capitulation did was to direct the emboldened killers elsewhere for a time. Blackmail, to work after all, must at least provide the illusion to the cowered that it brings safety for the moment.

    We also see the same creepy methods of bloodshed familiar from Fallujah, the West Bank and the gruesome, televised murders of Americans - dragging bodies of Westerners in the street, sorting out Europeans, Americans and Christian hostages for special treatment, and deliberating trying to garner publicity for macabre killing. This grotesque circus in Khobar is intended to shock a complacent and affluent Western audience to turn on itself, pack up for home and choose leaders who will appease rather than confront.

    There are other lessons from the latest hostage killings. Much of the West's problem in the Middle East has been the false dichotomy between authoritarian regimes and their Islamo-fascist critics, who sometimes work conjointly against the West, while on other occasions turning on each other.

    The Saudi royals, like most autocracies in Jordan, Egypt and Syria, play a tired game well known in the West. To ameliorate increasing misery among the populace (unemployment in Saudi Arabia is more than 40 per cent while $US800billion [$1.1trillion] is held by the royal family outside the country), few Arab regimes embark on liberalisation, constitutional government, open markets, free speech, sexual equality or religious tolerance.

    Instead, popular frustration in state-controlled media is carefully filtered and directed against the US and Israel - as if those in New York or Tel Aviv can explain why Saudi jobs are scarce or Egyptian water undrinkable. Direct aid to Islamic "charities", funding of hate-spewing madrassas and subsidising firebrand clerics were the old Danegeld that Saudi elites meted out to turn bin Laden's fury against us. And such triangulation worked, if we remember that 15 Saudi suicide killers struck on September 11, 2001 - and earned smug, though private, smiles among many in the kingdom.

    But feeding monsters is dangerous. Now the emboldened killers have turned on their erstwhile own. If the Spanish appeasement directs predators elsewhere for a time in search of similar easy meals, so in contrast do the defiance and deterrence of other, quite different potential victims, who prove that they will fight rather than capitulate. After September11, it is not so easy to attack a US, UK or Australia that crafted increased vigilance and made it clear that they will strike back tenfold when hit.

    In contrast, Saudi appeasement, coupled with little record of deterrence, invites opportunistic probes. Indeed, we will only see more of such assaults until the kingdom eradicates terror, turns with a fury on its own subsidised Islamic extremists - or capitulates.

    Finally, these continual assaults on Saudi Arabia also shed light on the present, though much caricatured, coalition efforts in Iraq. The removal of Saddam Hussein - who, in fact, as we are learning from Baathist archives, did have similar nebulous ties with al-Qa'ida - and his replacement by consensual leaders are aimed at ending the destructive political calculus of the past half-century in the Middle East that has led to this mess.

    If at one time pumping oil and keeping out communists were all we asked from Arab dictatorships, we have learned that such a policy led only to anguished citizens - and predatory terrorists as ready to capitalise on popular discontent as they were to be bribed and redirected by illegitimate regimes against us.

    In the short term we have no choice but to support the kingdom's anti-terrorist efforts and hope that its nascent liberalising efforts mollify critics, improve the lot of the Saudi people - and don't bring on more Islamic fanatics posing as reformers in the process. But should consensual government work in Iraq, terrorists - not us - will be terrified.

    Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the author of Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004).

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