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Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The recent terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia brings into focus one of the real issues in the Middle East -- the Saudi royal family. For those of you who haven't read this month's Atlantic Monthly yet, I strongly urge you to do so (there's a short synopsis of the article several posts down the page). Other reports have also documented the deep ties between the Bin Laden family (through the Bin Laden family construction business) and the Saudi royal family. The Atlantic Monthly article tells us that the Saudi royals have been funding al Qaeda for some time now in an attempt to try and divert their attention away from Saudi Arabia. It looks like this dynamic may be changing, i.e. al Qaeda may now feel that it's time to start attacking targets within Saudi Arabia. This could be a testing of the waters, a way of determining how the Saudi Arabian government will respond to terrorist attacks and to flesh out their intelligence capabilities. It will also put both the United States and the Saudi government solidly on the same side, making both an easier political target. This always was the case, but with the recent announcement of a U.S. military pullout from Saudi Arabia there appeared to be a realization that the Saudi royal family can't last forever and that sooner or later the U.S. will have to start appealing to the Saudi "street". As the Atlantic Monthly article pointed out, the targets in Saudi Arabia are softer and more numerous, as well as potentially more damaging. Why take out hard-to-kill targets in the U.S. when you can hit a few spots in Saudi Arabia and bring oil production there to a halt? I don't think though that this is al Qaeda's immediate goal, but it certainly should be among the list of possible scenarios. I think that al Qaeda is more concerned about its stated goal -- unseating the Saudi royal family, and that this is the first shot in that battle to happen on Saudi Arabian territory.

Andrew 9:56 AM : |


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