Thursday, April 21, 2016

UPDATED: Obama: On Bended Knee To The Saudis

I'll defer to others much better versed than I am in the vagaries of international politics to offer a more informed analysis, but the recent deference of the U.S. toward Saudi Arabia warrants a closer look. Despite, or perhaps because of, an unfortunate recent characterization by Barack Obama of the repressive Middle East kingdom as free riders eager to drag others into the region's sectarian conflicts, he has made a 'mea culpa trip there to soothe over tensions.

But why the apparent deference? The obvious answer involves the Saudis' massive oil deposits as well as their strategic location, but another issue has arisen in which the American president is acting as a hindrance to those 9/11 survivors who want to sue Saudi Arabia:

As you can see, a real fear is the Saudis' threat to liquidate $750 billion in American holdings. That fear has likely prompted this deferential visit by an American president. Better, it seems, to deny your citizens justice than to face an economic upheaval.

The argument that Obama gives for trying to impede the bipartisan bill that would allow citizens to sue the Saudi Arabian government seems weak to me. He claims it could open the floodgates to other countries suing the U.S., but as far as I know, there is nothing to prevent such action now. The following report probably offers the most realistic assessment of the sorry situation:

The Saudis have consistently received special and deferential treatment from the U.S. Some will recall that shortly after 9/11, when all air traffic in the U.S. was grounded, a group of Saudis, including relatives of bin Laden, was whisked back to their kingdom. And as indicated in the above video, now it is trying to keep classified 28 pages of a congressional report into the attack.

Vox says this:
In 2002, shortly after a Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks concluded its report, the Bush administration ordered that the inquiry permanently seal a 28-page section that investigated possible Saudi government links to the attack. It has remained sealed ever since.

Some members of Congress who have read the report, but are barred from revealing its contents, describe it as potentially damning. An unnamed member of Congress told the New Yorker, "The real question is whether it was sanctioned at the royal-family level or beneath that, and whether these leads were followed through."

"The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier," former Sen. Bob Graham, who is leading the charge to release the document, said in February.
It is an unwarranted protection of Saudi interests that must end, according to Andrew C. McCarthy, who, as described in a Wikipedia entry, led
the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others. The defendants were convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and planning a series of attacks against New York City landmarks.[4] He also contributed to the prosecutions of terrorists who bombed US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He resigned from the Justice Department in 2003.
Says McCarthy,
it is long, long past time — for the United States government to come clean with the American people, and with the families of Americans slaughtered on 9/11 by 19 jihadists, 15 of them Saudis. The government must disclose the 28 pages of the 2002 congressional report on the 9/11 attacks that it has shamefully withheld from the public for 14 years. Those pages outline Saudi complicity in the jihad.

It is nothing short of disgraceful that the Bush and Obama administrations, relying on the president’s constitutional authority over foreign intelligence and the conduct of foreign affairs, have concealed these materials.

Injustice frequently prevails in our fractured world. Despite all of the public clamour, I somehow doubt anything will soon change for those victims of terrorism currently seeking redress.

UPDATE: Thanks to Alison for providing this link:
Award-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh talked in a wide-ranging interview with journalist Ken Klipperstein about the complex relationship between the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which he reported on extensively in his new book, The Killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Among other things, Hersh said in the exclusive AlterNet interview that the Saudi government bribed Pakistan with “hush money” to hide Osama bin Laden from the U.S. because the Saudis didn’t want the Americans to interrogate him.

“The money was from the government … what the Saudis were doing, so I’ve been told, by reasonable people (I haven’t written this) is that they were also passing along tankers of oil for the Pakistanis to resell. That’s really a lot of money,” Hersh told Klipperstein.

The bribe, in the form of money and tankers of oil, was in the amount of “hundreds of millions [of dollars],” but he didn’t have solid figures to share.
As well, be sure to check out Alison's post on the history of Canada's cozy arms-dealing relationship with Saudi Arabia.


  1. There are reports coming out lately of significant instability within Saudi Arabia including a possible split within the House of Saud. That's never a good thing for a place held together by arbitrary and brutal measures. There's even speculation that the big gun LAVs being supplied by Canada are to even the odds of the Saudi national guard should it have to get into a shooting war with the regular army in the course of a House of Saud civil war.

    With the House of Saud losing its essential solidarity it's hard to see why Obama, who has heaped scorn on them going back to his early days in the Senate, turning deferential now.

    1. I really can't help but think that the Saudi threat of liquidating $750 million in U.S held assets has to figure in this somehow, Mound. Three-quarters of a billion is a considerable figure, but I do not know what these holdings consist of. Perhaps those who own them are putting pressure on their government?

    2. That's $750 BILLION, not million. Three quarters of a trillion buckaroos, or enough to keep the US Armed Forces going for 9 months.


    3. Thanks, Anon. My mistake.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Alison. I shall add this in an update.