Published on 7 Dec 2010

The uncomfortable facts about Saudi Arabia

I little thought, in penning my last two Snowblogs, that they would lead to such an elision. Last week ended with rising concerns about the leadership of Saudi Arabia. This week begins with Wikileaks revelations about…er…yes Saudi involvement in providing cash to just about any ‘terror group’ anyone cares to mention.

Exactly one year ago, according to the latest tranche of Wikileaks, Hillary Clinton wrote: “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashka-e-Taiba (which carried out the Mumbai attacks in 2008), and other terrorist groups”. She added: “Donors in Saudi Arabia remain the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups world-wide.”

In September 2009, Wikileaks shows an assessment from the then US Ambassador in Baghdad, Christopher Hill, that Saudi Arabia, not Iran, is “the biggest threat to democracy in Iraq”.

On the UK domestic front, last month it was revealed that Saudi cash had funded the publishing and distribution of radical Islamic text books to Muslim weekend schools.

In almost every conflict in which UK and US forces (Special or otherwise) are currently deployed – in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia (to name but four) the ‘enemy’ is funded by Saudi money.

In September of this year the US announced the biggest-ever arms to deal to Saudi Arabia – $60 billion (£38bn) of missiles, bombs, 190 helicopters, 84 F15 fighter jets and the rest.  So was this to assist Saudi’s ailing leaders to defend themselves against radical forces within their own territory? When the Israeli government asked this very question in September, Washington was candid. The deal was to assist Saudi Arabia in defending her borders against external threats and her oil infrastructure ‘which is central to our economic interest’. Congress approved the deal not least because it secured a large number of US jobs.

Hillary Clinton has called Saudi Arabia a ‘key partner and friend’. So what are we to make of these Wikileaks disclosures – they may not surprise, but do they alarm?

As Swedish prosecutors mysteriously withdraw and then restore the rape and sexual assault investigation against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, is this the moment for the UK to accede to Stockholm’s warrant for his extradition? Or is there absolutely no connection between the warrant and Wikileaks activities?

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12 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:


    There still is not the slightest proof of the existence of al Qaeda. In Arabic, this simply means “data base.” The name is something invented by the Americans. They did the same with “Viet Cong” and for the same reason – it provides an easy focus, an identifiable enemy to scare and fool naive citizens.

    The rise of Western Islamophobia has encouraged the more paranoid Muslims to react in unco-ordinated cells, some of them doubtless deceiving themselves they are part of a larger movement.

    The Taliban of course was organised by the CIA and funded mostly by the Saudis during the Russian invasion. Their existence only bothered the West when it began to threaten energy companies. So much is in the public domain.

    The problems in Yemen are a direct product of British imperialism when the country was divided and plunged into civil war. British forces were based in the south of Oman to affect the outcome.

    You appear too to have forgotten about the corrupt British Al Yamama arms deal involving the Thatcher family. You will recall Blair stopped legal inquiries to prevent the truth emerging.

    Wikileaks is small beer. The REAL issue is Western power-mongering. It always is.

    1. lancastrian says:

      Phillip Edwards, you are completely wrong. Blaming these terrorist acts on the West for ‘Islamophobia’ is complete and utter rubbish. When these lastest attacks first started (circa 1988) most people in the West didn’t think much about Islam at all. It is the rise of Islamic Jihad, as part of the religious dictates to subdue and convert non-Muslims that lie at the heart of the problem. People in the West are merely reacting to that, not the other way round.

    2. I.M. Hissaini says:

      In Arabic, Al-Qaeda means the base, the foundation. And only God knows how many foundations those people have destroyed.

      Anyway, it was what you expect of someone with the mindset of a caveman and enough money to buy half of the weapons in the world.

  2. Tom Wright says:

    The world map of oil & gas resources is awful. #1 Saudi Arabia. #2 Russia.

    I can’t think of a single more compelling argument for green power technology – the environment completely aside, there is a case from a purely military perspective.

  3. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    Saudi holds the purse strings. That is the power to manipulate and control. So simplistic, but so ‘in the real world.’

    They can afford to pay for international manipulation.

    Assange says that all sexual claims against him are ficticious. Is there proof to suggest otherwise?

    Why should he step down, that may appear to be an acknowledgment of guilt and something to hide?

  4. adz says:

    Is Mr Assange being set up as have many others who have challenged the world supreme power? As i’ve mentioned many times on smow blog and will never cease to spread the word, Wall street and big business worldwide are the supreme powers. Again, an invisible dictatorship! Everyone who lives in democracy believes to be free but it is the complete contrary. The masters want their slaves to believe they are free when in actual fact all we are missing is the heavy rusty chains the poor Africans had to wear for hundreds of years.
    It is all about spreading business and making money, whether it’s brand new F-18s to the Saudi Kingdom or a new Mcdonalds in Minsk.
    adzmundo Greenpeace & TVP

  5. Plashing Vole says:

    When the Iraq war started and Tony Blair made lots of speeches about bringing democracy and human rights to that country – especially the women – I asked Rob Marris (my very New Labour MP) when the invasion of Saudi Arabia was planned for.

    He responded, rather huffily, that it was ‘completely different’, though I still fail to see why, other than Clinton’s very candid reference to oil.

    Still – massive respect to the American State Department in managing to be best friends with Israel and Saudi Arabia at the same time. I imagine they spend a lot of their time with hands over ears, wearing blindfolds, singing ‘la la la can’t hear you’.

  6. anniexf says:

    To answer your last question first Jon: of course there’s a link, the US authorities have leaned on the Swedes & the UK have been similarly “influenced” not to allow Assange bail. It would hardly have been a problem to confiscate his passport & require him to report daily to the police, like Asil Nadir. The US authorities can interfere anywhere they like, as well as refuse to co-operate, vis. the several inquests here on “friendly fire” UK soldiers’ fatalities where US military personnel were called to give vital evidence but were prevented from doing so by their superiors.
    So the USA wants to keep the Saudis sweet re oil by providing arms, but the USA also acknowledges the Saudis’ financial support for the enemies of the land of the free. A bit of a bind, eh? If the Americans think they can buy loyalty from people who loathe them, they’re grossly misjudging the Arab mindset. Their only alternative is to remove them. Perhaps all this shouting from across the pond about Iran is just for starters – a convenient cover for the real target? It wouldn’t surprise me at all to hear, again, that the USA is concerned about the rights of women there , blah blah, here we go again ..

  7. adrian clarke says:

    There is little surprise in this blog Jon.Saudi is one of the richest nations per capita on earth.They are also an Islamic nation,with oil that most of the world relies on.America and probably ourselves want that oil protected , so supply arms to a potential enemy to protect its borders.That in turn keeps the weapons industry going and provides many jobs to the US supply industry.
    The major problem here is the reliance of Western countries on oil.We certainly need alternative power sources to cut off the revenues to the Saudis.If there is proof of Saudi involvement in terror it puts the west in a catch twnty two situation.They know the danger of Islam and its expansionist ideals,so at present the only alternative is to maintain a very strong Israel as a frontline buffer state with the nuclear potential to prevent that expansion

  8. ChrisM says:

    Jon, why is there a virtual news blackout on what is happening in Cancun at the climate change conference? Given the newsworthiness of the extremely cold weather we are currently experiencing (which was explained by Krishnan a few nights ago as being connected to the re-direction of the Gulf Stream, itself an effect of global warming) why is there such an enormous on-air silence? It appears to be the elephant in the room no-one wants to talk about.

  9. Mudplugger says:

    It seems a tad ironic that, on the very day when the perfidious Ken Clarke announces plans no longer to imprison thousands of repeatedly convicted thieves, rogues, villains and vagabonds, we see one man of principle, Julian Assange, against whom no formal charges have ever been laid by any nation’s jurisdiction, being immediately incarcerated here.

    Is this the British Justice of which we should be proud, or is it more brown-nosed kow-towing to the USA ? You decide.

  10. GS says:

    It’s time for Britain to stand up to the US. No way should we extradite Julian Assange to Sweden – a country that was involved in extraordinary rendition.

    We can’t possibly if there is the slightest chance Sweden will then hand him over to the US. A country that has the death penalty and past history of imprisoning people for years without any trial.

    David Cameron needs to grow a pair when it comes to Mr Assange and Gary McKinnon too and tell the US where to go.

    I’ve just heard that the US will host World Press Freedom Day in 2011. You couldn’t make it up!

Comments are closed.