First Published Under This Same Title By The Jewish Press On July 12, 1996
In view of major current developments concerning Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States (especially the recently-announced sale of billions of dollars of new advanced weapon systems to Saudi Arabia), this very early article by Professor Beres warrants another close look. One must wonder, as all of Professor Beres’ prior warnings on Saudi Arabia have now proved correct, why President Bush insists upon further arms for Riyadh. At a minimum, the president should be concerned that the monarchy could soon be overthrown by al-Qaeda and kindred Jihadist elements, a transfer of power that would give Islamist insurgents control over all of the latest advanced American weapons.
*July 12, 1996:
When Americans were killed in a cowardly terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia, their deaths were the inevitable result of Washington’s sustained obsequiousness to the Arab Kingdom. When the Saudis refused to extend perimeter security in the American housing complex, the Department of Defense quietly acquiesced. Now, even when it is already too late for our murdered countrymen and women, Saudi leaders remain effectively hostile to the United States and, of course, to Israel.
Contrary to widespread public perceptions, Saudi Arabia is not a “moderate” Arab state or a reliable American ally. Although it is certainly true that we need Saudi oil and Saudi purchases of American weapons, it is a need that has already begun to backfire. Over time, the misconceived relationship between Washington and Riyadh will encourage not only additional anti-American terrorism, but also far-reaching instability in the Middle East – instability leading to intermittent war.
A principal problem is Saudi Arabia’s irreversible and existential opposition to Israel. Make no mistake about it; “moderate” Riyadh wants Israel off the map. From the beginning, appearances notwithstanding (appearances encouraged by the Department of State), Saudi Arabia has effectively been a frontline enemy of the Jewish State. During Israel’s 1948-49 War of Independence, Saudi units fought against the Israel Defense Forces under Egyptian command. During the 1967 War, the Saudis deployed a brigade in eastern Jordan. In the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the Saudi Kingdom quickly dispatched a brigade of troops to Syria. Although this history of active Saudi warfare against Israel is far less substantial than that undertaken by other Arab states, it is not insignificant. What is more, it is a history augmented by ongoing indirect warfare against the Jewish State.
After the 1991 Gulf War, Saudi Arabia supplied billions of dollars to Damascus, money used by Syria to fuel a superheated military buildup of both conventional and unconventional weapons. To date, this money, transferred with the blessings of Washington for Syrian “cooperation” in the 1991 war against Saddam Hussein, has purchased tactical ballistic missile launchers, SS-21 tactical ballistic missiles, improved versions of the SAM-6 and SAM-8 missiles, tactical C3I and electronic warfare systems, chemical warfare delivery systems and chemical warheads.
Saudi Arabia has also transferred weapons to Syria directly. These unauthorized transfers of U.S.-manufactured military equipment, which were directed as well to Iraq and to Bangladesh, were described by the Saudi authorities as “inadvertent.” Among the “inadvertent” transfers were an undisclosed number of 2,000-pound bombs. The inadvertence of this transfer would offer little comfort to those tens of thousands of Israeli citizens who may one day be targeted by these weapons.
Now, as for those U.S. weapons that remain in Saudi arsenals, an important question arises: What would Riyadh actually do with them? Clearly, despite its great wealth and potential, Saudi Arabia has never seriously prepared for its own defense. Unlike Israel – which, despite a chronic shortage of funds, usually stands up to its own enemies – Saudi Arabia depends entirely upon American soldiers, upon our blood. It is hardly a surprise, therefore, that U.S. arms sales to the Saudi Kingdom are generally about jobs in this country, and not about Saudi self-defense (the term is little better than an oxymoron).
Finally, it should be more generally understood in the United States that Saudi Arabia is theologically and doctrinally committed to the complete annihilation of Israel. Even before World War II, King Abd al Aziz ibn Sa’ud deplored “the strange hypnotic influence of the Jews, a race (sic) accursed by God according to His Holy Book, and destined to final destruction and eternal damnation.” Later, King Sa’ud informed a British visitor to his Court: “Verily, the word of God teaches us, and we implicitly believe it, that for a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew, ensures him an immediate entry into Heaven and into the august presence of God Almighty.”
King Feisal, in the tradition of his father, was known for his giving notorious anti-Semitic tracts, including a forgery called The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion, to all visiting dignitaries. Presently, it is “moderate” Saudi Arabia that finances the bulk of Holocaust denial literature, much of which is written by American neo-Nazis.
Saudi Arabia is not a moderate Arab state. Although under continuous threat from regional Islamic fundamentalists, the Kingdom is already animated by the view that peace with Israel is impossible, and by close ties with Israel’s most unrelenting enemies. Moreover, these ties – over the next several years – will likely nurture various Islamic terror attacks against the United States.
Riyadh should not be discounted as a major source of regional aggression. While the Kingdom is assuredly not inclined to initiate war against Israel, it is inclined to do a great many things that would make such belligerency possible. And it will surely continue to clandestinely foment harms against its “dearly beloved” American allies.
Copyright The Jewish Press© July 12, 1996* and August 24, 2007.
LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with Middle East security matters, including Security Or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy. He is Strategic and Military Affairs Analyst for The Jewish Press.