How the Saudis play hardball with their Western allies
The United States could learn a lesson from Britain on the ramifications of angering Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis forced Britain to drop an investigation into an alleged slush fund for Saudi princes connected to the Al Yamamah project, in which the Arab kingdom bought about $80 billion in weapons, training and services from London since 1985. Within three months, Riyad turned British law on its head and demonstrated what George Orwell wrote: "All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others."
At first, the Saudi family warned Britain that Riyad would cancel agreements to buy more than $15 billion worth of aircraft from London. In the summer of 2006, the Saudis signed accords to purchase of 72 Eurofighters and upgrade 80 Tornado fighters.
When that didn't work, Saudi Arabia threatened to end its intelligence exchange with Britain. In 2005, Riyad began relaying alerts of Al Qaida plots to London, including a strike on London's mass transit system.
Finally, the Saudis pulled out all the stops.The Arab kingdom said it would expel all British military and intelligence personnel from Saudi Arabia. Riyad would have nothing to do with Britain and Al Yamamah would end.
Those threats finally moved the British government. Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith ordered police to end the investigation, pronto. Anti-corruption investigations that involve other countries could continue. The Saudis became untouchable.
The Blair government has sought a new spin to the cancellation of the investigation into the Saudis. Aides to Blair say the investigation would have torpedoed a Middle East peace process.
We also can pay attention to our own dismal history...when the Khobar Towers got whacked and the FBI sent over people to interrogate the suspects, not the special FBI agent in charge, Louis Freeh or President Clinton could really make it happen.
According to Lawrence Wright, the instant the evidence started pointing to Iran and Hizballah they whisked off the suspects and beheaded them (SHOCK SHOCK),...Turki al Faisal, then head of Saudi Intelligence, recently a resigned US Ambassador, the replacement for Bandar, told the US, 'suppose you nuke the Iranians, you are 6000 miles away, and we have to live with these people'.