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Column: Saudi Arabia should decide on allies

In a war like the one we are now involved in, we need all the allies we can get. But I just can’t seem to figure out where one of our supposed allies stands on this war and what needs to be done to win it. Saudi Arabia contributed 15 (out of 19) hijackers in the Sept. 11 incident. One hundred out of 158 detainees at Camp X-ray are also Saudi citizens. Osama bin Laden was a Saudi citizen until he was stripped of his citizenship years ago.

Recently, Crown Prince Abdullah, a member of Saudi Arabia’s sprawling royal family, criticized our policy on (what else?) Israel. Prince Abdullah says the United States ignores the plight of Palestinian refugees. For the record, the Palestinian civilians were the ones cheering and passing out candy after the World Trade Centers fell. We’re not doing enough for them.

Prince Abdullah asked, “How can we defend America?” Our position in the Israel-Palestinian conflict was also called “indefensible.”

For me, suicide bombings and attacks at bar mitzvahs are indefensible.Saudi’s Interior Minister, Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, admitted that more than 100 of the detainees in Cuba were Saudi citizens. Furthermore, he said that the Saudi citizens should be sent home and interrogated. Prince Nayef said, “We ask that they be handed over to us so we can interrogate them, since they fall under the kingdom’s regulations.”

It seems to me that Saudi Arabia is incapable of dealing effectively with dangerous militants. That’s what the numbers seem to be saying. A majority of the terrorists we have in custody are Saudi nationals. Most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi nationals. Add to that Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to freeze assets of suspected terrorist groups, and it’s harder for me to believe that Saudi Arabia is completely dedicated to stopping terrorism.

This might sound a bit cynical, but I wonder if we’d be so tolerant of their stance if we didn’t need their oil.

It appears that we’re making decisions based on economics rather than what’s right. If this were another country, we would probably be putting more pressure on them to crack down on militants within their own borders. But since they have something we want, we have to handle every situation delicately to make sure feelings aren’t hurt.

I really think the Saudi government is afraid of Arab militants. After what happened in Iran, the Saudi royal family is afraid of being overthrown and is too afraid to do things that will anger the militants. They can’t appear to be too friendly with the United States.

Saudi Arabia appears to be trying to live in two worlds. They want to stay in the Middle East community, separate from the West. But at the same time, they enjoy having the West give them money for their oil. It’s hard to say which is more dangerous for the royal family: straddling this line or angering the militants.Saudi Arabia pledges cooperation but does not follow through. They need to decide on which side they want to be.

  • Chris Ricketts is a sophomore majoring in English.