Saudi Arabia: Friend or Foe?

(Baltimore Sun) - Joshua Teitelbaum The Saudis view a Shiite-dominated Iraq with trepidation, for it would serve as a forward base for elements wishing to undermine the Saudi regime via its large Shiite minority concentrated in the oil-rich Eastern Province. It seems that for this reason, elements in Saudi Arabia, government-supported or otherwise, have teamed up with al-Qaeda-influenced Iraqi Sunnis, overseas Islamist volunteers, and underground Sunnis supportive of Saddam Hussein to attack U.S. troops in Iraq. Just as "charitable" Saudi organizations funneled money to al-Qaeda in the U.S. and abroad, similar organizations are at work in Iraq. While these organizations are engaged in Islamic propagation of the state-supported Wahhabi variety and the supply of food and medicine, it may be serving as cover for more nefarious anti-U.S. activities. The funding of Wahhabi activity abroad serves as a safety valve for Islamic opposition at home, deflecting attention from the Saudi government's own problems with its economy, overpopulation, corruption, lack of political participation, and an Islamic opposition. The writer is a senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University's Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.

2003-09-26 00:00:00

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