Saudi Arabia, the next Iran?
“In 1985 President Reagan sought authority to sell Saudi Arabia forty-two additional F-15s, antiaircraft missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and Blackhawk troop-carrying helicopters. Again, the proposal raised a storm of opposition in Congress and had to be withdrawn. In 1986 and 1988, scaled-down packages were introduced and eventually approved by Congress after Stinger antiaircraft and Maverick antitank missiles were deleted. Among the approved items were Bradley fighting vehicles, TOW II antitank missiles, electronic upgrades for the F-15s, and twelve additional F-15s to remain in the United States until needed as replacements.”1. http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-11677.html
Several years ago, J.B. Kelly, a distinguished scholar and author of “Arabia, the Gulf and the West”, pointed out the “unbelievable foolishness, culpable irresponsibility and addled opportunism” of helping to arm Persia, Saudi Arabia and the minor Arab Gulf states. His words were prophetic. The government of Iran toppled in 1979 and billions of dollars’ worth of sophisticated American military technology was compromised to the Soviets. Moreover, America’s investment in Iran as a key geo-strategic ally proved to be one of the biggest blunders since the Bay of Pigs.
Unfortunately, the convoluted policy decisions of petro-dollar influenced bureaucrats in the State Department and in the Administration are still pervasive amidst the seemingly endless track record of U.S. failures in the Middle East. America is again about to make another tragic mistake by providing Saudi Arabia with our most advanced state of the art weaponry. Weaponry that will likely be used against America’s allies, compromised to Soviet intelligence and ultimately be employed against Western interests in the Persian Gulf.
By reasonable standards, Saudi Arabia cannot be considered a friend of the United States or even a “moderate” Arab state. In the United Nations, Saudi Arabia votes against the U.S. position more than 75% of the time. The Saudis embargoed the sale of oil to America in 1974 and still to this day engage in price gouging directed against the consuming nations. The Saudis also threatened the United States for announced plans to fill its Strategic Petroleum Reserve. In essence, our supposed “ally” has conducted economic warfare against America. Even more contemptible is the fact that the Saudis will not allow the U.S. any bases or landing rights (specifically at the U.S. constructed base at Dahran) and have sought to punish Oman for providing U.S. armed forces access to the Arabian Peninsula.
Perhaps the most distressing behavior of the Saudis is that they funded the Syria procurement of over $Six Billion dollars’ worth of weaponry from the Soviet Union. American weapons sent to the Saudis under the condition it would never leave their country ended up in the captured arms caches of the PLO. The list of abhorrent Saudi actions could fill volumes. Simply stated, the Saudis are a feudal despotic regime where public beheadings, misogyny and slavery are still commonplace. Only by accident of geography is this modern desert kingdom sitting on top of petro-dollar wealth.
Thus, it is critical that the American public raise a clamor over the impending arms sales of some of the most sophisticated American technology to an unstable and hostile monarchy. Saudi King Khalid himself summed up the Saudi attitude at the 1981 Islamic Conference: “Our loyalty should not be to either the Western bloc or the Eastern bloc, but to Allah, his prophet and the Islamic masses everywhere in the world.”
Indeed, as we did in Iran, America is again making the same dangerous mistake in not dealing with the Arab’s submission to Islam as more than a religion, but a way of life. Nowhere is the non-Muslim world has a non-Muslim minority ever been granted equal rights. The Koran, regarded by Muslims as the word of God, is openly hostile to both Judaism and Christianity. Druze, Copts, Baha’is, Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, etc. are relegated to “Dhimmis” (second class persons). All have been victims of Muslim persecution, and in some cases, genocide.
Dr. Mordechai Nissan, Professor of Arabic history and culture at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, sums up the underlying problem of the Western world’s relationship with the Arabs: “The root of the problem lies in the fact that Western concepts of civic values do not exist in these countries. Democracy and liberalism are principals that hardly ever penetrate their political and social systems. Power, concentrated in the hands of an absolute ruler and a small ruling clique, changes hands through coups, assassinations and violent internecine factional struggles, not through the ballot box. Violence and oppression are the paramount forms, rather than parliamentary government and the rule of law.”
Hence, the former American policy to “westernize” Iran only instilled further contempt for U.S. President Carter’s policies of weakness and appeasement which were not respected by the Muslim world and the Islamic fundamentalists merely used the abandonment of the Shah to further their own causes.
Saudi Arabia, in the mold of Iran, is a time-bomb waiting to erupt.
The Saudis have an army of 35,000 and an air force of no more than 200 aircraft. Apologists for AWACS and other state of the art technology transfers claim that the Saudis must contend with Iranian threats to their shipping and possibly a direct conflict. This was the rationale used by the Administration when emergency Presidential powers were invoked to bypass Congress and transfer Stinger high-tech anti-aircraft missiles to the Saudis. Such logic was unadulterated folly.
The fact is that the Iraqis had attacked more than ten times as many cargo ships as the Iranians. Moreover, the Iranian Air Force is so decimated that they maintain only fifty combat ready fighters which are mostly F-4s, short of spare parts and no match for the Saudis advanced F-25s. Now the Pentagon has announced that it will break its own arms moratorium for the Saudi Arabians. A new arms package will include 40 more F-15 fighter jets that will be outfitted exclusively as offensive ground-attack bombers and 629 “Identification Friend or Foe” air defense systems.
Against whom do the Saudis intend to use this equipment? The answer is obvious, Israel. Recently, the Saudi Ambassador to the U.N., Ma’arouf Al Dawalibi, argued that Hitler must have had a good reason to attempt extermination of the Jews. In September of 1980, Crown Prince Fahd called for “Jihad” (holy war) against Israel. The sad fact about Washington, D.C. is that petro-dollar influence can go a long way towards selling out the only democracy willing to stand up to Soviet expansionism in the region.
Ironically, as American oil dependency decreases, the need for protecting the Gulf shipping lanes may become secondary in strategic importance. However, the massive accumulation of American weaponry, which will amount to well over $150 Billion dollars and will become the prized target for the Soviet Union. When the Saudi Monarchy collapses, an inevitable event, the Arab world, the Soviet Union or their proxies (Syria, Iraq, Libya, etc.) will be poised to come in and reap the intelligence bonanza from the weapons booty.
The demographic situation of Saudi Arabia which necessitates a huge importation of foreign workers, military advisors (including Pakistani Shiite Muslim troops and Iraqi Air force personnel) already make it a precarious situation for technology transfer. In 1981, 12 American F-15 Air Force pilots protested the proposed sale to the Saudis of sidewinder missiles, on the grounds that they would easily fall into the hands of the Soviets and thereby destroy an American technological advantage. No doubt, Saudi Arabia has become the ideal haven for KGB operations. Why bother to attempt infiltration of U.S. industries when the finished product is available next door?
The United States should not appease Arab Despots who have bled our economy by raising the price of oil twentyfold, funded international terror, disallowed permission for American military presence on their soil, financed Syrian procurement of Soviet weaponry and have consistently failed to take a stand against Soviet motives in the Middle East. Moreover, the United States should not form alliances with nations who so blatantly disregard human rights and reject as a way of life, the ethical standards espoused in Judeo-Christian societies. America should only supply sophisticated weaponry to dependable, strong, pro-American/anti-Soviet nations who have a stable leadership. Saudi Arabia does not meet any of these conditions. It is critical that the American public pressure public officials to take a morally urgent stand against the misguided foreign policy of capitulating to the whims of the Saudis. Otherwise, we should all prepare to confront another debacle that will have even more destructive consequences than the American experience with Iran.