Don't Panic! January 30 2002

Terror tips for the terrified

Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and so is Osama bin Laden. Is Saudi Arabia really a friend of the United States?

If you subscribe to the notion that "a friend in need is a friend indeed," then Saudi Arabia and the United States are great friends and likely will be for a while. They have oil, and we have the money to buy it.

But we do more than simply buy their oil; we protect the Saudi monarchy that sells it to us. Think of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as the wimpy rich kids we protect from the playground bullies (Iraq and Iran) because we enjoy playing with the rich kids' cool toy (oil). And the Gulf War clearly demonstrated the lengths to which we'll go to protect our toy.

But much of Saudi Arabia's population resents the U.S. for what they see as the hypocrisy of supporting its repressive absolute monarchy for the sake of cheap oil, all the while paying lip service to the importance of democracy. In addition, many among Saudi Arabia's devoutly Muslim populace believe that the presence of our troops in Saudi Arabia spoils the holiness of Mecca and Medina.

To top it all off, oil revenue has plummeted in the past 15 years while the country's population has boomed. The Saudi unemployment rate is estimated to be about 25 percent (it's hard to get official numbers from a secretive monarchy). Meanwhile, the Saudi royal family remains extravagantly and tackily wealthy.

The Saudi regime has balanced these concerns by tolerating anti-American sentiment so long as it's not anti-monarchy in nature — and by supporting jihad overseas. It's estimated that up to 25,000 Saudis (bin Laden included) have fought for ostensibly Muslim causes overseas since 1980. And as a further concession to Muslim conservatives, the country also has banned Pokemon.

Saudi Arabia's methods haven't exactly benefited us. Saudi nationals were involved not only in the 9-11 attacks, but also in 2000's bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, the African embassy bombings in 1998, and two bombings on Saudi soil. Most politicians say that our relationship with Saudi Arabia is strong because of mutual interest or symbiosis. Psychologists have a more accurate name for it: codependence.

E-mail your questions to andisheh@creativeloafing.com.??

More By This Writer


Monday July 2, 2012 10:14 am EDT
Fourth of July has devolved into a mindless national block party. Here's what we should do about it. | more...


Wednesday September 7, 2011 04:30 am EDT
Ten years later, a TV terrorpalooza rings hollow | more...


Tuesday September 7, 2010 09:11 am EDT


My favorite foreign policy column cliché of the previous decade is, without a doubt, the Friedman Unit.

It’s a reference to New York Times foreign policy columnist Thomas Friedman. Fair and Accuracy in Reporting noted that, between November 2003 and May 2006, Friedman used some form of the phrase “the next six months is crucial in Iraq”...

| more...


Thursday August 26, 2010 02:42 pm EDT

The last U.S. combat troops left Iraq on August 19. War over. Woohoo!

Take that, you stupid 9/11 terrorists who had absolutely nothing at all to do with Saddam Hussein or Iraq. Boo ya!

No. Wait. Upon further review, it turns out the war isn’t exactly over.

The combat troops are out, but there are still roughly 50,000 non-combat troops in Iraq. Iraq still has the third largest foreign...

| more...


Tuesday August 24, 2010 12:04 am EDT

As someone who had to turn on the closed captioning during The Wire, I totally get this.

The Associated Press:

ATLANTA — Federal agents are seeking to hire Ebonics translators to help interpret wiretapped conversations involving targets of undercover drug investigations.

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently sent memos asking companies that provide translation services to help it find...

| more...
Search for more by Andisheh Nouraee

[Admin link: Don't Panic! January 30 2002]