Sunday, July 15, 2007

Our Friends, The Saudis

The official line from this administration is that Syria and Iran are funnelling terrorists and arms into Iraq, but an article in today's Los Angeles Times suggests that is simply not the case.

About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.

Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity. It is apparently the first time a U.S. official has given such a breakdown on the role played by Saudi nationals in Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgency.

He said 50% of all Saudi fighters in Iraq come here as suicide bombers. In the last six months, such bombings have killed or injured 4,000 Iraqis.
[Emphasis added]

Why are so many young Saudi men volunteering to blow themselves up in Iraq, and, just as importantly, why are Saudi leaders allowing them to? One answer suggested to the first question is that the merits of such martyrdom are being preached in Saudi mosques.

Answers to the second question are a bit more complicated. Saudi officials claim they can't possibly keep track of each and every young jihadist as they travel, but the article suggests that the Saudi government would rather have the jihadists blowing themselves up in Baghdad than in Riyadh. Further, the Iraqi government is Shi'ite and closely aligned with Iran, the Saudis' nemesis in the Middle East.

What is interesting, however, is that nearly half of the foreign fighters in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia, and this administration knows it: it's keeping records which show that, even if those records are being kept secret from the rest of us. Instead of admitting that our dear friends and major ally in the region is undercutting us in Iraq, the White House prefers to deflect the blame to Iran and Syria, both of whom have resisted the US for decades and at least one of whom is a potential target for the administration's next excellent adventure.



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