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Hichem Karoui

US Foreign Policy in the Gulf After 9/11 The effect on US-GCC relations (Saudi Arabia in the focus)


U.S. Foreign Policy In The Gulf After September 11

The effect on US-GCC relations Saudi Arabia in the focus



I would like to thank a lot of people, whose help has been essential for the completion of this research. I mention from the Sorbonne University (Paris III), Department of English and American studies: Mrs. Malie Montagutelli, along with .P.Schnapper, C.BonafouMurat, and Jean Pierre Bourcier. I mention also the staff of the American Library in Paris, with at its head M. Charles Trueheart. And of course, I am much indebted to professor Burhan Ghalioun (Sorbonne-Nouvelle: Department of Oriental studies), who has always advised and encouraged me.


Books by Hichem Karoui In French : - Où va l'Arabie saoudite? L‘Harmattan . Paris . 2006. - L‘après-Saddam en Irak : les plans, les hommes et les problèmes. L‘Harmattan. Paris.2005. In Arabic : - Al nisr wal houdoud (prolegomenon For a Critique of the Arab Policies ). ‫ مقدمت لىقد الواقع السياسي العربي‬:‫الىسر والحدود‬ Dar al Nawras. 1988. - Al tawazun al duwali (International Balance, From The Cold War To The Detente.) ‫التوازن الدولي مه الحرب الباردة الى اﻻوفراج‬ Addar al Arabiyya lil Kitab. 1985. - Amidatu al Junun al sabaa (7 Pillars Of Madness – A Novel) ‫أعمدة‬ ‫الجىون السبعت‬Addar al Arabiyya lil Kitab. 1984. - Noun : ‫ وون‬A Novel. Déméter. Tunis. 1983.

In Progress: Bush America And the Middle East.



Introduction :

Questions of



Chapter One : Political Ramifications……………… 23 - US and Western Critiques of Saudi Policy………… 26 - Islamism, Internationalism, Nationalism………… 33 - Identity Problematic and Nationalistic Irrationality 36 - Neo Fundamentalists…………………………….. 40 - Media War……………………………………….. 44 - PAX AMERICANA……………………………… 50 - Madrasas , problems of education………………... 52 - Living in the denial, adopting conspiratory theories or losing identity…………………………………….. 54 - Another Pearl Harbour?………………………….. 58 - The Saudis react………………………………... 60 Chapter II : Economic Ramifications……………………. 69 - Complexity of a relationship……………………... 70 - Oil and Security…………………………………... 71 - Data rates and performances……………………... 73 - Trade relationship………………………………… 76 - Oil production……………………………………. 77 - The challenges of the Muslim nations……………. 79 - There is ally and ally……………………………... 81 - US Energy supply and demand – Base case……... 83 5


Special Partnership……………………………….. 85 Terror Funds……………………………………… 87 Americo-American controversy………………….. 91 Occult international financial network…………… 93 The file against Saudi Arabia…………………….. 95 Is bin Laden as wealthy as he is said to be?……… 98 Arabs and Muslims charge Saudi Arabia………… 100 Is Saudi Arabia worse than other Arab states?…… 102 More questions to answer………………………… 105

Chapter III : Strategic Ramifications………………………

111 - The Gulf or the Peninsula?……………………… 116 - Democracy and interests………………………... 119 - Threats and concerns……………………………. 122 - Defense and Security……………………………. 126 - Elite change theories and American strategists…. 130 - Saudi elite positions…………………………….. 133 - Saudi Arabia, a piece in the ―machine‖…………. 141 - New concerns, self-criticism……………………. 144 Chapter IV : Impact on US Policy and the GCC Bilateral Relations………………………………………………… . 147 - Of vital interests………………………………… 148 - Is it a turning point?…………………………….. 150 - US military and the Gulf………………………... 152 - Democracy for sail……………………………… 161 - Societies under stress…………………………… 164 - Handling the unrest……………………………... 166 - Power paradox and Empire nostalgia…………… 169 - Withdrawing troops……………………………... 173 Chapter V : Futuristic Assessment……………………… 179 - Anti-americanism………………………………. 181 - New time, new thought…………………………. 182 - Politics of identity………………………………. 185 - Islam and the West……………………………… 189


- The failure of romantic nationalism……………. 191 - Reason and individuality……………………….. 194 - Pioneers of Arab secularism…………………….. 195 - Muslim secularisers………………………………197 - Towards liberty………………………………… 201 Bibliography……………………………………………. .213


For: Nana and Mamia

The Essence Of Responsibility “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm…But in stormy waters it takes strength, commitment and responsibility to stay the course. We cannot adjust the winds, but we can always adjust our sails, and when it comes our turn to hold the helm…we must be strong.”



Questions of methodology In a book published in Paris in 2003, two important French scholars have undertaken to discuss the issue of 9/11 in its varied dimensions and connections. Joseph Maila contested the idea that 9/11 responded to a thought event, which means ultimately that nothing or almost nothing could change in the concepts and the notions of international and national policies. Maila contended that since it cannot be compared to the Soviet revolution, nor to the rise of fascism, nor to the violence of decolonization, nor even to the downfall of the Berlin wall, 9/11 has nothing of an event of thought (un évènement de pensée). Maïla concedes however that it introduced some kind of interruption, but he wouldn‘t go to the extension of considering it a major upsetting phenomenon. For him, the event allowed ―the construction of a phantasmagoric notion of conflict unduly generalized in a global violence‖ 1. That‘s why the conflict between cultures (civilizations shock) imposed itself as the core and the asset of the event. As to the islamologist M. Arkoun, he argued that ―the occidental culture is prone to build up the enemy in order to legitimate a frontal war‖. Thus, ―the concomitant construction of two cursed characters‖, he says, ―Bin Laden and Arafat, reached since 9/11 a perfection of the kind‖ 2. In Arkoun‘s eyes, since 1945, and ―more conflictingly after the revolution so-called Islamic of Khomeini, the words Islam and West polarized an intensive work of imaginary construction of the Other: to the Islamic and araboislamic demonization of the West (Al Gharb, with its intellectual/cultural aggression, ghazw fikri) responds, in a controversial dialectic, the 1

Mohamed Arkoun et Joseph Malia, De Manhattan à Bagdad : au delà du bien et du mal, ed. Desclée de Brower, Paris 2003, pp.12-13. 2 Op.Cit. P.15.


fanciful construction of the enemy Islam.‖ 3 M. Arkoun points out also that the word West itself has two distinguished sides: ―There is on the one hand, the inescapable West, ubiquitous, but ideologically built up to nourish the Muslim imagination altogether, notably since the Iranian revolution, and particularly the arabo-islamic imagination, because of the numerous recurrent conflicts that tear up the geopolitical sphere called Middle East in the American political science and scholarly lexicon. And there is on the other hand the West dialectically built up by the EuroAmericans themselves as soon as the matter is about making a unified front against the enemy Islam. This latter West is that of the ―Civilizations shock‖ thesis, opposing a world of values summarized in the war slogan ―unlimited freedom‖ to the non-values, or archaic values dangerously reactivated by the Islamist militants staying outside the unique and universal vocation incarnated by the historical itinerary of the USA‖. 4 We retain two key-notions of this much interesting intellectual debate: first, 9/11 as an ―interruption», and second, the ―build up of the enemy‖. Two preliminary remarks must be noted here: 1 - Concerning the first notion, one must concede that although 9/11 is not a paradigmatic shift in the sense described by Thomas S. Kuhn, as ―scientific revolution‖ 5, the re-conceptualization of international and regional issues, it has introduced, sounds as a new vision concerning these issues. It has not only upset the old conceptions of international order, particularly those that have been used since the end of the Cold War, but it has also brought up some new ―fields6 of thinking‖ to the social sciences. Therefore, it would be much difficult not to report to this event as a line of interruption, not only between two times or eras (before 9/11 and after it) while studying the international, the regional, or any local scene, but also between two worlds: Maybe these worlds are the West and the arabo-islamic 7, and maybe the division line concerns two notions of Mankind future: a democratic, modern, humanistic one, open up on huge, rational, reasonable changes and 3

Op. Cit.P.23. Idem. 5 Thomas S. Kuhn , The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The University of Chicago Press, third edition 1996. He says for example : 6 We use the term ―field‖ with the connotation given to it by Bourdieu. 7 ―The fault lines between civilizations are replacing the political and ideological boudaries of the Cold War as the flash points for crisis and bloodshed‖, according to S.Huntington. The Clash of Civilizations, Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993. 4


reforms, and an archaic, autistic, self-centered one, dominated on one side by hegemonic policies and on the other side by authoritative regimes and totalitarian thought. There is perhaps not a revolution in the knowledge since 9/11, but indeed there is a shift in the patterns of thought, 8 either in the USA or outside it. And if we just ask what is a paradigm, the answer Kuhn provides is: « in its established usage, a paradigm is an accepted model of pattern‖9. It does not even require broad acknowledgment at its start. ―We must recognize how very limited in both scope and precision a paradigm can be at the time of its first appearance‖, says Kuhn. Then what happens? ― Paradigms gain their status because they are more successful than their competitors in solving a few problems that the group of practitioners has come to recognize as acute‖ 10. That‘s why we may be more able to understand what‘s going on if we take in consideration - even as a hypothesis - the ―paradigmatic shift‖ in the American strategy, endeavour and conceptualization of the international scene, than if we reject it out of hand. 2- As to the second notion, there are some works that have been achieved by scholars on this topic, so that they deserve to be taken in consideration while treating subjects related to war, conflicts and confrontation. We cannot attain a meaningful progress while trying to 8

As early as September 30, 2001, the Quadrennial Defense Review Report issued by the DOD (Department of Defense) talks of ―the paradigm shift in force planning‖ , and of ―transforming America‘s defense for the 21st century. The report stresses that ― this Quadrennial Defense Review was the product of the senior civilian and military leadership of the Department of Defense. It benefited from extensive consultation with the President of the United States. It was truly "top down" in that the decisions taken on strategy, forces, capabilities, and risks resulted from months of deliberations and consultation among the most senior Defense Department leadership. This report outlines the key changes needed to preserve America's safety and security in the years to come‖. In the chapter entitled Paradigm Shift, the report says : ―The new force-sizing construct specifically shapes forces to: - Defend the United States; - Deter aggression and coercion forward in critical regions; - Swiftly defeat aggression in overlapping major conflicts while preserving for the President the option to call for a decisive victory in one of those conflicts - including the possibility of regime change or occupation; and - Conduct a limited number of smaller-scale contingency operations‖. Let‘s observe that this is the first time an official document acknowledges the possibility of changing foreign regimes by force. 9 T.Kuhn, op.Cit.P23. 10 Idem.


understand what is at stake, if we ignore such data. Social and political research is different from diplomatic processes. The main object of any scientific approach is the truth, not the embellished truth, but the truth as the empirical knowledge can provide it. Concerning scholars like Samuel Huntington, Bernard Lewis, and others while it would not be right to say that they focused on ―the construction of the enemy‖ as an object of their work, we have to recognize that we would not be able to understand much of their theories without this notion in mind, though. The same thing may be said concerning the intelligentsia in the arabo-islamic world. That‘s why it is not accurate either to pretend that only islamologists like M. Arkoun or political and social scientists with particular focus on Islamists may be interested in such a notion. In fact, even without ever mentioning the notion (construction of the enemy), Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington may well be the most important theoreticians in the West who made full use of its political, cultural, social, and historic meaning while analyzing the relations between the West and the Muslim world. However, if this is to introduce us to the debate in social sciences about new conceptions emanating from 9/11, we will have to recognize that in all that concerns the Gulf region, the strains and the tensions are much more felt than in any other region of the world. And this is so because of varied reasons, among which – and this not the least – the fact that the majority of the 9/11 terrorists were coming from that region. As the problem of Islamic radicalism – especially its terrorist brand – raises the questions of the relations to power and authority, legitimacy, opposition, etc…in these societies culturally different from those called Western democracies, we will have, first, to recognize that in most cultures human relationships are greatly determined by irrational authority. Paraphrasing Erich Fromm, we will say that people function in the Western society as in most societies, ―on the record of history, by becoming adjusted to their social role at the price of giving up part of their own will, their originality and spontaneity‖. Fromm explains that ―while every human being represents the whole of mankind with all its potentialities, any functioning society is and has to be primarily interested in its self-preservation. The particular ways in which a society functions are determined by a number of objective economic and political factors, which are given at any point of historical development. Societies have to operate within the possibilities and limitations of their particular historical situation. In order that any society may function well, 12

its members must acquire the kind of character, which makes them want to act in the way they have to act as members of the society or of a special class within it. They have to desire what objectively is necessary for them to do. Outer force is to be replaced by inner compulsion, and by the particular kind of human energy which is channeled into character traits‖11. If we acknowledge these varied and vital particularities of societies, civilizations and cultures, we would hold already a key to understanding much of collective and individual behavior. One of the consequences of such a statement is that the part of individualities in the social processes is much more important than people are prone to believe. This is indeed a part of the modernization history in the West. The question about whether the same processes of individualization and rationalization have also marked the history of Arab and Muslim societies, albeit it is quite interesting, remains beyond the scope of this study. However, we would need to digress a bit in some theoretical works12 to understand the remark of Fromm that ―as long as mankind has not attained a state of organization in which the interest of the individual and that of society are identical, the aims of society have to be attained at a greater or lesser expense of the freedom and spontaneity of the individual. This aim is performed by the process of child training and education‖13. We will have to question the validity of this claim (Habermas) in the course of this study, with a special focus on Saudi educative system. Both, George Herbert Mead and Norbert Elias pondered extensively the individual-group dilemma currently faced by social movement scholars. Elias states: ―An attentive reader of the classical sociological literature will everywhere find traces of this awkward problem of the relationship between individual and society. Max Weber saw individuals as separate, disorderly, self-reliant and independent. Society was viewed as orderly, structured etc. He would not reconcile the two. Durkheim struggled with this as well viewing society as constitutive of individuals, but viewing individuals as having an ―inner consciousness‖ that may not be objective‖14. Elias concluded that both 11

Erich Fromm, Individual and Social origins of neurosis, article, first published in American Sociological Review (Vol. IX, No. 4, August 1944). 12 The works of Alain Touraine, Charles Taylor, G.H.Mead , Norbert Elias and many others would be of much help for a good understanding of this topic. 13 E. Fromm, op.Cit. 14 Norbert Elias, What is Sociology? Columbia University Press, New York, 1978, p.117.


scholars could not reconcile the dilemma because they viewed the relationship between the individual and society as static. He noted that this is also the case in analyses of social change, which is often conceptualized as a fixed state. Elias argued that sociologists must ―capture the processual nature of societies in all their diverse aspects‖15. His conception of the individual is that of a dynamic person, ―constantly in movement; he not only goes through a process, he is a process. In this regard, Elias viewed the individual as a part of a broad array of ―webs of relationships‖ as is elaborated in his concept of ―figuration‖16. Elias develops this concept to correct a major shortcoming of sociological theories that ―present a clear conception of people as societies, [but] … fail to do the same for people as individuals‖17. Individuals, as he sees it, are interwoven into a network of people. In clarifying his conception of figurations he writes: ―One‘s conceptions of such figurations is a basic condition of one‘s self-conception as a separate person. The figurations can change over the course of a lifetime. One‘s view of ―we‖ and ―they‖ may shift‖18. Mead 19, too, developed a concept of the individual as constitutive of society, but acknowledged individuality. He states: ―Every individual self within a given society or social community reflects in its organized structure the whole relational pattern of organized social behavior which that society or community exhibits or is carrying on, and its organized structure is constituted by this pattern; but since each of these individual selves reflects a uniquely different aspect or perspective of this pattern in its structure, from its own particular and unique place or standpoint within the whole process of organized social behavior which exhibits this pattern since, that is, each is differently or uniquely related to that whole process, and occupies its own essentially unique focus of relations therein-- the structure of each is differently constituted by this pattern from the way in which the structure of any other is so constituted‖20. Mead further distinguishes between the ―I‖ and the ―me‖ arguing that the latter is mediated through the former. The ―me‖ ―is the organized set of attitudes of others which one himself assumes. The attitudes of the others constitute the organized ―me‖ and then one reacts toward that as 15 16 17 18 19 20

Elias. Op.Cit.P115. Elias. Op.Cit. Pp124-128. Elias, op.Cit, p128. Idem. G.H.Mead, Mind, Self and Society, University of Chicago Press, 1934. G.H.Mead, op.Cit, p 202.


an ―I‖‖21. The ―I‖ is the place where novelty and values reside, though the ―I‖ is dynamic and changes as it processes a variety of social situations. Social movement scholars‘ treatment of collective identity processes has tended to preface the ―me‖ as opposed to the ―I‖. The ―I‖ is where values and novelty reside. It constitutes individuality and is where reflection takes place. To be certain, recent social movement theory has dealt with values as in frame analysis, where frames are targeted to resonate with existing group values. Here, too, ―me‖ aspects of collective identity are prefaced and provide a barrier to understanding the processes through which individuals interpret frames. Group values necessarily reflect individual values, but they are not sufficient explanations of collective identity processes. Thus, in social movement theory, there is often the presumption that the potential recruit or social movement activist is only a political/cultural heritage individual divorced from any other identity of self. This perspective ignores the complexity of identity construction that rests on multiple figurations that transcend time 22. This is just to underline how much difficult it is to understand the complex relations between Islamist activists, either taken individually or as a group, and the social and cultural environment wherein they grow up and work. This is also to point out to the rapid, and in our eyes, unwise summarizing of modern Islamic political trends in the West, and their unreasonable linkage to terrorist activities. We will rely mainly on what social scientists call ―Documentary Observation‖, meaning that we will have to analyze in depth and comment a varied array of documents issued by different institutions, either in the USA or in Saudi Arabia and the GCC States, along with all the parties concerned by the current developments: many of these documents come from the public domain, archives, official statistics and data, media and intelligence reports, US Congress publications, and personal information. In this context, the amount of documents issued in the wake of September 11 and related to it directly or indirectly is merely astronomic. We have no pretension of reading or examining much of it. Since the task 21

G.H.Mead, op.Cit, p 175. Individuals constantly engage in self-verification, ―or seeing the self [―I‖] in terms of the role [―me‖] as embodied in the identity standard. 22


is ostensibly out of proportion for a single person – and even for a large group – we opted for a microanalysis circumscribed to the strict minimum of ―pics‖ selected throughout our observatory sticking-up with the event, day in and day out, for the purpose of informing. Even with all the self-restriction and necessary caution, in choosing such or such document rather than another, we should add that something personal and even randomly would also enter in consideration, although unconsciously most of the time. How can one justify, in effect, the option for analyzing or commenting such a ―piece‖ emanating from such an institution rather than another? There is indeed a rational and voluntary choice, aiming at the verification of some allegations and hypothesis; yet, as in all work of this kind, there is also a part of intuition and predilection. To cite Habermas, ―one can gain clarity about the meaning of value judgments by examining the dual, descriptive-prescriptive content of these evaluative, need-interpreting expressions. They serve to make predilection understandable. This component of justification is the bridge between the subjectivity of experience and that intersubjective transparency that experience gains in being truthfully expressed and, on this basis, attributed to an actor by onlookers‖23. Thus, insofar as my personal experience – in the media - is involved, I will be able to gain insight with respect to my object as far as I make of it (i.e. the subjectivity of my experience) an integrative part of this scientific project. Events unfolded since September 11 in such a rapid development that even the most experienced observer would find some difficulties to follow up everything anywhere. Let us begin by some of the last developments: In early 2004, the Presidential study group, - a bipartisan commission of statesmen, diplomats, legislators, scholars, and experts— was conveyed to examine the state of the Middle East and the effectiveness of U.S. policy in advancing U.S. interests in that region. According to the report it has published 24, ―the United States is facing an extraordinary moment of challenge in the Middle East, one that demands an integrated U.S. strategy built on a set of three pillars: security, reform, and peace. The security agenda is the most pressing, but it alone is not 23

Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume One, Beacon Press, 1984, p.92. 24 2005 Presidential Study Group Report, Security, Reform and Peace : The Three Pillars of U.S. Strategy in the Middle East, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.


sufficient. If the United States wants not just to combat the threats it faces in the region but also to change the regional dynamic which produces such threats, the administration should also pursue political, social, and economic reform in Middle East countries and the promotion of a secure Arab-Israeli peace‖.25 We can recognize the great lines of concern of the Bush administration in the linkage between these ―three pillars‖, which has never reached in previous administrations such systematization in the thought. Indeed there is a particular focus on Iraq in the paper, but this is only a result of a process that started just after 9/11, in which Iraq – like Afghanistan- were seemingly the first experiences of change that have involved a huge effort from the USA. Some topics are thus maintained together in a kind of ―package‖ for the ―Greater Middle East‖, to use the new expression: * speeding the training and fielding of new Iraqi security forces while building the structure of a free and representative Iraqi government, * coordinating strategy on Iran‘s nuclear program with key European and Security Council powers, * developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy to fight the ideological war against Islamist extremism, * injecting presidential leadership into calls for political reform, and * investing in Palestinian political and security change and a peaceful and orderly Israeli disengagement from Gaza… Such are the ―Bush administration most pressing Middle East priorities for 2005‖, as described by the report. Prior to the U.S.-led war on Iraq, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States had expanded the security challenges facing the United States in the Gulf region, which has seen three Major wars in the past two decades: the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), the Gulf war (1991), and Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003). Moreover, it was almost established over a relatively long period of time that The Gulf states face internal threats not attributable only to Iran or Iraq. All six Gulf26 States — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the 25

Idem. The reference simply to the Gulf is a convenience to avoid controversy over the usage of the term "persian gulf" versus "arabian gulf". Thus we will use only the term : the Gulf henceforth, except in the quotations of other writers. 26


United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, and Qatar—are hereditary monarchies. Like all the Arab states, they allow limited formal opportunity for popular participation in national decision-making, although several, particularly Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman, are opening up their political processes and earning U.S. official praise for doing so. Kuwait has had a vibrant, elected parliament for over four decades, although the parliament has periodically been suspended and female suffrage was banned there27. Some of the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, are undergoing leadership transitions; Bahrain‘s leadership passed to a new generation in March 1999 when the long serving prince died suddenly 28. Recently, Saudi Arabia‘s first held municipal elections proved at least how much progress the idea of democratization has gained the Saudi mind, although it is deemed to be the most conservative in the Arab world. The Gulf has since the first part of the XXth century struck the imagination of the Westerners as one of the most extraordinary regions of the world with its cozy much intimate ambiance, both hospitable and wild, its mysteries and legends, and its detachment from the historical processes, which sounded to be resulting from the conservatism of its population and so many long centuries of what the Arabs describe as decadence under the Ottoman rule. ―The hazards of history and geography‖, says Peter Mansfield ―have combined to decide that Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the Union of Arab Emirates (formerly the Trucial Coast) instead of entering the modern world as impoverished outlying provinces of one of the bigger States in the area – Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Iran – have become independent members of the United Nations with living standards which are among the highest in the world. Two of them – Kuwait and the UAE – are major financial powers‖ 29. The total land area of the GCC countries is approximately 2,475,190 square kilometers (approximately 28 percent of the United States). In terms of size, Saudi Arabia is the largest GCC state (over 2.1 million square kilometers) and occupies nearly 87 percent of the total area. The second largest GCC state is Oman (9 percent of total area),


Until 2005, when for the first time a lady is appointed member of the Parliament, then Minister. 28 Kenneth Katzman, the Persian Gulf States, Post-war issues for US policy , 2003, July 14, 2003, CRS report for Congress. 29 Peter Mansfield, The Arabs, Penguin Books, 1985, p.331.


followed by the UAE (3.4 percent) and Kuwait (0.72 percent). Bahrain, with a land area of only 620 square kilometers, is the smallest. The weather and soil patterns together with the lack of surface water have meant great difficulties and high costs for economically productive activities. One way to overcome these tremendous natural odds is to learn to control the environment, to build infrastructure, and to modernize with the help of physical capital and technology brought in from outside. This is the background against which foreign economic relations of he Gulf States must be understood. “ The effect of great and sudden wealth on the tiny desert states of the (…) Gulf has been remarkable‖, says P. Mansfield. ―In the kingdom of Saudi Arabia it has produced one of the most extraordinary phenomena of the twentieth century. It is not only that a state which was one of poorest on the globe when it was created half a century ago is well on its way to becoming one of the richest by any standards, with control over a major part of the world‘s financial reserves, but that it should have happened to a Bedouin tribal monarchy ruled on the most fundamentalist and puritanical principles of Islam. The inescapable problem of how to serve both Allah and Mammon has yet to be resolved‖30. Maybe never as since 9/11 this problem has been raised in more an urgency, both to Americans and Saudis, because – particularly- of all the connections between funds and fundamentalist terror, of all the ambiguities and misunderstandings, of the stereotypes, the preconceptions, and the false dialogue, the hypocrisy internationally established. For the historical background, albeit many people still think that the GCC was a reaction against the Iranian revolution, some observers have a different approach. Lenore G. Martin for instance, says that the GCC " was not an automatic reaction to the revolutionary Iranian State. Various collective security arrangements had been discussed among the Gulf States after the Iranian revolution. For example, after the new Iranian regime engaged in naval exercises in 1979, Oman reacted by proposing an international Western force to operate sophisticated surveillance equipment to counter superior Iranian naval forces, as well as a coordinated Gulf states ground force to respond to potential Iranian threats. Both Iraq and Saudi Arabia rejected the Omani proposal. Iraq proposed instead a collective security force with a joint military command composed of Gulf States (excluding Iran). The Saudis also 30



responded by pressuring Oman to avoid inviting American and British forces into the Gulf and by conducting talks with South Yemen, Oman's enemy. Saudi Arabia also offered Oman financial assistance for weapons purchases" 31. In this view, it was after Iraq became embroiled in the war with Iran, that Saudi Arabia proposed the formation of the GCC in the January 1981 meetings of the Third Islamic Conference. The GCC was announced at a Gulf foreign ministers' meeting in February and its inaugural session took place in May 1981. It is not clear what subjects and priorities were privately discussed among the GCC states at these initial sessions. It has been reported that ―their topics included coordinating security efforts for oil fields and installations, as well as collective efforts against subversion"32. Since 1991, the United States has developed an extensive network of Gulf military bases (although Washington eschews that term, in favor of ―access agreements‖ and ―facilities‖ and other such euphemisms, everyone in the region calls these installations in their country ―the American base‖) 33. These cover much of the G.C.C.: - Kuwait has hosted American troops on a regular basis since 1991, at a permanent facility north of Kuwait City (Camp Doha). The U.S. has also prepositioned equipment for an armored brigade. With the build-up of U.S. and allied forces in Kuwait for an attack on Iraq, nearly one-third of the territory of the country has been declared a closed military zone. - The headquarters of the vastly expanded American naval presence in the Gulf, the Fifth Fleet, is in Manama, Bahrain‘s capital. There is normally at least one carrier battle group in the Gulf area at all times. Approximately 4,000 U.S. military personnel are attached regularly to the headquarters in Bahrain. - Qatar signed an agreement in December 2002 to upgrade American facilities in the country, which include a major airfield at Al Udaid, a command and control center (duplicating facilities in Saudi Arabia, in case the U.S. is denied access to them), and prepositioning depots for the equipment of two armored brigades. 31

Lenore G. Martin, The Unstable Gulf, Threats from within, Lexington Books, 1984, P.26. 32 Idem. 33 F. Gregory Gause III, The Approaching Turning Point : The Future of U.S. Relations with the Gulf States, Brookings Project on U.S. Policy Towards the Islamic World, Analysis Paper Number Two, May 2003.


- Oman provides access to American forces and prepositioned material at airbases at Al Seeb and Thamarit and on Masirah Island in the Arabian Sea. - The port and airport facilities in the UAE provide vital logistical support for American Forces, and that country hosts more recreational visits by American troops than any other Foreign country. Gregory Gause thinks that the United States policy toward the Gulf Cooperation Council States has reached the point of an important change. His thesis is that Saudi Arabia has served as the linchpin of American military and political influence in the Gulf since Desert Storm. It can no longer play that role. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, an American military presence in the kingdom is no longer sustainable in the political system of either the United States or Saudi Arabia. Washington therefore has to rely on the smaller Gulf monarchies to provide the infrastructure for its military presence in the region. The build-up toward war with Iraq has accelerated that change, with the Saudis unwilling to cooperate openly with Washington on this issue. No matter the outcome of war with Iraq, the political and strategic logic of basing American military power in these smaller Gulf States is compelling. Therefore, he adds: ―In turn, Saudi-American relations need to be reconstituted on a basis that serves the shared interests of both states, and can be sustained in both countries‘ political systems. That requires an end to the basing of American forces in the kingdom‖ 34. This is indeed an interesting view shared particularly by some Saudi observers. Yet, we must note that it would remain a mere hypothesis as far as it has not been validated by facts, most of all because it seems to counter the orientation of successive American administrations as regards settlement in the Gulf. Anyway, the crucial question here is about the ability of the other states of the region not only to cope with the changes, but also to form a viable, credible alternative to Saudi Arabia in the long term. We are aware that some of these changes have occurred recently on the occasion of the war against Saddam. But is it not too soon to pretend that the relations between Saudi Arabia and the USA have taken a new irreversible turn? Before advancing such a suggestion, we should first answer questions like: how much of theses changes should the region expect and how much welcome are they in the smaller Gulf States? If some of these changes would ultimately find alternative allies to USA among the States of GCC (others than Saudi 34



Arabia) isn‘t this tide going to disturb the balance of powers and the interrelations inside the GCC itself? What if the allies of Saudi Arabia inside the GCC are not concerned to play the part of the alternative option? Then, would it be better to understand first to which extent the Saudi-US relations have been seriously disturbed by 9/11, and whether the disturbance is fixable in the short term? How can we evaluate the future prospects in regard of what happened, on the political, economic, social, and strategic levels? What are the expected impacts of such changes on the internal development of the Gulf societies? These are some of the great questions people inside the GCC and outside it are raising. The answers are neither obvious nor easy to find, because of the complexity of the patterns of thought, the diversity of reactions, and the double-edged problem: the fact that the attitudes are neither only political, nor economical, nor strategic, but also cultural; that religion, traditions, and political and economical interests mix up in an explosive assortment; that some pending questions from outside the region (like the Palestinian Israeli conflict, the relations with Iran, the situation in Iraq, etc) further complicate the picture ‌All those little details have , at one time or another, something to do with the Gulf, Saudi Arabia, the USA, or all of them. However, the main question stays : what is the real change introduced by September 11 on both American thinking and projects and the attitudes and responses of the elite and the ordinary people in the Gulf- especially in Saudi Arabia?


Chapter One _______________

Political ramifications

According to a poll by Zogby International, in January 2001, 56% of Americans polled viewed Saudi Arabia favorably, 28% unfavorably. In December 2001, those numbers had basically reversed, with only 24% viewing Saudi Arabia favorably and 58% unfavorably35. Similarly, much of the American political and media elite, which had generally accepted the US-Saudi relationship, now began to question the value for the United States of a close relationship with Riyadh. For example, the New York Times and the Washington Post both urged a new and more critical American stance toward the kingdom. They even used the same title in their editorials: "Reconsidering Saudi Arabia." The Times said those relations are in an "untenable and unreliable state" because of "Saudi Arabia's tolerance for terrorism." The Post said that Saudi Arabia's "autocratic system…is itself one of the root causes of Islamic extremism"36. 35

Poll cited in Dr. James J. Zogby, ―New Poll Shows Damage Done,‖ December 24, 2001. Accessed via ―GulfWire‖ e-newsletter, 36 The editorials can be found in New York Times, October 14, 2001 and Washington Post, November 11, 2001.


What has changed most dramatically since the attacks of 9/11, has been the attitude in the American right wing toward Saudi Arabia. Both neoconservatives and the religious right had previously accepted the close American relationship with Riyadh on strategic grounds, even while opposing many aspects of Saudi politics and society. They have since 9/11 become vocal critics of the relationship. Given the importance of both of these groups in the Republican party, the American policy toward Saudi Arabia can hardly avoid being marked by their ―updated‖ views. A parallel shift in public opinion has occurred in Saudi Arabia. The close relationship with the United States has always been a controversial issue in the kingdom. For committed fundamentalists, any dealings with non-Muslim powers are suspect. For most in that category, the American presence in the kingdom is, at best, something to be tolerated as a political necessity ordered by the government. For some, though, it is a focus of violent opposition. ‗Usama bin Laden made the American military presence in Saudi Arabia the centerpiece of his indictment of the ruling family. Attacks on an American training mission attached to the Saudi National Guard in Riyadh in 1995 and on an apartment building in the eastern province housing American air force personnel in 1996 took the lives of 24 Americans. The latter attack led to the transfer of the American air wing from Dhahran, in the populated Eastern province, to the Prince Sultan Airbase south of Riyadh, in the desert. Unprecedented polling in Saudi Arabia since the September 11th attacks confirms the anti-American trend in public opinion. A Gallup poll, conducted in late January-early February 2002, reported that 64% of Saudi respondents viewed the U.S. either very unfavorably or most unfavorably. Majorities in the poll associated America with the adjectives ―conceited, ruthless and arrogant.‖ Fewer than 10% saw the U.S. as either friendly or trustworthy.37 A Zogby International poll, conducted in March 2002, reported similar results. Only 30% of the Saudis polled supported American-led efforts to fight terrorism, while 57% opposed it. Moreover, only 43% had a favorable opinion of the American people, and 51% an unfavorable opinion – the highest unfavorable rating of the eight Muslim countries in which the poll was conducted (the others were Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, the UAE, 37

Richard Burkholder, ―The U.S. and the West – Through Saudi Eyes,‖ Gallup Tuesday Briefing, August 6, 2002,


Indonesia, Iran and Pakistan). More recent polls, also confirmed this trend on the eve of war with Iraq, conducted in Saudi Arabia in FebruaryMarch 2003. They found that 95% of those polled had either a very or somewhat unfavorable attitude toward the United States, compared with only 4% favorable 38. The polling also focused on specific sources of Saudi public antipathy toward Washington. Majorities looked favorably upon American science and technology (71%), American freedom and democracy (52%), American movies and television (54%), and American education (58%). However, fewer than 10% viewed US policy in the Arab world or on the Palestinian issue in a favorably light. 64% of those polled said the Palestinian issue was either the most important or a very important political issue to them, and 79% said they would have a more favorable view toward the U.S. if it ―would apply pressure to ensure the creation of an independent Palestinian state.‖39 However, we need only to relativize such results, so that nobody takes them for granted, invariable truths. On the one hand, because we are talking here of a certain perception of the reality, which may be formulated by Erving Goffman‘s concept of ―frames‖. A frame is the shared definition of a situation that organizes and governs social events and our involvement in them. It is the public surface of collective schemas. ―A frame comes into being when its participants activate shared schemas for it; if someone does not share the going schema, the results can be embarrassing‖40. The idea is close of William James‘s ―perception of reality‖41. While there are multiple realities, ―there is one that presents itself as the reality par excellence‖, say Berger and Luckmann 42.


Shibley Telhami, ―A View from the Arab World: A Survey in Five Countries,‖ March 13, 2002. Available at : 39 ―The 10 Nation ‗Impressions of America‘ Poll Report,‖ Zogby International, August 7, 2002, 40 Daniel Goleman, Vital Lies, Simple Truths, Bloomsbury, London, 1998, p.197. 41 James asks : ―under what circumstances do we think things are real?‖ In his answer , W. James pointed to the crucial role of selective attention in creating subworlds of reality, each with ―its own special and separate style of existence‖. William James, The Principles of Psychology, New York, Dover, 1950. 42 Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality, Doubleday, NewYork, 1966, p22.


On the other hand, Bourdieu draws our attention to the fact that ―public opinion does not exist‖43 in itself, and that the polling is actually ―a tool of political action. Its most important function is to impose the illusion that there is a public opinion as a sum purely additive of individual opinions‖44. However, the real impact of Bourdieu‘s remark may be felt on the political level, since in his eyes, polling helps to suggesting the idea that a certain public opinion is favorable or unfavorable to such or such course of events…

U.S. and Western critiques of Saudi policy It is now clear that the main critiques kindled in the USA about Saudi Arabia in the wake of 9/11 concern two kinds of issues: 1 - The security one, that aroused questions about funding, and assumed involvement from within Saudi connections. 2 - The political one, that aroused questions about the internal (local) and external (international, or regional) process that permitted the "making of" the networks that are in the background of 9/11, whether in Europe and the USA, or in the Middle East. There was much talk about " alleged Saudi involvement in terrorism or of Saudi laxity in acting against terrorist groups. Commentators have pointed to the high percentage of Saudi nationals among the hijackers (15 on 19). Others maintain that Saudi domestic and foreign policies have created a climate that may have contributed to terrorist acts by Islamist radicals. Critics of Saudi policies have cited in particular a multiplicity of reports that the Saudi Government has permitted or encouraged fund raising in Saudi Arabia by charitable Islamic groups and foundations linked to Osama bin Laden‘s Al Qaeda organization, which the U.S. Government has identified as clearly responsible for the hijackings. An independent task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, in a report published in October 2002, asserted that individuals and charities in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for Al Qaeda for some years, and that ―Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to the problem‖45. 43

Such is the title of one of his lectures in 1972, published in : Pierre Bourdieu, Questions de sociologie, les éditions de Minuit, Paris, 1984, p. 222. 44 Bourdieu, op.Cit. P.224. 45 Alfred B. Prados, Saudi Arabia, Current Issues and U.S. Relations. Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress, April 3, 2003.


As Kenneth Katzman points out46, over the past two decades, U.S. attempts to contain the threats from Iran and Iraq have depended on cooperation with the elites in power in the GCC. Those threats made the Gulf States highly dependent on a military presence in the region. Yet, the question is : are the Gulf States concerned - as Katzman put it - that the United States might turn its attention away from the Gulf now that Saddam Hussein has been removed? Actually, the Gulf States are not alone struggling with such a dilemma. We should not forget that the entire Arab world is facing the problem of how much dependence a Sovereign State is expected to allow in order to maintain some homogeneity and stability inside the country. This is as well the problem of all the newly emerged States, since the fifties of the XXth century, in Africa and Asia. Yet if it has grown to be so sharp and even violent (considering some reactions) in the Gulf, it is likely because of the energy resources, which have shaped the new culture of the region. Here, unlike the subsaharean Africa, or the Asian steppes, the religion (islam) is still playing the main role in the society. It has created a habitus, which is still underlying the behaviors and shaping the attitudes. In his writings, Bourdieu proposes that practice is neither the mechanical precipitate of structural dictates nor the result of the intentional pursuit of goals by individuals but rather ―the product of a dialectical relationship between a situation and a habitus, understood as a system of durable and transposable dispositions which, integrating all past experiences, functions at every moment as a matrix of perceptions, appreciations, and actions, and makes it possible to accomplish infinitely differentiated tasks, thanks to the analogical transfer of schemata‖ acquired in prior practice.47 More to the point, the islamic puritanism - either sunnite, from the Wahhabi school of thought or the Ikhwan, or shiite , from the khomeynist doctrine - adds more a complicated feature to the situation, because of the officially acknowledged influence it is exerting on both societies and States. Yet, it is likely that the United States will remain highly engaged in the Gulf, as Katzman observes,because the September 11 attacks added a new dimension to U.S. relations with the Gulf States 46

Kenneth Katzman, the Persian Gulf States: Post-war issues for US policy , 2003. July 14, 2003, CRS report for Congress. 47 See Bourdieu : Esquisse d‘une théorie de la pratique, le Seuil 2000, and Questions de sociologie, op.Cit.


beyond the need to contain longstanding threats from Iran or Iraq. He notes also that after the September 11 attacks, the United States began pressing the Gulf states for their cooperation against Al Qaeda activists and financial channels located in the Gulf states themselves. The need for the United States to deal with all the security threats emanating from the Gulf gives the United States a stake in the political stability of the Gulf regimes. It is noticeable that despite the threats they face, the GCC States have proved more durable politically than some experts had predicted, surviving attempts to subvert them by Iraq (1970s) and Iran (1980s and 1990s), the eight year Iran-Iraq war (September 1980-August 1988), the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait (August 1990-February 1991), and post-Gulf war unrest and uncertain leadership transitions in a few of the GCC States. Since September 11, Katzman observes, the United States has heightened its attention to public attitudes in the Gulf in light of surveys and reports that many Gulf citizens are sympathetic to at least some of the goals of radical Islamic movements such as Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden is viewed by many Gulf citizens as a revolutionary Islamic figure who is fighting to overcome U.S. influence over the Islamic world, but bin Laden supporters and other Islamic activists do not appear to pose a major challenge to the Gulf regimes at this time, although they have started disturbing the civil peace with recurrent terrorist operations in Saudi Arabia. Some U.S. officials are concerned that Al Qaeda, defeated in Afghanistan, might turn its attention to destabilizing pro-U.S. Arab governments in the Gulf or elsewhere and to attacking U.S. forces based in the Gulf, from secret basis in Iraq. This is why the political issues in Saudi Arabia – and broadly in the Gulf- seem in tight connection with the special focus on international terrorism. This feature has probably appeared as a result of the failure of American authorities – and their allies in Europe and the Gulf – to prevent the tragedy of 9/11. The ultimate meaning of this feature is that some of the social and political changes inside the latter countries will bear the mark of the security necessities. On the short term, it is perhaps not very affecting, but on the middle and the long terms, some options dictated by security necessities would have to be dealt with to tune up with requirements emanating from the civil society itself. A critical view may assume that if under the pressure of the Americans, the Arab regimes are hurrying up to show that they are moving towards some kind of political reform, on the long-term, a change handled in such conditions 28

of fear and pressure would be very limited in its scope, as it is meant to show to the exterior world that the state finally found a compromise with its society . The consequence may be that in some years, the situation would revert to the point Zero, because it has never been meant to go further. Such a regression may be then equal in its results – or worsethan any longstanding authoritative regime could lead to. This follows from the general principle that social change cannot be forced over any society from the exterior. If it does not emanate from it, then maybe it is not necessary at all. Nevertheless, if the political issues have always in these surroundings a security side, we should not omit that the phenomenon that has released this indigestible salmagundi, -i.e. 9/11- is related to religion, not as dogma or ritual, but rather as political practice. No wonder that one of the first reactions of the Americans – and the Westerners – after 9/11 was to seek to understand who are ―they‖ (i.e.The terrorists). And it is in the answers they give to that question that rely one of the aspects of the politics of post 9/11. Let us however recall the historical background of such a question in order to better understand who is actually the sponsor and the leader of the hijackers : Branded by the FBI as an "international terrorist" for his role in the American US embassy bombings, well before he became prime suspect in the New York and Washington terrorist attacks, Saudi born Osama bin Laden was recruited during the Soviet-Afghan war ironically under the auspices of the CIA, to fight Soviet invaders. In 1979, the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA was launched in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in support of the pro-communist government of Babrak Kamal. With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI (Inter Services Intelligence), who wanted to turn the Afghan jihad into a global war waged by all Muslim states against the Soviet Union, some 35.000 Muslim radicals from 40 islamic countries joined Afghanistan's fight between 1982 and 1992. Tens of thousands more came to study in Pakistani madrasahs (schools) . Eventually more than 100.000 foreign muslim radicals were directly influenced by the Afghan jihad. The Islamic jihad was supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia with a significant part of the funding generated from the Golden Crescent drug trade : In March 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 166, which authorized stepped up covert military aid to the mujahideen, and it made clear that the secret Afghan war had a 29

new goal : to defeat Soviet troops in Afghanistan through covert action and encourage a Soviet withdrawal. The new covert US assistance began with a dramatic increase in arms supplies…a steady rise to 65,000 tons annually by 1987,…as well as a "ceaseless stream" of CIA and Pentagon specialists who traveled to the secret headquarters of Pakistan's ISI on the main road near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. There, the CIA specialists met with Pakistani intelligence officers to help plan operations for the Afghan rebels. The CIA using Pakistan's military Inter Services Intelligence played a key role in training the mujahideens . In turn, the CIA sponsored guerilla training was integrated with the teachings of islam : Predominant themes were that Islam was a complete socio-political ideology, that holy Islam was being violated by the atheistic Soviet troops, and that the islamic people of Afghanistan should reassert their independence by overthrowing the leftist Afghan regime propped up by Moscow.48 Now the question « who are they » aroused in the mainstream media after 9/11 was as much about Islam than about Wahhabism49. Few observers were concerned with linking it to the historical background where the CIA appears to have the main part. People in America and Europe, sought to know whether it was logical for Muslims to kill others just because they are not Muslims. The fact that Usama bin Laden had published a Fatwa legitimating such a behavior, was in itself significant50. A branch of Islam seems to be therefore bloodthirsty and 48

See : Michel Chossudovsky, Who Is Osama Bin Laden? 12 September, 2001,Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), Montréal. 49 The serious French newspaper Le Monde, on its October 4 issue, did not hesitate to run a story full of suggestions and questions about a generation of Saudis that even if it did not take part to the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan, feels an admiration towards bin Laden. According to Le Monde, we must find the causes of what happened on September 11 not in Afghanistan, but rather in the Saudi Kingdom itself. (: L'hypothèse de la piste Saoudienne). Another example : For Mr. Stephen Schwartz, it is the whole Wahhabism that must be singled out as the very cause of what happened on Sept.11. " One major question is never asked in American discussions of Arab terrorism", he writes; and this question is: " What is the role of Saudi Arabia?" Then the answer he gives is quite amazing. In his view the question is not asked because " American companies depend too much on the continued flow of Saudi oil, while American politicians have become too cozy with the Saudi rulers"! (The Spectator U.K. September 22.) For more about this topic, see : Hichem Karoui, Pressure on the House of Saud, October 13, 2001, Media Monitors Network. 50 The ―Jihad against Jews and Crusaders‖ was issued by the World Islamic Front on February 23, 1998. It was signed up by the following : Shaykh Usamah Bin-


seeking war and destruction. People made a quick rapprochement with what they thought knowing, which revealed to be rather the ignored part of Islam. Yet the ignored could not be easily known. Thus, when the French researcher Pascal Ménoret wonders what is meant by Wahhabism , he finds that the term is being used to mean at least six different phenomenons that wisdom as well as methodological caution should advise us to distinguish. He mentions : 1- The traditional doctrine elaborated by theologians claiming to defend the reform of Muhammad Abdelwahhab. 2- The official islam of the Saudi religious establishment. 3- The religious practices of the Saudis. 4- The influence of Saudi Arabia in the islamic world. 5- Some religious opinions preached by islamist groups. 6- Theological reference of a range of behaviour considered in Europe deviant (such as the long beard, non-consumption of alcohol or porc, segregation between women and men, etc) and even illegal (like the head scarf for girls in the french schools) 51. Adherence to religion, though, carries with it the impetus to look beyond the self in favor of that, which transcends the self. One of the best descriptions of that side of religion rational has been pointed out by Christian Smith52. He explains how religion can encourage political action by providing transcendent motivation. Religion provides ―sets of beliefs and practices grounded not in the ordinary, mundane world, but in the divine, the transcendent, the eternal, the holy, the spiritual. Religious meaning-systems operate with reference to supernatural beings, timeless truths, celestial realities. This is what sets religion apart from nonreligious cultural meaning systems‖ 53. In this way, religious life is not about satisfying personal preferences, but it is about living a life in accordance with transcendent ideals.

Muhammad Bin-Ladin, Ayman al-Zawahiri, amir of the Jihad Group in Egypt , AbuYasir Rifa'i Ahmad Taha, Egyptian Islamic Group, Shaykh Mir Hamzah, secretary of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Pakistan, Fazlur Rahman, amir of the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh. See the text of the fatwa here : 51 Pascal Ménoret , Le Wahhabisme , arme fatale du néo-orientalisme, Revue: Mouvements, décembre 2004, n° 36. 52 Smith, Christian, Disruptive Religion: The Force of Faith in Social Movement Activism. New York: Routledge. 1996. 53 Idem.


. * Figure 1 presents a diagram of the transcendent motivation approach. An oval represents the transcendent, while two rectangles represent the actor, and the goal of religious behavior. The arrow from the transcendent to the actor represents the source of the individual‘s goal, the arrow from the actor to the goal represents the religious action itself, and the arrow from the goal to the transcendent represents completion of the religious behavior. While the rational choice conception involves an actor producing ―religious satisfaction‖ to gratify personal needs, the transcendent motivation perspective allows for the end result of the action to be directed toward the completion of a transcendent directive. In the pure form of the transcendent motivation approach, the self is only a minor player in the act, and certainly not the center of activity it is in the rational choice conception54.


For more development of this topic, see: Matthew T.Loveland and Erik K.Sartain, Bringing Sociology Back to the Sociology of Religion, University of Notre Dame, Working Paper and Technical Report Series, n°2003-06.


Islamism, internationalism, nationalism In the wake of 9/11 there was also a question related to Islam and nationalism. If the American reaction emphasized the fact that this was a ―war against America‖, who could declare wars but nationals of other countries, even if they were pariahs and mercenaries? The point is that al Qaeda leaders never hid the pretention that they are fighting to get the American troops out of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. However, as they found refuge in varied countries outside their own birthplaces, and as they masterminded operations that crossed borders and continents from African to Asian and American or European shores, the observers were struck by the international aspect of this activity which they labeled "international islamism", ―international jihad‖, and ―international terrorism‖, while the regional and local aspects became secondary. Such views have been issued for example, by – but by no means exclusively- Israeli analysts, who, while confronted with violent operations executed by Hamas and al Jihad al Islami activists, have been interested in picturing a scene where local palestinian fighters would be part of ― an Islamist Internationale‖. Nevertheless, this view does not stand to the analysis, at least because the Palestinian islamist activists have never executed any operation outside what they deem to be a field of conflict : Israel itself and the palestinian territories.55 For R. Paz, the term Global Jihad marks and reflects the solidarity of variety of movements, groups, and sometimes ad hoc groupings or cells, which act under a kind of ideological umbrella of radical interpretations of Islam. The Islamists saw the fall of the Soviet Union as a direct result of the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan at the hands of Islamic warriors.The masses of Arab volunteers recruited to fight the Soviets in the Afghan conflict led to the opening of Islamic fronts in various local and national disputes with religious overtones: Bosnia, 55

See for example, Reuven Paz, Is there an Islamist Internationale? July 9,2000. Institute for Counter-Terrororism (ICT), Herzliya, Israel, and Global Jihad and the European Arena, by the same author (International Conference on Intelligence and Terrorism, Priverno, Italy, 15-18 May 2002. Let us recall that from the Palestinian radicalist point of view, all the territories claimed by the Israelis as theirs, since 1948 and even before, are Palestinian. Thus, when they operate inside Israël, they act inside disputed territories.


Albania, Kosovo, Chechnya, Dagestan and Kashmir. ―This involvement has led many observers to view the phenomenon of ―Afghan Arabs‖ as a kind of Islamist Internationale, similar to the International Brigades of Socialist and Communist volunteers in the civil war in Spain in the 1930s‖56. Nevertheless, Paz fails to see the national – or even the nationalist – dimension of the phenomenon, maybe because he was unable – like many israelis – to view the activists of islamist organizations in Palestine and the rest of the Arabo-Islamic world as mainly contesting the regimes they are directly confronted with. That‘s why , there is a pre-Afghanistan in their struggle and an after-Afghanistan. In the two periods ,we can observe that the phenomenon fall back to its local (national) dimension. And everything happens as if Afghanistan and all those wars of religious overtones, were just a ―passage‖ paving the way to the main struggle wich aims not at toppling the government of the USA – they know they cannot do that – but rather at erecting ―islamist‖ regimes in Muslim countries. This is actually the real challenge, and any confrontation with Western powers, means in this context, a violent opposition to the support given by the West to the concerned Muslim states. This is actually an internal political struggle with an international interface. This nationalistic dimension of the Islamist struggle, some analysts have been unable to understand. Paz, for example, mixes up the Wahhabism , the international terrorism, and the Jihad. He writes : ―Under the influence of the Arab Afghan phenomenon there has also been an ideological consolidation of Wahhabi-Takfiri Jihadi ideology and rhetoric that resulted in two main developments : A shift in the struggle , mainly through massive terrorism, from the heart of the Arab world into the ‗Wild West‘ of Central Asia and to Western countries or Western interests in the region. Better cooperation between various groups and organizations. In the Middle East examples are Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and to some extent Hizbollah. On the international scene, one can see this in the case of the Egyptian , Pakistani, Kashmiri, Algerian, Jordanian , Yemeni, and Sunni Lebanese groups‖57.

56 57

Idem. Idem.


Seemingly, there is some confusion in Paz‘s perception of the Islamist phenomenon. First point, one would ask : what is the link between Wahhabism and Takfir? Were the Wahhabists – who are still a majority in Saudi Arabia – takfiris, they would never have been able to maintain any relationship with other Sunnite Muslims who do not share their principles and who are also the majority in their respective countries. After all, who launched the idea and founded a quite acknowledged International Islamic Organisation acting on behalf of islamic states, but the Wahhabist Saudis ? Takfir is a notion that asserts that the ―others‖ are not believers, and as such they deserve to be considered as foes of God. The most clear example of such an endeavour is that of the Egyptian extremist group, labeled al takfir wal hijra, which ―executed‖ President Sadate on these same grounds. Second point, what Paz figured out to be a ―shift in the struggle‖, was rather a parenthesis, imposed by two factors : a) the violence of the repression against the Islamists – notwithsatnding their moderation or their extremism- in some Muslim countries and their forced exile ; b) the calling for islamic solidarity at the time of the soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Many Mujahideens thought that an experience in an armed struggle would be useful on the day they return home to deliver the ultimate fight. That is exactly what happened. Third point, if we take a close look at the groups Paz mentions, we would see that each one of them is related to a determined country and a localized struggle inside that country. If there is some kind of solidarity between them, what‘s more normal? All political organisations from the right wing to the left have some connections. Yet, it is too much exceeding the real facts to deduce that because they are islamists they are necessarily similar in their programs and aims, and as such they are also – necessarily- involved with terrorism. Nothing is more wrong, for a simple reason : terrorism is a thing, islamist political organisations are another. There is not necessarily a connection between the two. Moreover, terrorism is not always islamist. It is not even always religious. We should not forget that the first ―terrorists‖ of the XXth century were anarchists, marxists, and nihilists, well before the nationalists of the liberation movements – often secularists – used these same methods against the European colonialism. However 9/11 set the clock on the islamist bundle, not without some good reasons, though.


It was the first time since the wars of decolonization that notions like ―jihad‖ and ―holy war‖ were broadly used to featuring some of the most elapsing characters of our time. And the idea that some of these islamist trends were marked by nationalism started getting some ground. For indeed, before joining hands in Afghanistan, all those small movements scattered over different Arab and Muslim countries have had a national ambition : al Zawahiri was sentenced to death by an Egyptian court because he was incriminated for his activity in Egypt ; and Bin Laden has been spoiled from his saudi nationality because of his activity against the Saudi government. These examples show that the people who actually form al Qaeda networks are initially nationals with national ambitions. If they changed tactics in course of their activity and aimed at international targets, nothing proves that they rejected their initial strategic goal : to overthrow the local elites from power and take over. In the Arab world, the label "Arab Afghans" is synonymous of rebels. They have been identified as key-elements in underground and/or terrorist activities in many arab countries. They have had for instance a heavy hand in the algerian civil war after the failed elections of 1992, in the same measure that they have been active in Iraq since the collapse of the Baath regime, and in Saudi Arabia as well.

Identity problematic and Nationalistic irrrationality Obviously, it is the identity element, which we find missing in some analysis, albeit this is an important key to understandig the phenomenon. ―From the perspective of cultural criticism‖, notes Nilüfer Gole, ―Islamism shares similarities with other contemporary social movements that have introduced new categories of identity into politics, such as sex, race, nature, and religion‖58. Gole pointed to the question of identity definition as one of the most important features of the Islamist movement. ― The religiosity that Islamists recover‖, she says, ―is not something that was there, a social reservoir waiting to be used ; Islam is no longer transmitted by their social, family, and local settings that they re-appropriate and revisit in order to elaborate a new religious self in modern contexts. Islamism is the work of those Muslims who exist under conditions of social mobility and uprootedness ; those actors who have left their families and small towns to come to cities or to cross national 58

Nilüfer Gole, The Voluntary Adoption of Islamic Stigma Symbols, in : Social Research, Vol.70, n° 3 , Fall 2003.


boundaries, becoming migrants in Western countries in search of work, education, and better living conditions‖59. Thus, Islam becomes in such conditions of uprootedness and alienation the bond between them and the expression of individuality. ―Muslim identity is transformed from a ‗natural‘ category into which one is born – a tradition handed down from generation to generation – into a ‗social‘ category. Islamism is the name given to this radical procedure, to this shift from Muslim to Islamist‖60. As a result, Muslim identity is revised and reconstructed to fit in with that transformation. Now, the question is about whether this has anything to do with nationalism ? Is it new? Is it a reproduction of a past experience? When and how?And at last, when and how does America enters into the account? Before going any further, let's look at an aspect of the 9/11 course of events that has been seldom talked about. It is precisely because it is in connection with that question of nationalism. Many people in America wondered : Why they (the Arabs, or the Muslims) hate us? And when they did not find an answer enough sound to stand critics, they began to convince themselves that the real evil came from wahhabism, although they have lived and coped with it for more than half a century. But the amazing thing is that without these clues, 9/11, would have appeared as perfectly detached from any relation to Wahhabism. How that ? The reason is simple : Take a look at the messages issued by al Qaeda . At no moment, there is any hint to Wahhabism , neither as an adopted doctrine, nor as an ideological rival. Better : 9/11 as explained by Bin Laden himself, has nothing to do with interpreting islam. The point was not about Islam, but about the unbalanced relations between America and the Arabo-islamic world in political and economical matters. Otherwise, in matters that are not religious but political : Bin Laden hinted several times to the Palestinian problem, and to the 12 years' long plight of the Iraqi people under the embargo. The message was clear : He held America responsible for the death of thousands of people in the Arab countries , in Palestine, in Iraq, in Lebanon, etc… Because he thinks America's policy is egoistic, immoral and unconditionally siding with the oppressors of the Palestinians. For him, 9/11 was a right response to a wrong policy. The matter was not about hate or love, but about pride and respect. The USA as a superpower, in 59 60

Idem. Idem.


his view, does not act out of the moral principles of a world conscience : America does not even suspect the amount of pain its policy has caused to the Arabs and Muslims. In this regard, it is labeled in the major discourses of the islamic movements (and they are not all members of al Qaeda or radicalists or jihadists) as " al istikbar al alami " , which means : the world arrogance. Thus, 9/11 was intended to be a blow at the face of that distasteful"world arrogance", precisely in order to make its people feel pain and wonder : why ? Is that a rational behavior ? To convince America that such or such policy harmed some people, should it be better to slaughter 5000 innocents or to make speeches in the UN or a media campaign on CNN ? Here, we should come back to our first hypothesis. If the brand of islamism that Bin Laden has embraced is a nationalistic one, his behaviour would be as much irrational as his argumentation to justify it would try utmost rationality. About this latter particularity of the man, there is little disagreement between observers. Bin Laden revealed to be, in effect, very keen on media communications, since al Jazeerah channel became his favorite instrument in this context. On the other hand, he would not be able to escape the epidemic nationalist violence, since his return to Saudi Arabia from Afghanistan. As we know, with the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia to combat what he saw as an « infidel government ». Further angered by the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia accompanying the Gulf War, bin Laden became even more outspoken in his anti-regime rhetoric. There is nothing odd about that. In a study about nationalism and rationality, Michael Hechter notes for instance that in 1994 "eighteen of the twenty-three wars being fought were based on nationalist or ethnic challenges to states. About three quarters of the world‘s refugees were fleeing from, or were displaced by, ethnic or nationalist conflicts. And eight of the thirteen United Nations peacekeeping operations were designed to separate the protagonists in ethnopolitical conflicts".61 Yet, one may object that 9/11 is just a terrorist operation not a war; but this is not true. The president of the United States himself, made the remark that it was war declared against his country. A war that necessitated a retaliatory action not only in waging a war against the Taliban regime , followed by another against the Saddam regime, but all 61

See Nationalism and Rationality in : Festschrift for Immanuel Wallerstein, Part One, Journal of World Systems Research, volume VI, n° 2, Summer-Fall 2000.


this was also a piece in a huge war strategy declared against international terrorism. As to the other side, - al Qaeda that is - we should only remember the fatwa of 1998 , which says : "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God...We — with God‘s help — call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God‘s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find It". No wonder. ―The uglier side of modern nationalism‖, says Charles Taylor ―frequently combines a chauvinistic appeal to the national personality or will with a drive to power which justifies recourse to the most effective industrial and military means‖62. Taylor holds nationalism as a fruit of Romanticism in modern politics. In his view , the ―extreme case of this repulsive phenomenon was Nazi Germany. Here was a regime brought to power partly by appeals to expressive integrity against instrumental reason.‖63 There is indeed an important level of irrationality in nationalism : The accidental birth of a person in a certain country gives him the wrong baseless idea that he may scorn others and consider them as enemies. Born in Europe and having a white skin for example, he gives himself the right to plunder the black Africans and refuses to employ towards others the criteria he uses towards his own compatriots. Even a genius like Einstein is disliked by a Nazi German because he is a Jew. Can anything be more inhuman and unreasonable than to prefer a wicked, corrupt and incompetent compatriot of the same race or language to an honest, benevolent and competent person who is born beyond one's frontiers? Nationalism of that kind inevitably ends in racism and racial prejudice. It has been the cause of clashes, aggressions, and constant rivalry between nations, causing much riot and bloodshed all over the world. When a country thinks only in terms of its own interests and gives itself the right to dominate others, the result will obviously be conflicts, aggressions and hegemony. 62

Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self : the making of the modern identity, Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 415. 63 Idem.


Neo fundamentalists An interesting point of view that deserves to be compared with what we have previously mentioned concerning Islamism, is held by the French scholar Olivier Roy. For him, there is no such a thing as what some observers call An "islamist internationale". A survey of the mainstream Islamist movements in the 1990s showed that they have failed in producing anything resembling an ―Islamist Internationale,‖ even if their ideological references remain similar. 64 Many people are convinced of the contrary , though. There has been a wide debate about the internationalisation of the islamist networks, which permitted to the cells of al Qaeda to be transplanted in Iraq after losing their base in Afghanistan. Besides, whereas O. Roy forward a new concept to help understanding the islamist phenomenon, the important questions are therefore : why neo? Who is meant by this word ? And in what is he different from other fundamentalists? Is the difference lying in the means used, or in the content of the program, or something else? Through the reading he achieves of the islamist map, we can hardly find a complete answer to these questions. Yet, Roy gives us a shrewd description of the islamist networks. Thus, he talks about their "nationalisation". For example, he says that ―this ―nationalization‖ of Islamism is apparent in most countries of the Middle East. Hamas challenged Arafat‘s (and today Abu Mazen) PLO not on points relating to Islam, but for ―betraying‖ the national interests of the Palestinian people. Hassan Turabi used Islam as a tool for unifying Sudan, by Islamizing the Southern Christians and pagans. The Yemenite ―Islah‖ movement has been active in the re-unification of Yemen. The Lebanese Hezbullah has always stressed the defense of the ―Lebanese people‖ and has even established a working relationship with many Christian circles. It has, apparently, given up the idea of an Islamic State in Lebanon, due to consideration of the role of the Christians in defining the state. The Turkish islamist Party (today in power), by stressing its Ottoman heritage, was trying to affirm a kind of neo-Ottoman Turkish model in the Middle East. By the same token, the Shiite radical parties of Iraq, such as Da‘wa, stressed the need for national unity and appeared closely 64

Olivier Roy, Neo-Fundamentalism, Social Science Research Council. Essays.


working with non-Islamic national parties. The Algerian FIS – front islamique du salut - claimed to be the heir of the National Liberation Front of the anti-French war. The Tunisian Nahdha party wants to be considered as the heir of the first destourian party founded in 1920 by nationalists and Zeitounians65 like sheikh Abdelaziz Thaalibi. During the Gulf War of 1991, each branch of the Muslim Brothers‘ organization took a stand in accordance with the perceived national interests of its own country (e.g., the Kuwait branch approved U.S. military intervention, while the Jordanian branch vehemently opposed it)‖66. Roy notices in the same context another feature : the pacifism of some of these movements : ―These movements are not necessarily violent, even if, by definition, they are not democratic: the Pakistani Jama‘at Islami and the Turkish Refah Party as well as most of the Muslim Brothers groups have remained inside a legal framework, except where they were prevented from taking political action, as was the case in Syria, for instance‖. 67 There is even more an interesting feature observed by Roy. It concerns the possible evolution towards democracy thanks to these movements' activism : ―On the domestic scene, these parties brought previously excluded social strata into the political process: the mostazafin in Iran (the marginalized segments of the urban population); the Shi‘as in Lebanon; recent city-dwellers and Kurds for the Refah; urban youth in Algeria, shocked by the bloody repression of October 1988; Northern tribes in Yemen, etc. In doing so they have helped to root nation-states and to create a domestic political scene, which is the only real basis for a future process of democratization. In this sense, the Islamist parties, while they are not democratic, foster the necessary conditions for an endogenous democracy, as is clearly the case in Iran. Khatami‘s election expressed a call for democracy which is possible only because the whole population has been brought into a common political scene by a popular and deep-rooted revolution‖68. 65

The Zeitounians are those who graduated from the Zeitouna university (traditional education). The claim is disputed by the party in power (RCD) which pretends also to be the heir of that first party. 66 Idem. 67 Idem. The same may be said about the Tunisian Nahdha party which, despite it has been forbidden and despite it still have many militants in jail, never indulged into violent struggle. Something very similar to the islamist Turkish party happened to the Tunisian : under pressure it changed of name, but it did not change of strategy. 68 Idem.


The question is : how many people among the Western elite would agree to Roy‘s views ? The point is there has always been an inclination to consider the islamist movements as generally hostile and agressive, if not irredeemably violent and as such unable to indulge in political compromises. Yet, while not setting clearly the limits between neo and conservative fundamentalists, Roy formulates the hypothesis that the process of conservative islamization has been promoted by the muslim states themselves as a reaction against islamist opposition in the eighties . What is the result ? His answer is : " The first part of the program was quite a success, but state control has never been effective". This observation is not unaccurate, for it is known that many arab states were forced to play the Islamist card (an official islamism, that is) in order to prevent dangerous uncontrolled trends coming up from the bottom of their societies. However, if in North Africa, the governments played the card of The islamists to counter the left since the seventies (like in Egypt under Sadate, Tunisia under Bourguiba, and Morocco under Hassan II, or in Sudan under Numeyri,etc), in the Gulf region, the stakes were quite different. In these conservative societies, the left has never pressed of any real weight on the struggle for power as to jeopardise or upset the other players. The game was then since the outset between elites that took islam as an asset and used it in the race for political power. However, some islamist movements before growing to participate to a wider international network, have been first national political organisations in their own countries. If they shifted to become supranational, it was at least for two reasons : 1- They have been forbidden or have undergone opression and were thus forced to exile, and in exile, they had to survive through networking as an international islamist movement. 2 - Some international events, have helped to make of the local Movements a worldwide network, such as : the iranian revolution, the occupation of Afghanistan, the Chechen problem, the Balkans war, etc. The neofundamentalists of O. Roy are anti-imperialists, supranational, and may be even the product of contemporary globalization than the islamic past. Undubitably, this is true. Yet, we cannot deny to the Conservative islamists to be also anti-imperialists, supranational, and reacting against globalization. So, What is the difference? May be it is lying in the details . For example : " The Islamists (the conservative, that is) were not anti-Christians as such". The neo are definitely anti christians and anti jewish. And he is right to notice that 42

―in Iran during the revolution there has never been any attack on churches. The Egyptian Muslim Brothers never cracked down on the Copts. The idea was that there is some common ground between true believers. Now, however, the term ―religious war‖ really makes sense.‖ Indeed, we never heared more talk about New crusades than since 9/11, which is according to this view a neo fundamentalist "achievement". We may think that the second feature mentioned by Roy supranationality, that is - is also applicable to the conservative fundamentalists, in fact to all the islamists, since Islam itself is considered a universal religion that does not recognize boundaries. But for Roy , the point is more about background than about ideologic orientation and doctrine : "The second point is that these movements are supranational. A quick look at the bulk of bin Laden‘s militants killed or arrested between 1993 and 2001 show that they are mainly uprooted, western educated, having broken with their family as well as the country of origin. They live in a global world." More specifically he adds : " While Islamists do adapt to the nation-state, neofundamentalists embody the crisis of the nation-state, squeezed between infrastate solidarities and globalization. The state level is bypassed and ignored. The Taliban do not care about the state—they even downgraded Afghanistan by changing the official denomination from an ―Islamic State‖ to an ―Emirate.‖ And last but not least, " Using two international languages (English and Arabic), traveling easily by air, studying, training and working in many different countries, communicating through the Internet and cellular phones, they think of themselves as ―Muslims‖ and not as citizens of a specific country. "69 Here is the point where we join O. Roy in the analysis, for since 9/11, the observers are more concerned about a global network than about activist movements that can be easily located and isolated. Bin laden , al Zawahiri, or al Zarqawi were indeed citizens of arab countries with specific goals and roots inside Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or Jordan. Nonetheless, by their activities they are no longer the concern of these only countries. If the terrorist operations they masterminded could reach America, Europe, or other countries and continents, they would be considered thus as the negative side of the globalization. They represent a phenomenon that goes beyond the question of religions, modernity, West-East or North-South relations, etc, because they are part of that unacknowledged quantity of risk that the game of Nations engender in 69



times of particular tension and rapid transition. And it is now with that risk that the leaders of the world have to play, to struggle, and to cope. How much calculation , how much chance are left to them ? That is the question.

Media war « Each culture establishes in its language a relation to reality »70, says Jürgen Habermas. Yet, in a single culture we may also find several varied relations to reality. May be this is so because ―whatever language system we choose , we always start intuitively from the presupposition that truth is a universal validity claim‖71 But this ―cognitive adequacy‖ in Habermas‘s terminology is as he acknowledges himself sometimes bypassed. Critics of some media behaviour in the USA in the wake of 9/11 were not all Arabs or Muslims. We can also find among the American writers and journalists many people who held similar positions. Susan Sontag is one of them. In a series of essays conceived as responses to 9/11 and published in The New Yorker, she says for example : "The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licenced to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgement that this was not a "cowardly" attack on "civilization" or "liberty" or "humanity" or "the free world" but an attack on the World's self proclaimed super-power, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many Americans are aware of the ongoing bombing of Iraq?" Better : in her eyes, if the word "cowardly" is to be used , "it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation , high in the sky, than those willing to die themselves in order 70

Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume One, Beacon Press, Boston, 1984,p.57. And he adds : ―to this extent, ‗real‘ and ‗unreal‘, ‗true‘ and ‗untrue‘ are indeed concepts that are inherent in all languages and not ones that can, say, be present in this language and absent in that. But each culture draws this categorial distinction within its own language system‖. 71 ―If a statement is true‖, he says, ―it merits universal assent, no matter in which language it is formulated‖.Op.Cit.P.58.


to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue) : whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards" 72. There was indeed an intense debate between the American writers and observers. Sontag's view represents a trend of the opinion inside the country (and outside it, particularly in Europe). Similar positions may be found for instance in the liberal and the left-wing media throughout the USA (from the Nation, to Media Monitors Network , Z magazine, Antiwar.Com, the Independent Institute, Palestine Chronicle, the progressive, the Monthly Review, The Nation, Mother Jones, What Really Happened,… etc). For the Monthly Review, ―the world changed on September 11. That‘s not just media hype‖(…) ―The way some historians refer to 1914–1991 as the ―short twentieth century,‖ many are now calling September 11, 2001, the real beginning of the twenty-first century. It‘s too early to know whether that assessment will be borne out, but it cannot simply be dismissed.‖73 Among the ―myths‖ this magazine tried to unveil, we may mention : ―The attack was like Pearl Harbor, and therefore, as in the Second World War, we had to declare war or risk destruction ; This was an attack on freedom ; You‘re with us or you‘re with the terrorists ; The war on Afghanistan was self-defense ; The Bush administration turned away from its emerging unilateralism (pulling out of the Kyoto protocols, sabotaging the ABM treaty with Russia, etc.) to a new multilateralism…etc‖. Concerning the second point (freedom), the magazine notes : ―Whatever considerations exist in the mind of Osama bin Laden or members of his network, his recently broadcast statements contain no mention of any resentment of American democracy, freedom, or the role of women. They mention specific grievances regarding U.S. policy in the Middle East: the sanctions on Iraq, maintained largely by the United States, which have killed over one million civilians; material and political support for Israel‘s military occupation of Palestine and its frequent military attacks, carried out with American weapons, on practically unarmed Palestinians; and U.S. military occupation of the Gulf and 72

Susan Sontag, Reflections On September 11th, The New Yorker, September

24, 2001. 73

See New Crusade : The US War on Terrorism, the Monthly Review, February 2002. We cannot pretend that this magazine is pro-Bush, albeit as we see, it stresses the existence of what we may call a ―paradigmatic shift‖, without claiming it. The point is that such a statement has nothing to do with the political sensibility. It is rather a matter of objective observation.


support for corrupt regimes that serve the interests of U.S. corporations before those of the people.‖ 74 As to the third point, the magazine says ―This polarization, (you‘re with us or against us) foisted on the world to frighten possible dissenters from America‘s course of action, is the logic of tyranny, even of extermination. Anti-war protesters who condemn the terrorist attacks of September 11 along with the criminal acts of the United States in Afghanistan, and countries that do the same, don‘t fit into this scheme, and certainly don‘t deserve to be tarred with the same brush as the terrorists.‖75 Noam Chomsky‘s analysis of the media is also noteworthy . For him, ―there are two categories of information that are particularly useful because there are two distinct, though related, sources for the attack. Let‘s assume that the attack was rooted somehow in the bin Laden network. That sounds plausible, at least, so let‘s say it‘s right. If that‘s right, there are two categories of information and of populations that we should be concerned with, linked but not identical. One is the bin Laden network. That‘s a category by itself. Another is the population of the region. They‘re not the same thing, although there are links. What ought to be in the forefront is discussion of both of those. The bin Laden network, I doubt if anybody knows it better than the CIA, since they were instrumental in helping construct it. This is a network whose development started in 1979, if you can believe President Carter‘s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. He claimed, maybe he was just bragging, that in mid–1979 he had instigated secret support for Mujahedin fighting against the government of Afghanistan in an effort to draw the Russians into what he called an ―Afghan trap,‖ a phrase worth remembering. He‘s very proud of the fact that they did fall into the Afghan trap by sending military forces to support the government six months later, with consequences that we know. The U.S., along with Egypt, Pakistan, French intelligence, Saudi Arabian funding, and Israeli involvement, assembled a major army, a huge mercenary army, maybe 100,000 or more, and they drew from the most militant sectors they could find, which happened to be radical Islamists, what are called here Islamic fundamentalists, from all over, most of them not from Afghanistan. They‘re called Afghanis, but like bin Laden, they come from elsewhere‖76. The second part , according to Chomsky, is the people of 74

Idem. Idem. 76 The United States is a leading terrorist state, interview with Noam Chomsky by David Barsamian, Monthly Review, November 2001. 75


the region. He says : ―They‘re connected, of course. The bin Laden network and others like them draw a lot of their support from the desperation and anger and resentment of the people of the region, which ranges from rich to poor, secular to radical Islamist. The Wall Street Journal, to its credit, has run a couple of articles on attitudes of wealthy Muslims, the people who most interest them: businessmen, bankers, professionals, and others through the Middle East region who are very frank about their grievances. They put it more politely than the poor people in the slums and the streets, but it‘s clear. Everybody knows what they are. For one thing, they‘re very angry about U.S. support for undemocratic, repressive regimes in the region and U.S. insistence on blocking any efforts towards democratic openings‖77. On the other side of the picture, there is also the opposite trend of opinion, actually the one that took shape with the victory of M. George W. Bush –twice- in the elections and dominated the media and political scene thereafter. However, the writers of both trends may cross the "lines" of the media making of them an open forum for controversial exchanges insofar that those "lines" are fictive and not expressing a doctrinary creed. We may thus, read samples of both opinion trends in a single paper or online magazine, such as the Washington Post, the New York Times, or -say - MMN. An example representative of the camp opposing Sontag's opinion is expressed by Charles Krauthammer, who writes commenting her essay as follows : " What Sontag is implying, but does not quite have the courage to say, is that because of these 'alliances and actions', such as the bombing of Iraq, we had it coming. The implication is as disgusting as Jerry Falwell's blaming the attack on sexual deviance and abortion, except that Falwell's excrescences appear on loony TV, Sontag's in The New Yorker"78. 77

Idem. Washington Post, September 21, 2001, Voices of Moral Obtuseness. Let‘s note by the way, that C. Krauthammer is member of the Project for New American Century established in the spring of 1997 as a nonprofit educational organization "whose goal is to promote American global leadership". Its chairman is William Kristol, who is the editor of The Weekly Standard. About PNAC we can say that On September 20, 2001, members of the PNAC, issued a document entitled : " Open Letter to President Bush : Lead The World To Victory ". It is clear from the headline of this letter that the PNAC identifies "The World" to the "USA", maybe even to the Bush administration or merely to the New Conservative falcons supporting it. Anyway, in their view, it seems there is not a shade of doubt that what is good for the USA is good 78


The American agressive strategy in the Middle East, which did not start with the removal of Saddam Hussein from power and seems unlikely to stop there, is not really a reaction to 9/11 ; the latter event has only accelerated a process that was already in the making. A simple glance at the 2000 Report of the PNAC, would persuade us . From the first sentences, the Empire is present with its broad ambitions : ―As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world‘s most preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievement of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?‖79 These are the questions of the beginning. It seems effectively that what C.Wright Mills defined as the ―industrial-military complex‖ has prevailed over the PNAC to make of the American ambition in the XXIst century if not a military one, then at least one quite supported by a strong military establishment. ―The American peace has proven itself peaceful, stable and durable. It has, over the past decade, provided the geopolitical framework for widespread economic growth and the spread of American principles of liberty and democracy. Yet no moment in international politics can be frozen in time; even a global Pax Americana will not preserve itself », states the report with these tones reminding us of the way historic textbooks talk of PAX ROMANA. Then what? After that statement inducing that nothing is durable, the report points out to an amazing ―paradox‖ of our time : Even for the rest of the world, a view that has been widely opposed inside the USA, and to be sure in Europe, as well as in the Arab world. In this open letter, the signatories address M. Bush on five issues, encouraging him to adopt radical policies in order to fight radical and hostile activities. 1- They support the "necessary military action in Afghanistan" ; 2- they encourage him to undertake action to remove Saddam Hussein from power ; 3- they support a war against terrrorism including Hezbollah as a target, and "appropriate measures of retaliation" against Syria and Iran ; 4 - They consider the Palestinian Authority responsible as to "the terrorism emanating from territories under its control", no further assistance should be provided to the PA until these activities are stopped ; 5 - They support an important increase in defense spending to meet the requests of " a serious and victorious war on terrorism". See the full text of the open letter in : The Iraq War Reader, History, Documents, Opinions, Edited by Micah L.Sifry and Christopher Cerf, Touchstone, Simon & Schuster, 2003. 79 Rebuilding America‘s Defenses : strategy, forces and resources for a new century, A report of the PNAC, September 2000.


if left alone as an unequaled Superpower on the international scene after the demise of the former USSR, America would not stand the road if , like some sportive competitors of high level, it does not indulge in testing some ―testosterone ‖ on its muscles. In other words, ―paradoxically, as American power and influence are at their apogee,‖ says the report, ― American military forces limp toward exhaustion, unable to meet the demands of their many and varied missions, including preparing for tomorrow‘s battlefield. Today‘s force, reduced by a third or more over the past decade, suffers from degraded combat readiness; from difficulties in recruiting and retaining sufficient numbers of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines; from the effects of an extended ―procurement holiday‖ that has resulted in the premature aging of most weapons systems; from an increasingly obsolescent and inadequate military infrastructure; from a shrinking industrial base poorly structured to be the ―arsenal of democracy‖ for the 21st century; from a lack of innovation that threatens the technological and operational advantages enjoyed by U.S. forces for a generation and upon which American strategy depends. Finally, and most dangerously, the social fabric of the military is frayed and worn. U.S. armed forces suffer from a degraded quality of life divorced from middle-class expectations, upon which an all-volunteer force depends. Enlisted men and women and junior officers increasingly lack confidence in their senior leaders, whom they believe will not tell unpleasant truths to their civilian leaders. In sum, as the American peace reaches across the globe, the force that preserves that peace is increasingly overwhelmed by its tasks‖80. Oddly enough, the author sounds convinced – and ready to convince us – that the deployment of thousands of US military and dozens of US bases around the world is normal. The question that this very deployment may be contested in Europe , in Asia, in the Middle East, etc, does not even dawn on him, as he takes it for granted that all the peoples of the world are as persuaded as he is that all that military ―hula-hula‖ is for the sake of peace. Why not, after all? This is also a matter of ―logic‖.




PAX AMERICANA When Jay Bookman - deputy editorial page editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution - wonders for instance "why the administration dismissed the option of containing and deterring Iraq, as we had the Soviet Union for 45 years?", the answer he gives is : "Because even if it worked, containment and deterrence would not allow the expansion of American power. Besides, they are beneath us as an empire. Rome did not stoop to containment ; it conquered. And so should we"81 . Then, trying to find out who was really supporting these views or working them out behind the scene, Bookman adds : " among the architects of this would-be American Empire are a group of brilliant and powerful people who now hold key positions in the Bush administration. They envision the creation and enforcement of what they call a worldwide 'PAX AMERICANA', or American peace. But so far, the American people have not appreciated the true extent of that ambition". Thus, if there is a homogeneous vision leading the American strategy after 9/11, it has to be found in this report issued just a year prior to that event (in September 2000) by the Project For the New American Century (PNAC), a group of conservative interventionnists "outraged by the thought that the United States might be forfeiting its chance at a global empire", to use Bookman's expression. Behind the report, we find people holding key positions in the first Bush administration, such as : Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defense secretary ; John Bolton, undersecretary of State ; Stephen Cambone , head of the Pentagon's Office of Program, Analysis and Evaluation ; Eliot Cohen and Devon Cross, members of the Defense Policy Board, which advises Rumsfeld ; I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney ; Dov Zakheim, comptroller for the Defense Department. "Because they were still just private citizens in 2000, the authors of the project report could be more frank and less diplomatic than they were in drafting the National Security Strategy", says Bookman. Thus, well before President Bush tagged Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the Axis of Evil, the authors of the report identified these States as primary short-term targets. To preserve the Pax Americana, the report says US forces will be required to perform "constabulary duties" - the United States acting as policeman of the world- and says that such 81

J. Bookman, The President's Real Goal In Iraq, Constitution, September 29, 2002.


the Atlanta Journal-

actions "demand American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations". To meet those responsibilities , and to ensure that no country dares to challenge the United States , the report advocates a much larger military presence spread over more of the globe, in addition to the roughly 130 nations in which US troops are already deployed. In this context, one may assume that in the Gulf for instance, the matter is more about a global strategy dictated by the American necessities throughout the world, than a policy targeting the region exclusively on the basis that "it is good for invasion or colonisation", because of its oil wealth, although it would be naive to discard the oil production from the « American necessities ». Actually, American military deployment concerns varied places of the world, some of which are considered strategic even without oil or natural gas. Such is the case of Europe for example, where the American troops have been stationed since the end of the second world war. That is also the case for Japan, Korea, etc…82 Yet, this is not meaning that all the regions of the world are similar, or equal as regards the interests they represent. The Gulf, for example, is certainly more a priority to the US global strategy than , say, the African horn. More specifically, the authors of the report argue the USA needs permanent military bases in the Middle East, in Southeast Europe, in Latin America and in Southeast Asia, where no such bases exist. That helps to explain another of the mysteries of American post-September 11 reaction, in which the Bush administration rushed to install U.S. troops in Georgia and the Philippines, as well as American eagerness to send military advisers to assist in the civil war in Colombia. Concerning the 82

Either in Europe or in Asia, there are movements contesting the American military presence. We can mention for example the CAAB (campaign for the accountability of the American bases) in the United Kingdom, whose web site is : . We counted in the sole UK no less than 23 groups contesting the American bases. An American living in Japan writes in his blog what follows : ―Something that Americans do not often think about is what it would be like to have foreign military bases in your country. Even living in Japan, knowing the bases are here, it doesn't come to mind much, and though there are many who protest the bases in Okinawa and sometimes elsewhere in Japan, the truth is, you don't hear about it often. But then, most Japanese people will not complain about the obnoxious politicians during campaign season with their all-day loudspeaker truck battles, so it doesn't mean that nobody minds. I certainly know that Americans would mind if, say, England had bases across the country‖. See ,The blog from another dimension : American Bases in Japan, March 16,2004…


Gulf itself, the PNAC report asserts that the presence of American forces, along with British and French units, has become ―a semipermanent fact of life‖. These forces represent the ―long-term commitment of the United States and its major allies‖ to a region of vital importance. More precisely, ― the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein‖. The 2000 report acknowledges its debt to a still earlier document, drafted in 1992 by the Cheney Defense Department in the waning days of the Bush administration : the Defense Policy Guidance. That document had also envisioned the United States as a colossus astride the world, imposing its will and keeping world peace through military and economic power. When leaked in final draft form, however, the proposal drew so much criticism that it was hastily withdrawn and repudiated by the first President Bush.

Madrasas, problems of education Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Islamic schools known as madrasas have been of increasing interest to analysts and to officials involved in formulating U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, Central, and Southeast Asia. Madrasas drew added attention when it became known that several Taliban leaders and Al Qaeda members have developed radical political views at madrasas in Pakistan, some of which allegedly were built and partially financed through Saudi Arabian sources. These revelations have led to accusations that madrasas promote Islamic extremism and militancy, and are a recruiting ground for terrorism. Others maintain that most of these religious schools have been blamed unfairly for fostering anti-U.S. sentiments and argue that madrasas play an important role in countries where millions of Muslims live in poverty and the educational infrastructure is in decay83. 83

Febe Armanios, islamic religious schools , madrasas : background. October 29, 2003, CRS report for Congress. On the global front, concern has been expressed over the spread of radical Islam through Saudi-funded schools, universities, and mosques, which exist in many countries including Bangladesh, Bosnia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and even in the United States. Some view the teaching of Saudi Wahhabism as threatening the existence of more moderate beliefs and practices in other parts of the Muslim world. However, there are those who argue that a differentiation should be made between funding to support charitable projects, such as madrasabuilding, and funding which has been channeled, overtly or implicitly, to support


In recent years, the dissemination of Saudi Arabian donations to Islamic charities and the export of a Saudi educational curriculum have received worldwide attention. Although in Saudi Arabia itself, schools teach subjects beyond religious studies, conservative Islamic teachings permeate the Saudi educational system structure. Viewing Saudi Arabia with greater scrutiny following the events of September 11, experts have maintained that Saudi school curricula foster anti-Western and antiSemitic sentiments. Saudi official textbooks also reportedly used to ―denounce Shi‘a Islam as well as any popular Islamic practices that do not agree with Wahhabi beliefs‖84. In response to such allegations and following a review of schoolbooks in 2002, the Saudi foreign minister stated that, in light of a Saudi government survey, 5% of the material was considered ―horrible‖ and 10% questionable, while 85% called for understanding with other religious faiths. Shortly thereafter, the government vowed to remove objectionable parts and to train teachers in promoting tolerance, but skeptics questioned the extent to which the government was willing or able to instill reforms in its schools85. The second Forum for National Dialogue, held in Saudi Arabia in late December 2003 under the patronage of Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah Ibn Abdelaziz, brought more answers to these questions. Attended by 60 intellectuals, researchers, clerics and public figures, among them 10 women, the Forum, which focused on religious extremism and moderation, ended with recommendations for : accelerating political reform and expanding popular political participation ; renewing the religious discourse in compliance with modernity ; establishing a culture of dialogue in Saudi society ; allowing responsible freedom of expression ; strengthening women‘s status in all areas ; setting out a strategy to help keep Saudi youth away from

extremist teachings in these madrasas. Critics of Saudi policies allege that the Saudi government has permitted or encouraged fund raising by charitable Islamic groups and foundations linked to Al Qaeda, which the U.S. government has identified as responsible for the September 11 hijackings. In 2003, the Saudi government announced that it was banning private charities and relief groups from donating money overseas, until new regulations are instituted to ensure that the money is not being channeled to terrorist organizations. The extent to which these government regulations will be effective remains to be seen . 84 Idem. 85 Idem.


religious extremism ; and improving the saudi school curricula so that they spread a spirit of tolerance and moderation.86

Living in the Denial, adopting conspiratory theories or losing identity? Among the Arab reactions to 9/11 that may seem to the Westerner amazingly irrational is the denial that Muslims were ever involved in the tragedy. Dr. Nawwal Nur and her son Hazem Saleh Abu Isma'il, who preach and teach Islam in the U.S., were interviewed by the Saudi-based channel Iqra TV about September 11 on July 15, 2004. The host of the program asked if the attacks impacted the image of Islam by Americans. Nur explained : "Not at all, it has not even been proven that Muslims committed it. There hasn't even been an investigation… They are confused about what happened… That is why more people converted to Islam." Her son added: "I am one of those who believe these events were fabricated from the outset as part of the global groundwork for the distortion of Islam's image… Even before these events took place there was preparation for them. Maybe this is a kind of protection against what is deemed to be an ―aggressive world‖, pushing the Muslims in the West to the limits of losing their identities . 9/11 indeed reinforced the stigmatisation against Muslims in the West. In the USA, the Patriot Act, signed into law by President Bush on October 26, 2001, stipulates among other provisions that ―immigrants can be detained indefinitely, even if they are found to not have any links to terrorism. They can be detained indefinitely for immigration violations or if the attorney general decides their activities 86

Al Sharq al Awsat, London, January 4, 2004. One of the major studies presented at the Forum concerned the religious curricula in boy‘s schools in the Saudi state school system. The study conducted by former Saudi Judge Sheikh Abd al Aziz al Qassem and Saudi author and journalist Ibrahim al Sakran, was based on an examination and critical analysis of three curricula for Saudi middle and high schools : Al Hadith, a general curriculum on islamic traditions ; - al Fiqh, a curriculum on matters of religious law and ritual ; and – al Tawhid, a curriculum on matters of belief. The researchers found extremely grave defects in the curricula, particularly with regard to attitude toward the ―Other‖- that is toward anyone whose views are not in line with the Wahhabi islam that is dominant in the Kingdom. They stated also that the curricula denigrate and show hatred toward and incitement against non-Muslims. The study may be viewed on this site :


pose a danger to national security. They never need to be given a trial or even a hearing on their status‖ 87. The reactions towards such circumstances are varied. Kay Deaux, professor of psychology in New York, mentions the case of Anika Rahman , who says : ―I became a United States citizen four years ago because of my long love affair with New York....I am a Bangladeshi woman and my last name is Rahman, a Muslim name...Before last week, I had thought of myself as a lawyer, a feminist, a wife, a sister, a friend, a woman on the street. Now I begin to see myself as a brown woman who bears a vague resemblance to the images of terrorists we see on television....As I become identified as someone outside the New York community, I feel myself losing the power to define myself‖88. According to Deaux, ― the events of September 11 have without question altered the context of identification for thousands of U.S. citizens and for those immigrants, legal and illegal, whose citizenship is still in flux‖.89 Deaux thinks that prior to September 11, the prevailing stereotype of Arab Americans was somewhat negative but not particularly well articulated and, indeed, that many Americans had given little thought to the subject. On such a background, 9/11 had had an overwhelming, indeed, terrific impact on Arab and Muslim immigrants : ―It is in this newly-defined context that the Arab American immigrant must consider questions of identification of the kind that Anika Rahman raised: What do I call myself? What does it mean to be that kind of person? And how is that ethnicity valued, by me and by others?‖90 These questions are central to the understanding of the ―processes by which identity is negotiated‖. To find a strong basis for the denial that Muslims perpetrated 9/11 crimes, a conspiracy theory was helping. Saudi Cleric Dr. Sa'd bin 'Abdallah Al-Breik spoke about Al-Qa'ida's role on Saudi Arabia's 87

San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/02 Kay Deaux, Negotiating Identity and Community after September 11, Social Science Research Council, Essays on Terrorism and Democratic Virtues. 89 Idem. The current estimate of first generation Arab-American immigrants in the U.S. is 2,315,392. Current estimates of the number of Muslims in the U.S. are far less certain, varying from 2 to 6 million. (It should be noted that Arab-Americans and Muslims are far from overlapping sets. Many Arab-Americans are Christians; Muslims in turn come from a variety of ethnic groups in the U.S., including African American, Latino, and, as the highly-publicized case of John Walker Lindh illustrates, from Euro American backgrounds as well.) 90 Idem. 88


Channel 1 on August 16, 2004 : " We must not inflate [the importance] of Al-Qa'ida, to the point of claiming that it is the main and only perpetrator of this large operation [September 11]. I'm not here to defend [Al-Qa'ida], but we must not overstate this matter… It is a mistake to ignore the possibility that the Zionist hands used some people who were planted into one of the stages of this plan, from this issue. I have read some books that were translated from English into Arabic in which the Americans themselves call 9/11 'The Great Deception' or 'The Great Game,' so why do we use all sort of names to avoid this subject? No, we must be clear and not censor ourselves. These false accusations and the rush to accuse Saudi Arabia, the judging of others according to the guidance of the Zionists via the media which is owned by the Zionist‖.91 Al Breik was neither the first nor the last to hold such a conspiratory theory. It was not even a Muslim-created myth, since we will find many Westerners propagating it. In the front page of its November 3, 2003 edition, Al-Watan published an Arabic translation of an article from Glasgow's Sunday Herald about the Mossad's involvement in the September 11 attacks: "Israeli intelligence has been showing the Al-Qa'ida hijackers as they move from the Middle East through Europe and into American, where they trained as pilots and prepared to suicide-bomb the symbolic heart of the United States. And the motive? To bind America in blood and mutual suffering to the Israeli cause… If Israel's closest ally felt the collective 91

Such a picture would not be complete if we omit that on the other side, the Israelis were reacting in the same manner. A typical reaction identifying Saudi Arabia as the main support behind 9/11 hijakers is that of AIPAC , the powerful israeli lobby in Washington. It is Dore Gold himself who wrote it. (Dore Gold is special adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon . He was also President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations. He testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs of July 31, 2003, saying for example : ―Saudi Arabia‘s past involvement in international terrorism is indisputable. While the Bush administration decided to retract 28 sensitive pages of the Joint Intelligence Report of the U.S. Congress, nonetheless, Saudi involvement in terrorist financing can be documented through materials captured by Israel in Palestinian headquarters in 2002-3. In light of this evidence, Saudi denials about terrorist funding don‘t hold water‖. But like other Israelis, he makes of the confusion between Palestinian islamist activists and international terrorism (al Qaeda) the sense of his position, although he was unable to prove that there is any connection between them. Yet, in his eyes, since Saudi Arabia allocated $ 280. 000 to 14 Hamas charities, according to the Mossad, it is enough to prove that the Saudiens are deeply involved with international terrorism.


pain of mass civilian deaths at the hands of terrorists, then Israel would have an unbreakable bond with the world's only hyperpower and an effective free hand in dealing with the Palestinian terrorist, who had been murdering its innocent civilians as the second Intifada dragged on throughout 2001… There is more than a little circumstantial evidence to show that Mossad – whose motto is 'By way of deception, thou shalt do war' – was spying on Arab extremists in the U.S.A. and may have known that September 11 was in the offing, yet decided to withhold vital information from their American counterparts which could have prevented the terror attacks… Mossad agents were spying on Muhammad Atta and Marwan Al-Shehi, two leaders of the 9/11 hijack teams. The pair had settled in Hollywood, Florida, along with three other hijackers, after leaving Hamburg – where another Mossad team was operating close by… Certainly, it seems, Israel was spying within the borders of the United States and it is equally certain that the targets were Islamic extremists probably linked to September 11. But did Israel know in advance that the Twin Towers would be hit and the world plunged into a war without end; a war which would give Israel the power to strike its enemies almost without limit?" The Mossad plot finds its roots in what is called the ―israeli spy ring‖. The issue of Israeli foreknowledge of 9/11 is highly controversial. The story is too complicated to go into detail here, but a number of respected publications 92 have written about an Israeli ―art student‖ spy ring operating in the US for several years before 9/11. The name ―art student‖ is used because most of these scores of spies were posing as college art students. There have been suggestions that some of these Israeli spies lived close to some of the 9/11 hijackers. For instance, a US Drug Enforcement Administration report from before 9/11 noted that Israeli spies were living in the retirement community of Hollywood, Florida at 4220 Sheridan Street, which turned out to be only a few hundred feet from lead hijacker Mohamed Atta's residence at 3389 Sheridan Street93. Israeli spies appear to have been close to at least ten of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers. In fact, Forward, the most widely circulated publication in the US targeting the Jewish audience, has admitted the spy


For instance, Fox News, 12/12/01, Forward, 3/15/02, ABC News, 6/21/02, Salon, 5/7/02, Ha'aretz, 5/14/02, Le Monde, 3/5/02, Reuters, 3/5/02, AP, 3/5/02, AP, 3/9/02, Cox News, 3/5/02, Guardian, 3/6/02, Independent, 3/6/02, New York Post, 3/6/02, Jane's Intelligence Digest, 3/15/02 . 93 see the DEA report, 6/01


ring existed, and that its purpose was to track Muslim terrorists operating in the US.94 Some have claimed that the existence of this spy ring shows that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks, an argument that is beyond the scope of this essay. Nevertheless, if the mainstream media are to be trusted, Israel gave the US several specific warnings of the 9/11 attacks. In the second week of August 2001, two high-ranking agents from the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, came to Washington and warned the CIA and FBI that 50 to 200 al-Qaeda terrorists had slipped into the US and were planning an imminent ―major assault on the US‖ aimed at a ―large scale target‖95 . Near the end of August, France, Russia and Germany also gave similar warnings.96

Another Pearl Harbour? The question that many observers raised in the wake of 9/11 is about whether Saudi Arabia may be going through a dilemma much similar to that of Iran , where reformists are facing the resistance of a conservative clergy. This hypothesis, still requiring a validity verification, actually concerns the role played by the religious elite in the aftermath of 9/11. The term elite does not designate only those currently in power (representative of the official Islam through institutions like the Council of Ulamas theologists), but also those who are outside power and struggling for it (in the opposition, that is) either inside the Kingdom or in exile. For this is , as it seems, the political panorama that has emerged from both the Gulf war in 1991 and, ten years later, the events of September 11. We think that there is some kind of connection between the two cases, if the latter is not merely an upshot of the former, although not in the sense that it has been produced directly as a reaction against the war and the presence of western troops in the country. It is not plausible today that the 9/11 hijackers were instrumentalised by Saddam Hussein, albeit they might have been acting on the behalf of the Iraqis and the Palestinians as several messages of al Qaeda claimed. Yet, we must keep in mind that neither the Iraqi nor the palestinian peoples asked 94

Forward, 3/15/02 Telegraph, 9/16/01, Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01, Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01 Fox News, 5/17/02 96 Fox News, 5/17/02 95


them to strike America, as far as we know. The Palestinians in their majority - even the Islamists like Hamas - have condemned 9/11, and the Iraqi elite (ex-opposition in exile) has even profited from the American anger to make the ultimate rapprochement with the Bush administration , which ended up in a full scale war against Saddam regime and his overthrow from power. Yet, despite this background, the relations between the Gulf States and the USA suffered a lot and were put under a tremendous strain after 9/11: The alliance was thus for the first time put in question, not by those in the local opposition who, for some time, have been critical of it, but rather by the officials themselves either in the USA or in the Gulf States. The situation has no precedent, because of the amount of horror and fear engendered in the USA by the terrorist operation that has been rightly or wrongly - compared to Pearl Harbour. This is, for example, how the 9/11 Commission report describes the event : "The 9/11 attack was an event of surpassing disproportion. America had suffered surprise attacks before—Pearl Harbor is one wellknown case, the 1950 Chinese attack in Korea another. But these were attacks by major powers. While by no means as threatening as Japan‘s act of war, the 9/11 attack was in some ways more devastating. It was carried out by a tiny group of people, not enough to man a full platoon. Measured on a governmental scale, the resources behind it were trivial.The group itself was dispatched by an organization based in one of the poorest, most remote, and least industrialized countries on earth. This organization recruited a mixture of young fanatics and highly educated zealots who could not find suitable places in their home societies or were driven from them." In other words, if Washington knew after Pearl Harbour exactly who was the enemy and where to strike back at it, the picture is quite different in 2001. Indeed Afghanistan's Taleban have been indicted as the sponsors of this new kind of war performed by al Qaeda on the behalf of the Muslims (who never asked for it) , and the second victim of the American anger will be Saddam Hussein , who even without his weapons of mass destruction, was considered enough harmful and dangerous to deserve – after all – a just punishment. But everything since, happened as if nothing would allay the wounded America .


The Saudis react There is a belief in the USA that public sentiments of antiamericanism in Saudi Arabia ― have both constrained, but also have been encouraged, by the Saudi government‖, as writes Gregory Gause III, who adds : ―The focus on Saudi Arabia in the American media immediately after 9/11 led a number of Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Abdullah, to complain publicly that the Kingdom was being targeted in a ―campaign‖ against it. The Saudi government very publicly denied American forces the right to use Saudi bases for the air campaign in Afghanistan, even while quietly allowing the U.S. to use the command and control center at Prince Sultan Airbase, south of Riyadh, to coordinate that campaign. In a public meeting with Saudis in November 2001, the Crown Prince revealed that in August 2001 he had sent a letter to President Bush complaining of the American stand on the Arab-Israeli issue. In that letter, he said that differences between the two countries on that issue had grown so great that ―from now on, you have your interests and the Kingdom has its interests, and you have your road and we have our road.‖97 For the American analyst, ― Abdullah‘s revelation was part of a defense of the value of the U.S.-Saudi relationship for the Palestinians, because it gave Riyadh leverage with Washington on ArabIsraeli issues. He went on to say that, because of his letter, the Bush Administration shortly thereafter announced public support for the idea of a Palestinian state. However, the fact that a Saudi leader publicly acknowledged such a dispute with the United States was undoubtedly meant to demonstrate that the government was reflecting the views of its citizens on this issue.‖ The Saudi reactions to critics since 9/11 may be considered mainly with regards to the inside front and to the exterior pressures. In other words, in the same measure that the critics were not exclusively exterior – Americans-, but also emanating from internal social forces , the reactions have had to deal with both sides. Saudi Arabia has some features that distinguishes it from other Gulf States. It was one of the few countries in the Middle East never to be colonised or to have its borders defined by the imperial powers, either because at the time it was not considered strategically important, or 97

Gregory Gause III, The Approaching Turning Point : the future of US relations with the Gulf States, Brookings Project on US policy towards the Islamic World, Analysis paper n° 2, May 2003.


because it hosts the holy places of Islam. We can hardly pretend that such a privilege in an arab world that has been at a moment or another completely invested by colonial powers, could not have any influence in shaping the Saudi mind. We think on the contrary that it may cause a lot of disturbance, insofar as it is not really reckoned as an important element in the construction of regional strategies and other political arrangements. "The idea of the world's great powers landing half a million soldiers on the peninsula in 1991/92 to defend this desert and secure the freedom of the little neighbouring emirate of Kuwait would have sounded like a very tall story in the first half of this century" 98, says A. Jerichow. And despite this author is not favorable to the Saudi regime and does not hide it, he could not apparently occult some aspects of the Saudi evolution. He does not deny for example that after all, elections are not entirely new to the Saudis. Thus , he says : ―Between 1926 and 1963 regular elections were held to elect the town councils in Hejaz, in the western part of the country. Royal power, however ended this custom. But in 1977, the King issued a new law that looked like it would allow for half of the members of the town councils to be freely elected. The royal powers never passed this law. The idea behind it was, however, difficult to eradicate. In december 1990, the demand for local elections was again heard in a dramatic proclamation from Saudi Arabia intellectuals"99. So, even if the Saudi reactions to increasing pressure and critic take time to materialize , we should indeed distinguish between at least two kinds of attitudes : the first emanate from the elite in power (the royal family itself), and the second from the population or the civil society. In the first set of reactions and attitudes we would mention for example, some royal initiatives like the advisory council, and the municipal elections, and later the reform of the educative system, etc. Whereas on the second set of reactions we would mention all the changes that occurred in the civil society and the increasing demands that followed up. 98

Anders Jerichow , Saudi Arabia, Outside Global Law and Order, Curzon Press, 1997, P.18. In our analysis‘ context, we have also to find the articulations where the present events join the past, or at least may be better explained under its light. This is provided by two kinds of approach : the historic and the sociologic. When associated in a homogeneous view, we have then a tool for more an accurate analysis 99 Op.Cit.P.7.


In the same context, , we should perhaps consider the municipal elections , which have been recently organised and which, in spite of their shortcomings and the exclusion of women, have been greeted as a first step toward more a consistent reform. The advisory Council was also the result of these demands: " King Fahad" says Jerichow " must have realized that the time was ripe for a compromise with the modern world in the shape of a move that could be interpreted as a move towards democracy"100. He emphasizes however that the Advisory Council could appear similar to the affairs of State in all other parts of the world, "but no one insists on changing anything or on carrying through any new proposals"101 . The fact is the decisions of the Council have to be presented to the head of the Council of Ministers - also the King - who then presents them to the Council. If it happens that the Council of Ministers and the Advisory Council do not agree, then, as it says in the Royal Decree, Article 17, 'the King decides as he deems fit'. There are indeed more limits of a reform coming from the top, than when it is emanating from the civil society and imposed by it and followed up by some mechanism of control. Yet, we must remember that we are talking about a society deeply influenced by the traditional views of the religious elite. What if the obstacles against liberal reforms come from that elite? It would not be the first time 102, and besides, resistance to political and social reforms might be as powerful as the clergy deems that its interests are threatened, in a conjoncture that is charcterized by a deep suspicion about the kind of influence exerted by some top-religious leaders over the framework that permitted not only 9/11 but also the terrorism wave coming over in its wake and striking the kingdom itself. If the real dilemma for the middle class is about material changes and welfare, in a social and economical conjuncture more and more open to the fluctuations of the free market and the neo-liberalism , for the religious elite, the dilemma is different : it is not about power , but more 100

Op.Cit.P.6. Idem. 102 During the the rule of King Abdelaziz : "The clergy found no sympathy for cars, telephones, television or the computers of the modern age. All of it was conceived as inroads by a faithless world outside into the islamism of the Saud family. But allegiance with the Wahhabi sect or no - the ruling Saud family was in no mind to miss out on the possibilities the new world had to offer, neither in the form of weaponry to defend borders the Saud family had set, nor in the form of the social development, which the family was now able to buy with its oil money. The result was a compromise, which turned out to be the dilemma of the Saud Wahhabi alliance ". Jerichow.Op.Cit.P.19. 101


precisely about the degree of power allowed to the clergy in the affairs of the society and the State . The fact is that in spite of all the past and current amount of authority recognised to the religious elite, it sounds as if there are more and more doubts about the usefulness of allowing such an authority to a body that is much less necessary for the survival of the state than in the first days of the Saudi kingdom. As this is actually the core of the problem since 9/11 , - i.e. the incontournable connection between religion and politics – it will never appear as urgent and capital as in the educative matters, because education is directly related to the elite, and thus opening the prospects of the future of the society as a whole. Reacting against the western biased media, Khaled al Maeena – Arab News Editor-in-Chief- says " There was no critical thinking. There was lazy journalism. Sometimes, they would hear something, some rumors, that turned into myths and then into facts, and this was very painful103". Al Maeena was particularly pained by "the demonization of the Saudis" after 9/11. "We all became criminals" said he, and he noticed that even those in America who tried defend the Saudis "found their voices or their words drowned". What he noticed was a kind of discrimination against writers and journalists talking from Saudi Arabia or on its behalf that seemed to shape the media scene in the USA in the wake of 9/11 : " I have seen lies in the print media and on TV here. I am a liberal. I support criticism. I want the free press. I want the press to be really free, but sometimes, you wonder if the press here is free enough to tell the truth about other countries, other religions, especially about countries that for years were allies of the United States."104 What upset al Maeena is also some media jargon, such as "islamic terror". For him, "terrorism has no religion", and the use of such expressions contribute only to more confusion about the Muslim world creating an atmosphere of islamophobia. There are also what we may call ―collateral damages‖, which would go unnoticed on a broad scale, but not so on the local scene. On May 27, 2003 , approximately two weeks after the suicide bombings in Riyadh , the editor-in-chief of the Saudi daily Al-Watan, Jamal 103

Media, Terrorism, and Reality, Remarks by Khaled al-Maeena, 13th ArabU.S. Policymakers Conference, Washington DC, September 13, 2004. 104 He was talking in Washington.


Khashoggi, was fired, as it seems, by order of the Saudi Information Ministry. At the time, no official reason was given for his dismissal. Jamal Khashoggi served as the paper's editor-in-chief for only a few weeks; his previous position was as editor of the Saudi Englishlanguage weekly Arab News. Despite his brief tenure, he managed to arouse the ire of Saudi hardliners, both establishment and opposition, because of a series of articles condemning the Saudi government's Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (i.e. the religious police). Following the publication of these articles, attacks were launched against Al-Watan by several Islamist websites which support bin Laden and oppose the Saudi regime. These websites also support the Saudi religious police, even though it is a government body. The websites featured a parody of the Al-Watan ("The Homeland") logo, that read instead Al-Wathan – "The Pagan Idol." The newspaper angered Islamists for other reasons as well. For example, it discussed women's issues such as identity cards and the right of women to drive cars. The result was a frequent turnover of editors-inchief – Khashoggi was the third, though the paper has been in existence for less than three years. He was replaced by Tarek Ibrahim 105. The last straw that led to Khashoggi's termination was reportedly an op-ed on the Riyadh bombings that appeared in the May 22 edition; the op-ed criticized Ibn Taymiya (1268-1328), the spiritual father of Wahhabism, which is the Saudi kingdom's official stream of Islam, but Khashoggi was not the author. Beyond the controversy and the scourge it had led to, we think that it deserves to be cited, because it testifies of the new frame of mind that terrorism paradoxically helped to shape in Saudi Arabia. The Individual and the Homeland Are More Important than Ibn Taymiya, is the title of the story, written by Khaled Al-Ghanami. The author asks : ―Why did they wave the banner of Jihad?‖ -―The answer is this: Ibn Taymiya... said… that if the ruler does not observe the commandment of promoting virtue and preventing vice, this obligation is 105

We have to notice that Jamal Khashaggi was appointed recently advisor to the Saudi ambassador to London. Al-Watan was founded in 2000, in the city of Abha in the southern Saudi district of Asir, a district which is a major basis of support for Saudi Islamists. The cornerstone of the paper's building was laid by Crown Prince Abdallah, and its board of directors is headed by Prince Bandar bin Khaled Al-Faisal. The paper takes an independent line and demonstrates a stance considered liberal by Saudi standards. The newspaper's op-ed page reflects pluralism, and features articles expressing diverse opinions.


incumbent upon the clerics… It is these words [of Ibn Taymiya] that are the real problem. We must stop cajoling and say: These words are a mistake, and a true disaster, that lead to anarchy, and to a threat to national unity, and the return of the Jahiliya, because anyone who thinks himself a cleric will try to remove everything he considers vice. Anyone who thinks music is forbidden will blow up stores that sell tapes; anyone who thinks smoking a Narghile is forbidden will blow up shops offering them for sale, and so on. This is no exaggeration; the day is not far off when they open fire on satellite dishes." Then he asks again : ―How did they permit the blood of the non-Muslims? -―The answer is: Because they attribute no value to human life if it is not Muslim, and because they ignore the words of Allah: 'There is no coercion in Islam.' Another reason is that they think that non-Muslims' presence in the Arabian Peninsula is sufficient reason to kill them. They forget that the Jews were in the Arabian Peninsula during the life of the Prophet and also after his death. Proof of this is that his shield was left in the hands of a Jew from whom he bought food. They ignored the words of Jabber bin Abdallah: '...None must come near the Al-Haram mosque unless he be a slave or of the Dhimmis [i.e. Jew or Christian].' Examine this tradition and you will see that it permitted those with whom there was a protection agreement to enter even the Al-Haram mosque." Then the author put another question : ―What is the reason for [their] hatred of humanity?‖ – ―The reason is that they misunderstand the rule of 'loyalty and renunciation.' This rule is a fundamental Islamic rule, but the meaning of 'renunciation' is to renounce the attacking, fighting infidels, and to refrain from helping them [act] against the Islamic state. Their claim that you must hate anyone who is a non-Muslim cannot be true. The Prophet loved Abu Taleb, who died while still clinging to idol worship… Proof that Islam came to spread love among people is that Islam permitted a Muslim to marry a Jewish or Christian woman‖. And again another question : ―How did these murderers permit the blood of Muslims and children?‖ -―Answer : They did this based on a Fatwa of Ibn Taymiya in his book 'The Jihad, 'that says that if the infidels take shelter behind Muslims, that is, if these Muslims become a shield for the infidels, it is permitted to kill the Muslims in order to reach the infidels. Ibn Taymiya did not base this Fatwa on an actual text from the words of Allah or from the words of His Prophet. I do not think that this Fatwa leads to realization of the supreme intentions of Islamic religious law; on the contrary, it is a mistaken Fatwa that contradicts the way of the Prophet Muhammad, who is proven to


have recommended to the Jihad warriors: 'Do not kill a woman, a child or an old man.'‖ There are indeed many other examples of the reactions and attitudes of what we may call the reformist elite in Saudi Arabia, which deserves to be better defined and kown. Another example we will take here consists in an an article titled "Where Do We Start With Reform?" His author is Rashed Al-Fowzan, columnist for the Saudi newspaper Al Jazirah, He merely calls for a program of economic and social reforms. He says : ―There is a desire by the government for economic reform and in truth, some such reform is urgently needed. In talking about economic reform, I am aware that so broad a subject cannot be dealt with in only one article. What I will try to do then is to mention some things that need reform because they cause problems for many of us.‖ • "Limited resources and our total dependence on oil. Our revenues are 80 percent derived from oil." • "Hundreds of billions of riyals have been spent on education and yet our students are still not up to international standards. Far too few of our students concentrate on technical or scientific subjects." • "Unemployment. A problem for both graduates and non-graduates, both of whom suffer from a lack of job opportunities as well as opportunities for training…" • "There are plenty of local factories but we hear nothing about exporting locally-made goods. We ought to expand local production because it would produce substantial revenues…" • "Our national debt is estimated at more than SR700 billion and there is no plan in the near future for eliminating it or dealing with even a part of it. Both our population and government spending are on the increase. Our population is growing faster than our economy and it should be the other way round…" • "Many barriers to foreign investment. Attracting foreign investment is important because it could provide technology, money, jobs and experience. We all know Dubai has attracted enormous foreign investment because of its willingness to scrap meaningless barriers and pointless regulations…" • "The importance of women in society and the economy. Women have limited job opportunities in the Kingdom. Despite the fact that hundreds of millions of riyals have been spent on women's education, there has been no corresponding economic return. The nursing sector, for example, 66

needs more than 50,000 nurses and there are other specialties where women's participation is needed." "These are a few of the points that the government is addressing. The solutions may be both unpopular and expensive with many Saudis since increasing the price of some services and imposing higher prices on others are likely to be among them. We need to be clear and honest if we want to come up with solutions." 106 On the broader scale of Muslim nations, it is clear that 9/11 fostered a new political thinking with a particular focus on democracy. The debate went on and is still continuing about the compatibility between islamic culture and democratic values. A topic that the Algerian thinker Malik Bennabi (1905-1973) was discussing half a century ago, and he was not alone, - far from it. So, before going any further, let us recall what Bennabi was saying about this subject : ―democracy ought to be considered from three aspects: democracy as an attitude toward the ego, democracy as an attitude toward the other, and democracy as the combination of the socio-political conditions necessary for the formation and development of such attitudes in the individual. These three aspects, he explained, encompass the subjective and objective requirements of democracy, which are the psychological propensities upon which the democratic attitude is established and the assets upon which the democratic system in any society depends. For democracy can never be accomplished as a political reality unless its conditions are fulfilled in the character building of the individual and in the norms and traditions of the country‖.107 This is to raise the question about the individual dimension of democracy and its relevancy to the current efforts of democratization in the Arabo-Islamic world. Is it possible to achieve democracy without lifting the tutelage tying the individual to traditional concepts about 106

This article was originally translated into English by Arab News on Wednesday 13 August, 2003. 107 Algerian Malik Bennabi was born in 1905. Highly regarded as the most eminent scholar, and thinker, of Post World War II Algeria, and one of the foremost intellectuals of the modern Muslim world. Educated in Paris and Algiers in Engineering, he later based himself in Cairo, where he spent much of his time toiling through fields of History, Philosophy and Sociology. Among his works, let‘s mention : Les Conditions de la Renaissance (1948) ; The Question of Culture (1954) ; Islam in History and Society (1954)…


family, party, religion, State, and other social groups or institutions or creeds relaying them?


Chapter II ___________

Economic ramifications

―The Bush administration‘s ties to the oil and gas industry are beyond extensive; they are pervasive‖, says an essay by Michael Renner. ―They flow, so to speak, from the top, with a chief executive who grew up steeped in the culture of Texas oil exploration and tried his hand at it himself; and a second-in-command who came to office with a multimillion dollar retirement package in hand from his post of CEO of Halliburton Oil. Once in office, the vice president developed an energy policy under the primary guidance of a cast of oil company executives whose identities he has gone to great lengths to withhold from public view‖108. Renner notes that since taking office, the president and vice president have assembled a government peopled heavily with representatives from the oil culture they came from. These include Secretary of the Army Thomas White, a former vice president of Enron, and Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, former president of the oil exploration company Tom Brown, Inc., whose major stake in the company was worth $13 million by the time he took office. What is worthy noticing too is the fact that as soon as May 2001, a report of the National Energy Policy Development Group, led by Vice President Cheney, acknowledged that U.S. oil production will fall 12% over the next 20 years. As a result, U.S. dependence on imported oil which has risen from one-third in 1985 to more than half in 2003 is set to climb to two-thirds by 2020. 108

Michael Renner, The New Oil Order : Washington‘s war on Iraq is the lynchpin to controlling Persian Gulf oil, Foreign Policy In Focus, February 14, 2003.


Complexity of a relationship Oil is indeed the core of the Saudi-US relationship, even if both parties pretend that the matter is more complicated ; and to be sure, it is so. Nevertheless, the complication is also related to issues connected – directly or indirectly - to oil and energy. There is no doubt about it. Throughout the history of oil, sorting out who gets access to this highly prized resource and on what terms, has often gone hand in hand with violence. At first, it was Britain, the imperial power in much of the Middle East, that called the shots. But for half a century, the US seeking a preponderant share of the earth‘s resources has made steady progress in bringing the Gulf region into its geopolitical orbit. In Washington calculus, securing oil supplies has consistently trumped the pursuit of human rights and democracy. That is to explain why the US policy toward the Middle East has long relied on building up proxy forces in the region and generously supplying them with arms. In the wake of 9/11, the US-Saudi relationship has come under considerable scrutiny , with some analysts questioning its centrality in US foreign policy. Some analyzers have thus challenged the assumption that Gulf oil remains vitally important to the United States. Yet, the US-Saudi relationship is too much important, too much intertwined, too much rich, and too much complicated to let itself being summarized and reduced to some bad reactions about terrorism, though. The interests at stake are huge compared to those prevailing between the USA and other states of the Arab region. Yet, an objective evaluation of the current situation cannot afford to ignore the ambiguous side of the relationship and the attitudes and reactions trying to demonize this side or the other of the relationship, in what we have called the construction of the enemy’s frame of mind. The point here, as in any relationship between two different entities, is that we should always consider its unseen part. To borrow the lexicon of psychoanalysis, in any relationship between two people – let‘s say a man and a woman, for instance- there is not only these two persons, but also , their father and mother, their grandfathers and grand-mothers, their sisters and brothers, their children, etc. So that when we see two people having a relationship, we should consider what lay behind in any evaluation, according to the psychoanalysts. This is also the case for States, for the latter do not represent themselves , but all the diversity of peoples behind them. In our case, we will not have only the USA and the Saudi Kingdom, but also all 70

those who – for a reason or another – identify theirs interests to one of them and claim to have the right to advise and pressure as they claim the right to support and side with or against. Hence, beyond the economic ramifications of 9/11, which –as we see – cannot be summarized in reactions and counter-reactions over the issue of terror funding, there are the cultural background, with its variety of religious, ethnic, social, and political hues. However, it is true that the US-Saudi relationship has experienced its worst crisis in history. Americans and Saudis alike have started to wonder about the meaning and the cost of such a cozy relationship and whether their own governments have served them well.

Oil and Security Oil and national security concerns have combined to produce a close and cooperative relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia for much of the past century. Since the award of the first Saudi oil concession to a U.S. company in 1933, both states have had an increasing interest, respectively, in the marketing and acquisition of Saudi petroleum supplies. As regional threats multiplied in the latter half of the century, mutual concerns over the stability of Saudi Arabia and other moderate regimes in the Arabian Peninsula engendered a significant degree of defense cooperation. US strategic priorities made of Saudi Arabia a key-piece for American primary security interests. As shown by declassified government documents, Washington has focused for half a century on preventing hostile forces from seizing and establishing control of Gulf petroleum. That is why Saddam‘s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 could not be allowed : in the eyes of the American strategists, an ambitious and ruthless dictator, hated in his own country, would be much more emboldened if he was left in control of so much of the world‘s oil wealth. The lesson from the Nazi adventure was being recalled in the media, along with a hypothesis assuming that Saddam would not stop at Kuwait anyway. No wonder that even the Arab states entered the international coalition that gathered not only to liberate Kuwait, but also to warn other candidates to military expansionism – under whatever slogans- in the Gulf or elsewhere : for the first time, the Arab states have been unified in a coalition that far from fighting against Israel, would oppose a ―brother71

regime‖. The arab solidarity would be the first victim of such a situation created by Saddam‘s agression. The fear that a powerful state – then the Soviet Union- could control the dominant share of the world‘s oil supply has since 1949 pushed American policymakers to plan the destruction of regional oil facilities. ―In coordination with the British government and U.S. and British oil companies, but without the knowledge of local Arab governments, President Harry Truman approved a detailed plan -described in a National Security Council directive known as NSC 26/2 and later supplemented by a series of additional NSC orders -- to store explosives near Persian Gulf oil fields. As a last resort in the event of an imminent Soviet invasion, oil installations and refineries would be blown up and the reserves plugged to keep the oil out of Moscow's hands‖109. Telhami reminds us that in 1957 too, ―in response to increased instability in the wake of the Suez crisis, the Eisenhower administration reinforced and expanded the logic of this strategy. With many friends of the West threatened by the rise of pan-Arabism, championed by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, the United States grew concerned that unfriendly governments would emerge in the region. This fear led Eisenhower to expand the denial policy to include not only threatening external powers, but also hostile regional regimes‖110. Although the US military presence is not solely about oil, oil is a key reason. In 1999, General Anthony C. Zinni, then the head of the US Central Command, testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Gulf region is of vital interest to the US and that the country (America, that is) must have free access to the regions resources. Bush administration officials have, however, categorically denied oil is one of the reasons why they pushed for regime change in Iraq.111


Shibley Telhami, Does Saudi Arabia still matter? Differing perspectives on the kingdom and its oil, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2002. 110 Idem. 111 ―Nonsense‖ Defense Secretary Ronald Rumsfeld told 60 minutes Steve Kroft in mid-December 2002. ―It has nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil‖ !


Data rates and performances

With oil export revenues 112 making up around 90-95% of total Saudi export earnings, 70%-80% of state revenues, and around 40% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), Saudi Arabia's economy remains, despite attempts at diversification, heavily dependent on oil (although investments in petrochemicals have increased the relative importance of the downstream petroleum sector in recent years). Saudi Arabia ranks as the first largest crude oil producer in the world, and is a leader in OPEC's production quota decisions. As such, Saudi Arabia was a critically important player behind the oil price collapse of late 1997 through early 1999, and also in actions taken by world oil producers which have led to a tripling in oil prices by the fall of 2000. During 2004, Saudi Arabia produced an estimated 10.4 million bbl/d of oil (32% of total OPEC oil production), with net export of around 8.7 million bbl/d (the comparable figures for 2003 as a whole were 9.9 million bbl/d and 8.3 million bbl/d, respectively). 113 Oil prices were strong during 2003, and even stronger in 2004. Combined with the highest Saudi oil output ever, the country's oil export revenues were up sharply in 2004, to more than $100 billion, compared to $77 billion in 2003 (and more than triple the $34 billion earned in 1998, when Saudi oil prices fell below $12 per barrel). For 2005 and 2006, oil export revenues are expected to remain very strong once again. Partly as a result of these strong oil export revenue increases, Saudi Arabia's real GDP growth was an estimated 6.1% in 2004, up from 1.7% average growth between 1995 and 2002. For 2005, Saudi real GDP growth is expected to remain strong, at 6.2%.


Opec Revenues Fact Sheet,


Opec Revenues :




ECONOMIC OVERVIEW of Saudi Arabia Currency: Riyal Market Exchange Rate (12/21/04): US$1 = 3.75 riyals Gross Domestic Product (GDP - market exchange rate) (2004E): $247.2 billion Real GDP Growth Rate (1995-2002 average): 1.7% (2003E): 7.2% (2004E): 6.1% (2005F): 6.2% Inflation Rate (consumer prices) (2003E): 0.6% (2004E): 0.4% (2005F): 1.5% Unemployment Rate (2004E): 14% (unofficial estimates are higher) Current Account Balance (2003E): $29.7 billion (2004E): $11.6 billion (2005F): $13.1 billion Major Trading Partners (2004): Japan, United States, European Union Merchandise Exports (2004E): $112.3 billion (mainly crude oil and petroleum products) Merchandise Imports (2004E): $36.6 billion (mainly industrial goods, metals, food) Merchandise Trade Balance (2004E): $75.7 billion Oil Export Revenues (2003E): $77 billion (2004E): around $100 billion Oil Export Revenues/Total Export Revenues (2004E): 90%-95% Public Debt (2004E): $176 billion (note: external debt is estimated at $39 billion) Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold (2004E): $23 billion (note the country has significantly more in total "foreign assets")

* Source: DOE, USA. Country Analysis Briefs.


During fiscal year 2004, Saudi Arabia originally had been expecting a budget deficit. However, this was based on an extremely conservative price assumption of $19 per barrel for Saudi oil -- and assumed production of 7.7 million barrels per day (bbl/d). Both of these estimates turned out to be far below actual levels. As a result, as of midDecember 2004, the Saudi Finance Ministry was expecting a huge budget surplus of $26.2 billion, on budget revenues of $104.8 billion (nearly double the country's original estimate) and expenditures of $78.6 billion (28% above the approved budget levels). This surplus is being used for several purposes, including : paying down the Kingdom's public debt (to $164 billion from $176 billion at the start of 2004); extra spending on education and development projects; increased security costs (possibly an additional $2.5 billion dollars in 2004; see below) due to threats from terrorists; and higher payments to Saudi citizens through subsidies and other means. For 2005, Saudi Arabia is assuming a balanced budget, with revenues and expenditures of $74.6 billion each.114 In spite of the recent surge in its oil income, Saudi Arabia continues to face serious long-term economic challenges, including high rates of unemployment (around 15%-20%), one of the world's fastest population growth rates, and the consequent need for increased government spending. All of these place pressures on Saudi oil revenues. The Kingdom also is facing serious security threats, including a number of terrorist attacks (on foreign workers, primarily). In response, the Saudis reportedly have ramped up spending in the security area (reportedly by 50% in 2004, from $5.5 billion in 2003). Saudi Arabia's per capita oil export revenues remain far below high levels reached during the 1970s and early 1980s. In 2004, Saudi Arabia earned around $4,462 per person, versus $22,174 in 1980. This 80% decline in real per capita oil export revenues since 1980 is in large part due to the fact that Saudi Arabia's young population has nearly tripled since 1980, while oil export revenues in real terms have fallen by over 40% (despite recent increases). Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has faced nearly two decades of heavy budget and trade deficits, the expensive 1990/1991 war with Iraq, and total public debt of around $175 billion. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia does have extensive -- around $110 billion -- foreign assets, which provide a substantial fiscal "cushion."


Country analysis Briefs, Saudi Arabia, January 2005, Energy Information Administration, Department Of Energy. US Government.


Trade relationship Saudi Arabia was the second largest U.S. trading partner in the Middle East in 2002. For that year, Saudi exports to the United States were estimated at $12.2 billion and imports from the United States at $4.3 billion. Comparable figures for Israel, the largest U.S. trading partner in the Middle East, were $12.4 billion in exports and $5.3 billion in imports. To a considerable extent, this high volume of trade is a result of U.S. oil imports from Saudi Arabia and U.S. arms exports to that country. The Saudis buy significant amounts of U.S. commercial equipment, such as machinery and vehicles, as well. Also, a Washington Post article of February 11, 2002, estimates that Saudi nationals have invested between $500 and $700 billion in the U.S. economy 115. Saudi Arabia has applied to join the 128-memberWorld Trade Organization (WTO) as a developing country, an arrangement that would give it a special transition period to bring its commercial procedures in line with WTO rules. The U.S. State Department notes that accession will require the Saudi government to initiate substantial reforms, including tariff reduction, opening up financial services (insurance and banking), allowing competition in telecommunications and other services, and better protection of intellectual property rights. In recognition of its progress in protection of intellectual property rights, Saudi Arabia was removed from the U.S. Trade Representative‘s Priority Watch List in 1996, but remains on the basic Watch list pending further progress. The U.S. Trade Representative reportedly has also cited Saudi observance of the secondary boycott against Israel as an obstacle to admission to the WTO. In March 2001, WTO officials reportedly expressed disappointment over a recent list issued by the Saudi government of activities off limits to foreign investment and predicted that these restrictions could delay Saudi accession to the WTO. During Crown Prince Abdullah‘s April 2002 visit, however, President Bush expressed support for Saudi accession and said the United States is making technical assistance available to Saudi Arabia to support the Saudi application. 115

Alfred B. Prados, Saudi Arabia, Current Issues and US Relations, August 4, 2003, CRS Issue Brief for Congress.


Oil Production With the world‘s largest proven oil reserves (estimated at 261.7 billion barrels in January 2001), Saudi Arabia produced an average of 9.145 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil during 2000. Approximately 14% of U.S. oil imports and 8.46% of total U.S. oil consumption came from Saudi Arabia during 2001. Formerly the largest foreign supplier of oil to the United States, Saudi Arabia has been exceeded in this role by Venezuela and/or Canada during recent years .

U.S.Oil consumption and imports Category 1998 18.917 Total US consumption 10.708 Total U.S. Imports Imports from Saudi Arabia 1.491 1.719 Imports from Venezuela 1.598 Imports from Canada

1999 19.519 10.852 1.478 1.493 1.539

2000 19.701 11.459 1.572 1.546 1.807

2001 19.649 11.871 1.662 1.553 1.828

* Source : U.S. Department Of Energy.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has alternately supported cuts and increases in production as oil prices on the international market have fluctuated. Under a ―gentlemen‘s agreement‖ reached in June 2000, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) established a mechanism to adjust the supply of oil by 500,000 bpd if the 20-day average price of oil moved outside a $22 to $28 price band. Members disagree, however, as to whether this mechanism is automatic or requires separate action by OPEC to implement it, and Saudi Arabia has spoken of a target price of $25 rather than a price band. Congress has approved legislation to discourage price fixing by oil producing countries116 .




ENERGY OVERVIEW : Saudi Arabia Proven Oil Reserves (1/1/05E): 261.9 billion barrels (includes half of Divided/"Neutral" Zone) Total Oil Production (2004E; includes NZ): 10.4 million barrels per day (bbl/d), of which 9.1 million bbl/d was crude oil, 1.2 million bbl/d was natural gas liquids (NGLs), and 80,000 bbl/d was "other liquids" (including MTBE) Total Oil Production (2003E; includes NZ): 9.9 million barrels per day (bbl/d), of which 8.8 million bbl/d was crude oil, 1.0 million bbl/d was natural gas liquids (NGLs), and 80,000 bbl/d was "other liquids" (including MTBE) OPEC Crude Oil Production Quota (effective 11/1/04): 8.775 million bbl/d Crude Oil Production Capacity (12/04E): 10.5-11.0 million bbl/d Total Oil Consumption (2004E): 1.67 million bbl/d Net Oil Exports (2002E): 7.0 million bbl/d (2003E): 8.3 million bbl/d (2004E): 8.7 million bbl/d Major Oil Customers (8/04E; approximate exports): United States (1.9 million bbl/d); OECD Europe (1.4 million bbl/d); Japan (1.2 million bbl/d); South Korea (838,000 bbl/d); India (345,000 bbl/d); China (310,000 bbl/d); Taiwan (210,000 bbl/d) Crude Oil Refining Capacity (1/1/05E): 1.745 million bbl/d Natural Gas Reserves (1/1/05E): 235.0 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) (includes half of NZ) Natural Gas Production/Consumption (2002E): 2.0 Tcf Electric Generating Capacity (2003E): 26.6 gigawatts (all thermal) Net Electricity Generation (2002E): 138.2 billion kilowatt-hours * Source: DOE, USA. Country Analysis Briefs


The challenges of the Muslim nations If one of the most important consequences of 9/11 is the accentuated demand on democratization and reform in the Arab world as a way to preventing more Islamic radicalization in these societies, it is noticeable that anyway even without those tragic events, the West was still adamant on introducing some political reforms. The fact is that the GCC being involved in international trade, its connections with the western political notions have to be updated from inside. There is a reason for that. Nowadays, the terms "democracy" and "market economy" are often used interchangeably. Some kind of opening has thus to be performed. In the former East-European states, the process has conduced to joining the European Union, which was - and still remainsan economic market before it became a political project. In Russia, we see almost the same scheme, and even in China, there is an orientation towards some sort of liberalization. However, in America some priorities that were already working in the background of the political scene well before 9/11 have hardly changed after these events, whereas others occurred in the aftermath and have renewed - or rather accentuated- the interest in the region . In 1999, an article of the magazine "Brain Food" announces that "America will soon lose the stability the framers worked so hard to create because it is becoming wholly dependent upon inherently unstable (authoritarian) oil-producing Muslim nations "117. Indeed, the idea is neither new nor genuinely original. Besides, it is not quite logical, either. The question that such an idea raises is : can a Superpower like America lose control over its own destiny just because it is relying for some of its energy importations on ―unstable countries‖? Why should the instability in some Muslim countries lead necessarily to a similar instability in the USA? For Jay Hanson, it happened over twenty five years ago that OPEC quadrupled world oil prices and plunged America into "stagflation". Yet, maybe it would be more advisable to speak of unrest instead of instability. To be sure, 9/11 caused unrest in America which has become anxious about international terrorism and radical Islamism. Either some like it or not, Islam is since then an asset in this game, and it


Jay Hanson, The Best-Kept Secret In Washington, Brain Food, Third Quarter,



happens that those who detain the main resources in energy are Muslim nations. " Muslim nations " writes J. Hanson " will soon control virtually all of the world's oil exports. Since neither capital nor labor can create energy, the next round of energy-shortage-induced stagflation will leave central bankers helpless and they will seek military solutions to their economic problems. It's the best-kept secret in Washington, Whitehall, Brussels, and Jerusalem, but it's just a matter of time until word hits the street"118 . The market economy receives almost 80 percent of its energy subsidies from nonrenewable fossil sources : oil, gas, and coal 119. That makes the struggle for energy a vital issue, not only for the consumers (especially the Westerners) but also for the producers, for who the matter is most of all of political survival. That's where the strategies of the Western states intermingle with the local struggles for power between the elites of the concerned regions, until it becomes hard to distinguish between what is a local necessity and what is a priority dictated by the foreign interests. Oil is the highest quality energy today used throughout the world, making up about 38% of the world energy supply, according to some estimations120. In 1977, Richard Duncan developed a new model to forecast oil production called the "Numerate Empiric Model". In the course of his research, it seems that Duncan discovered what J. Hanson holds as the "best-kept secret", which is that Muslim nations would be able to control market economies because they will control virtually all of the oil export market. Writing to President Clinton and Senator Jessie Helms in the same year, Duncan warned them that if an "alliance of Muslim petroleum exporting nations" could see the day , this alone ―could cause World stock markets to fall 50 % in one day, and crucially it could ignite both (1) a World Petroleum War, and (2) a World Holy War (called Jihad by Muslims)‖. Though these sentences are tainted with a highly emotional dramatic tone, it seems that by an irony of the hazard the events gave this 118

Idem. They are called nonrenewable because , for all practical purposes, they're not being made any more. The reason they are called fossil is because they were produced by nature from dead plants and animals over several hundred million years. 120 Studies show that nothing can replace oil : a recent review of the future prospects of all alternatives has been published. The summary conclusion reached is that there is no known complete substitute for petroleum in its many and varied uses. 119


apocalyptic vision some weight. Indeed, the Muslim nations did not make any alliance with the clear purpose of striking at the heart of the world economy, as Duncan imagined. Yet, what was the Desert Storm if not a little World Petroleum War caused by the failed attempt of Saddam Hussein to lay his hands on the Kuwaiti oil fields? And if one of the consequences of that war consisted in implanting and broadening the American military presence in the Gulf, what was the reaction of the local opposition (or/and dissidence gathered in the radical jihadist cells) if not starting the World Holy War (jihad) against the Westerners, as Bin Laden put it? But in 1999, when he published his article, J. Hanson could very well draw his own conclusions from the course of the Gulf War that changed a lot in the political vista of the region. Never before that time, the Saudi opposition could catch the ears and the eyes of the grand public, and we can probably say the same of all those small groups of militant jihadists which spread loosely all over the Arab region. It will be 9/11 that brings to the limelight the connection between those who are inside and those who are outside. Nothing will ever be similar after that date.

There is ally and ally Why 9/11 changed all the conceptions prevailing about the relations between the USA and the GCC , and particularly Saudi Arabia ? Because, it raised the question not only about the credibility of the American allies in the Arab world, but also about America's own credibility in regard of what justifies some of those alliances. The Americans pride themselves for what they deem to be their power and influence in the modern world. Some of that power and influence is supposed to be reposing on a strong independence will. But what the Americans discovered in the wake of 9/11 is that they are not as independent as they have always figured to be. Not to be completely independent means in this dramatic context not to be able to tackle efficiently the calamity that hit America in the heart : the Islamist terrorism. The problem is grave, or at least that's how it sounded the day after 9/11, when America discovered to its horror that 15 on 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens. Why Saudis? Why the Gulf States, which Washington has always thought to be allies and friends in the same measure that it considered itself as their protector ?


Nonetheless, behind the official message and the main stream media discourse there are the truths that are neither new nor secret, if only one could make sense of some signs that preceded those tragic events of New York and Washington. First, when Senator Helms replied to Duncan, he did not hesitate to acknowledge that "the Commerce Department recently released a report which found that US dependence on foreign oil has become a threat to national security. The government should not have allowed its national security to be placed in such a vulnerable position" said he. That makes J. Hanson - and many others - shudder for "what if?" "The United States", writes the latter, "is physically unable to produce enough oil domestically to keep its economy alive and is forced to rely on its imports. In 1998, the United States imported 53 percent of its oil needs. This deficit is growing... and will continue to grow until the economy collapses exactly like it did twenty five years ago" 121. However, maybe the core of the problem is not that America is relying on imports for its needs of energy : would that have been really a thorny problem if those imports of oil were coming from - say - Europe, for instance ? The Europeans , in spite of their complicated controversies with the USA are allies. And so are the oil producing Muslim states . Then where is the problem? It is exactly in the cultural differences122, those « lines » of division and meeting assumed to be the « front » of civilization shock in the thesis of professor Huntington. Islam is a peace religion, though. Yet, what people could make of it , is another question, particularly when there is on one part and another of the globe(i.e. in the West and in the arabo-islamic world) a systematic, thorough construction of the enemy. This is not just an intellectual polemic, as passionate as it may sound to Western and Muslim scholars. This is now, and since 9/11 a matter of global challenge facing the American administration, as it is facing - but with a different tone and on a different scale - the Muslim states, either in the GCC or in the rest of the world 123. 121

Idem. This was written in 1999. See about this topic, Dispassionating the Debate about Modernization and Westernization, Hichem Karoui, 11/15/03: 123 We can talk of construction of the enemy each time we notice that the discourse is based on a series of elementary dichotomies , such as : good/evil, just/unjust, guilty/innocent, rational/irrational, civilized/uncivilized, which can be defined as floating (or empty signifiers). These floating signifiers have no fixed meaning, but they are (re)articulated before, during and after the conflict and placed in a chain of equivalence. Both sides claim to be rational and civilized, and to fight a good and just war, attributing responsibility for the conflict to the enemy. The construction of 122


Well before 9/11 , and even before the two Gulf wars ignited by Saddam Hussein in 1980 and 1990, the couple "Islam and oil" has already revealed to be quite explosive : the Iranian revolution of 1979 proved it. In those not so remote days, it was not only 63 Americans taken as hostages at the embassy in Tehran, but America itself. The whole regional system set up in the Gulf since the fifties was being paralyzed. And here too, the issue was not just about oil interests, but about the social project and the cultural shock. After all, the new regime of the Mullahs did not stop pumping oil towards the West, and the West did not stop buying it. The problem was elsewhere. It was in the attitudes, the behaviors, the symbols, and to put it briefly, in the signs released by the new regime in Tehran and in their interpretation in the West. So, does it really matter if we notice for example, following Hanson's steps, that the Middle East alone has 64 % of the world's proved oil reserves? Yes of course, it does. And this is not just because it is the Middle East. Nobody would care if it were the Caribbean, the northern pole, the Black Sea, or Southern America. The point is that the contemporary Middle East is mainly a region deeply influenced by two trends: religion (Islam) and nationalism. And that makes the difference. Add to that 9 % (i.e., the FSU Muslim republics, 1.7 % ; Muslim African nations, 6.7 % ; Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei, 1%) and the Muslim states would have roughly 73% of the total world's proved oil reserves. Conclusion of Hanson : " By 2010, Muslim nations could control 60 percent of the world's oil production and, more importantly, 95 percent of the world's oil exports. In short, the Muslim exporting nations have Western economies by the throat"124.

U.S. Energy Supply and Demand - Base Case Energy Information Administration\Short-Term Energy Outlook February 2005 :

the enemy is accompanied by the construction of the identity of the self, clearly in an antagonistic relationship to the enemy's identity. In this process not only the radical otherness of the enemy is emphasized, but the enemy is also considered to be a threat to 'our own' identity. In this fashion the enemy's identity becomes a constitutive outside, supporting the identity construction of the self. 124 Idem.


Year 2003


Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (billion chained 2000 dollars) 10381 10843 Imported Crude Oil a Price (nominal dollars per barrel) 27.74 36.12 Petroleum Supply (million barrels per day) Crude Oil Production b 5.68 5.43 Total Petroleum Net Imports( million barrels per day) (including SPR) 11.24 11.84 Energy Demand World Petroleum (million barrels per day) 79.8 82.5 Petroleum (million barrels per day) 20.03 20.51 Natural Gas (trillion cubic feet) 22.36 22.20 Coal c (million short tons) Electricity (billion kilowatthours) Retail Sales d Other Use/Sales e Total Total Energy Demand f (quadrillion Btu) Total Energy Demand per Dollar of GDP (thousand Btu per 2000 Dollar)

Annual Percentage Change
















































3488 179 3667

3544 177 3721

3664 185 3848

3743 188 3930

1.6 -1.0 1.5

3.4 4.4 3.4

2.2 1.4 2.1















Renwable Energy as Percent of Total g

6.4% 6.5% 6.6% 6.6% Sources: Historical data: Latest data available from Bureau of Economic Analysis and Energy Information Administration; latest data available from EIA databases supporting the following reports: Petroleum Supply Monthly, DOE/EIA-0109; Petroleum Supply Annual, DOE/EIA-0340/2; Natural Gas Monthly, DOE/EIA-0130; Electric Power Monthly, DOE/EIA-0226; and Quarterly Coal Report, DOE/EIA-0121; International Petroleum Monthly DOE/EIA-0520; Weekly Petroleum Status Report, DOE/EIA-0208. Macroeconomic projections are based on Global Insight Model of the US Economy, January 2005.


Special partnership

Yet, one is prone to say , the situation has not always appeared so grayish. In fact, it could even have appeared the other way round. Thus, in studying US-Gulf states relationship, one cannot help noticing the moderating influence of Saudi Arabia - the most conservative state in the Gulf. The underlying motivation behind Saudi Arabia's friendly policy toward the United States has been ―the realization that its security and government stability are inextricably tied to (1) moral and material support of the United States and her industrial allies and, (2) economic prosperity and stability of the industrial world , including the United States. The fact that the Kingdom has and will depend very heavily on US military supports for its external security cannot be overemphasized‖.125 According to Vo Xuan Han, Saudi Arabia's economic dependence on the outside world is no less obvious. Oil exports being her most important source of revenue, Saudi Arabia's economic interests depend heavily on the economic conditions in the most advanced and largest industrial economies. ―Also as most of the Saudis' financial assets are held in the currencies of these industrial countries, especially the US dollar, her wealth would be adversely affected by economic recession and depreciation of these 'hard' currencies. Last but not least, another factor that may explain Saudi Arabia's cautious and generally proWestern stance has been her dependence on Western goods and technology, which she sorely needs for her industrialization and modernization efforts.126‖ Saudi Arabia's perception of national interest would seldom collide with the need to preserve solidarity with her exporting allies. At the height of the oil shocks in the 1970s, it was Saudi Arabia that counseled a moderation in price increases. "This kingdom had repeatedly wanted to keep the oil price down out of a sincere concern for recessions 125

Vo Xuan Han (associate professor of Economics at Winthrop University, Rock Hill, South Carolina) , Oil, the Persian Gulf States, and the United States, Praeger Publishers, Westport, Connecticut, London, 1994. P. 113. 126 Idem.


in the global economy, particularly the advanced market economies", writes Vo Xuan Han127. During the OPEC price negotiations in 1976-77 and 1979, ―it was Saudi Arabia that had fought the other powerful militant members, such as Iran, to keep the crude price from rising as fast as they had wished. At this time, the kingdom's position was strong and secure enough to force compromises. There was also evidence that Saudi Arabia had acted out of political consideration to please President Carter during 1976-77 when she resisted the pressure to increase oil prices from other OPEC members. In 1981 , near the peak of OPEC crude price hikes, by maintaining a high rate of production, Saudi Arabia was able to put a halt - albeit a short- lived one- to the price escalation that had started in 1979. Once again , in 1988 when the oil glut drove the price down and oil exporters wanted to control production to keep the price around $ 18 per barrel, the Saudis were accused of secretly trying to undercut the producers' efforts and keep the price around $ 15 per barrel by such scheme as giving discount to buyers. Differences between Saudi Arabia and the OPEC members led to the most bitter confrontation at the April conference‖.128 The same author notes that Saudi Arabia's foreign policy toward the United States ―reflects a strong desire to push her own interests as far as she can without having to break away from her historic, mutually beneficial relations with the United States and other industrial powers‖129. Saudi's special ties to the United States , historically based on investment security (for the oil firms), has evolved through times to deeper levels ranging from oil to military security on the one hand and economic and technical cooperation, on the other. On balance, ―Saudi Arabia's oil policy has made her an invaluable ally of the industrial powers. The kingdom's moderating influence has prevented the global oil industry from becoming an oligopoly dominated by one firm."130 Yet, when 9/11 broke out, it was as if years and years of this partnership vanished off the records and were almost erased from men‘s memory, letting the way open to paranoid suspicion and mutual accusations.

127 128 129 130

Vo Xuan Han. Op. Cit. P. 114. Idem. Idem. Idem.


Terror Funds According to press reports in mid-August 2002, families of more than 600 victims of the September 11 attacks have filed a suit in the U.S. District Court of Alexandria,Virginia against three members of the Saudi royal family, seven banks, and eight charitable organizations. The lawsuit, which also named Osama bin Laden, members of his family, and the government of the Sudan, sought approximately $1 trillion in damages from these individuals or organizations for allegedly helping finance the Al Qaeda network. According to excerpts reported in the press, the lawsuit states that ―the financial resources and support network of these defendants — charities, banks and individual financiers—are what allowed the attacks of September 11, 2001 to occur.‖ Saudi media and business spokesmen have described the suit as an attempt to extort Saudi money deposited in the United States and exert political pressures on Saudi Arabia; some have called for withdrawing Saudi investments in the United States, estimated by one media source at $750 billion and another at between $400 and $600 billion. A London Financial Times article on August 21, 2002, quoted estimates that Saudi investors have withdrawn between $100 billion and $200 billion from the United States in recent months, but other sources quoted in the article expressed skepticism that a mass exodus of Saudi money is under way 131. Since the outset, the question about the funds that helped opening the way to the terrorists has been raised, and it was not so much because the American intelligence ignored that al Qaeda has built a little financial empire, but because assumably the CIA and other intelligence agencies could not ignore it. Unfortunately, the reality did not match the assumption : 9/11 has not been feasible only because of a severe gap in the security measures and a grave failure in intelligence gathering and analysis, but it was also a great lack of curiosity in all what concerns the financial data of the terrorists. The fact that Usama bin Laden is a millionaire is well known and almost pointless. Yet, the questions that should have mattered since a long time for the intelligence and security apparatus in any concerned country were about : what did he do of his 131

Alfred B. Prados, Saudi Arabia, Current Issues and U.S.Relations, August 4, 2003, CRS Issue Brief For Congress.


money? Where did he invest it? How did a man retaining and training and entertaining thousands of militia-men and jihadists could do that without the existence of a financial system and some accounts and records? Even an ordinary family cannot afford to ignore budget and accounts , so what about an organization like al Qaeda? Where did money come from and where does it go? It is amazing that these questions become crucial only after 9/11, although the previous operations of Al Qaeda should have raised them. In this context, we point out to the unconvincing opinion of the Saudi dissident Saad al Fagih about the nature of al Qaeda and its finances. In an interview with PBS Front Line132, Al Fagih tried to reduce the size and the importance of both Al Qaeda organizational structure and finances, suggesting that it does not require a lot of money to planify and execute terrorist operations. This is quite unlikely in our view, at least because of all the international financial and human network necessarily mobilized to sustain al Qaeda‘s activities. One must be very simpleminded to believe that all those people (thousands) would survive only thanks to prayers and fresh water. However, for Al Fagih, the reports on Bin Laden assets are not serious. He told PBS : ―I read a few reports on the American press about bin Laden's financial assets and the way Americans are trying to ... trace them ... using satellites and Internet. It made me laugh a lot. Because I know there is none of that. Bin Laden does not use banks I was told. But bin Laden, in his personal capacity, is supposed to be bankrupt now. He had three massive setbacks in his financial story. ... First there was the freezing of all his assets ... around 250, 300 million dollars. It's inside Saudi Arabia and it is part of his share in the company. It is under the microscope of the Saudi regime. It can't go here or there. ... And then he had a big loss in Sudan. Because he volunteered to do one of two projects [for] the Sudanese. The big road-they call it the challenge road. And he spent something like 250 or 300 million dollars on that project. Assuming that the Sudanese would pay him at one time, but they ... paid him hardly 10 or 20 million. So in 132

Interview with Dr. Saad al Fagih, Front Line , PBS, 2001. This question of funding terror has been analyzed by numerous and varied observers. See for example : Roland Jacquard, Au nom d‘Oussama Ben Laden, Editions Jean Picollec, Paris, 2001. This author thinks that the Islamists have since the beginning relied on several sources of funds instead of only one. Thus, even if we assume with Al Fagih that Bin Laden is broke, this is not by any means the proof that the funds reserved for terror activities have completely dried out. See particularly the chapter XIII, les milliards des réseaux Ben Laden, in Jacquard‘s book.


practicality, he lost all this money. And then came the last, the set back. When this man [Sidi Tayyib] defected to the Saudi regime. And he knew quite a bit about his remaining small companies here and there. And he told the Saudis about them. Now he knew that his man would defect. So he prepared himself by selling those companies with significant loss before the defection of [Sidi Tayyib] ...‖ And most interestingly, when asked ―why does he survive now?‖, Al Fagih says ―Well, he survives for two reasons. Number one, there is some other source, other than his own money, ... his indirect family support and rich Muslims supporting him to back up jihad. And the other reason that he survives is that neither he nor his followers need money. They are living a very, very simple life. And for their operations, they don't need a lot of money. You can buy a [rocket propelled grenade] in Yemen for cheaper than foreign audio tape recorders. You can buy TNT in Somalia cheaper than sugar. So explosives are not that expensive and the [people] have already been trained. And the logistics needed are very little. And people are volunteers. They are not paid. They are not mercenaries. So the cost of a big operation like bombing Riyadh or bombing Khobar could come to a few thousand dollars. Very easily.‖133 So, they are volunteers and are not paid! Then, how do they live? We are talking about thousands of people, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other regions. They have weapons because they are cheap! How do they eat? Where do they live? What about their families? If there were no funds backing them, would they really carry on fighting for so many years? Even with the best good will in the world, with the deepest belief, a man still behaves as a man: he needs to eat, to shelter himself and to grant his own safety and survival (not to talk of his family if he is married). How does bin Laden and al Fagih or anyone else propose to make those thousands of jihadists survive if they have no money? What about the Palestinian fighters who have preceded them on this field? Does anybody think that those fierce patriots are not paid? This is indeed easier to check out today with the Palestinian Authority. Yet, we do know that the Fidayeens have always been paid by the PLO. This is a fact. Therefore, to pretend that al Qaeda jihadists are not paid, is either a naïve pretension or a misinformation. Already in 1998, some American observers were speculating about whether Bin Laden‘s personal fortune were funding his network and comparing it to other sources of funds, but without detailed data, 133



though. Katzman writes in this context : ―Bin Ladin's personal wealth gives him options that other terrorist organizations lack. Not only can he buy protection from state hosts but he can maintain a thriving network without need of state assistance. In contrast, such groups as the Abu Nidal Organization, the Palestine Liberation Front, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine became inactive when state sponsors cut their funding in the second half of the 1980s. Hezbollah maintains its operations against Israeli forces in south Lebanon because it gets Iranian aid, estimated at $80 million to $100 million per year; without this, Hezbollah would likely not be able to raise enough money to sustain those operations‖134. The same Katzman adds : ―Bin Ladin's wealth, in contrast, appears sufficient to sustain his approximately three thousand fighters spread out in east and north Africa, the Middle East, former Yugoslavia, and parts of east and central Asia. His wealth also enables him to become patron of Egypt's Islamist organizations, Islamic Group and Al-Jihad. These groups had looked to Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman for leadership but with him in jail in a medical facility in Missouri for plotting to destroy New York landmarks, his residual network has had to turn elsewhere for support, and bin Laden has filled the gap‖. If such was the case, how come that neither the US government nor its allies took measures in order to cut the terrorists from their source of funds until the aftermath of 9/11? Maybe the first answer of which one can think is that the Americans were then focusing on several groups believed to have ties with terrorism, and we should not omit also the fact that state-funded terrorism was linked – directly – to the ―Rogue States‖ in the political and strategic paradigm prevailing prior to 9/11. At that time, « Middle Eastern terrorism »135 was divided into three categories : ―(1) State terrorism, in which a government relies on its own agents or national apparatus to conduct acts of terrorism; no organized terrorist groups are involved, though foreign nationals might be subcontracted under certain circumstances. (2) State-assisted terrorism, in which organized terrorist groups receiving material assistance and possibly direction from 134

Kenneth Katzman, counter-terrorism policy, American successes, The Middle East Quarterly, December 1998, Vol: V, n° 4. 135 Let us notice by the way that there is no agreement on a strict definition of terrorism between the USA and the Arab and Muslim States. Despite the international anti-terrorist campaign led by President Bush, with the declared support of the Arab States, such an agreement about who is meant by the term « terrorist » is still lacking.


governments, carry out the acts of violence. (3) Independent terrorism, in which the terrorist groups receive minimal or no assistance and virtually no direction from national governments‖136. There was also a lot of attention focusing on Libya, Syria, Iraq, which were considered to be the ―traditional patrons‖ of terrorism- and particularly on Iran as a supporter and a fund backer for islamist activism, either in Lebanon – through Hezbollah – or outside it, for example in Sudan. Although this latter country is mainly Sunnite, some reports viewed it as possibly slipping toward the Iranian sphere of influence since the beginning of the nineties137. Nobody ever wondered, as far as we know, for instance whether this has anything to do with Bin Laden‘s choice of Sudan as a refuge for his close people, his funds and himself, as a manner to counterbalance the increasing Iranian influence. The West was then focusing on the Iranian connections and almost forgetting that the greatest part of the radicalism islamist is Sunnite and since centuries in rivalry with Shiism. The Economist for example wrote: ―From Iran, Mr. Turabi will admit only to getting oil and army vehicles, though diplomats testify to three guerrilla training camps run by Iran in the east of Sudan.‖138

Americo-American controversy This situation has apparently raised an argument inside the USA. In a memo published on the site of the PNAC, Gary Schmitt wrote : ―This past Sunday, pundit Fareed Zakaria alleged that the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which he characterized as "Bill Kristol's advocacy group," paid no attention to Al Qaeda in the 1990s. 136

Katzman. Counter-terrrorism…Op.Cit. The most common claim has been that Iran enabled Sudan to make massive arms purchases, either directly from Tehran or through China, by giving Sudan economic assistance. Interestingly, while Sudanese opposition groups and Southern Sudanese looked at this support as funds to escalate the war in the South – a domestic issue – international media have focused on Sudan as a fertile soil for terrorism and a new ―beachhead for Islamic radicalism‖ – an international issue. A second serious claim was that Iran sent Revolutionary Guards to Sudan. The Pro-Israeli Anti-Defamation League (ADL) wrote in 1998 that ―hundreds of Iranian Revolutionary Guards are sent to terrorist training camps in Sudan to train in the subversion of moderate Arab regimes.‖ Even more radical claims came from Sudanese opposition groups and Egyptian disinformation, which asserted that 18,000 Iranian fighters have been based in Sudan, fighting against the SPLA in the south. 138 The Economist, ―Sudan: An Evangelist at Home,‖ London. Apr. 18, 1992. 137


Similarly, Zakaria wrote last month in the New York Times, "One searches vainly through the archives of the Project for the New American Century, the main neoconservative advocacy group, for a single report on Al Qaeda or a letter urging action against it before 9/11." Then Schmitt started answering Zakaria : ―In fact, the directors and fellows of the Project published several articles on the subject of the war on terrorism and Al Qaeda prior to September 11. In September 1998, after the embassy bombings, William Kristol and Robert Kagan wrote an editorial in the Weekly Standard in which they expressed concern that the Clinton administration's cruise missile strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan had not "made a dent in the terrorist networks" and questioned whether the Clinton administration "really has the stomach for such a war." In an essay in the book Present Dangers, edited by Kristol and Kagan and published in September 2000-a month before the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, Project Senior Fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht discussed the necessity of taking action to "check the lethality, if not the growth, of Taliban/bin Laden-style Islamic radicalism."139 Yet, even if there was some analysis of Al Qaeda activities in the pre-September 11 period, it has not acquired the depth and the abundance of details that characterized the papers following the event. Anyway, for what concerned the financial part of the analysis , it would not be inaccurate to say it was void, and on this level Zakaria was probably right. We have thus to acknowledge that there was a ―diffused attention‖: the Clinton administration for example was still hoping until its last days to make a deal in the Middle East between Palestinians and Israelis. The Iraqi situation – on the humanitarian level – was disastrous. And with that, there were the ―traditional‖ – say – challenges (or Bêtes noires) of the USA : the ―rogue states‖, and the loose network of terrorist groups not necessarily thought to be a part of Al Qaeda, about which there was much talk in the media (Abu Sayyaf for example, or the Algerian GIA). The result of that ―diffused‖ attention is that Al Qaeda was not yet occupying the first position in the terrorist ranking140. The second result is that its sources of funds were still let in the ―darkness‖. 139

Gary Schmitt, Memorandum To: Opinion Leaders, Addressing Terrorism before 9/11, March 25, 2004, 140 The U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations as of October 8, 1999: Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Armed Islamic Group (GIA), Aum Shinriykyo, Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), HAMAS (Islamic Resistance


Occult international financial network What we know today is that al Qaeda reportedly has been exploiting for years the free market and the freedoms of the democratic countries and the right to the banking secrecy and even the good will of charitable people unaware of what would become of their donations, and nobody seemed really to care about this occult self-financing system until 9/11. To operate effectively though, transnational terrorists and criminals need ready access to money and the ability to maneuver it quickly and secretly across borders. On a large scale, such money maneuvers can ripple across entire regions, embroiling global markets and threatening vital American economic interests as well as destabilizing other countries politically. The ability to move vast quantities of wealth rapidly and anonymously across the globe— sometimes combining modern-day wire transfers, faxes, and Internet connections with centuries old practices, such as the hawala, of personal connections and a handshake—gives terrorist and criminal networks a strategic advantage over many states. Yet it also might be their vulnerability. In September 2001, President George W. Bush listed 27 terrorist organizations and individuals whose assets were to be blocked in American financial institutions. Since then, more than 202 entities and individuals have been identified for punitive financial action worldwide. The principals behind the Al Qaeda financing network reportedly are Al Barakaat and Al Taqwa/Nada Management Group. Al Barakaat is a Somali-based international financial conglomerate with operations in over 40 countries, including the United States. The organization‘s Movement), Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM), Hezbollah (Party of God), Gama'a alIslamiyya (Islamic Group, IG), Japanese Red Army (JRA), al-Jihad, Kach, Kahane Chai, Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), Mujahedine Khalq Organization (MEK, MKO, NCR, and many others), National Liberation Army (ELN), Palestine Islamic Jihad-Shaqaqi Faction (PIJ), Palestine Liberation Front-Abu Abbas Faction (PLF), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), al-Qa'ida, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Revolutionary Organization 17 November (17 November), Revolutionary People's Liberation Army/Front (DHKP/C), Revolutionary People's Struggle (ELA), Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL), Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA).


founder, Sheikh Ahmed Nur Jimale, reportedly is closely linked to Usama bin Laden and has used Al Taqwa/Nada Group to facilitate the financing and operations of Al Qaeda and other Islamist organizations. Before its U.S. operations were closed down, Al Barakaat reportedly wired at least $500 million in annual worldwide profits to the company‘s central money-exchange office in the United Arab Emirates. Al Qaeda allegedly received a flat 5 percent cut of that money, amounting to approximately $25 million a year. The events of September 11 pushed money laundering and the financing of terrorism to the forefront of domestic and foreign policy concerns in the USA. As a paper of the Strategic Forum reports 141 , « since September 11, $34 million in terrorist assets, including $27 million belonging to Al Qaeda and bin Laden, have been frozen in the United States. A total of 161 nations have blocked the assets of known terrorist organizations, amounting to another $70 million. Action also is being taken to disrupt severely the misuse of the hawala system and other underground remittance systems used by bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist organizations » 142. Not surprisingly, Usama bin Laden excels at amassing and distributing large sums of money to support his terrorist schemes. His main sources for financial support include his personal wealth, estimated between $280 million and $300 million, funds siphoned from overt Muslim charities, and wealthy well-wishers, especially in the Gulf States. Allegedly, a wide variety of international banks in the Gulf are used to manipulate and move funds using business front organizations owned by bin Laden. Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden‘s brother-in-law, was reportedly responsible for managing parts of the financial network that deal with major investments in Malaysia, Mauritius, the Philippines, and Singapore. Bin Laden has- according to some reports- funded a number of network cell operating expenses, including accommodations, safe houses, cars, and payments to operatives for the recruitment of new 141

Kimberley L.Thachuk, Terrorism‘s Financial Lifeline : can it be severed? Strategic Forum, n° 191, May 2002. 142 Idem. Once again, we must remind the reader of the important controversy between the Arab and Muslim States and the USA and Europe about the definition of terrorism, as many of the former states hold some organisations as ―national resistance‖ against occupying forces, which is not the position of the USA. Moreover, some Arab regimes consider their own Islamist opposition as ―terrorist‖ even if it is a moderate movement, whereas they may consider goups fighting in Iraq against the new system as ―resistance‖.


members. His contributions have further purchased explosives and key components for explosive devices. At least $5,000 is known to have been transferred from bin Laden holdings to operatives in Yemen to fund the attack against the U.S.S. Cole in 2000. The investment for bin Laden to mount the September 11 attacks is estimated to have been approximately $500,000, while the total costs to the United States for cleanup, property losses, and Federal Government bailouts will exceed $135 billion.143

The file against Saudi Arabia In the summer of 2002, there were rumors in the American media about a briefing given by an analyst from the Rand Corporation on June 10, 2002, to the Defense Policy Board, a high-level advisory group that advises the U.S. Defense Department on defense policy. According to the rumor, the briefer asserted among other things that ―Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies‖ and that ―the Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers.‖ Commenting the rumor, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told reporters on August 6 that the briefing represented the analyst‘s own opinion and went on to say: ―It did not represent the views of the government, it didn‘t represent the views of the Defense Policy Board.‖ State Department spokesman Phil Reeker told reporters that these opinions ―do not reflect the views of the President of the United States or of the U.S. Government.‖ He added that Secretary of State Powell made that clear in a telephone call to Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faysal. In November 2002, newsmedia reported that Princess Haifa, the wife of Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan, had provided funds— approximately $100,000 according to one article— over a four-year period to a Jordanian woman (married to a Saudi citizen) who was in need of medical treatment. The recipient, in September 11 hijackers. On November 23 and 24, a senior policy advisor to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah (the country‘s de facto ruler) said there is no evidence that Saudi Arabia provided money to the hijackers and that his government is determined to uncover all the facts; a Saudi Embassy officials said the Saudi investigation will probably be widened to scrutinize all gifts provided by the Embassy. Ambassador Bander told the 143



New York Times on November 26 that Saudi Arabia is a partner with the United States in its anti-terrorism campaign, while his wife expressed outrage that donations to the needy were being linked to terrorism. There is actually much to say about these reports alleging links between the Saudi authorities and the terrorists, for they emanated from several and varied people inside the USA and outside it. The Israelis were not in the rear for that kind of work. On the contrary, they contributed to the effort of ―unveiling‖ the so-called Saudi conspiracy at a degree unequaled. It goes without saying that they have never been satisfied with the ―special partnership‖ between the USA and the Saudi Kingdom, out of jealousy. Moreover, if that is not because the words of King Abdelaziz during the famous meeting with Roosevelt about the Israelis are still ringing at their ears as the proof of the ―Arab hate‖, then it is because they are convinced that behind ―Hamas‖ there is Saudi Arabia and nobody else.144 Thus the long series of Saudi funding terrorism went on, with however a noticeable ―shift‖ in the visions and the alliances : it was no longer the American left-wing and liberal writers who attacked Saudi Arabia for everything, from its intolerance toward other religions on its soil to its puritanical conservatism and its victimization of the women, as they used to do prior to 9/11. The new thing was that neo-conservative Americans have been since that date leading the ―orchestra‖, which was labeled in Saudi Arabia ―campaign against Islam‖. As the official 9/11 Commission report acknowledges, though "origins of the funds remains unknown". So there is a lot of speculation about the matter. The report says that in fact , "Bin laden and his aides did not need a very large sum to finance their planned attack on America. The 9/11 plotters eventually spent somewhere between $400,000 and $500,000 to plan and conduct their attack. Consistent with the importance of the project, al Qaeda funded the plotters. Khaled al Sheikh 144

See about this topic : The testimony of Matthew A. Levitt, before the US subcommittee on international trade and finance , committee on banking, housing and urban affairs, August 1, 2002, which we can read on the Washington Institute site : ; and the testimony of Dore Gold before the US Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs on July 31, 2003, which also we can read on this URL : .


Mohammad provided his operatives with nearly all the money they needed to travel to the United States, train, and live. The plotters‘ tradecraft was not especially sophisticated, but it was good enough. They moved, stored, and spent their money in ordinary ways, easily defeating the detection mechanisms in place at the time.145" According to the same report, it does not appear that any government other than the Taliban financially supported al Qaeda before 9/11, although some governments may have contained al Qaeda sympathizers who turned a blind eye to al Qaeda‘s fund-raising activities. Moreover, the report adds that ―Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of al Qaeda funding, but we have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.‖ This conclusion does not exclude the likelihood that charities with significant Saudi government sponsorship diverted funds to people linked to al Qaeda, without being aware of those ties. Still, al Qaeda reportedly found fertile fund-raising ground in Saudi Arabia, where extreme religious views are common and charitable giving was both essential to the culture and subject to very limited oversight, as it sought money from wealthy donors in other Gulf states, which, in our eyes, does not imply that all those donors were always aware that they were actually funding international terrorism. Actually, the money of Zakat is not accounted for in any Arab or Muslim state. If religious authorities are allowed to charge the sum people have to give as Zakat at each Eid, they do not interfere with who would acquire it ; neither do the government. Thus, people are free to give money to whoever they deem deserving it. The Westerners who do not know a lot about the system of Zakat are thus induced to think that the fund-backers and all those who support charities and individuals always know how the money would be dealt with. Nothing is more inaccurate. However, the report adds : "to date, the U.S. government has not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attacks. Ultimately the question is of little practical significance. Al Qaeda had many avenues of funding. If a particular funding source had dried up, al Qaeda could have easily tapped a different source or diverted funds from


See 9/11 Commission



another project to fund an operation that cost $400,000–$500,000 over nearly two years."

Is bin Laden as wealthy as he is said to be? The authors of 9/11 Commission report think that Bin Laden did not fund al Qaeda from his personal fortune . It seems that the organization relied primarily on a fund-raising network developed over time. Thus, the CIA now estimates that it cost al Qaeda about $30 million per year to sustain its activities before 9/11 and that this money was raised almost entirely through donations. For many years, the United States thought Bin Laden financed al Qaeda‘s expenses through a vast personal inheritance. Bin Laden purportedly inherited approximately $300 million when his father died, and was rumored to have had access to these funds to wage jihad while in Sudan and Afghanistan and to secure his leadership position in al Qaeda. In early 2000, the U.S. government discovered a different reality: roughly from 1970 through 1994, Bin Laden received about $1 million per year—a significant sum, to be sure, but not a $300 million fortune that could be used to fund jihad. Then, as part of a Saudi government crackdown early in the 1990s, the Bin Laden family was forced to find a buyer for Usama‘s share of the family company in 1994.The Saudi government subsequently froze the proceeds of the sale. This action had the effect of divesting Bin Laden of what otherwise might indeed have been a large fortune. Nor were Bin Ladin‘s assets in Sudan a source of money for al Qaeda. When Bin Laden lived in Sudan from 1991 to 1996, he owned a number of businesses and other assets. These could not have provided significant income, as most were small or not economically viable. When Bin Laden left in 1996, it appears that the Sudanese government expropriated all his assets: he left Sudan with practically nothing. When Bin Laden arrived in Afghanistan, he relied on the Taliban until he was able to reinvigorate his fund-raising efforts by drawing on ties to wealthy Saudi individuals that he had established during the Afghan war in the 1980s. Al Qaeda appears to have relied on a core group of financial facilitators who raised money from a variety of donors and other fund-raisers, primarily in the Gulf countries and particularly in Saudi Arabia. Some individual donors surely knew, and others did not, the ultimate destination of their donations. Al Qaeda and its friends took advantage of Islam‘s strong calls for charitable giving, zakat. These financial facilitators also appeared to rely heavily on certain imams who were willing to divert zakat donations to al Qaeda‘s 98

cause. Al Qaeda also collected money from employees of corrupt charities. It took two approaches to using charities for fund-raising. One was to rely on al Qaeda sympathizers in specific foreign branch offices of large, international charities—particularly those with lax external oversight and ineffective internal controls, such as the Saudi-based al Haramain Islamic Foundation. Smaller charities in various parts of the globe were funded by these large Gulf charities and had employees who would siphon the money to al Qaeda. In addition, entire charities, such as the al Wafa organization, may have reportedly participated in funneling money to al Qaeda. In those cases, al Qaeda operatives controlled the entire organization, including access to bank accounts. Charities were a source of money and also provided significant cover, which enabled operatives to travel undetected under the guise of working for a humanitarian organization.146 While we emphasize that these official views about Muslim charities have at last prevailed, forbidding some of them sometimes without sound evidence, we should recall that if infiltrating some big intelligence institutions was not that hard for many spies and double agents, with all the  professionally granted  security they are endowed with, then what about Charities and little associations ? It is obvious that


The 9-11 Commission Report : Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Official Government Edition. We have to remind the reader also of the controversy over that report. On July 29, 2003, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faysal called on the Bush Administration to release a classified section of the joint congressional report covering intelligence community actions before and after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The classified section reportedly described alleged Saudi links with persons involved in the attacks and indicated that senior Saudi officials channeled charitable gifts to individuals that may have helped fund the attacks. Prince Saud and other Saudi officials denied the allegations and asked that the classified section be released to enable the Saudi government to rebut the allegations. The Bush Administration refused on the grounds that disclosure could reveal U.S. intelligence sources and methods and might compromise the ongoing investigation of the 9/11 attacks. Members of Congress also requested release of the classified section, some of them expressing concern that the Bush Administration was trying to avoid publication of information that might embarrass Saudi Arabia. One Member called for replacement of the Saudi Minister of the Interior for failing to stop the flow of money to terrorist groups. At a hearing on July 31, two other Members asked the U.S. Treasury Department to provide a list of Saudi organizations investigated by the Treasury Department but not publicly named as terrorist entities.


the latter are an easy target for any party willing to divert them from their initial course.

Arabs and Muslims charge Saudi Arabia Reaching this point, let us honestly acknowledge that the Western observers are not alone in charging Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States of the responsibility of funding the islamist nebulae. We are certainly not hinting to the Israelis,- it is a different matter, - but merely to Arab and Muslim observers , whereas some of them enjoy a certain renown in the Arab media. Let us take for example, the journalist Riad Najib El-Rayyes (founder of Al Rayyes Books). He writes : ― The oil regimes in the Arab peninsula, thought that in order to protect their wealth and stability, it would be well advised to declare the allegiance of oil to Islam. Thus, they began since the seventies to fund all the islamist, salafist-fundamentalist movements, no matter their own commitments and loyalties in any country where such groups require their assistance‖147. Another writer – a Saudi – did not hesitate after the murder of Saudi prince Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Rasheed, by islamists in Algeria, to say : ―Those who killed him are those who want the word silenced (…)We have bred monsters. We alone are responsible for it. I have written as much before my personal tragedy and will continue to do so for as long as it takes. We are the problem and not America or the penguins of the North Pole or those who live in caves in Afghanistan. We are it, and those who cannot see this are the ones to blame. Castrated as we are, we look to America. Why? Because they went into Iraq and made a difference.‖148 However, while this study is not exactly about the Arab reactions as to the issue linking terrorism and Saudi Arabia, we may still add other significative examples, to show that not all of those who blamed the policy of Saudi Arabia are Westerners or Israelis, but possibly people angry with Saudi Arabia, if not Saudi citizens. The following is a citation from a story published on the Egyptian magazine Ruz al Youssef , by the deputy-editor. W. Al Abrashi says : ―I can state with certainty that after a very careful reading of all the documents and texts of the official 147

Riad Najib El-Rayyes, Assailant and Victim , Islam and Arabism, (in Arabic) published in July 2000, by Riad El-Rayyes Books, Beirut, Lebanon. P. 66. 148 Dr. Muhammad Talal Al-Rasheed, Senseless Violence, Senseless Death, The Saudi Gazette, November 30, 2003.


investigations linked to all acts of terror that have taken place in Egypt, from the assassination of the late president Anwar Sadate in October 1981, up to the Luxor massacre in 1997, Saudi Arabia was the main station through which most of the Egyptian extremists passed, and emerged bearing with them terrorist thought regarding Takfir – thought that they drew from the sheikhs of Wahhabism. They also bore with them funds they received from the Saudi charities. Apparently, we had to wait all these years and the September 11 explosions had to happen, and many other explosions that harmed Saudi Arabia's stability, for the Saudi authorities to understand the two dangers: 'The danger of Wahhabi Takfir Fatwas [and] the danger of charities, most of whose money ultimately flows to the treasuries of extremists‖. 149 Now on the one hand, it is true that if all what has been said about that issue cannot be entirely inaccurate, some of it goes beyond real objectivity and turns out to be over-exploitation of a tragedy for political interests.150 Speaking honestly, we did not see these documents upon which M. Al Abrashi was building his argument, nor did he care to show them to his readers. Secondly, we have to say that there is no such a Takfir fatwa issued by the Wahhabi establisment, as far as we know, although we must acknowledge that some fatwas have been issued by Wahhabi opponents and dissidents or those called ―Sahwa Sheikhs‖. On the other hand, as we have already hinted, this issue cannot summarize the economic relationship between the two countries , despite the extreme gravity of 9/11. It would be fair to recognize that both parties share responsibility for failing to foresee and interpret accurately the consequences of such common politics , like funding the jihadists and many Islamism groups since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. We think that the responsibilty has to be shared, because as several scholars and observers noticed, « The Islamic jihad was supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia with a significant part


Wael Al-Abrashi, Roz Al-Yousef (Egypt), May 31, 2003. Particularly aggressive on this side was Daniel Pipes with stories like ―Make the Saudis pay for terror‖ (New York Post, April 15, 2002), wherein he holds ― the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia‘s massive implication in the death of 3000 Americans on 9/11‖ deserving judiciary suing : some kind of Lockerby affair, where King Fahd would have ordered the massacre ! Which is not serious coming from a scholar. Anyway, Pipes seems almost unable to control his anger against the Saudis. This is quite obvious in other stories he published on the same subject. To read more about this case, see The Middle East Forum. 150


of the funding generated from the Golden Crescent drug trade »151. Thus, in March 1985, President Reagan signed « National Security Decision Directive 166 », which authorized stepped-up covert military aid to the Mujahideen, and it made clear that the secret Afghan war had a new goal: « to defeat Soviet troops in Afghanistan through covert action and encourage a soviet withdrawal. The new covert US assistance began with a dramatic increase in arms supplies – a steady rise to 65,000 tons annually by 1987, as well as a ―ceaseless stream‖ of CIA and Pentagon specialists who traveled to the secret headquarters of Pakistan‘s ISI on the main road near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. There, the CIA specialists met with Pakistani intelligence officers to help plan operations for the Afghan rebels »152. After a quite interesting analysis, Chossudovsky states : « Jane Defense Weekly confirms (…) that half of Taliban manpower and equipment originated in Pakistan under the ISI (…) In other words, backed by Pakistan‘s military intelligence (ISI) which in turn was controlled by the CIA, the Taliban Islamic State was largely serving American geopolitical interests (…) No doubt, this explains why Washington has closed its eyes on the reign of terror imposed by the Taliban including the blatant derogation of women‘s rights, the closing down of schools for girls, the dismissal of women employees from government offices and the enforcement of the {Shari‘a laws of punishment} »153.

Is Saudi Arabia worse than other Arab States? ―The Saudi ruling elite is also paying for its repression and links to Washington, especially when contrasted with its formalistic Muslim piety‖, says Doug Bandow 154. Explaining what was happening in these 151

See for example: Michel Chossudovsky, Who is Osama Bin Laden, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montréal. 12 September, 2001. 152

Idem. Idem. For more about this same topic, see the excellent book of Ahmed Rashid, Taliban : Islam, oil and the new great game in Central Asia, I.B. Tauris &Co LTD, London, 2000. According to this author, even the Israelis tried to have some contacts with the Taliban. The Mossad started a dialogue with them through their liaison offices in the USA. And even if Pakistan did not recognize Israel, ISI was favorable to such contacts, says Rashid. But when the USA changed its position vis à vis the Taliban, Israel followed up. 154 Befriending Saudi Princes, A high price for a dubious alliance, Policy Analysis n° 428, March 20, 2002. CATO Institute. 153


last years, he says : ―with 70 percent of government revenues (and 40 percent of gross domestic product) derived from oil sales, the drop in energy prices since the early 1980s has caused economic pain in Saudi Arabia ; per capita GDP has dropped from $28,600 in 1981 to less than $7,000 in 2002. Unemployment is estimated at 15 percent overall and 20 percent for those under 30‖. That has helped generate deep undertones of unrest, but the discontented feel helpless to promote political change. Criticism tends to be expressed through religious leaders. Before his death, Saudi novelist Abdurrahman Munif warned that the ―situation produces a desperate citizenry, without a sense of dignity or belonging.‖ Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times notes : ―In another country Mr. bin Laden might have become an opposition politician rather than a holy warrior. But Saudi Arabia brooks no dissent.‖ Yet, while focusing on this negative side in Saudi Arabia, some observers fail to see that it is just a detail in a worse picture. If held together – with all its details – the picture of the Arab world does not offer to the observer much hope about freedom and democracy. Maybe this is going to change, but so far the Arab regimes were not frontrunners for democracy. To be sure, Bin Laden‘s recruits (the army of al Qaeda, that is) come from all the Arab and Muslim countries, assuming : 1) that none of them could join the democratic opposition, because there is simply no such a thing as what we call democratic opposition ; 2) that even if such an opposition exists , the radical islamists being as they are prone to violent action – would not join it. ―Senior clerics live well on the government payroll and therefore lack credibility‖, says Doug Bandow. Yet, he omits to say that such is still the case in the rest of the Arab world. Saudi Arabia does not hold the exclusivity of that demeanor155. Better : Maybe those clerics are allowed more freedom in Saudi Arabia than their colleagues in other Arab countries, wherein the sermons of Friday and the Eid prayers are written down by a bureaucrat in the Ministry of religious affairs and circulated all over the country for the imams‘ usage. The reason for that is simple : the ruler must be granted that people in the mosques hear but praises for his own rule156.


It goes without saying that our argument must not be taken for a justification, but as it is intended to be : analysis, that is. 156 Oddly enough, in one of the most democratic country (France) the Imams of the mosques are more and more controlled by the Ministry of Interior. M.Sarkozy declared recently (July 2005) that the Republic cannot allow Imams to say anything.


The Americans do know anyway that the ability of some Muslim governments to helping the United States win greater understanding for its policies and objectives ―is limited by their own lack of credibility‖ as a Blueprint for action asserts 157. Decades of controlled press reporting, government-owned broadcasting—which did little beyond televising footage from government meetings—and extravagant lies have undercut public trust, the report says. A « related barrier to trust has been erected by Usama bin Laden and his spokesmen, who have argued that impious Muslims and infidels have constructed a vast edifice of lies intended to conceal the true nature of reality from honest Muslims », says the Blueprint158. The implicit claim is that any assertion by the United States or its « Muslim puppets » is necessarily false. The truth can be inferred as the opposite of whatever the United States says. As an example, when the United States elected to support the road map for Israeli-Palestinian peace, bin Laden denounced it as a sly maneuver that was actually intended to enslave Palestinians. Similarly, Western intervention on behalf of Muslims in the Balkans has been dismissed as a ruse to further the denigration of Muslims. Another impediment to a U.S. partnership with local governments in an effort to foster dialogue and improve America‘s image lies within these governments themselves. The Blueprint gives the example of the Egyptian and Saudi governments, which « do not only permit but deliberately echo and reinforce anti-American themes in a bid to buttress their popular legitimacy. This policy, generally defended in a disingenuous way as respect for free expression, is a key element of their strategy for clinging to power while avoiding serious reforms »159. The conclusion the authors deduce is : ―We therefore need to bear in mind, as we contemplate ways to enlist these governments in a campaign to improve Muslim understanding of the United States, that we will in effect be asking them to undercut their own perceived interests‖160. Some French media talked about « Zero Tolerance » as regards « Islamism », which they hold for an efficient policy if compared with the British « laxity». 157 Defeating the Jihadists, a Blueprint for Action, Century Foundation Press, 11/16/2004, The report's authors are Richard A. Clarke, Glenn P. Aga, Roger W. Cressey, Stephen E. Flynn, Blake W. Mobley, Eric Rosenbach, Steven Simon, William F. Wechsler, and Lee S. Wolosky—all experts on various aspects of national security, intelligence, counterterrorism, military operations. 158 Idem. 159 Idem. 160 Blueprint For Action , op.Cit. The report underlines that whereas statesanctioned anti-Americanism thrives in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the state-sponsored


Actually, such a behaviour has to be understood within its context : American policy in the Middle East is not very popular, as Washington is today aware. Yet, what the blueprint called « disingenious way » may be the recourse of the weak not the powerful in what concerns international relations. The Arab regimes – Saudi Arabia and Egypt are by no means the only cases – represent the weak party, indeed, in front of a Superpower having its own interests and goals. Understandably, their governments do not wish to be taken for « puppets ». Anyway, this is also the case of other nations. Even among Western allies, there is more and more distancing following criticism and opposition to the American schemes. Either in France or in Germany, such positions kept the governments away from the war against Saddam Hussein. In Great Britain, M.Tony Blair‘s position has been threatened by opponents in his own party, because of his « unconditional » alliance with M. Bush.

More questions to answer Rightly, Rachel Bronson observes that ―during the Cold War, Saudi Arabia‘s religiosity was considered an asset in the struggle against godless communism. Today, its religious activism poses a significant threat. Saudi money has supported some of the most anti-American mosques and schools across the globe‖161. There is, however, much more to say about this subject. Let us mention for example the report of Freedom House in 2005, Saudi Publications On Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques, with a foreword by James Woolsey, former Director of CIA(1993-95), and thereafter Chairman of Freedom House. In his introduction adapted from a testimony before the House Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, Woolsey says : ―Until less than thirty years ago, our relations with the Saudis were generally smooth. We were on the same side in the cold war, and the Saudis valued our support (and we theirs) against Soviet influence in the Mideast. Of course the oil embargo of 1973 created major stress, but the watershed anti-Americanism of Iran is detached from a population that is effectively proAmerican. One common thread uniting anti-Americanism across the region is that it is propagated by various powerful interest groups within the countries. 161

Rachel Bronson, Issue Brief, August 2004, Council on Foreign Relations.


year was 1979, when Khomeini came to power in Iran and extremists took over the holiest of Islam‘s shrines, the Mosque in Mecca, which was under the protection of the Saudi King; it was reclaimed by the Saudis only after substantial loss of both life and face.‖ That is the year Woolsey defined as that of the beginning shift in Saudi endeavor. He says : ―The Saudis chose after the twin shocks of that year to strike a Faustian bargain with the Wahhabi sect and not only to accommodate their views about propriety, pious behavior, and Islamic law, but effectively to turn over education in the Kingdom to them and later to fund the expansion into Pakistan and elsewhere of their extreme, hostile, anti-modern, and anti-infidel form of Islam. The other side of the bargain was that if the Wahhabis would concentrate their attacks on, essentially, the U.S. and Israel, the Saudi elite would get a more-or-less free ride from the Wahhabis and the corruption within the Kingdom would be overlooked.‖ This is quite a strange talk coming from a man who was in charge of the most important intelligence Agency in the USA (CIA), for the inevitable questions are then : Where was America in that ―Faustian‖ Bargain? Was Washington being marginalized by this queer shift in Saudi policy? If such was the case, then how would we explain the tight cooperation that went on and on years during between the Saudi authorities, the Pakistani ISI and the CIA over topics of mobilization of the international islamist network and assistance to the Mujahideens? Following the consequences implied by Woolsey‘s argument, we are undubitably confronted to a dilemma of logic : Either Washington was aware of the shift in Saudi policy and despite this decided to carry on its tight cooperation with Ryadh. Therefore, there is no excuse for the American behaviour and no reproach at the Saudi. Or, Washington was unaware of the Saudi shift , which has been discovered recently (!!!), and this is even worse. May a Superpower afford to be so naïve? What would we say if such were really the case with the ex-Soviet Union during the Cold War, although there is definitely no possible comparison with Saudi Arabia that has never been perceived as an enemy in the USA? Yet, aware of the extreme importance of the relationship and the difficulty of reducing it to the dark dimensions created by a disaster that nobody could really control, R. Bronson put the focus on the greatest challenges facing the two countries, such as the growing number of young, poorly educated, unemployed Saudis. ―According to the United Nations, 39 % of the population is under the age of 15. In 1980, Saudi gross domestic product was 15,500 per capita, $ 2,500 more than the 106

comparable US figure. Now it‘s closer to $ 7,500, almost $ 25,000 less than the US amount. Job creation has not kept pace with the growing population, and Saudi Arabia‘s education system – which emphasizes memorization and religious training – is producing graduates ill-equipped to work in a modern, globalized economy. Debate had begun in Saudi Arabia before September 11 about how to handle these challenges. Since then these problems have appeared on Washington‘s radar screen – because unemployed and disaffected youth seem to provide recruitment pool for al Qaeda and other extremist groups.‖162 Thereupon, the author of the paper163suggested that the following issues were likely to be raised during the presidential campaign: « - Should the United States actively promote democracy in Saudi Arabia and, if so, how? - Is Saudi Arabia doing enough to clamp down on terrorist financing? - Is there anything the United States can do about the large number of undereducated Saudi youth? - Would a more rigorous energy conservation policy make Americans more secure? »164 The questions upon which the 2004 presidential campaign focused were however more concerned with the Iraqi problem than with Saudi Arabia. Yet, Bronson‘s questions sound however still attracting the attention of both American and Saudi leaders and thinkers, beyond the simple event of the presidential elections in the USA. Their pertinence to the US-Saudi current state of relations make them of a particular interest to Republicans and Democrats. In November 1999, for example, King Fahd himself stated that "the world is heading for...globalization" and that "it is no longer possible for [Saudi Arabia] to make slow progress." In the context of successfully becoming integrated into the global economy, Fahd also emphasized the importance of regional unity among Gulf states , economically, politically, and militarily. Along these lines, a customs union among GCC countries was agreed upon at the December 1999 GCC summit, which would take effect only in March 2005. Currently, goods from GCC countries are exempt from all Saudi import duties, as long as 40% of their value has been added within the GCC and the producing 162

R. Bronson. Op. Cit. Who happens to be a senior fellow and the director of Middle East and Gulf studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. 164 Idem. 163


company is owned at least 51% by GCC citizens. The GCC has also agreed to impose a common set of Value Added Taxes (VATs) beginning in 2005. Yet , the security and economic matters being quite close , some additional questions remain seeking an answer. According to the Petroleum Economist, ―The consequences of a disruption to Saudi oil supplies amid already tight supply and demand conditions would be devastating for the global economy.‖165 Saudi Arabia takes the security of its oil very seriously. Although details of the kingdom‘s security budget are classified, analysts estimate the Saudis spent around $5.5 billion in 2003 and increased security expenditures by 50 percent in 2004. According to a recent assessment in Jane’s Intelligence Review, in the past two years the Saudi government has allocated an extra $750 million to enhance security at all its facilities. In the spring of 2004, however, the growing band of jihadists in Saudi Arabia succeeded in sending shock waves through the global energy industry without even firing a single shot at any physical oil infrastructure. A twenty-five-hour rampage of attacks on foreign oilworkers in Al-Khobar, the heart of Saudi refining operations, topped a month of increasingly bloody attacks that seemed to mark an intensification of the militants‘ campaign against Western interests in the kingdom. To summarize briefly the current challenges , it is believed that socioeconomic and political malaise in Saudi Arabia raises concerns over the internal stability of the regime in the medium term. Some American observers think that it would be imprudent to place much weight on the Saudi pillar as long as serious structural and political internal reform remains off the agenda. Saudi Arabia is said to be the case of a conservative regime blocking any avenue of domestic dissent except that which it most fears—radical Islam—and therefore tries to manage. It is also believed that to build a more stable regional system that will pose less of a burden to external powers and reverse the growth of extremism, reform of the region‘s political, economic, social, and—as just noted— defense structures is essential. Reform also at last seems feasible, now that some of the Gulf Arab regimes admit that they must permit pluralism and provide better administration. But precipitate and externally forced 165

Security of Oil Supply; Saudi Oil Comes Under Threat, Petroleum Economist, July 13, 2004.


democratization may lead to short-term destabilization without any assurance of long-term gains. ―The key-question‖, writes The Middle East Report 166 ―is not whether democracy is compatible with Islam but whether democracy is compatible with oil‖. This view is however flawed with a clear prejudice. To the contrary, we think that under the pressure of the events, the Gulf is already changing, and that the change may even be more rapid and more structured than in other Arab countries , particularly in North Africa 167. The oil rich countries of the Gulf have not invented Arab authoritarianism. There are other Arab and Muslim states much more rude to their own people, which are also deprived of the Gulf sources of wealth. We do not think that to be deprived of such a wealth gives any state the privilege of being more democratic or more able to operate the shift toward democracy. On the contrary, this is a serious handicap : as we know, none of the Western democratic countries is poor. Is democracy then the luxury of the rich ? This is a question that deserves to be further investigated. The Gulf has an advantage, though : it owns the means to achieving its own reform, to master its own destiny. Neither Saudi Arabia nor the other GCC states rely on the foreign assistance for their own subsistence and survival, as do other Arab countries. Thus, the change will be embedded within the specific social and political regional framework , and it may even go beyond any expectation, once started.168 Yet, it has to come from inside.


The Democracy Agenda in the Arab World, Middle East Report, n°174, January-February 1992. 167 Each regime that has instituted elections and similar reforms among those latter, has been compelled to do so by mass insurrections : Egypt in 1977 and 1986, Tunisia and Morocco in 1984, Algeria in 1988 , and Jordan in 1989. 168 Just look at the little revolution Qatar achieved in the media vista of the whole Arab world when it launched Al Jazeerah TV. It is indubitable that Al Jazeerah changed completely and rapidly the way people in the Arab world look at their own media.



Chapter III ________________

Strategic ramifications

Apparently, the US government has decided to bring the changes it views as « necessary » in the whole Middle East, just after 9/11. The first objection to this plan is related to its legitimacy: on which grounds the Americans may claim a right to make changes in foreign countries? Legitimacy claims are related to power. Two contrasting types of power are of special interest to us here: power derived from a constellation of interests that develops on a formally free market, and power derived from established authority that allocates the right to command and the duty to obey. The latter is obviously not the case of the USA in the Arab world, then, what about the former? That case is exactly what Max Weber proposed to call ―domination‖ (Herrschaft): he used the example of a large central bank that dominates potential debtors by virtue of its monopolistic position in the credit market. Though such a bank can impose conditions for the granting of credit, it does not exercise authority and the debtors submit to it in their own interest. If the bank controls credit institutions by virtue of its central position, however, it may attempt currency management or the control of the business cycle through regulations and special agencies that approximate the formal authority of government. This example illustrates that the constellation of interests between a central bank and its debtors may shade off into an authority relationship between that bank and the ―member banks‖ of a national banking system. This kind of domination – to use Weber‘s term – is similar to the system whereby the USA has been trying to hook its potential clients – among the Arab and Muslim states – into its own strategy. Ostensibly, the globalization played the largest part in catching the candidates to such a game, especially in the aftermath of the Berlin wall collapse. 111

If domination involves a reciprocal relationship between rulers and ruled inside a determined country, the same may be said on a broader scale. On the international scene, - between states, that is - there are no rulers and ruled, though, but sovereign states. Theoretically, all the UN members are associates in the same system. However, just a look at the structure of the International Security Council is enough to persuade us that there is no equality between the States. Hence, it is right to deduce that what underlies the relations between the States is more related to the power balance than to any formal equality. These are precisely domination bonds. ―Domination‖, notes Reinhard Bendix ―requires an administrative staff to execute commands, and, conversely, all administration requires domination in that the power of command over the staff must be vested in an individual or a group of individuals‖169. Yet, we are still far from answering the question about the legitimacy of change. To make it happen, there must be some kind of identification in purposes between the local elite to which the political change assumedly incur, and the eventual international ―advisers‖,- in this case the US government. The local elite would thus act as if it were carrying out a project that is profitable for both parties: the foreign adviser and the natives. The local elite cannot perform such a task, though, without legitimating its own domination. A government that has no credibility inside its own country cannot achieve a profitable reform for its citizens, and much less for the foreign supporter. ―In Weber‘s view beliefs in the legitimacy of a system of domination are not merely philosophical matters. They can contribute to the stability of an authority relationship‖170. Weber saw only three principles of legitimation – each related to a corresponding type of ―apparatus‖- that have been used to justify the power of command: -1- ―Legal domination exists where a system of rules that is applied judicially and administratively in accordance with ascertainable principles is valid for all members of the corporate group (…) -2- Traditional domination is based on the belief in the legitimacy of an authority that ‗has always existed‘. The persons exercising the


Reinhard Bendix, Max Weber, an intellectuel portrait, a Doubleday Anchor Book, 1962, p 292. 170 R.Bendix, op.Cit, p 294 .


power of command generally are masters who enjoy personal authority by virtue of their inherited status (…) -3- Charismatic domination (…) the power of command may be exercised by a leader – whether he is a prophet, hero, or demagogue – who can prove that he possesses charisma by virtue of magical powers, revelations, heroism, or other extraordinary gifts‖171. At first glance, the message about the necessity of change has reached its destination at least in two countries, where the local elite identified its own interests with those of the American government: Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet, we have to remark that in both countries change did not happen from inside, but was rather imposed after a war. The Palestinian case is the third corner in the US triangular strategy that adopted change in the Middle East as one of its goals, as it has been advocated by some American analysts, in a document titled Wiser Peace, - issued by the CSIS172. However, in the case of Saudi Arabia precisely, there is probably a problem, and not a little one. First, despite the « discovery » that not everybody is kindly disposed towards the Americans and the Westerners in the Saudi kingdom – as everywhere -, since 9/11 and because of it, the Saudi Royal family is still considered a precious ally and friend of the USA. Indeed, some people may evoke the case of the Pahlavi and other ―friends and allies» of the USA who, when confronted to the ire of their own people, were just unable to get any assistance from the USA. That is why the Saudi Royal family has also an obvious interest in introducing the necessary reform and allowing more public and individual freedom to the citizens. Secondly, the Saudi opposition is not all honey and milk: some of its components are radical Islamists even more puritanical, more conservative, and more hardliner than any Wahhabi sheikh entrusted with the official power of the State . This opposition is active inside the kingdom (in the underground) and outside it. Indeed, it is asking also for change, but what kind of change? To be sure, it is not the kind that would get the admiration of the West. The case of Iran since the revolution is clear enough. Therefore, if the West is well disposed toward social and 171

Idem. See for an analysis of this document our book ―L‘après-Saddam en Irak‖, l‘Harmattan, Paris, 2005. There are also other documents drawing on the same topics, like Forging a Durable Post War Settlement in Iraq – Heritage Foundation -, and the Washington Institute‘s Winning Peace in The Middle East, which we also analyze in the first chapter of this book (in French). 172


political changes in the arabo-islamic world, it is unlikely that a slip toward the far-right ultra-conservative Islamism is welcome. What to do with that opposition? That is the question! Thirdly, When some assume that the opposition elite may be considered as a key element in any change intended in the arabo-islamic world, and could be trusted as such, is this implying only the liberal opposition, or all the sensibilities from the left-wing to the Islamists, the Panarabists and the rest? The question is important, because of what we notice concerning some prejudgements, pre-held positions and ―parti-pris‖ in the West toward such or such political group or organization. Anyway, it is understood that this is not an American or a Western problem; the internal struggle would select those who will lead the change. Hezbollah or Hamas may be considered terrorist organizations in the USA or Israel. However, in Lebanon, the former is already represented in the parliament, and the latter will soon find its way to it in the Palestinian territories173. The foreign powers can hardly impose their choice on these issues. If the Americans have had to choose really who will rule Iraq, would they have chosen the Da‘wa party or the SCIRI 174? This is unlikely.

In fact, it seems that the USA policy in the Middle East is confronted to paradoxical options: on the one hand, as a report of Rand Corporation confirms 175, after the devastating September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, « the suppression of terrorism rose to the fore of U.S. concerns in the Middle East. Al Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups draw heavily on the Arab and Muslim world for recruits and funding. In addition, much of their violence and propaganda is directed at destabilizing Middle Eastern regimes that are friendly to the United States. Thus, the United States must confront risks on a governmental level, helping its regional partners secure themselves against terrorist-generated instability, and at a popular level to ensure that nationals in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, or other states in the region do not join terrorist groups or provide them with financial or other assistance »176. In other terms, in order to fight international terrorism, 173

On Saturday March 12, 2005, Hamas announced that it will participate to the next legislative elections expected for the summer, although it is still a controversial issue among its militants. 174 Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq. 175 The Future Security Environment in the Middle East, Rand Corp. 2004. 176 Idem.


the US government has to continue the policy M. Bush himself and his top-officials condemned, acknowledging that sacrificing democracy while supporting and strengthening authoritative and dicatorial regimes for the sake of stability, neither brought stability nor peace . On the other hand, the US government knows that in supporting some Arab or Muslim authoritarian regimes, the opposition – included the moderate and the liberal movements – would be swept away, as none of its elements has hitherto acquired enough strength to stand to the local government and safely survive. So, what is exactly the US strategy? How would it cope with the local demands? Is there necessarily a common ground between US interests and those of the populations in the countries concerned? These questions are important insofar as we believe that a democratic country – and the USA is one - cannot impose on another a non-democratic regime without losing its own soul in this deal. Such a bargain is like that of Mephistopheles in Faust. If the USA or any Western democracy has to make a choice regarding a possible involvement in a local political conflict in a foreign land, should that involvement be helpful to the side of democracy or to that of perdurable autocracy? The history of the XXth century shows that sovereignty is not a guarantee against undemocratic processes ; nor has the USA always supported democratic rules. Yet, one cannot deny that the insight of the foreign observer may be profitable if it is fair and objective. There is a paragraph about the sociologist Georg Simmel‘s description of the stranger, or outsider, to the group, we cannot resist quoting: ―The stranger‘s position, said Simmel, is defined by the fact that he has not belonged to the group from the start, and that he brings a point of view to it that is foreign. He is both inside and outside. Therein lies his particular value: his strangeness brings with it a special objectivity about the group itself. The stranger as characterized by Simmel (…) is not committed to the unique vision the group shares (…) thus, while he may understand the gloss of reality that the shared lens imparts, he is not bound by it. His objectivity is not simple detachment, but a combination of indifference and involvement, intimacy and distance. In his objectivity the stranger has a certain freedom: he has no obligations to the group that might skew his perception or prejudice his understanding (…) While he may have blind spots, they are not likely to be those of the group, and so he can see what the group vision misses‖177. 177

Daniel Goleman, Vital Lies, Simple Truths, op.Cit.P239.


The Gulf or the Peninsula? In her essay Arabia Incognita, Sheila Carapico178 points out to the American research agendas so shaped by realpolitik that instead of thinking in terms of the whole Peninsula, they are more inclined to using the term Gulf. Carapico holds the view that it is time now to think about the Arabian Peninsula as a sub-region similar to the Nile valley, the Maghreb, etc. She describes the region as bounded by the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea as well as the Gulf, a place that is part island and part crossroads. Her purpose is to invite scholars to recognize the Peninsula as a sub-region of the Arab world. But we must notice that this is a part of her project to go "beyond the oil wells and shopping malls of the Gulf and the mythic figures of the desert tribesmen to see the whole Peninsula" and especially, to bridge the gap between "Gulf studies and Yemeni studies", which may be as legitimate as useful. Yet, it is a research domain quite different from ours here, as we are just focusing on the study of a political case, more than that of a region or a sub-region. Anyway, even if we consider Saudi Arabia as a key-element in the GCC, we should not omit that the latter is more a politico-economical structure than a geopolitical entity. Sheila Carapico has a different approach. However, when she tries to describe the Gulf region in "classical terms", - so to say, she is of a particular interest to this study. She says for example "the Gulf is where American interests are", which is quite an "original" definition of the region. Indeed there is a reason- and a good one- for that. As she explains, "the Gulf" for the Persian-Arab Gulf can refer to the larger region including Iran and Iraq, but also often is shorthand for the Gulf Cooperation States (GCC), a pro-American military alliance comprised of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates "The Gulf also refers to what Gause called the oil monarchies, any logical extension, to the citizen-subjects of those kingdoms". Within the territory run by the GCC governments, the Gulf refers specifically to al-Hasa in eastern Arabia, the strip of Persian Gulf coast where most of the oil is pumped and shipped. Carapico emphasizes the international characteristic of the new cities, as well as 178

Sheila Carapico, Arabia Incognita: an invitation to Arabia Peninsula Studies. Robert Schuman Center For Advanced Studies. European University Institute, Working papers, RSC/2002/12. Mediterranean Program Series.


the fact that the Gulf is the center of the CENTCOM, the US central command: "the zone whose stability the Gulf war of 1991 was fought to protect and will be preserved presumably at all costs". It is noteworthy that "in addition to forming a military alliance, the monarchies on the western edge of the Persian Gulf define themselves as a unique cultural sub-region within the larger Arab and Islamic context‖179. In the Western analysis prevailing about this region, we have to notice that instability is a recurrent topic. The point is that such views have nothing to do with the situation that has evolved out of the 9/11 chaos. In fact, it may even appear that the notion of instability itself has been a key-concept in different approaches trying to understand what are the prospects of the region. However, we should observe that this is by no means an exclusivity of this region. Many researchers in social sciences and international policies do use this concept while analyzing quite a different range of countries. For example, in South-Eastern Asia or in Southern America, if not in Africa or the Balkans. Better: One of the best specialists on these questions, M. Stanley Hoffmann, believes that instability is actually a characteristic feature of the international arena, which he sees as part order and part disorder180. Instability in the international politics of the Gulf has two aspects: domestic political instability, which has international political implications, and international political instability itself. Domestic political instability with 179

Idem. Stanley Hoffmann: World Disorders: Troubled Peace in the Post-Cold War Era, November 1998, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. We live, Hoffmann notes, "in a world of great originality, complexity, and uncertainty." It remains a world of sovereign states, but these states are buffeted by forces often beyond their control. The increasing globalization and privatization of economics both creates international interdependence and further polarizes the "have" and "have not" nations. Ethnic and religious conflicts tear at national cohesions, as does the rise of intense nationalist and separatist aspirations. Older tools of understanding the world no longer suffice. The "realist" approach that sees only competing, absolutely self-interested states captures neither the current reality of cooperation, at times, among states nor the weakness of the state in many instances. The "liberal" approach, which assumed a more peaceful world would evolve through, among other things, the spread of markets, has ignored the harm the world market has done. Hoffmann's own approach to international relations is itself liberal yet - embracing Kant, Rawls, and others - focused on ethical and normative considerations. Individuals have the right to autonomy and integrity, and states have the duty to insure this right. While this might seem merely a simplistic adage, Hoffmann deliberates carefully on what such an ethos means and how it might be applied to understanding and judging myriad world situations and problems, from immigration to armed intervention in the affairs of another state. 180


international political implications in turn has two meanings. The first entails a change of regimes. What is meant is not only change of government or change of controlling party or leadership. What is meant is a change in basic form of government, a change in legitimating principles, such as from democracy to dictatorship, monarchy to republic. Such domestic political instability has international political implications because regime changes often herald changes in the foreign policy and reorientation of international alignments. If the regime change is a radical one, it often carries a revolutionary fervor and interest in foreign adventure. That was undoubtedly the case of the Iranian revolution, which introduced an element of ideological competition in the international politics of the Gulf that has given rise to the protracted IraqIran war and the creation of the GCC as a collective security pact. Both of these activities are unexpected in a normal or "stable" dynamic balance of power. In addition a number of territorial disputes between Gulf States have been identified as well as cleavages within the political communities of the Gulf States and potentially radical regime changes that have destabilizing implications for the current system. Lenore G. Martin notes that " a transformation of the Gulf international system would occur in the event of radical changes to its structure, which is composed of a number of major actors and a distribution of their capabilities. These changes would be systemic in the sense that a radical change in one element, such as a radical redistribution of capabilities, would also incur a radical change in the other element, the number of major actors. So, for example, the most likely transformations from a dynamic balance of power would be to an imperial system, in which a single major actor possessed predominant capabilities, or to a bipolar system, in which two major actors possessed superior capabilities."181 "Such transformations may result from the interactions of the actors within the system", he emphasizes. "They may also result from interactions with actors from outside of the system"182. "One other serious possibility that should be mentioned is the development or introduction of nuclear weaponry into the Gulf"183.


Lenore G. Martin, The Unstable Gulf: Threats from within, Lexington Books, 1984. P.156. 182 Idem. 183 Idem.


Democracy and Interests In the Rand report previously mentioned, it is stated that ―the United States has a broad, worldwide interest in democracy and human rights that has implications for U.S. actions in the Middle East. However, this interest is honored more in the breach than in reality because Israel is the only democratic state in the region‖. In other terms, the USA stays more committed to promoting Israeli interests than those of the Arab regimes. What is not taken in consideration here is the fact that Israel is still considered as an aggressor, since its government does not abide by the UN resolutions asking for Israeli withdrawal from the 1967 conquered territories. For the Arabs, the point is: does the Israeli refusal to enforce the international law make it a Rogue State or not? If it does, how could such a state be a pillar in the American strategy in the Middle East? And if it does not, then what is the definition of a Rogue State? In the political discourse prevailing in the Arab and Muslim countries, it is repeatedly stated that the American unconditional commitment to Israel would have negative implications for future and current US actions in the region. In fact, for a part of the Arab elite, the point is not about arguing whether Israel is a democracy or not, but about whether democracy itself is held by US policymakers as a condition for full access to the same favors and privileges acquired by Israel: if such is the case, then the USA deceived the Arab and Muslim governments, which it has supported sixty years along , for Washington acknowledges none of them as democratic. Therefore, what the USA is supporting them for, asks this elite? The argument seems sound, particularly when it is compared with the Rand report‘s findings : « Saudi Arabia, for example, says the report , has no free press or free elections, and Saudi women face a variety of restrictions on their travel, employment, and daily lives. Even Egypt, which has had a parliament for decades, has bans on organized political activity and on free speech, and has other basic impediments to democracy »184. If these restrictions elicit at most mild criticism from Washington, the linkage between the most conservative of the Arab countries (Saudi Arabia) and the most liberal (Egypt) is an interesting feature., which implies that repression is not an exclusivity of the 184

Rand report. Op.Cit.


conservatives. As Jon Alterman notes, ―American officials have tended to accede to official requests to downplay calls for democratization and to shun extensive contacts with those working against the ruling governments.‖185 As a result, even liberal Middle Easterners question U.S. support for democracy. Murphy and Gause contend that ―there is a pervasive sense in the Middle East that the United States does not support democracy in the region, but rather supports what is in its strategic interest and calls it democratic‖186. The latter sentence retains the attention, because if such is the acknowledgement of an American report issued by an institution like Rand, then what should be the attitude of the Arab elite? The ―settled way of thinking‖ the Middle East issues may find it hard to admitting, but policy making is not just creating illusions and playing with them, as Charles de Gaule said once. That may be rewarding for a while, until the growing dissent sweeps away the illusions and their makers, as the great general himself experienced it in May 1968, and as the USA also learned in 1979 when the Shah run away from Iran, giving up to the popular pressure. This is anyway more and more recognized by American analysts and commentators. There is even an evolution less expected, because it concerns ordinary folk in America and elsewhere. ― In the wake of September 11, the U.S. public may be less tolerant of government support for authoritarian states in the region‖, says the Rand report187 ; and it goes on adding that a survey conducted in November 2001 found 57 percent of the polled saying that it was ―very important‖ for the United States to press for more democracy in Saudi Arabia, which is an enormous increase over the 10 percent who responded similarly in a June 1999 poll. The report recognizes by the way that concerns over democratization and human rights often limit U.S. actions and could affect the type of support it would provide in a crisis. For example, if unrest in a Gulf state led to mass demonstrations and the government responded by killing large numbers of unarmed protesters, the United States would have to reconsider arms sales to that country and might otherwise limit ties at least temporarily. Even if unrest arose threatening the flow of oil or the stability of a friendly regime, the United States 185 186 187

Idem. Future Security Environment, Op.Cit. Idem.


would be not very likely to use its own forces, according to the report, to directly assist a regime that used torture, arbitrary arrests, and other forms of repression that would be widely condemned in the United States and the West in general. Furthermore, the U.S. public may grow more cautious about cooperating with autocratic Middle Eastern regimes in the wake of September 11, particularly those that are not seen as cooperating in the war on terrorism, further limiting the U.S. scope of action. And the conclusion the Rand report draws from these statements is that ―although human rights and democratization are not interests that the United States actively seeks to advance or protect in the Middle East, they are broad concerns that may inhibit U.S. attempts to defend its other interests‖188. However, the question that seems hitherto unavoidable for the Arab elite, objecting to the special US-Israeli relationship over the pretension that it is the only democracy in the region, is: if human rights and democratization are not interests that the US actively seeks to advance, then just what is the ground of its unconditional commitment to Israel? In other words, if we do not consider all the assistance the Israeli state receives from the USA as some sort of reward for its democracy – ―the only in the Middle East‖- then what is the object of the assistance? If we insist on the Israeli-Arab conflict as an aspect of the strategic ramifications in the aftermath of 9/11, it is well because it is almost never absent of any American study even if it is concerned with the Gulf – theoretically far away from Israel – or the sole Saudi Arabia. Actually, Israel is also present in the background of the picture, each time we have to analyze the local policies in the region. The discourse about the Israeli-Arab conflict is an integrative part of the political discourse in the Arab world without exception since long years. It has even a double social and political function, for on the one hand, it is instrumented by rulers and officials to demonstrate their commitment to the great cause of the Palestinian struggle for justice and freedom, which gathers popular consent and sympathy all over the Arab and Muslim world ; and on the other hand, it plays a part in legitimating and illegitimating rulers and policies by the media and the civil society. Let us put it more simply: an Arab ruler who is losing credibility and legitimacy will doom himself if going away from the collective consent of his society, he makes of an Israeli government a friend at the expenses of the Palestinians, as far as the struggle is not resolved. In blunt words, this is highly unpopular, as everybody knows from President Sadate experience. People in the Arab 188



world may forgive authoritarianism, but they do not forgive what they believe to be treason coming from their own ruler. As Burhan Ghalioun observed, some Arab rulers have not only inherited the colonization legacy, but also its role. In their own countries, they are considered foreign occupiers, and they behave as such, to the extent that they are perceived as the enemies of the people. Whence the idea that the State in such countries stands against the nation189.

Threats and concerns This leads us to question the American view about the interests and the concerns in the region. We think there is some kind of confusion – or a mismanaged ambiguity - in the report, when it comes to talking about the Arab-Israeli conflict. « In recent decades, says the Rand report 190, several different types of threats have emerged to the U.S. interests: One of the more recurrent themes is the identification of Israel as a pro-western state, whereas the Arabs, which enter in conflict with it, are ‗aggressors‘ ». We do not see how such a situation may represent any direct threat to the US interests. First : who identifies Israel as a pro-Western country while the Arabs are perceived as ‗agressors‘, but the Israelis themselves ? Second, we observe that the Arabs hold exactly the reverse of that discourse : some of them -included Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC- think that they are, indeed, pro-western states and that Israel is an agressor maintaining by violence the Palestinians under occupation. The Rand report failed to see the double side of the picture. Moreover, when it talks of the challenges to the US interests, it says that ―the greatest danger to regional security in the past was outright aggression by a hostile state. Israel fought wars with its neighbors in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982. In addition, for much of this period it regularly skirmished with Egyptian and Syrian troops as well as Palestinian guerrillas‖191.


See Burhan Ghalioun, Le Malaise Arabe, L‘État contre la Nation, La Découverte, Paris, 1991. 190 Future Security Environment. Op.Cit. 191 Idem.


This is quite an explosive ―mixture‖, for at least in two of these above-mentioned wars, Israel was certainly the aggressor, not the Arabs: precisely in 1956(along with France and G.Britain) and in 1982, when it invaded Lebanon and besieged its capital Beirut. Besides, in 1967, it was well the Israeli air forces that undertook to destroy the Egyptian aviation on the ground, even before any war plane could take off, and subsequently, after invading the Sinai, and much of the West Bank and the Golan, Israel refused to come back to the pre-war boundaries, as it has been ordered by the U.N. resolutions. So, the question remains: What is the meaning of ―hostile state‖ and « agressor » in the Rand report? The case of Iran and Iraq is different. Here we are directly confronted with the problems of the Gulf security. In the 1970s, Iran and Iraq engaged in a proxy war over the Shatt al-Arab waterway and then fought a brutal eight-year war with each other in the 1980s, which led to disruptions in the flow of oil and destabilized the region. In 1971, Iran occupied several islands claimed by the UAE. Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and was only expelled by the U.S.-led coalition‘s massive military effort. There is also what the Rand report called ―internal instability‖: « Internal instability also poses a threat to U.S. interests. Palestinian groups have long used terrorism to weaken Israel. In 1987, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza began a series of riots and demonstrations against Israeli occupation, the first intifada. Violence continued sporadically in the 1990s, surged after the collapse of peace talks in 2000, and remains intense »192. The Arab reading of this sentence may be as follows: unless the USA identifies its own interests to those of the Israeli state, one cannot see how local uprising against the Israeli iron hand in the West Bank and Gaza – which have never been acknowledged as Israeli territories by the international community - can pose a threat to US interests! Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that when talking of the unrest in the Gulf States, the report identifies clearly the American interests to those of these governments. Whence, the question : is it easier to unveil the American anxiety about a region of vital importance for the world economy than to recognize that in fact the US administration sympathizes more with the Israelis than with the Palestinians? Anyway, we are reminded that in 1979, Saudi and other Arab religious extremists seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, holding off Saudi security forces for 192



two weeks. Under the influence of the Iranian revolution, Shi‘a in Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia rioted against their governments in the early 1980s. In 1995, radical Islamists destroyed the Office of Program Management/Saudi Arabian National Guard office in Riyadh killing seven, including five Americans. It also appears that Saudi, Egyptian, Yemen, and Algerian nationals are a major component of al Qaeda, and many Gulf state citizens provided financial support to a range of anti-U.S. Islamist causes. In general, many states in the Middle East face economic problems and demographic pressures and have few institutions for incorporating public sentiment into decision-making, a combination that suggests that the potential for unrest remains acute. We will add another element to this picture, of which everybody should be aware since it triggered wars and revolts in the region. It is what Fred Halliday calls the ―Gulf misperceptions‖193. His analysis is based on the hypothesis that the geopolitics of the contemporary Gulf are dominated by a triangular conflict between the three most powerful states of the region – Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. His thesis is that the causes of instability in the Gulf, of past conflicts and probable future ones, ―lie much less in a continuous history or in the geopolitics itself, in past external intervention or relations between local states, and more in the contemporary domestic politics of these three countries‖194. More to the point, if we ask what it is that has constituted the current divisions within the Gulf, including misperceptions, the answer, according to Halliday, ―is to be found in the forms of state produced in the region in the modern period, and in the way which two groups of people, previously almost completely separated from each other, came to be brought into contact by modern political forces, in particular by two such forces, first external, imperial intervention, and then internal, the rise of nationalism‖195. However, we think that Halliday writing under the latterly effects of the 8 years long Iraqi- Iranian war, has a little exaggerated the hostility between Iranians and Arabs. Is it true that the two groups of people have been ―completely separated from each other‖ before the modern period? Nothing is more doubtful, though. Halliday reminds us that ―Saddam was quick to invoke Qadisiyya as a mobilisatory symbol in his war with the Islamic Republic‖, which is true. Yet, neither Saddam nor his regime is 193

Fred Halliday , Arabs and Persians Beyond the Geopolitics of the Gulf, in : Cahiers d‘études sur la Méditrranée orientale et le monde turco-iranien, n°22, juilletdécembre 1966. 194 Idem. 195 Idem.


supposed to be a reference in matter of historical thought or historiography196. Both have largely contributed to the miserable falsification of Arabo-islamic history inasmuch as that history cannot be reduced to the phenomenon of Shu‘ubiyya197, without amputating it from the most significant contribution to sciences, arts, philosophy etc, in the classical and medieval times, provided by the Iranians. If we cannot brush away the conflicting relations between Arabs and Iranians, is it that not because all political and social relations are by definition conflicting? What has been always uneasy to admitting in the region is precisely the racialist view of the relations, especially when it borrows the nationalistic discourse, either on the Arab side (the Iraqi Baath conceptions for example) or on the Iranian (during the Shah Muhammad Ridha rule). Here, we join Halliday on a point: When Great Britain lost its influence 198 and the USA started increasing gradually its naval presence and becoming the main arms supplier to pro-Western regional states, the result was that Iran came increasingly to present itself as the dominant power in the Gulf : ―it developed its navy, and, especially after 1971, insisted that the Gulf be known by the name ‗Persian Gulf‘. During the 1970s this assertion of Iran‘s hegemony was reinforced by the Shah‘s desire to make Iran a great economic power, a ‗second Japan‘: this imperial project was conceived of as a counterweight to the Arab world as a whole‖199. Yet, if Iran sought to develop its military and economic ties with a bloc of non-Arab states – Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India- ―as a counter-weight to the Arabs‖, let us not forget that the common bond between these countries and Iran is well Islam.200


In 1981, a year after the start of the Iran-Iraq war, Dar al Hurriya, the government publishing house, issued Three Whom God Should Not Have Created: Persians, Jews and Flies. The author, Khairallah Talfah, was the foster-father and father-in-law of Saddam Hussein. It was the Iraqi Baathist too who, claiming to be the defenders of Arabism on the ―eastern frontiers‖, brought to the fore the chauvinist myth of Persian migrants and communities in the Gulf being comparable to the Zionist settlers in Palestine. 197 It means a racial distinction between Arabs and Persians. 198 Withdrawal from Kuwait in 1961, from South Yemen in 1967, from Bahrain, Qatar and the Emirates in 1971, from Oman in 1977. 199 Halliday. Op.Cit. 200 In India also there is a large Islamic community.


Defense and Security

Ever since the oil shocks of the 1970s, the United States has steadily been accumulating military muscle in the Gulf by building bases, selling weaponry, and forging military partnerships. James Aikin, who served as a US envoy in Kuwait and Iraq, and ultimately as ambassador to Saudi Arabia at the time, recalls that in 1975 an article headlined ‗Seizing Arab Oil‘ appeared in Harper‘s. The author, who used the pseudonym Miles Ignotus, was identified as a ‗Washington-based professor and defense consultant with intimate links to high-level US policymakers‘. The article outlined, as Akins put it, ―how we could solve all our economic and political problems by taking over the Arab oil fields and bringing in Texans and Oklahomans to operate them‖201. Simultaneously, a rash of similar stories appeared in other magazines and newspapers. ―I knew that it had to have been the result of a deep background briefing‖, Akins says. ―Then I made a fatal mistake. I said on television that anyone who would propose that is either a madman, a criminal, or an agent of the Soviet Union‖. Soon afterward, he says, he learned that the background briefing had been conducted by his boss, then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Akins was fired later that year. If the anecdote says a lot about Kissinger‘s manners, it says even more about some American officials and policymakers‘ look at the Gulf, maybe at the Arab world as a whole. In the 1970s, ―America‘s military presence in the Gulf was virtually nil, so the idea of seizing control of its oil was a pipe dream‖, notes Dreyfuss202. How about the situation since ―Desert Storm‖? Indubitably, when he invaded Kuwait, Saddam Hussein triggered a mechanism he will never be able to control. In very simple words: he brought to reality Kissinger‘s old ―pipe dream‖. Until 1991, the United States was unable to persuade the Arab Gulf states to allow a permanent American presence on their soil. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, while maintaining its close relationship with 201

Reported by Robert Dreyfuss, The Thirty-Year Itch, March 1, 2003, Mother

Jones. 202



the United States, began to diversify its commercial and military ties; by the time US ambassador Chas Freeman arrived there in the late eighties, the USA had fallen to the fourth place among arms suppliers to the kingdom. ―The United States was being supplanted even in commercial terms by the British, the French, even the Chinese,» Freeman notes203. All that changed with the Gulf war. ―After the second Gulf war‖, says Jerichow, ―in 1991 it was difficult to pretend that the Saud family was not being protected by and dependent on the USA‖204. In all, ―6000 US soldiers, training facilities and planes were stationed on a permanent basis in Saudi Arabia, the vast majority of them in the eastern province which was already used to a lot of foreigners in the oil industry. More than 30.000 US civilians were working in the country in 1996‖.205 The United States and Saudi Arabia are not linked by a formal defense treaty; however, a series of informal agreements, statements by successive U.S. Administrations, and military deployments have demonstrated a strong U.S. security commitment to Saudi Arabia206. Saudi forces acquired experience during the Gulf war and further upgrading through a large-scale program of arms procurement. Together Saudi Arabia and its five smaller Gulf neighbors remain vulnerable to future external aggression, according to the American prevailing analysis. On one hand, both the Iranian and Iraqi armed forces suffered major personnel and equipment losses during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war and Operation Desert Storm, respectively, and neither is in a position to offer an immediate threat to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). On the other hand, the combined forces of Saudi Arabia and its GCC allies have been outnumbered in important categories by those of Iraq and Iran, even after the losses sustained by both countries in recent wars (with the exclusion of operation Iraqi Freedom).207 In the decade after the second Gulf war, the USA sold more than $43 billion worth of weapons, equipment, and military construction 203

Idem. Anders Jerichow, Saudi Arabia, Outside Global Law and Order, Curzon Press, 1997, p. 97. 205 Idem. 206 For statements by previous administrations, see CRS Report 94-78, Saudi Arabia: U.S. Defense and Security Commitments, February 3, 1994. 207 Saudi Arabia: Current Issues and U.S. Relations, August 4, 2003, Alfred B. Prados, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division /CRS Issue Brief for Congress. 204


projects to Saudi Arabia, and $16 billion more to Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. Before operation Desert Storm, the US military enjoyed the right to stockpile, or ―pre-position‖, military supplies only in the comparatively remote Gulf state of Oman on the Indian Ocean. After the war, nearly every country in the region began conducting joint military exercises, hosting US naval units and Air Force squadrons, and granting the United States pre-positioning rights. Obviously, Saddam‘s catastrophic invasion of Kuwait, created a new situation, where the old precepts of arab and islamic solidarity sounded without real meaning. In an analysis that has preceded the war against Saddam, the 208 authors have assumed -rightly - that this regime will be defeated, and – less accurately - « that Iraq will not implode into civil war, and that a U.S.-led coalition will oversee the emergence of a new Iraqi government that will have a modicum of internal legitimacy and external acceptance ». Its pertinence to our subject is that if the war against Saddam was indirectly a consequence of 9/11 and the Bush anti-terrorist campaign, - since it has been waged upon the assumption that if Saddam's WMD were not found and destroyed they might very well end up in the hands of some terrorists – then post-Saddam Iraq is likely to be a part of the regional system set up by the USA in the Gulf209. That is why the authors of the report think that a « fundamentally new Iraqi regime is necessary but, » they argue, « insufficient for lasting Gulf security ». In effect, with a probability of the Iranian neighbor acquiring nuclear capability, what would be the reactions of Saudi Arabia or even of the UAE, which a controversy over three islands already oppose to Iran?210 208

Andrew Rathmell, Theodore Karasik, and David Gompert, A New Persian Gulf Security System, Issue Paper, Rand Corporation. 209 For an analysis in depth of this case, see: Hichem Karoui, l‘après-Saddam en Irak, les plans, les hommes, et les problèmes. Op.Cit. 210 If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, then, from an American strategic standpoint, a "best case" scenario for U.S. interests would be an Iran that retains a defensive stance and does not seek to expand its influence in the region. That being said, even defensive tactics can be affected in a world where states possess variable and often wildly differing notions of national security interests. Because of this, Washington is working to take preventive measures to slow Iran's quest for power. For instance, one preventive measure taken by the United States to slow Iran's growth -- and a measure that has been in place for years -- is U.S. economic sanctions. But it has been observed that Washington's sanctions policy has not been entirely effective. Iran's economic


―It would be unlikely that Saudi Arabia would nuclearize in the face of a nuclear armed Iran‖, says a recent report 211; and in explanation of this hypothesis, it assumes that « because Saudi Arabia would likely not seek to build or establish nuclear technologies, alternate means could be considered to secure a similar strategic end. More specifically, in regards to weapons of mass destruction, the monarchy could seek to increase clandestinely its chemical weapons as a parallel deterrent »212. Yet, we find the assumptions about the possible nuclearization of Saudi Arabia as groundless as stupidly steeped in a heinous attitude toward Islam. Whatever the criticism we may express vis-a-vis Saudi policy, we have to acknowledge that it has never been characterized by such ambitions of grandeur. Of course, there is Pakistan. But there is also India, and the old rivalry between both countries. In the recent history of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, does not stand as a rival for any country. Without expansionist ambition – such as the israeli or the iraqi during Saddam‘s rule - , and without rivalry – such as the one prevailing between all the nations that sought and got nuclear weapons - , why should the Saudi state buy nuclearization ? The problem of Iran is different , as this country has since the revolution – and much more so since the American invasion of Iraq - felt threatened, either by Saddam, or by Israel, or by the USA. At present, the Saudi regime still has much to prove to its citizenry about how it can reform without breaking the perceived interpretations of Islamic law. A nuclear Iran ten or fifteen years ago would have been a significant threat to Saudi Arabia; today, however, it would likely cause only a moderate change to the power equation. Nonetheless, such change would greatly benefit the Iranians with an advantage in current bargaining issues, regardless of U.S. sanctions or rhetoric. sectors remain heavily reliant upon its energy resources. While its energy industry is ineffectually managed due to haphazard state control, questionable oversight procedures, as well as murky forms of regulation, these inadequacies and potential liabilities make little difference to thirsty states such as China and India that have a growing demand for energy resources. Because of this, some observers think that Tehran is able to compensate for U.S. economic sanctions through its growing relations with China and India. Yet, one is inclined to ask: Why Libya was not able then to stand more to the sanctions imposed for its refusal to collaborate over Lockerby affair, despite the Jamahiriya could also seek help in India and China and Russia and other nations? 211 Jonathan Feiser, Nuclear Iran: Repercussions for Turkey and Saudi Arabia, The Power and Interest News Report (PINR), January 28, 2005. 212 Idem.


Elite change theories and American strategists As we have previously pointed, to be efficient and legitimate any change has to be performed by the local elite. There is no strategy that can change this rule, and any strategy that does not take it in account would be doomed. It is also important to note that besides approaches in general theory of elite, the impact of the social theories of Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu proved to be decisive in shaping conceptualizations of elite change. Foucault made clear that power does not exclusively belong to a class or even to a group of people, rather it is a general phenomenon in all aspects of social life. Bourdieu‘s theory on different ―forms of capital‖ was also crucial because it opened the way for thinking about the convertibility of different social assets. Elite approach gained strength by the end 1980s, partly because elite theory seemed to be more appropriate to capture the social changes unleashed by the collapse of communism in East-Europe and the former Soviet Union, than the classic Marxist approach. In the last two decades, there were many studies in elite theory inspired by the classic contributions of Weber, Pareto, Mosca and Mills. Burton and Higley emphasized, for example, the importance of elite groups in political change. They claimed that elite settlements represent one route to stable democracy. Their definition is the following : ―Elite settlements are relatively rare events in which warring national elite factions suddenly and deliberately reorganize their relations by negotiating compromises on their most basic disagreements. Elite settlements have two major consequences: they create patterns of open but peaceful competition, based on the norm of ‗restrained partisanship‘ among all major elite factions, and they transform unstable regimes (…) into stable regimes in which irregular seizures no longer occur and are not widely expected‖213. Elite settlements were presented as alternatives to social revolutions. They are defined as the elite side of peaceful transitions to democracy and acknowledged as the more important part of it. According to the authors, elite settlements have five major characteristics: 1- speed (it must be done quickly or not at all); 2- Negotiations (face-to-face,


Michael G. Burton and John Higley , Elite Settlements, American Sociological Review, Vol 52, June 1987, 295-307.


partially secret); 3- written agreements; 4 – conciliatory behavior; 5 – Experienced leaders. The idea of such elite driven-change was formulated in the intellectual atmosphere of the1980s which emphasized the importance of the more formal, minimalist, « modest» meaning of democracy where elite choices are not so much disturbed by the masses. Huntington‘s own approach was also elite-centered when he said that ―democratic institutions come into existence through negotiations and compromises among political elites calculating their own interests and desires‖214. The elite settlement approach was then followed by some important contributions in ―transitology‖, which described the process of regime change largely as ―elite games‖. With this view in the mind, we can now have a different approach of the changes that have recently occurred (Iraq and Afghanistan, for instance) and those still expected. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the 2003 war against Iraq, as we know, profoundly affected the Middle East in general and U.S. policy in the region in particular. Although the ramifications of these events are still being felt, several changes are already evident. The way the American strategists look at the changes provides us with a strategic insight regarding the options in the ―elite games‖. From the American point of view, the ―elite settlements‖ would have to be negotiated over topics of first priority for the Bush administration. Nothing is said about the priorities of the other side (the countries concerned), which are likely considered as identical to US priorities. Thus, the Rand report about Future Security environment in the Middle East, builds the American strategy upon the following points : 1- « A reprioritization of U.S. interests. Terrorism and WMD proliferation have long been a concern of the U.S. government. However, the scale of the September 11 tragedy has elevated terrorism‘s relative importance, and the subsequent war with Iraq increased awareness of the dangers posed by WMD proliferation. Other U.S. interests, such as the Arab-Israeli conflict and relations with Saudi Arabia, may be reassessed within this new context »215. Let us notice by the way that the linkage between terrorism and WMD proliferation was already in the background 214

Samuel P.Huntington, Will more countries be democratic? Political Science Quarterly, Vol 99, 1984, 193-218. 215 The Future Security Environment in the Middle East, conflict, stability and political change, Edited by Nora Bensahel and Daniel L. Byman, Rand Project Air Force.


of the picture, prior to the war against Saddam. To put it simply, it was the main justification of the war, although it revealed afterwards to be a fake excuse. It goes without saying that such a « priority » means to put countries like Iran and Syria under close scrutiny. 2- « Reduced tolerance for state sponsorship of terrorism. In the 1980s and 1990s, Iran, Iraq, and « other sponsors of terrorism » conducted limited strikes without suffering massive retaliation. Such tolerance, however, has now eroded. The toppling of the Taliban in Afghanistan vividly illustrated the U.S. willingness and capacity to overthrow regimes that support anti-U.S. terrorist groups. That point was further emphasized in the spring of 2003, when the Bush administration used Saddam Hussein‘s pretended connections with al Qaeda as one of the justifications for war »216. This « priority » is understandable, although it is also intended to be used as a deterrent. The case of Libya is here enough expressive : the 180 degree about-face in the Libyan policy was perceived by observers as much more related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq than to the resolution of the Lockerby affair. The message the wars delivered was sanctions against Libya over Lockerby were not the last step but the first in the scale. 3- « A focus on internal stability. Although all regimes in the Middle East were well aware of the threat that Islamic radicals posed (several regimes had long been fighting Islamic insurgencies and many others monitored and arrested radicals), the attention of the United States was not focused on regional domestic politics. The attacks suggest, however, that the domestic policies of regimes, particularly their willingness to allow citizens to support or join radical causes abroad, directly affect U.S. security »217. Yet, we do not need to say that the US focus on internal local affairs in the region is not welcome, whatever the justification. It is actually felt as an hegemony will. So, as long as this feeling is prevailing in the Arab and Muslim societies, Washington would find great difficulties to have its « elites game » locally adopted and tuning up. 4- « A decline in conventional military threats. With the toppling of Saddam‘s regime, the danger of a conventional military conflict has diminished considerably. Although Syria, Iran, and other ―potential aggressors‖ maintain large forces, in general they do not field modern equipment, are poorly trained, and otherwise pose only a limited threat. 216 217

Idem. Idem.


In contrast, the region‘s two greatest military powers, Israel and Turkey, are staunch U.S. allies »218. However, the stated decline of conventional military threat would be transformed from a statement into a priority at the condition that it is maintained as a status quo, which is hardly the case. The first party expected to breach the « status quo » is the US government itself, as it is apparently carrying on the same policy as concerns arms sails.

Saudi Elite positions Some of the American research material related to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region, issued in the period preceding the operation Iraqi Freedom, has stirred a lot of concern among the Saudi elite. For example, the Saudi scholar Turki al Hamad wrote an op-ed reacting about the release of what he deemed to be ― an indirect message to the Saudi government pressuring it to be obedient to the demands of the American administration, because the alternative might be the collapse of the whole regime‖219. In al Hamad‘s analysis, since 9/11, Saudi Arabia is no longer the same country for the Americans, who discovered that ―America is hated on a broad scale inside the Saudi society, as is the case of any other Arab society, precisely because of the Palestinian problem. America used to believe that the Saudis were not similar in their attitudes to other Arab people, and suddenly they appear all the same. And the Saudis might even have more extremist positions in so far as they stood on fundamentalist principles‖220. The result of a quick U.S. evolution, according to al Hamad, is that Saudi Arabia appeared to the Americans as « the cultural matrix, the social environment, and the financial source of the terrorism that struck the twin towers in September‖221. For al Hamad, the danger was not in the review of the relations, but it was in doing it into a state of ―vertigo‖ that made the American reactions much similar to those of its enemies: ― if those who masterminded the 9/11 operation are known to divide the world into black and white, absolute right and absolute wrong, belief and unbelief, axis of goodness and axis of evil, and no middle point between these extremities‖, then what is the 218

Idem. Turki al Hamad, America wal Saudiyya , kay la nafqid al dalil, Al Sharq al Awsat, 18/8 /2002. 220 Idem. 221 Idem. 219


difference?222 Moreover, Saudi Arabia, in al Hamad‘s view, cannot subscribe to the logic likely to emanate from ousting Saddam from power, which would divide the region into indefectible allies and absolute enemies. He thinks that some states like Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait ―have nothing to lose in allowing the Americans to use their territories for attacking Iraq. That may even be practically the best political option for these states, in so far as they are relying on that kind of cooperation for their survival. But a state like Saudi Arabia has quite a different reasoning. For if it agreed on changing the Iraqi regime from the outside, thus opening its own territories for the operation, that would mean to issue its own death sentence‖223. In Hamad‘s view, agreeing on the American logic is ultimately agreeing that it might be used against Saudi Arabia itself, if the Americans are dissatisfied with its policy. This is far from being a stranded voice among the Saudi intelligentsia. Many people are likely to share al Hamad opinions. After the New York Times published on October 14, 2001, a story about the necessity of reexamining Saudi Arabia, M. Khaled Abdallah, wrote in response to this article, which symbolizes in his view the new trend in American strategic thought: ―the story defined the essence of the relationship in the era preceding the end of the cold war, as follows: it was a realistic deal, whereof the USA got the oil its economy needed and Saudi Arabia got the military protection when its security was threatened by its violent neighbors, included Iran and Iraq.‖ 224 Yet, it was not all what the Americans obtained from Saudi Arabia, says the story, but also other services such as large investments and a lot of expensive weapons, along with Saudi help in other spheres of fight against rebels and ex-Soviet Union weakening, like what happened in Nicaragua, Iran, and Afghanistan. There was a partnership; but that did not hinder the American administration, according to the Saudi writer, from leaking to the media some reports charging Saudi Arabia of ―being active at all the levels of the terrorist connection, from the planners to the funds backers, and from the master minders to the executors, and from the theorists to the supporters‖225. And he adds: ―if we take the previous sentence and just replace the word (terrorist) by (militant) in the context of the eighties, it would be considered as a merit that Saudi Arabia 222

Idem. Idem. 224 Khaled Abdallah, attariq al masdud fi al ‗alaqat assaudiya al amirikiyya, 12/8/2002, Al Quds al Arabi, London. 225 Idem. 223


deserved, not as a demerit‖226. These considerations would lead the writer to stating that what happened between the USA and Saudi Arabia is not just a temporary problem, but it is ―a political event with a deep and broad signification. The Saudi political structure in its essence is no longer of any usefulness to the American strategy, and its negative symptoms have grown embarrassing for the American decisionmaker‖227. Then, Khaled Abdallah makes another step in explaining what he deems to be the new American strategic thought. According to this writer, there are two trends in the USA advocating change in Saudi Arabia. The first tries to pressure the Saudi government to monitor the reforms so that when the changes come the USA would not be ―ejected‖ or marginalized in the process, as it happened in other countries (Iran, for example). But while some of the American elite is concerned by true reforms, some others are pressuring for changes just for the sake of empire hegemony. However, the ―doves‖ and the ―falcons‖ agree, according to K. Abdallah, on the necessity of substantial change, which means for instance, that the religious establishment becomes just a Ministry for religious affairs (Awqaf) as in other Arab countries, instead of being a partner in decision making as it has been so far. K. Abdallah underlines in the context of pressures, the role of the new conservatives. He thinks that in full agreement with the Zionist lobby, the New Conservatives want to ―separate religion in Saudi Arabia from finances, so that the former plays less an important part abroad. Besides, they imagine the possibility of dividing the country in two or three states, with the smaller controlling oil, the second controlling the pilgrimage rent – what they call religious tourism- and the third – Nejedwhich is deemed to be the hub of fanaticism, would live from subsidies provided by the two others‖228. The idea of dividing Saudi Arabia cannot be considered as serious, even if it stems out of Einstein‘s mind, which is not the case. Apparently, the situation in Iraq , the former Lebanese civil war and the fragile geo-political configuration of the Middle East region, additionally to the ethnico-religious tensions, and some precedents in the Balkans, inspire the imagination of some observers. Yet, we have to recall that there is no ethnical divisions in the Saudi Kingdom. The country is unified. The Arabs are its main component since the pre-islamic period, 226 227 228

Idem. Idem. Idem.


and even on the religious level, Saudi Arabia is sunnite – its Shiite population is but a minority, which is not representative of any threat toward the system. This is neither the case in Iraq, nor in Lebanon or Syria. Thus, the idea of partitioning Saudi Arabia may be but a pipe dream. There is no doubt that it is also exploited by the opposition and used as an additional pressure against the government. As it happens often in all opposition literature in the Arab world, some of these debates are more likely to range into wishful thinking than into serious objective analysis. According to Muhammad Ali al Fayez, the first time the Saudi government acknowledged that the Kingdom‘s union is threatened was when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. It was rumored then that what Saddam was aiming at concerned the division of Saudi Arabia into three political entities: ―the eastern region (Alahsa and Qatif) to be annexed by Iraq, and the Western region (Hijaz) to be annexed to the Hashemite Jordan, and the southern region (Jazan, Asir, Najran) to be annexed to Yemen.‖229 Such an idea is preposterous, in our eyes, because Saddam had not the means of invading Saudi Arabia. The country is merely above his resources, - and he could not ignore it – although he might have thought of protecting his back while invading Kuwait. Now, while acknowledging that in the past there has been a great deal of animosity between the Saudi Royals and the Hashemite familywhich ruled Iraq, and is today ruling Jordan- we wonder how much credibility should we accord to the thesis that suggests the following: ―the Hashemite threat has been an element of terrible pressure exerted on the Saudis in matters related to Hijaz‖230? The question concerns actually the ability or inability of the Hashemites to gain back Hijaz from which they have been expelled even before the proclamation of the Saudi kingdom. If there are still ambitions on this side, Iraq is much more easy to deal with than Saudi Arabia, in the wake of Saddam‘s ousting from power. But, as far as we know, the Hashemite monarchical party revealed to be unable to attract iraqi people or to obtain any real weight inside the country. How would such a party dream of obtaining Hijaz ?


Muhammad Ali al Fayez, al ‗alaqat al saudiyya al amirikiyya tadkhulu marhalat kasr al ‗azm, 5/8/2002, Gulf Issues. 230 Fayez. Op. Cit.


The ―Hashemite threat‖ is indubitably a myth231. Moreover, M. al Fayez himself must not be very convinced of his own thesis, for he moved the threat, from the « Hashemite +Saddam » side to the American and the Arab neighborhood. In his view, the Americans have taken over the question of dividing Saudi Arabia into several states. Thus, against all what international observers agree upon, he ―decided‖ that ―the USA is not the protector of the regime anymore, but its main threat‖232. How and why? His answer is : ―Just after Desert Storm, the Saudis began to feel the menace of the dangerous protector. In their private spheres, the Saudis officials started hinting that there are serious conspiracies plotting to tear up the kingdom, and that the Americans have up three or four political entities‖.233 Furthermore, the Saudis have localized the real threats in their regional neighborhood, according to this writer. He suggests that even the other GCC states, ―are hoping that some day the kingdom would split up, so that the states emerging from its fragmentation would be as small as them‖234. The conspiracy involves along with the Americans, ―Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, and some of the Gulf States‖.235 When one looks closely to these countries, it is inevitable to state that with each of them Saudi Arabia entertains a normal – if not an excellent – relationship. So, what is the point of trying to implicate them in such a paranoiac thesis? It seems as if the writer wants absolutely to find any ground whereupon he would set up his argument.These are, perhaps, the limits of an opinion that takes in consideration only one part of the problem, in 231

The struggle between Sherifiens and Saudis go back to the XVIIIth century. Saint-John Philby writes about it: ―The first serious encounter between Wahhabis and the Sharif of Mecca, who had deliberately provoked it, had served only to emphasize the strength of the new fanatics. The puritan creed, for all its lack of appeal to the easygoing materialism of the Badawin Arab, had aroused in the more settled communities something of a national sense, which, without entirely eliminating the traditional passion of the populace for internecine strife, could be brought into play under the stress of a common danger to their independence. And the success which had so triumphantly vindicated this feeling of a common interest in defense would before long engender ambitions of a more aggressive character, whose pursuit would more readily evoke the enthusiasm of the Badawin, though the tribes would ever prove an element of weakness in the hour of trial‖. See: Arabia, H.St.J. Philby, London, Ernest Benn Limited, 1930.Pp. 53-54. 232 Idem. 233 Idem. 234 Idem. 235 Idem.


focusing on what may be called the ―imaginary country‖, in contrast with the ―real country‖. As it happens, this is a feature we can easily localize in the Arab political discourse, whether it emanates from the government or from the opposition. In the absence of a real democracy, where opinions could be contested on a rational basis, the debate would evolve into an environment characterized by paranoia, wishful thinking, and political phantasms. The matter does not concern the sole Saudi Arabia, but it is -as any observer can state – an Arab phenomenon. However, the analysis of al Fayez, becomes less fantasizing when, backing away from conspiracy theories, and paranoid allusions, he focalizes on the changes occurring in the ―real world‖. In this context, he mentions new occurrences in the American policies, which may be summarised as follows: 1- The prevalence of a vision considering Islam as a threat to the West and its civilization. Thus, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West has started the construction of a new enemy, which is Islam. 2 – The decrease of the Saudi role on the economic level, because of the existence of alternatives to the Saudi oil, in Russia and the Caspian Sea. 3 – The apparition of alternative military facilities, other than Israel, in the heart of the Gulf and on the edge of the Arab peninsula, in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and very likely in Iraq and Afghanistan and other central Asian states. The first tip is clearly biased. For it is not accurate to pretend that the West is making Islam his enemy : there are millions of Muslims living in the West, and they do not have this feeling. The West is neither a unified bloc with a standardised ideology (as was the communist bloc) nor even a homogenous society with a unique identity and a unique objective. The West is actually a World , with an incalculable number of differences, potentialities and perspectives. Indeed , there is a trend, which has made of Islam an enemy. But such is the case in the Arab world, as 9/11 and other terrorist operations against Westerners proved it. May we accurately say that the Arab world has made of the West his enemy ? It is an unacceptable – because biased - logic. The third tip in this argument is about strategic options depending on American vision and interests. As such, it is pointless to discuss it. As to the second tip, it raises the question of whether the Caspian Sea oil represents a real alternative to the Middle East or a mere myth. This must be clear: Oil currently accounts for 40 percent of global energy consumption and is not anticipated to fall much below this share in the 138

next 20 years. Saudi Arabia alone sits on fully 25 percent of global reserves, with Iraq following at 11 percent, and Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran at 9 percent each. Only Saudi Arabia has the ability to weigh on oil pricing. Russia certainly cannot play this role. The euphoria on the Caspian Sea as alternative suppliers to the Gulf is quite misplaced. Russia‘s proven oil reserves constitute just five percent of the world total. « The Russian do anticipate finding major new reserves on Sakhalin Island off their eastern coast, in the ―northern seas‖ of the Arctic Circle, and in certain fields in the Russian sector of the Caspian Sea. As for the other post-Soviet states, substantial new reserves certainly lie in the Caspian basin, already equivalent in size to those under the North Sea. And more finds are expected in Kazakhstan, where the new Kashagan offshore field is now estimated to contain around 22 billion barrels of oil…more than twice the size of the Prudhoe Bay reserves in Alaska. But even after adding a field of this size to the existing reserves and projected Russian findings, Russia and the Caspian basin together will still never have enough oil to displace Saudi Arabia‘s 264.2 billion barrels of proven reserves »236. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has a trump card that Russia has not: It is, in effect, acknowledged that the kingdom‘s extra reserves, to be used only as a last resort during a crisis in the oil market, make ―policymakers elsewhere beholden to Riyadh for energy security‖ and form ―the centerpiece of the US-Saudi relationship‖. Russia actually produces and exports at maximum capacity and is likely to continue to do so: ―to make matters worse, a recent Russian energy report indicates that if current oilextraction levels continue and new technologies do not bring additional reserves into production, Russia can expect to have depleted its current reserves by 2040‖.237 Some other conclusions may be drawn out of that literature that grows popular on the internet and on some Arab media, much more because of the lack of democracy inside the Arab world and the need for free expression and free thought, than because of the accuracy of its thesis. The most important feature is perhaps the amalgam entertained between fighting terrorism and fighting Islam. Thus, some writers do not


Shibley Telhami, Does Saudi Arabia still matter? Foreign Affairs, NovemberDecember 2002. 237 Idem.


hesitate to say that what America is after since 9/11 is actually Islam: that‘s the enemy. Starting from the statements elaborated by some Western theorists, as they are interpreted in the Arab world, some among the Saudi elite – much like many among the Arab intelligentsia- think that what is at stake does not concern terrorism but Islam itself. ―It should by now be clear that we are facing a mood and a movement far transcending the level of issues and policies and the governments that pursue them‖, writes Bernard Lewis238. ―This is no less than a clash of civilizations…the perhaps irrational but surely historic reaction of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian heritage, our secular present, and the worldwide expansion of both‖. Such a statement in professor Lewis‘s text was accompanied by a call: ―It is crucially important that we on our side should not be provoked into an equally historic but also equally irrational reaction against that rival‖. Apparently, the call as wise as it may be has been dismissed and forgotten. What struck the Arab mind was precisely the statement about the clash of civilizations. It would be broadly circulated and commented. And it would be Samuel P. Huntington the real champion of the theory that gave the Muslims their ―enemy‖ inasmuch as it gave the West its own. The paradox passed almost unnoticeable, for everybody observed that Huntington was talking about ―the new fundamental source of conflict‖ as if it were concerning the sole West, since he was speaking on its behalf. But the point is: can such a hypothesis create an enemy for the West, - and let‘s call it the Other - without creating in the same time the Other‘s enemy, which would be the West? This is the mirror effect of the Clash of civilizations’ theory. But here too, people read only what they want to read, and not necessarily what is written black on white. What the Arabs retained from Huntington for example, are little striking sentences, such as: ―the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will be the battle lines of the future‖239. But other sentences would not even be considered as part of the analysis. For example, who cares when Huntington says: ―In the politics of civilizations, the people and governments of non-Western civilizations no longer remain the objects of history as targets of Western colonialism but join the West as 238 239

Bernard Lewis, What went wrong? The Atlantic Monthly, January 2002. Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations, Foreign Affairs, summer



movers and shapers of history‖240? And we can indeed multiply the examples of that ―selective» reading of some important texts, so that it becomes obvious that with 9/11 in the background or without it, 241 when people do not want to understand each other, or when understanding each other they do not want to reach an agreement, for any reason, there is nothing to do about it.

Saudi Arabia a piece in the “machine”? Now, how can we evaluate the American approach in this connection? To begin with, the Americans seem to consider Saudi Arabia as a part of a whole, which may be called the Gulf, the GCC States, or the Greater Middle East, according to the case. On the global scale of the region, there is a notion that the United States should anticipate potential changes and shape and hedge accordingly. The Rand Corporation report, previously mentioned, recommends in this context, the following: « - Anticipating changing assumptions: Planning for regime change requires recognizing when assumptions about how a regime will behave are vulnerable. Obviously, analysts should continue to follow the changing fortunes of individual leaders to best determine who may take power should a current leader die or become incapacitated. « - Anticipating more fundamental shifts is far more difficult. Predicting a coup, revolution, or other forms of rapid and radical regime change is exceptionally difficult »242 . This acknowledgement of the difficulty of anticipation draws the attention to the importance accorded to certain indicators when they suggest a country is likely to face regime instability. These indicators are featured as : « A) the presence of partial democracy. In general, mature democracies and established autocracies are fairly stable. Regimes that are in transition, however, often face unrest and instability and are more likely to go to war. If Egypt, Syria, or other regional states liberalize, they may be vulnerable to sudden changes. B) A crisis among the elite. Many revolutions began after a split in the existing elite. As a result, 240

Idem. Both texts cited here, of B. Lewis and S. Huntington have been published and commented before 9/11. 242 The Future Security Environment in The Middle East. Op.Cit. 241


regimes may find it difficult to repress or co-opt dissent, providing opportunities for revolutionaries. C) The spread of populism. Even if democracy does not spread, elites may rely more on populism to mobilize support for their rule. For many years, politics in the Middle East was the purview of elites such as military leaders, security officials, wealthy landowners, and businessmen. If leaders appeal more and more to the people for support, popular views, which are often at odds with those of current regimes, will matter more ». 243 Obviously, the above features are not concerned with a particular country, but sound as guidelines for the policy of the USA in the entire Middle East. Yet, we cannot understand them in their full scope without the recommendations intended to be ―shaping and hedging‖, which we summarize hereafter : 1- « The United States should consider actions to shape the environment to make any regime change more favorable and, should that not be practical, hedge against unfavorable changes »244 . However, intervention is not synonymous of success and it has little influence over succession in most countries, acknolwledges the report, which notices that « pressure may backfire, leading to the rise of anti-U.S. leaders ». 2 – « Washington should also consider increasing contacts with leaders who are out of favor and factions that are out of power but enjoy considerable support . Focusing exclusively on the current power set risks being blindsided should dramatic change occur, as it did in Iran. Islamist groups deserve particular attention. Many of these groups are hostile to the United States, but dialogue is possible with some members, and indeed necessary if many of the stereotypes and conspiracy theories are to be dispelled. Establishing contacts with non-regime figures, of course, will anger the regime, a tricky balance to negotiate »245. 3 – « The United States should also focus more on cultivating public opinion. The current U.S. focus on elites will be less fruitful in the coming years. The possibility that publics may play a greater role in decision-making than in the past is currently a danger for the United States because of the hostile perceptions many Arab publics hold toward U.S. policy. Washington should attempt a media strategy that explains U.S. positions, going beyond the standard Western outlets and focusing on Arab satellite television stations and newspapers »246. 243 244 245 246

The Future Security Environment in The Middle East, Op. Cit. Idem. Idem. Idem.


4 – « The United States should also consider increased student and military exchanges (..). The U.S. military should consider a diverse and redundant basing structure and access arrangements as a hedge against instability or change in one country. Given that many countries are vulnerable to sudden change, and almost all may at some point hesitate to provide access to placate domestic opinion, having many options is necessary »247. We do not need to comment over all these topics, as some of them are normal ties between states on the international scene. However, the sole concern is about systematic intervention elevated to the level of doctrine. We wonder how much of these concerns are real necessities for the American foreign policy and how much stem out of imperialist views. We think that building the American strategy upon such concepts as « shaping and hedging », and « favorable and unfavorable changes », etc…plays only in favour of a military view of the future. Ostensibly, States like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where domestic and opposition opinion appears firmly against ties to the U.S. military, are of particular concern. In the Gulf, leading producers also face strong social and political challenges, and have relied on energy revenues to subsidize internal stability, as well as high levels of defense spending. There is no clear and definite linkage between oil revenues and internal stability, just as the Middle East offers few absolutely predictable links between economic reform and stability at least in the short term. Nonetheless, analysts of regional affairs tend to agree that energy revenues allow otherwise dysfunctional states to ―cover a multitude of sins‖ in terms of governance and public policy. Lower revenues, against a background of social unrest and political turmoil across the region, could press some regimes past the breaking point. Regime change itself might not affect oil exports over the longer term, but internal instability might well interrupt production on a temporary basis, pushing up prices and discouraging foreign investment. One consequence of the events of September 2001 has been to increase Western scrutiny of the internal situation in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies. The potential for internal instability in Saudi Arabia, the key ―swing producer,‖ may well be the leading source of energy security risk over the next few years. Iran is also not immune to the challenges posed by volatility in oil prices. As with Saudi Arabia, oil revenues may be a factor in its stability




over the next decade, and it may affect Iranian procurement priorities and its ability to pursue WMD-related programs.

New concerns, self-criticism

Some American analysts248 think that the fall of Saddam Hussein and the Baath regime in Iraq removed a critical set of military threats from the Gulf. At the same time, the end of Saddam‘s regime has scarcely transformed the Middle East. No one knows how stable Iraq will be in the future, what its governments will be like, what its strategic goals will be, or how it will eventually rebuild its military forces and rearm. Furthermore, there are other types of threats that affect the region and Saudi Arabia‘s planning for defense and counterterrorism: Local threats from conventional military forces and proliferation; Regional threats from terrorism and Islamic extremism; Self-inflicted threats created by poor military planning and inadequate attention to economic reform of the part of the Southern Gulf states; and Threats imposed by policy failures on the part of the USA. Let us begin by the latest of these threats, as it concerns the acknowledgement of American shortcomings. In some Saudi reports we have already analyzed, there is a belief that the US role as regards Saudi Arabia, has shifted from the status of friend and protector to that of potential threat, which means eventually a ―potential enemy‖ of the Saudi regime. However, few – if any – self-criticism has emanated from the Americans about the crisis in the relations with Saudi Arabia. A lot of pressure has been put on the latter as if it were the unique responsible for what happened in 9/11. Nothing is further from the truth, though. This is first a matter of logic: in each relationship there is at least two parties. If it breaks up, would it be fair to charge only one party of the failure? 248

See for example : Saudi National Security, Military and Security Services, Challenges and Developments, Anthony H. Cordesman and Nawaf Obaid, Center For Strategic and International Studies, September 30, 2004


In their report about Saudi National Security249, Cordesman and Obaid acknowledge some of the American shortcomings. One key problem, says the report, has been the failure to find viable ways to support reform, and US political efforts that have been more counterproductive than useful : « If the US is to maintain the political support it needs to sustain its current security role in the Gulf, it must accept the fact that change must be evolutionary and must be driven largely on the basis of local values and reform efforts. The US also needs to show its Arab allies and friends the respect they deserve. The US cannot afford to deal with Islam or the Arab world in terms of ideological prejudice. The US does not need either neo-conservatism or neoliberalism. It needs pragmatism, neo-realism, and a return to the ―internationalism‖ that has shaped its most successful national security policy efforts ever since World War II. The US cannot afford to engage every terrorist movement by itself, and its intervention in Iraq has shown that it risks alienating and radicalizing peoples and movements in nations throughout the Islamic world if it does so. It needs to create local partnerships with key nations like Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. It needs to focus systematically on just how different the various Sufi, Salafi, neoWahhabi, and Shiites movements are, and then deal with each separately on the terms best tailored to defeating violence and extremism in each separate case. A far more visible US effort is needed to make it clear that the US understands these realities, and understands that it is fighting against a relatively small minority of extremists, and not the Arab world and Islam. In the process, the US must also make it clear that while trying to persuade other countries of adopting ―universal values‖ this will not mean imposing Western values »250. The last point is quite problematic, for as we know, the Western values, which are those of the modernity and the post-modernity are identified completely as universal values. Let us take an example : the idea of separation between religion and politics. About this topic, Bernard Lewis notes that « if the idea that religion and politics should be separated is relatively new, dating back a mere three hundred years, the idea that they are distinct dates back almost to the beginnings of Christianity. Christians are enjoined in their Scriptures to ‗render…unto Caesar the things which are Caesar‘s and unto God the things which are 249 250

Idem. Saudi National Security, Anthony H.Cordesman and Nawaf Obaid. Op.Cit.


God‘s »251. Thereupon, Lewis acknowledges that « this formulation of the problems posed by the relations between religion and politics, and the possible solutions to those problems, arise from Christian, not universal, principles and experience. There are other religious traditions in which religion and politics are differently perceived »252. The debate concerning this topic in Islam has been going on since the XIXth century. To be sure, it is an internal debate, which means that any attempt to hasten and pressure its issue in a way favorable to such or such Western power, will be perceived as an intrusion if not a newimperialist manipulation.


Bernard Lewis, The Roots of Muslim Rage, Why so many Muslims deeply resent the West, and why their bitterness will not easily be mollified, September 1990, The Atlantic Monthly. 252 Idem.


Chapter IV ______________

Impact on U.S. policy and the GCC bilateral relations

―If something happens in Saudi Arabia, if the ruling family is ousted, if they decide to shut off the oil supply, we have to go in‖, says Robert E. Ebel, director of the energy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think tank whose advisers include Kissinger, former Defense Secretary and CIA director James Schlesinger, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter‘s national security adviser. The commitment to grant the stability and security of the Saudi Royal family is clear enough for policymakers in Washington. That is why when a man like Laurent Murawiec – former Rand strategist – pretended to give lessons in wise foreign policy by describing Saudi Arabia as the ―kernel of evil‖ and suggesting that the Royal family should be replaced or overthrown 253, he just get fired and lose the job, not because he was ―too controversial‖, as R. Dreyfuss thought, but rather because it is not advised when one has the job of adviser to lose the sense of realities. Some years ago, the same R.E.Ebel oversaw a CSIS task force that included several members of Congress as well as representatives from industry including Exxon Mobil, Arco, BP, Shell, Texaco, and the American Petroleum Institute. Its report, ―The Geopolitics of Energy Into 253

See Robert Dreyfuss, The Thirty-Year Itch, March 1, 2003, Mother Jones.



the 21st Century‖, concluded that the world will find itself dependent for many years on unstable oil-producing nations, around which conflicts and wars are bound to swirl. "Oil is high-profile stuff," Ebel says. "Oil fuels military power, national treasuries, and international politics. It is no longer a commodity to be bought and sold within the confines of traditional energy supply and demand balances. Rather, it has been transformed into a determinant of well-being, of national security, and of international power "254. As vital as the Persian Gulf is now, its strategic importance is likely to grow exponentially in the next 20 years. By 2020, the Gulf will expectedly supply between 54 and 67 percent of the world's crude, making the region "vital to U.S. interests. This is no longer a matter of controversy, anyway. The US policy in the region is not born in the aftermath of 9/11 to be that much reactive even to an event of that size. What we see today has been steadily built up step by step, and any encroachment beyond the limits of the acceptable may be harmful to US interests as well. If we look forward, we will have also to look backward in order to understand how things are linked to each other.

Of vital interests Back to 1980, we recall that in his State of the Union address of January 23, while Soviet troops were attempting to pacify Afghanistan and while Iranian revolutionaries were holding US diplomats hostage, President Carter warned that "an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States‌[and] will be repelled by use of any means necessary, including armed force". The response crafted by US policy makers to potential Soviet military threats to the Gulf region was the development of a Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDF). Eight months after the enunciation of the Carter Doctrine military forces were invading Iran. They were not the Soviet forces contemplated by the Carter Doctrine. They were Iraqi forces from within the Gulf. President Reagan gave official recognition to such "threats from within" in his corollary to the Carter doctrine. In October 1981 he stated, "Saudi Arabia we will not permit to be an Iran", and was understood to imply that the United States would be prepared to counter internal threats. One year later it was announced that the RDF was to be 254



reorganized, its forces almost doubled and its mission expanded. As of January 1, 1983 the RDF was renamed the US Central Command (CENTCOM). Its expanded mission was to respond to a broad range of threats to oil supplies in the Gulf, from exterior (then Soviet) invasion to internal revolt. 255 What is important here is the fact that the American military presence in the Gulf, as a protecting system, has been started even before the mobilization of mujahideens throughout the Muslim world to fight in Afghanistan against the red army. At that time, Usama bin Laden did not care a lot about CENTCOM‘s objectives, since he preferred to orient his energy, his resources, and the men he led toward a fight outside his country and region, foreknowing that he will be joining forces and cooperating with the CIA and the Pentagon, and that did not seem to be much repelling to him. So, at this point, a nationalistic Islam does not sound to be a notion that we can easily apply to this situation. If the fight against the red army was nationalistic for the Afghans themselves, the case was quite different for those who came from varied Arab countries to help, Bin Laden included. How come that the latter did not talk then about American troops ―humiliating‖ the Arabs by their invading presence ? Why did he not choose from the outset to fight against them instead of rushing toward the Soviet troops, thousands of miles away from his country? 256 The point is that at the time Bin Laden engaged himself and so many people with him in Afghanistan, the USA was not unhappy for that involvement. It has even encouraged it not out of fantasy, but because it was a strategic choice. « The Carter doctrine and the Reagan corollary together outline US policy on the Gulf. It is a policy that seeks to protect 255

Lenore G. Martin, The Unstable Gulf: Threats from within, Lexington Books, 1984, P.1. 256 On August 17, 2002, an editorial of the Saudi newspaper Al Watan, headlined « is that the way America rewards its allies? » underlines the close connection between Usama bin Laden and the CIA. According to Al Watan, the CIA has succeeded in recruiting Muslim youth to fight in Afghanistan for purposes quite different from what was declared. Moreover, ―many of those who are now hunted down by America as terrorists have been trained in American camps‖, says the editorial. America has also rejected a proposition from the Sudanese government in 1996, about delivering Bin Laden, according to Al Watan. In the same time, Washington has pressured Ryadh for receiving Bin Laden from Sudan, but the Saudi authorities refused on the grounds that they had not yet a strong evidence for his crimes allowing the law-court to sentence him. See: ahakaza tukafi‘u America hulafa‘aha?


Western supplies of Gulf oil by committing the United States to the defense of the region from external and internal threats. These are threats from outside of the region by the Soviet Union and threats to Saudi Arabia and probably other Gulf sheikhdoms from within the region. The principal instrument to support these commitments is CENTCOM »257. At the time, the strategy of dependence upon CENTCOM, subjected US Gulf policy to criticism from two opposite sources. « On the one hand, are the critics who view the Gulf as highly instable and CENTCOM's present posture as likely to be ineffective. On the other hand are the critics who view the Gulf as stable and CENTCOM as likely to be unnecessary »258.

Is it a turning point? Today, American policy toward the Gulf Cooperation Council states (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman) may be in the midst of a change, according to some analysis.259 That change might be affected at the margins by the outcome of the war with Iraq, but its direction is set. If this hypothesis is right, the change began before the attacks of September 11, 2001, but its pace has accelerated since that fateful day. For reasons of domestic politics in both Saudi Arabia and the United States, it is assumed that Washington can no longer look to Riyadh as the military centerpiece of its Gulf strategy. Because of the « growing distance » in the Saudi-American relationship, the smaller Gulf states would thus assume an even more central role in the maintenance of American military power in the region, during the war against Iraq, and most probably thereafter. In G. Gause III‘s analysis there are three turning points in the USGulf relations260. The United States would be facing now the third crucial turning point in its Gulf policy over the past thirty years, since Great Britain gave up its role as a protecting power over the smaller states of the lower Gulf. To summarize this point of view, we would say : 257

L.G. Martin. Op. Cit. P.1. L.G. Martin. Op. Cit. P.2. 259 F. Gregory Gause III, The Approaching Turning Point: the future of US relations with the Gulf States, Brookings Project on US policy towards the Islamic World, Analysis paper n° 2, May 2003. 260 F.G.Gause ,op.Cit. 258


The first turning point in U.S.-G.C.C. relations was the British withdrawal of 1971, and the response was the Nixon Doctrine policy of the ―twin pillars.‖ Unwilling to assume direct military responsibilities in the region in the midst of the Vietnam War, Washington built up the Shah‘s Iran and, to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia with huge arms sales and military training missions. The aim was that they would act as ―regional policemen.‖ That policy fell apart with the Iranian Revolution of 1979, but the military stalemate in the Iran-Iraq war permitted the United States to remain relatively distant from the region for most of the 1980‘s. The second turning point, according to the same thesis, began in 1987, with the massive American naval deployment in the Gulf at the end of the Iran-Iraq war, and culminated in the Gulf war of 1990-91. This was driven by the fear that a hostile local power, first revolutionary Iran, then Saddam‘s Iraq, would dominate the region. The regional proxy policy was replaced by one of direct and sustained American military presence. The US military relationship with the Arab monarchies of the GCC, close before that period, became more open, as all six states came to host what looks to everyone in the region as a permanent American military presence. For the first time since the closing of the American military airbase in eastern Saudi Arabia in 1961, there was a continuous American air force presence in Saudi Arabia from 1991 – not training missions or American advisors to Saudi units, but an American air wing stationed in the kingdom. American bases were also built in Kuwait and Qatar. The American naval force in the Gulf, a paltry three ships in 1971, was given fleet status and its headquarters in Bahrain was expanded. American access to facilities in Oman and the UAE increased as well. This current, third turning point would consolidate the American military role in the smaller Gulf states, while bringing to an end more open military cooperation with Saudi Arabia. Whether consciously or not, the United States is falling into the historic position of Great Britain in the Gulf, and seems set to replicate the general outlines of British Gulf strategy: a strong presence on the coast, with a general aversion to become too involved in inland Arabia. If combined with a new role in Iraq, the American strategic position would mirror that of Britain between 1920 and 1958. However, the regional circumstances are much different from that of the first half of the twentieth century. The populations of the smaller Gulf States are larger, more educated, and more politically mobilized now. Their immediate prospects for regime stability are very good. Yet, a close military association with the United


States might become more difficult to sustain domestically in the future – as it already has in Saudi Arabia. For the time being, as the American-Saudi relationship is deemed to be contracting, particularly on the military level, American reliance on the other Gulf States would be evolving. Since 1991, the United States has developed an extensive network of Gulf military bases, covering much of the G.C.C.: - Kuwait has hosted American troops on a regular basis since 1991, at a permanent facility north of Kuwait City (Camp Doha). The U.S. has also prepositioned equipment for an armored brigade. With the build-up of U.S. and allied forces in Kuwait for an attack on Iraq, nearly one-third of the territory of the country has been declared a closed military zone. - The headquarters of the vastly expanded American naval presence in the Gulf, the Fifth Fleet, is in Manama, Bahrain‘s capital. There is normally at least one carrier battle group in the Gulf area at all times. Approximately 4,000 U.S. military personnel are attached regularly to the headquarters in Bahrain. - Qatar signed an agreement in December 2002 to upgrade American facilities in the country, which include a major airfield at Al Udaid, a command and control center (duplicating facilities in Saudi, in case the U.S. is denied access to them), and prepositioning depots for the equipment for two armored brigades. - Oman provides access to American forces and prepositioned material at airbases at Al Seeb and Thamarit and on Masirah Island in the Arabian Sea. - The port and airport facilities in the UAE provide vital logistical support for American forces, and the country reportedly hosts more recreational visits by American troops than any other foreign country.

U.S. military and the Gulf « America's military strategy in the Persian Gulf has always been as much about denying control of oil to enemies as assuring the flow of oil to the West. And the significance of the relationship with Saudi Arabia has always been more political than military »261, says S.Telhami. However, such an agressive policy has been tied up to the Cold War 261

Shibley Telhami, A Need for prudence in the Persian Gulf, The New York Times, January 29, 2002.


time. As Telhami explains it, ―during the cold war, the policy of the United States was intended to guard against the possibility of Soviet control of oil supplies in the Persian Gulf region in addition to defending against disruption of America's own oil supply. As declassified government documents reveal, an oil-denial strategy was put in place by the Truman administration in 1949, when it embarked on a policy— without the knowledge of local governments—to blow up oil installations and plug oil fields in the gulf states, with cooperation from Britain and American and British oil companies, if a Soviet invasion seemed imminent. The deployment of "radiological" weapons to make the oil fields unusable was also considered. Despite concerns by State Department officials that such a policy would be opposed by the host countries if it ever leaked, this policy was implemented in the 1950's and remained in place at least through the early 1960's, so great was the worry that the Soviet Union would come to control a substantial share of the world's oil‖262. But today, as the Cold War is over along with the Soviet threat, is there any justification for an agressive policy ? Despite there are problems between Americans and Saudis about US military presence, as it seems, some reports do not exaggerate the degree of the dissensions. There is even a tendency to inflate the reality of threats to the security of the GCC States, in order to bind them with complicated commitments to the US military strategy, and sell out tons and tons of weapons and military material, which will never be used. When we read some official reports, like the Congressional Budget justification, for example, we see how much the American military establishment is winning from controlling the oil region. In fact, nothing is clearer than the ties binding the oil industry to the military complex, as it has been insightfully analyzed by C.Wright Mills in his classic Power Elite. We can hardly understand in this context, for example, why Saudi Arabia – or any of the wealthy countries of the Gulf – should ever need funds allowed by the US government, like IMET, in order to purchase military training, and why is it a ―privilege‖ for Saudi Arabia to have such a deal? The very official Congressional Budget Justification reported263 « that Saudi Arabia remains a strong ally of the United States. The 262

Idem. Congressional Budget Justification for Fiscal Year 04 Foreign Operations, February 2003, Near East. It can be reached also on this URL: 263


kingdom has lived up to its pledge to provide the U.S. with whatever cooperation or support is needed in the global war against terrorism; it has also provided crucial logistical support for U.S. requests related to Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Saudi Arabia has long provided political and logistical support for Operation Southern Watch and related programs. Continued military to military contacts will encourage the development of a professional military command and armed forces, which will allow the Kingdom to assume a greater role in self-defense and will assist the U.S. in achieving its policy goals in the region »264. The relatively modest amount of International Military Education and Training (IMET) fund requested in Federal Year (FY) 2004 ($25,000) « will permit the Saudi government to purchase military training in the U.S. at considerably lower cost than is charged countries that are not eligible for IMET »265. While Saudi Arabia controls the world‘s largest oil reserves, it faces increasing budget pressure. « The Saudi military consequently enjoys diminished funding, and, as a result, has sought less expensive -- and less effective -- training from other countries. These steps have lead to diminished experience with U.S. equipment and techniques, which in turn risks a decrease in the interoperability of Saudi armed forces with those of the United States »266. Providing IMET to Saudi Arabia, it is said, « ensures a continued high level of Saudi attendance at U.S. military training institutions. Such attendance provides the skills necessary for Saudi officers to maintain a sophisticated level of military expertise geared towards interoperability with U.S. forces; it also permits continuing maintenance of the extensive inventory of sophisticated military systems that U.S. corporations sell to the Kingdom. Greater exposure to training in the U.S. would apparently help Saudi military personnel understand U.S. values, ideas, and policies »267. The program also « increases awareness of international norms of human rights and fosters greater respect for the principle of civilian control of the military, and the rule of law »268. Finally, as part of its efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, related technologies and other weapons, the United States planned to provide NADR Export 264 265 266 267 268

Idem. Idem. Idem. Idem. Idem.


Control and Related Border Security Assistance (EXBS) funds for a cooperative program to help establish fully effective export controls in Saudi Arabia. FY04 NADR funding focused on strengthening export laws and regulations as well as establishing effective enforcement procedures and capabilities. Concerning the other Gulf States, the report stipulates the following:

* Bahrain: In 2001, the US President designated Bahrain a « Major Non-NATO Ally » (MNNA) in recognition of the close cooperation and facilities support that Bahrain has provided the U.S. Navy for the past 50 years. Bahrain currently hosts NAVCENT, the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet Headquarters, and important air assets. The United States has « an enduring national security interest in retaining access to these military facilities in order to maintain stability in the Gulf and to facilitate the on-going war on terrorism »269. The relatively open access to facilities, land and airspace that Bahrain provides is « critical to: U.S. Operations in Afghanistan, Multinational Interception Force (MIF) activities that prevent illicit smuggling of Iraqi oil and other goods, and any contingency operations and/or force projection in the Gulf and Southwest Asian areas »270. According to the report, the Government of Bahrain has been a steadfast supporter of the US foreign policy objectives. A member of the coalition against Iraq since 1990, « it has remained a strong supporter of U.S. policies toward Iraq. During its recent tenure on the UN Security Council (2000-02), Bahrain supported U.S. objectives throughout the region »271. Since the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, Bahrain has also been a key supporter of the US war on terrorism. Bahrain responded positively to all U.S. requests connected to Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and donated its sole frigate to provide humanitarian support for Afghan relief. U.S. political and military support and cooperation helps encourage the political and economic reforms fostered by the King and Crown Prince. In October 2002, Bahrainis elected the lower house of the National Assembly by universal suffrage. Women candidates ran for national 269

See for Bahrain the same report on Congressional Budget Justification.

Op.Cit. 270 271

Idem. Idem.


office in those elections -- a first for any Gulf Cooperation Council member state. U.S. security assistance programs – Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military and Education Training (IMET) – support « the United States‘ national interest in maintaining stability in the Gulf, promote interoperability and understanding with U.S. forces, and buttress Bahrain‘s defensive capabilities »272, says the report. Bahrain received FMF for the first time in FY 2002 as part of the supplemental appropriations request. While the FY 2002 allocation funded the purchase of a critical air defense radar system, FY 2004 FMF funding of $25 million would make important related weapons upgrades and the further development of a truly integrated air defense network possible. « Increased air defense coverage results in increased security not only for Bahrain but also for U.S. and coalition forces »273. The FY 2004 IMET increase from $450 to $600 thousand would allow more Bahrainis to attend Professional Military Education (PME) courses in the U.S. Bahrainis regularly attend U.S. service war colleges, command and staff colleges, and other key PME courses. Bahraini attendance at key PME courses has fostered « important one-to-one relationships that are paying invaluable rewards in the form of interoperability, coordination and mutual understanding. Moreover, the IMET program is said to increase awareness of international norms of human rights and to foster greater respect for the principle of civilian control of the military, the rule of law, and to help encourage the political reform already underway in Bahrain »274. Bahrain is also eligible to receive U.S. Excess Defense Articles (EDA) under section 516 of the Foreign Assistance Act.

* Oman: the country occupies a strategic location on the underbelly of the Arabian Peninsula and on the southern shore of the Strait of Hormuz. As the Strait forms a key naval chokepoint for a very large percentage of the world‘s oil and gas shipments, the Oman-U.S. relationship is viewed as « critical to U.S. defense interests, not only in the Persian Gulf region, but also globally »275. Since concluding a 272 273 274 275

Idem. Idem. Idem. Congressional Budget Justification. Op.Cit.Oman.


bilateral agreement with Oman in 1980, the United States has had access to Omani military bases. This has proven « invaluable for U.S. combat support and readiness » in the Gulf. Oman has been a « stalwart supporter » of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), providing critical support in a wide variety of areas. Oman has also been an « active, long-time supporter of U.S. political and military initiatives vis-à-vis Iraq ». The United States has « a critical interest in ensuring that Oman continues to participate in efforts to promote regional stability, as well as in retaining access to key Omani military facilities. Continued access and assistance will be vital »276 to the success of any future operations in Southwest Asia. Continuing FMF support in the amount of $25 million was requested in FY 2004. These funds would « help Oman address its critical defense needs and focus on helping Oman increase its ability to secure and monitor its considerable land and maritime borders », including the vital Strait of Hormuz. Oman‘s ability to monitor its maritime borders, especially the Straits, « directly supports the war on terrorism, complements expanding Coalition maritime interdiction operations »277, and helps ensure that the deployment route to the Gulf remains unobstructed. FY 2004 FMF would help fund the acquisition of a coastal surveillance system, mine countermeasure equipment and coastal patrol boats. US improved defense sales relationship with Oman would also be well served by this modest FMF program. Increased IMET funding of $1 million requested in FY 2004 would also help « buttress the bilateral military relationship » with Oman. Omani attendance at Professional Military Education (PME) courses helps foster « one-to-one relationships that pay invaluable rewards later in the form of interoperability, access, coordination and mutual understanding. Maintenance, logistics and specialist training would enhance the Omani military‘s value as a training and coalition partner »278. In addition, Oman was eligible in FY 2004 to receive Excess Defense Articles (EDA) on a grant basis under Section 516 of the Foreign Assistance Act. Omani access to EDA would complement U.S. assistance under the FMF and IMET programs. Finally, as part of its efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, related technologies 276 277 278

Idem. Idem. Idem.


and other weapons, the United States planned to provide NADR Export Control and Related Border Security assistance funds to a cooperative program « to help establish fully effective export controls in Oman ». FY 2004 NADR funding is focused primarily on establishing effective enforcement procedures and capabilities, including through the provision of equipment.

* United Arab Emirates: Thanks to careful management of its oil wealth and the free trade and open market policies promulgated by its leadership, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an important regional actor in the Gulf. U.S. relations with the UAE have developed significantly since the 1991 Gulf War, and have become especially close and mutually supportive since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). The UAE is the tourism, financial, transportation, transshipment, and trade center of the Gulf region, and 20,000 American citizens live and work there as a result. The UAE is said to be « open to continued strong relations with the United States and considers its fundamental interests and values as compatible with U.S. goals »279. Relatively modest U.S. technical assistance to the UAE would be critical in helping its federal and emirate authorities to focus their « tracking of possible shipments of components of weapons of mass destruction and related materials through UAE ports and airports »280. As part of efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, related technologies, and other weapons, the United States planned to provide NADR Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance (EXBS) program funds for a cooperative program in the United Arab Emirates. FY 2004 NADR funding was provided to strengthen export control laws and regulations as well as improve export control enforcement through training and equipment. In the Fiscal Year 2005 US Budget request, we can read the following: « For there to be security in the long run—both in the Greater Middle East and here at home—we must marshal the energy and ideals upon which our Nation was founded and work to promote democracy in the region. The President‘s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) 279 280

Congressional Budget Justification. Op.Cit.UAE. Idem.


promotes political, economic, and educational reform efforts in the Middle East, especially focused on opportunities for women and youth. MEPI funds grants, partnerships, training, and technical assistance. The President proposes to increase funding for this important initiative in 2005 to $150 million. The President also proposes to double funding to $80 million in 2005 for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) for a Greater Middle East Leadership and Democracy initiative. The Endowment is a grant-making foundation that distributes funds to private organizations for the purpose of promoting democracy abroad. NED focuses on democracy-building through civic education, developing political parties, encouraging a free press, and promoting human rights. »281 The same report contains a document entitled ―summary of accomplishments and future challenges‖, which we reproduce as such hereafter :


FY2005 Budget Request, which






A Record of Accomplishment (2004 vs. 2001 levels except as noted)

A Commitment to the Future (2005 proposals vs. 2004 levels except as noted)

*Responded to the September 11th terrorist attacks with the War on Terror— led a coalition to defeat the terroristsupporting regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, liberated 50 million people, and began rebuilding Afghanistan and Iraq. *Began transformation of DOD to face threats of the 21st Century and increased the defense budget 26 percent, the largest increase since the Reagan Administration. *To defend against long range missile threats, doubled investments in missile defense systems and will deploy the first ever land and sea-based system. *Increased military pay by more than 21 percent over three years, expanded use of targeted pay and bonuses, and improved housing. *Secured enactment of the largest Government reorganization in a halfcentury, merging 22 entities into the Department of Homeland Security. *Protected America by nearly tripling homeland security discretionary funding. *Provided $4.5 billion to State and local governments and hospitals for Bioterrorism preparedness, and secured $5.6 billion for the BioShield Initiative. *Provided a total of $8.8 billion for terrorism-preparedness training and equipment for State and local first responders. *Improved border and transportation security by increased funding of nearly $9 billion. *Transformed the FBI into an agency whose primary mission is to prevent terrorist attacks and increased its budget by over 40 percent. *Blocked over $136.8 million in terrorist assets.

*Advances ongoing efforts in the War on Terror by providing $1.2 billion for rebuilding Afghanistan and continues to build a broad coalition to defeat terrorism and spread freedom and democracy worldwide. *Targets over $5.7 billion in military and economic assistance to front-line states supporting the United States in the War on Terror. *Continues strengthening and transformation of defense capabilities by providing $402 billion for DOD, a sevenpercent increase. *Provides a 3.5-percent pay raise for military personnel and improves housing by privatizing 90,000 units by the end of 2005. *Improves America's security with a 10percent increase in homeland security discretionary spending. *Provides $5.3 billion for the Transportation Security Administration (a 20-percent increase) and $6.2 billion for the Coast Guard (a nine-percent increase). *Doubles the level of first responder preparedness grants targeted to highthreat areas that face greater risk and vulnerability. *Protects our food supply by providing $553 million (a 180-percent increase) in funds for a new agriculture and food defense initiative and $274 million for a new biosurveillance initiative. *Provides $5.1 billion (an 11-percent increase) for the FBI, including a $357 million increase for counterterrorism activities.


Actually, these are a lot of services offered to the Gulf customers, and the question is about whether these are ―privileged services‖ for wealthy states, or programs for all the US allies. Is it a free option for any State of the Gulf to join or reject, or a ―highly recommended‖ one? What if neither Saudi Arabia nor its partners in the GCC want more military training and weaponry? Besides, one cannot but point out to the assumption that there is a link between maintaining the American military build up in the region and keeping alive and propagating the idea that any of the GCC States is about to ―implode‖ because of the internal pressure or ―explode‖ because of the external, as if the sole presence of the American military is the life-lifebuoy. We have to underline though, that while the civilian cooperation may be appreciated, the American militay presence is a subject of controversy, if not of dissension in the region ; and that while it may be considered as a deterrent to potential rivals (like Iran), it has also served as the main reason for accumulated anger and protest, thus increasing the difficulties of the concerned governments.

Democracy for sail Should the Arabs democratise to alleviate American pains or theirs? How can democracy fit in with the American military surveillance? Should we consider the call for democratization emanating from the Bush administration as a favorable response sympathyzing with the social forces movement in the Arab countries or just an attempt to control it? It is today widely believed that the call for democratization and reform for the Middle Eastern societies has emerged out of the mess of September 11. In his State of the Union address on 28 January 2004, US President George W. Bush urged the rapid democratization of the Middle East. Substantive details of Bush‘s plan were leaked to a London-based Arab newspaper two weeks later, as a document branded ‗the Greater Middle East Initiative‘ (GMEI). They amounted to a reform package intentionally recalling the 1975 Helsinki Accords (which challenged the Soviet bloc to respect individual freedoms and human rights) and particularly focused on replacing autocracy with participatory democracy. The initiative seemed to fit into Bush‘s larger vision, dubbed the ‗forward strategy of freedom‘, which has been advanced as the core 161

of the administration‘s Middle East foreign policy. Superficially, the initiative is targeting three ‗deficits‘ identified in the UN Arab Human Development Report – freedom, knowledge and female empowerment – as the bases for its own proposals, and couching outside involvement in the no threatening language of development assistance. A more nuanced reading of the document, however, illuminates a bottom-up approach that would largely bypass states in favor of local stakeholders. For this reason, regional powers, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, were indignant. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak complained that ‗we hear about these initiatives as if the region and its states do not exist, as if they had no sovereignty over their land‘. The US stood a chance of diplomatically salvaging the GMEI by recasting it as a prescription for support rather than an outside imposition. In any case, there were some authoritarian regimes that the US would not want to alienate in the near future. These included the secular, anti-Islamist governments of Egypt and Jordan – both of which have made peace with Israel – and the relatively cooperative Yemeni regime. Another would be the government of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is credited with taming an Islamic insurgency unleashed in 1992 when an Islamist victory in democratic elections was invalidated, has been a strong US counter-terrorism partner, and on 8 April was re-elected with 83% of the vote in an election deemed generally fair by international observers. The values embodied in the initiative, however, are not likely to change. It enshrines the idea that US security concerns are best served not by cultivating relationships with autocrats but by directly addressing the root causes of terrorism. Moreover, the GMEI implicitly rejected the idea that the resolution of the Palestinian issue is a prerequisite for progress elsewhere. But the conventional wisdom, espoused by the authoritarian leaders themselves, is that until the Palestinians have attained a just settlement, illiberal states will continue to be justified as necessary to maintaining order and insulating policy from the passions of the ‗Arab street‘. Several prominent European leaders sympathize with this view and oppose the GMEI. Until the death of Yasir Arafat, Washington‘s decision to downplay conflict resolution between the Israelis and Palestinians was consistent with the Bush administration‘s general aversion to strategic micromanagement, but squared less easily with the administration‘s express advocacy of a two-state solution. However, it did seem to reflect realistically low expectations for the ‗road map‘ for peace that was rolled out in May 2003 and has since 162

met with frustration due to persistent continuation of violence on both sides and the inflexibility of both the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships. Marginalizing the conflict implied recognition that Palestinian fighting and Israel‘s determination to diminish its citizens‘ vulnerability – by building a security barrier and withdrawing from Gaza and parts of the West Bank – had conclusively interred the Oslo process. Yet there was a danger that the subordination of the Israeli–Palestinian problem could lead to missed opportunities and increasing discomfort among allies. As of April 2004, however, the US had its hands full in Iraq. Against hopes of improving security to ease the scheduled handover of sovereignty to the Iraqis on 30 June 2004, US retaliation for the ambush and brutal killing of four American security contractors in the conservative town of Falluja, west of Baghdad, on 30 March triggered a Shiite, then a Sunnite uprising against the US-led occupation. Thus, if in April 2003, a US military victory in Iraq was imminent, by April 2004, it had come and gone, and an American political triumph in Iraq and major peace dividends in the region seemed neither close nor assured. A similarity between the cases of Iraq and Palestine, consisting in the American emphasis on democratization, has not been enough underlined by observers, although it is in the heart – as we assume- of the GMEI deal. The link with the security and stability of the Gulf is likely an issue still open for the debate. As many American analysts point out, the future of Iraq also has important regional implications. Since Saddam Hussein‘s rise to power in the late 1970s, the country has been a source of regional instability. If the domestic situation does not stabilize, violence and political unrest could spread over Iraq‘s long and porous borders. But if US plans succeed, Iraq, as a westward-leaning beacon of democracy and free markets, is likely to inspire a measure of political and economic reform that could both ameliorate the region‘s endemic problems and improve the chances of a better accommodation between the Arab world and the West. The Iraq war proved to be a mixed blessing for Tehran. The USled coalition‘s ouster of Saddam Hussein removed a deep and painful thorn from Iran‘s side, and liberated Iranian Shiites‘ religious brethren – the 65% Shiite majority that Saddam had brutally repressed. Tehran was nonetheless uncomfortable with the United States installed as a powerful occupying force in both Afghanistan and Iraq, on its eastern and western flanks. Moreover, the liberation of the Iraqi Shiites stood to further deepen the political and doctrinal cleavages in Iran‘s Islamic political system, which hinges on the Velayat-al Faqih, or absolute clerical rule. In 163

that system, political influence and power are derived from the clerical establishment in Iran. Any law or governing standard must be ‗Islamic‘, and that determination falls to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In Iraq, there is an assumption that a new and powerful source of Shiite religious authority beyond Tehran‘s control could arise and test the already vulnerable doctrinal basis of a regime founded on a fairly narrow interpretation of Shia thought. In particular, Iraqi Shiites‘ traditional opposition to the mixing of religion and politics was by February 2004 providing considerable intellectual support for those in Iranian politics who questioned the prudence of paramount religiously based political authority in Iran. More broadly, the rise of the Iraqi Shiites may challenge Iran‘s international primacy, and give the non-Iranian Shiites – from Lebanon and Yemen, to Azerbaijan and India – a greater say in Shia affairs.

Societies under stress In the charged diplomatic atmosphere following the failure of UN debates on Iraq, both Iran and the EU had much to gain from demonstrating that the EU‘s ‗constructive engagement‘ of Tehran could produce tangible results. Tehran was motivated to deflect overly aggressive American attention, while the EU could claim to be taking direct and effective action to bring Iran into line without resort to the threat or use of force. The focus of European diplomacy was Iran‘s nuclear program, which both Washington and European capitals saw as an Iranian bid to obtain a nuclear weapons breakout option. The EU troika (Germany, France and the United Kingdom) was able in October 2003 to convince Iran to give a full account of its nuclear program before the 31 October deadline set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, and to bring all of its nuclear activities under stronger IAEA inspections. Both Brussels and Tehran portrayed this development as a victory for dialogue over coercion. But the onus was on Tehran and the EU to convince a skeptical United States that the agreement reached in Tehran on 21 October between the troika‘s foreign ministers and the Iranian government, through the office of its National Security Council, was comprehensive and robust enough not to require referral to the UN Security Council for further actions, including potential economic and political sanctions. The 164

latter option had been the United States‘ preferred mode of dealing with Iran since 2002, when revelations about Iran‘s clandestine nuclear activities began to surface. Questions about the Iranian–European deal rose immediately before the March 2004 IAEA Board of Governors‘ meeting, when the IAEA reported that Iran had failed to fully report its past enrichment program and was continuing to build centrifuge machines, despite its October 2003 commitments. Faced with the prospect that the US and Europe might join forces to report Iranian noncompliance to the Security Council, Tehran again made tactical concessions, agreeing to expand the suspension to include construction of additional centrifuge machines, while the IAEA Board responded to Washington‘s unhappiness by giving Iran another ‗last chance‘. As of March 2004, many observers believed that additional revelations of Iran‘s nuclear activities could still emerge, making it undeniable that Iran‘s nuclear program was intended to give Iran a nuclear weapons option. A recent study282 states that in an era in which U.S. interests are being examined more critically, the greater Middle East continues to present high stakes for American policymakers. Taking a longer-term (through 2025) perspective, U.S. key national interests include according to this document: * the survival of Israel and completion of the Middle East peace process, * access to oil, * forestalling the emergence of a hostile regional hegemon, * preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, * promoting political and economic reform and through it internal stability, and * holding terrorism in check. Some of these interests are specific to the region, but most are closely linked to broader, systemic interests in stability, nonproliferation, energy security, and evolutionary versus revolutionary change. The notion of the « Greater Middle East » -GME- has been adopted to capture one of the key macro trends in the current strategic environment, and one that is assumed will be even more significant in the future — that is, the steady erosion of traditional distinctions between 282

Sources of Conflict in the Greater Middle East, by Ian O. Lesser, Bruce R. Nardulli, and Lory A. Arghavan, in: Rand Project Air Force/ The Muslim World after 9/11.


―Middle Eastern‖ security and ―European‖ and ―Eurasian‖ security. This erosion is the result of the growing reach of military systems and the growing economic and political interdependence of regions. Spillovers of different sorts, from transregional terrorism and smuggling to refugee flows and migration, are further contributing to the breakdown of old regional definitions. For the authors of the afore-mentioned study there are at least four trends to be closely watched. They are peculiar to what they call "societies under stress"283. In their analysis, States across the region are facing threats to stability as a result of internal trends. The most consequential trends in this context include: « - demographic change and relentless urbanization ; - problems of economic growth and reform ; - dysfunctional societies and the erosion of state control, and crises of political legitimacy and the challenges of Islam and nationalism »284. Taken together, these trends have encouraged and would assumedly continue to support a pervasive sense of insecurity within Middle Eastern societies. When officials and observers within the region itself talk about future security, they would be concerned first and foremost with internal security. The key ―drivers‖ identified here would all « have consequences for the types of conflict and nonconflict demands and constraints the U.S. military is likely to confront across the region through 2025. The drivers represent deep systemic factors that will be at the forefront of challenges to stability in the region for the next several decades ».285

Handling the unrest On May 5–6, 2003, Rand‘s Center for Middle East Public Policy (CMEPP) and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) held a twoday conference in Geneva on ―The Middle East in the Shadow of Afghanistan and Iraq.‖ The conference was the fourth in a series of

283 284 285

Idem. Idem. Idem.


collaborative efforts by GCSP and RAND‘s CMEPP in the area of security policy 286. The discussion of the impact of the Iraq war on the Arabian Peninsula centered around two broad issues. The first was the impact on the regional balance of power, particularly Saudi Arabia‘s role. While it was difficult to say exactly what the impact of the Iraq war would be on the Arabian peninsula, several participants suggested that it could lead to « shifts in the regional balance of power ». In particular, the balance of power in the GCC could « shift away from Saudi Arabia ». Qatar, they noted, was emerging as « a major player » in the Gulf. It wanted « to get out from under Saudi domination » and had clearly thrown in its lot with the United States. Qatar‘s policy and regional ambitions were of concern to Saudi Arabia, but its ambitions were « not congruent with Qatar‘s size and real possibilities ». Qatar, some participants suggested, seemed to be « punching above its weight »287. Iraq‘s evolution, several participants stressed, could have an important impact on the Gulf States. If Iraq becomes a pro-U.S. democracy, this could have a liberalizing impact on the Gulf monarchies. The U.S. victory would end an era in which Gulf States lived under an Iraqi threat. At the same time, there was a possibility that Iraq might be integrated into a Gulf security system. In such a case, « a new Iraqi-led bloc could emerge as a counterbalance to Iran, but also to Saudi Arabia‘s detriment »288. Accordingly , Saudi Arabia was « likely to be affected » as well. A reassessment of U.S.-Saudi relations was already visible before the outbreak of the war with Iraq. But it was likely to gain greater momentum as a result of the war. The Saudis, one participant pointed out, had actually been more helpful in the Iraq war than many observers had expected. Publicly, they had been rather critical of the war, but « behind the scenes they had rendered considerable support to the United States ». In any event, the war was likely to result in a lower U.S. military profile in Saudi Arabia, which in turn could help reduce tensions in U.S.-Saudi relations. Saudi Arabia would remain sensitive to continued turmoil in Iraq, it was noted. Iraq oil, participants agreed, could have an important impact. Once Iraq‘s oil came back on line, this could reduce Western 286

The Middle East in the Shadow of Afghanistan and Iraq, National Security Research Division, F.Stephen Larrabee, Rand. 2003. 287 Idem. 288 Idem.


dependence on Saudi oil. But it was stressed that it would take time for Iraq to increase its oil production and that with the best will in the world, Iraq could not replace Saudi Arabia‘s vital role as ―swing producer‖ in the event of crises and shortfalls; for that, it would need the unused spare capacity of two million barrels a day that was a uniquely Saudi asset. Nonetheless, « either a strong pro-American and reformist Iraq or a weak, unstable Iraq could lead to greater social unrest in Saudi Arabia », several participants warned. One important consideration will be the nature of the regime that emerges in post-Saddam Iraq. If a Shiadominated republic should emerge in Iraq, « Saudi Arabia would feel threatened »289. In such a case, Riyadh could move to intensify relations with Pakistan and might look to Islamabad for nuclear reassurance. We have to notice, by the way, that this hypothesis needs validation. First, Saudi Arabia is not a country with an important number of Shiites. Historically, Shiisme has had very little impact on the population, which is not the case of other arab countries. Iraq has been certainly a hub for shiite activity, as well as Egypt and Tunisia in the medieval times. The mainland of the contemporary Saudi Arabia has never been under Shiite spell ; and there is no reason that it will be in the future. Second, the only time wherein the Saudi kingdom felt threatened by a shiite phenomenon was when the Islamic revolution of Iran burst out. However, Saudi Arabia was not then the only country which felt the threat. It was all the Arab countries – Iraq in the forefront – that felt the destabilizing wave of the Iranian radical islamism…until the remote Morocco , which explains why all sided with Saddam during the 8 years long war with Iran. Iranian nuclear ambitions are another important factor supposed to affect the regional balance. If Iran develops nuclear weapons, the United States, one participant suggested, « might be prompted to provide a nuclear umbrella to the Gulf States ». However, this would only work, another noted, as long as Iran did not have nuclear weapons that could reach the United States. Once Iran achieved the capability to deliver nuclear weapons that could hit the United States, the calculation would change. A second dominant theme during discussions was the prospects for internal reform in the region, especially in Saudi Arabia. Several participants noted that there was pressure for reform both from the top and from the bottom. Both Bahrain and Qatar had recently taken steps 289



toward greater political liberalization. An amorphous movement for reform had also gained strength in Saudi Arabia since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. However, the parameters of reform are not clear. Most of the leaders in the region were interested in some form of ―decompression‖— that is, a relaxation of some restrictions—not genuine liberalization. This was designed to buy time and postpone major reform. However, the Iranian experience called into question whether slow, selective reform could work.

Power paradox and Empire nostalgia The reconstruction of Iraq intersects with two other, more subtle developments which, when combined with Saddam‘s removal, amount to a watershed that permits a new and better security system to be built. One is the growing acceptance by elites in Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states of the need for domestic reform. The other development, obscured by rhetoric on both sides, is the growing possibility that America and Iran can do business with each other. This seems to be also the point of view of Kenneth M. Pollack, who served as ―Director for Persian Gulf Affairs‖ on the staff of the National Security Council (from 1995 to 1990 and 1999 to 2001). He thinks that the three main problems likely to bedevil the Gulf security over the next several years « will be Iraq‘s security dilemma, Iran‘s nuclear weapons program, and potential internal unrest in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council »290. To summarize his thesis, let us say that ―the paradox of Iraqi power can be put simply : any Iraq that is strong enough to balance and contain Iran will inevitably be capable of overrunning Kuwait and Saudi Arabia‖291. This hypothesis is apparently suggested by a precedent : Saddam‘s invasion of Kuwait. Yet, Besides the fact that Saddam‘s intentions concerning Saudi Arabia are not known, and much less known as yet was his capacity of achieving such a scheme, it is not necessary that history repeats itself. To suggest such a hypothesis is to subsequently imply that Iraq itself is condemned to be ruled by dictators and expansionist leaders, whereas all the efforts are today focusing on 290 291

Kenneth M.Pollack, Securing the Gulf, Foreign Affairs, July/August 2003. Idem.


orienting the whole region – not only Iraq – toward democracy and peace. As for Iran, Pollack is convinced that ―its nuclear program has gone into overdrive and unless stopped – from inside or outside – is likely to produce one or more nuclear weapons within five years‖292. Concerning the unrest, he thinks that ―terrorism and internal instability in the Persian Gulf are ultimately fueled by the political, economic, and social stagnation of the local Arab states‖293. Now, where does all this become problematic for the United States? We should first remember that the US troops are already in Iraq, and nobody knows until what time they will remain there, which means also – to borrow an ironical expression widespread in the Arab media that the USA is, since April 2003, ―Iran‘s neighbor‖. Thus, the first two questions – Iraq and Iran – are being tackled straightforward by the USA. Yet, this is not the end of the troubles, but perhaps their beginning, for it is – as everybody can state – an ambiguous tackling in an abnormal situation. Ambiguous, because of the unsaid, which lies in the intentions of the concerned parties, or which is imagined as being a part of their varied – and often- adverse projects. As to the abnormality of the situation, we do not need to say more about what is believed to be as explosive as harmful, not only to the region, but possibly to the world, included the USA. Pollack emphasises in the same article that ―the United States is not simply concerned with keeping oil flowing out of the Persian Gulf; it also has an interest in preventing any potentially hostile state from gaining control over the region and its resources and using such control to amass vast power or blackmail the world‖294, which sounds to be the author‘s conclusion of the brief and violent Iraqi adventure with Kuwait. But as we have already hinted, this is not the only reason for the American presence. Just observe what happened since the Gulf War (Desert Storm): a controversy over American military presence in the Gulf (not only in Saudi Arabia); a controversy over the American intervention in Iraq ; a controversy over American military presence in Iraq ; and now a controversy over Iranian nuclear program.

292 293 294

Idem. Idem. Idem.


In this context and regarding the increasing critics, President Bush for his first tour in Europe after his reelection, chose to allay the Europeans : he depicted the allegations that the USA prepare an invasion of Iran as ―ridiculous‖. Yet, he did not rule out any option in handling the Iranian problem, which cast much more ambiguity even on the term ―ridiculous‖. Some people in Europe wondered: do we have the same understanding of the language and the terms used in Europe and the USA? The unrest in the Gulf may even open the door to more ambiguity and more controversial issues. In the American vision still marked by the 9/11 event, the unrest is linked directly to radical Islamism, governmental despotism, and other social and economic failures, which breeds terrorism. Moreover,― if the United States were denied access to the Persian Gulf, its ability to influence events in many other key regions of the world would be greatly diminished‖295, notes Pollack, which is not inaccurate. So, the issue is not only about local unrest, but also about wider strategic concerns of the USA. This is precisely another source of problems, inasmuch as the populations of the region feel that the US military presence, instead of reassuring them, makes them uneasy. Such a feeling may find its source even in the US theories about Empire and hegemony that seem to have flourished after 9/11. ―In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington‖, notes Ivan Eland, ―several foreign policy observers have concluded that America should look to the vanished empires of the past for foreign policy guidance, not because the strategy of empire should be scrupulously avoided, but because the strategy of empire should be unabashedly embraced‖296. Several examples may be mentioned in this context. The first is provided by Max Boot of the Council of Foreign Relations and former Wall Street Journal editorial features editor. The September 11 attacks, says Boot, were ―the result of insufficient American involvement and ambition ; the solution is to be more expansive in our goals and more assertive in our implementation (…) Afghanistan and other troubled lands today cry out for the sort of


Idem. Ivan Eland, The Empire Strikes Out, the new imperialism and its fatal flaws, Policy analysis n° 459, November 26, 2002, Cato Institute. See also: Hichem Karoui, What has changed in the imperial views, 11/6/03: 296


enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in Jodhpurs and pit helmets‖297. Sebastian Mallaby, Washington Post columnist, is also quoted as an advocate of empire. He says that ―the logic of neo-imperialism is too compelling … to resist. The chaos of the world is too threatening to ignore, and existing methods for dealing with that chaos have been tried and found wanting‖. He therefore calls for an ―imperialist revival‖ wherein orderly societies, led by the United States, can and should take a page from the past and ―impose their own institutions on disorderly ones‖298. Robert Kaplan, Atlantic Monthly correspondent, goes a little further. The advise for American foreign policy should be sought in the chronicles of the Greek, Roman, and British empires, in his view. ―Our future leaders could do worse than be praised for their…ability to bring prosperity to distant parts of the world under America‘s soft imperial influence‖, says Kaplan, and ―Rome in particular, is a model for hegemonic power, using various means to encourage a modicum of order in a disorderly world‖299. In the result, this kind of speculations is not very reassuring, either to the Arab populations or to their elites. The problem is that beyond the obvious hegemonic views such theories convey, they leave no place anymore to trust and confidence. How much of this talk about neoimperialism and empire nostalgia has reached the ears of the policy makers in the Bush administration, and what is its impact ? Such is the question the Arabs would raise, particularly when such views are linked to neo-cons having an important part in the current foreign policy of the USA. ―We always looked upon the media in the West, if I may use both Britain and others, as a model of truth, as people who call a spade a spade, and that would not try to cover up‖, says Khaled al Maeena, Arab News editor-in-chief. ― But (…) we all became criminals (…) It‘s 297

Max Boot, The Case for American Empire, Weekly Standard, October 15,

2001. 27 Also see the same author: The Savage Wars of Peace: small wars and the rise of American power (New York, Basic Books, 2002). Cited in: I. Eland. Op. Cit. 298 Sebastian Mallaby, The Reluctant Imperialist: terrorism, failed states, and the case for American Empire, Foreign Policy 81, n° 2, March-April 2002. Cited in: I. Eland. Op.Cit. 299 Robert D. Kaplan, Warrior Politics: why leadership demands a pagan ethos, New York, Random House, 2002, p.153. Cited in: I. Eland.Op.Cit.


unfortunate because America has never been a colonizing power‖.300 However, with such imperial views in sight, and with a thorough reading of American history – such as the one made for example by Howard Zinn301 – would we still find that America « has never been a colonizing power » ?

Withdrawing troops Actually, what cannot be occulted is the existence of a debate inside the USA. All those issues are discussed publicly, and because of the transparency of a democratic society we can find their track, and follow up with analysis and commentaries. Whereas in the Arab world itself, such a task is much harder to performing. Another aspect of the problem, as it seems to us, consists in that the ambiguity of the US policy may also emanate from the nature of the situation in the Gulf region, in addition to the nature of the political debate in the American society. ―Many of those who called for an end to the American presence in Saudi Arabia argue that the United States military must remain in the region indefinitely for one reason : oil‖, says Christopher Preble, from the Cato Institute 302. ― To those who are focused on the Gulf‘s energy resources and who argue that U.S. troops must remain in the region, the euphemism most frequently used is ―engagement,‖ as if, the presence of U.S. troops ensures that the United States is ―engaged.‖ By this logic, engagement comes only at the barrel of a gun. But why can we not assume that individual initiative, private enterprise, and cultural exchange are also forms of engagement? Do people only travel to places where U.S. troops are stationed? Can commerce only take place in the presence of American troops? Of course not.‖ 303 These remarks might as well have been issued by an Arab writer. Put under such a pen nobody would notice any difference. This means also that people‘s minds are more connected to each other than the differences of the races, the countries or the religions, may suggest. The 300

Media, Terrorism, and Reality, Remarks by Khaled al-Maeena, 13th ArabUS Policymakers Conference, Washington DC, September 13, 2004. 301 Howard Zinn, A people‘s History Of The United States ; Harper Colophon Books ; 1980. 302 Christopher Preble, After Victory, toward a new military posture in the Persian Gulf, Policy analysis n° 477, June 10, 2003. Cato Institute. 303 Idem.


reason for that has been explained by a great genius of the XVth century: Descartes, who said in his famous Discourse of the Method, that common sense is the most shared thing in the world. We don‘t need to go further, in order to find what makes us so different and so similar at once. Yet, if common sense is the most shared thing in the world, stupidity is no less. In this context, human history is as much the story of the success of Reason than that of unreason and stupidity. To continue with Preble‘s analysis, he thinks that ―The United States needs not have troops stationed in the Persian Gulf in order to remain engaged in the region. The Gulf‘s energy resources are important to the global economy, but goods and services flow on the world market where explicit ―protection‖ by military forces‖304 is absent. Furthermore, if these troops have stabilized the Gulf, they remain also a source of tension and instability, as the terrorist attacks against the Americans, in Saudi Arabia demonstrated. Preble rightly remarks that the American military presence in the Middle East has engendered widespread animosity throughout the Muslim world. He reminds us that in 1996, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Richard Murphy called the ―great probability of terrorism to be ‗an inescapable consequence‘ of our decision to keep troops in the region.‖ But Murphy‘s statement presumed that the United States had no choice but to leave American forces in the region. ―In fact‖, says Preble, ― given the threat from terrorism and the limited utility of the forces in the region, a change in our military deployment policy was warranted long before September 11, 2001.‖305 So, what‘s happened? Why instead of withdrawing forces, the USA increased them? For Preble, ―despite the known risks (…) three successive presidential administrations, both Republican and Democratic, chose to keep American troops in the region.‖ Furthermore, he says ―The president of the United States should never submit American foreign policy goals to the vagaries of international public opinion. But when the troops serve no useful purpose, their presence is known to contribute to anti-American sentiment, and those who wish us ill capitalize on antiAmericanism to encourage disgruntled psychopaths to fly airplanes into

304 305

Idem. Idem.


buildings, it is clear that our forces in the Persian Gulf make America less, not more, secure.‖306 Like many observers, Arabs and Westerners, Preble advises that the United States should follow up its military victory and the establishment of a new Iraqi government with swift troop withdrawal from Iraq. Besides, the Bush administration‘s decision to shift U.S. forces out of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia should be only the first of several steps to substantially reduce the U.S. presence throughout the region. The Bush administration should clearly articulate its plans for removing troops from the region. As he put it, ― Americans rightly marvel at the proficiency of our armed forces, and American taxpayers have funded the military‘s transformation. The Pentagon should reorient policy in a way that takes advantage of our technological superiority and capitalizes on our ability to project power from a distance, by eliminating our expensive and unnecessary policy of forward deployment throughout the region. The troops are unnecessary. They are costly. And they do little to make the United States safer and more secure.‖307 Similarly to the above-mentioned features, an Issue paper of Rand Corporation308 emphasizes the same needs. The USA, it says, entered the 21 century preserving stability in the Gulf via an extensive forward military presence. Long before September 11, Washington‘s strategic dilemma was clear. Starting in the seventies, with Britain‘s withdrawal, the United States took over the role of security manager of the Gulf. From the outset, the United States sought to avoid a costly and unwelcome forward presence in the region, instead relying on regional allies to police the security system and on its own ability to project force to the region if they could not. In the 1970s, the United States used the twin pillars of Iran and Saudi Arabia to ensure stability and to contain threats to the status quo. Iran was effective in the 1970s in helping to crush Dhofari rebels in Oman and in marginalizing Soviet-backed Baathist Iraq. The United States « supported Iranian and Saudi authoritarian regimes out of strategic expedience and fear of radical alternatives. Political reform was not on the American agenda neither in the Gulf nor in the rest of the Arab world ; American diplomats and intelligence 306

Idem. Idem. 308 Andrew Rathmell, Theodore Karasik, and David Gompert, A New Persian Gulf Security System, Issue Paper, Rand 2003. 307


operatives had virtually no contact with reformist and other opposition elements »309. Until 1990, the United States stuck to the British approach of maintaining a low-cost security system by relying on regional allies and a naval presence. After the Gulf War, this approach was replaced by one involving extensive forward basing and regular military engagements, sometimes escalating into large-scale deployments (e.g., in 1990, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2003). The Issue paper acknowledges that « in addition to the direct costs, U.S. presence has become a lightning rod for political discontent. The United States has contributed to that discontent through its support for Israel (the pros and cons of that support aside) and for autocratic Arab regimes. In most countries, the deeper cause of political discontent is the socioeconomic malaise that grips the region. At a more philosophical level, discontent reflects the Arab and Islamic world‘s struggle to adapt to modernity and a divisive debate within Islam about its response to the modern world. Al Qaeda is the most extreme expression of this discontent, encompassing a minority of Muslims. This generalized discontent, which is focused on existing regimes and the United States, threatens remaining U.S. allies, especially Saudi Arabia, in ways that the U.S. strategy of military presence plus reinforcement cannot address—a reminder that balance of power alone cannot suffice »310. Yet, even with all these disadvantages and others we did not mention, the paradoxal conclusion the Issue paper reaches is that ―the United States does not have the option of withdrawing from the Gulf as the British did 30 years ago (knowing the United States would take over). Therefore, it is an important U.S. interest to support a more favorable, affordable, and durable Gulf security system—one that takes advantage of and promotes political change rather than resists it‖ 311. Thus, political reform in the region has grown to be a necessity both local and international. The Issue paper emphasizes also that the democratizing vision goes further than Iraq to remake the Middle East. Democratization, it is argued, « will enable countries across the region to defuse domestic dissent and become productive members of the international community rather than remain in a developmental and political ghetto ». In this argument, democratic transformation cannot and 309 310 311

Idem. Idem. Idem.


need not stop at Iraq. Its advocates call for exploiting the « domino effect », using Iraq as a lever to bring about change in other Arab states. Yet, we have to observe that on the one hand, the condition to such transformation is the success of democracy in Iraq, which is still far from being achieved. On the other hand, if democracy is the goal and the reward, we do not need to frame it – even if it were only on a theoretical or a hypothetical level – into Cold War concepts, such as « domino » theory. We are often reminded in this context that the need to create a regional security environment conducive to the consolidation of democracy was a central consideration in U.S. and Western strategy toward Europe after World War II. NATO was created not only to deter a Soviet threat, but also to establish the security umbrella under which fragile post-war West European democracies could establish themselves. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Helsinki Final Act and the OSCE created a framework that both encouraged democratic change and helped ensure a soft and largely non-violent landing when communism eventually collapsed. At the end of the Cold War, the need to consolidate fragile democracies was also a key factor leading NATO and the European Union to extend a security umbrella to Central and Eastern Europe. The situation in the Gulf – and broadly in the arab world – today can hardly be compared with Europe, at least because the Arabs have never been considered as an integrative part of the NATO, nor did they ask for it. Consequently, if the West wants to help promote democratic change in the region, it must step up its efforts, together with other countries, to resolve the core geopolitical conflict afflicting the region, between the Arabs and Israël. The cause of democracy and human development in the region will be enhanced immeasurably by a final resolution of the IsraeliPalestinian issue and the broader Israeli-Arab conflict based on United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and the vision of two states — Israel and Palestine — living side-by-side in peace and security. Many in the Arab world today see a Western — and especially American — commitment to a renewal of the role of honest broker in IsraeliPalestinian peace negotiations as a litmus test of Western intentions in the Arab world more broadly, including democracy. The way forward in the Middle East must be to work in parallel on resolving the Israel-Arab conflict and on promoting democracy across the region. The West cannot credibly make the case for democracy across the region if it is, or appears to be, unwilling to support the Palestinians‘ 177

right to political self-determination and a resolution of this conflict in all of its aspects. On the other hand, autocratic Arab governments could no longer hide behind or use this conflict to deflect domestic pressures for domestic change. Terrorists across the region could no longer exploit this conflict to recruit men and women into their ranks.


Chapter V ____________

Futuristic assessment

How can we live together if we do not try to understand each other as to be able to accept, more easily, our differences? Such a question seems today inevitable, as the future will depend on the answer we will provide. The dramatic global resurgence of religious, often fundamentalist, movements over the last decades has caught many people by surprise, notes Martin Riesebrodt : ―To most of us, such a resurgence of religion came as a surprise since according to our modernization myth, religion was supposed to be headed towards a continuous path of secularization and privatization. Indeed, this myth presented us with several options for the fate of religion in the modern world, but neither a return of religion as a public force nor its ability to shape people according to its own ethos and instill into them a new habitus was among them‖312. However, the point that seemed to him more enticing is that the social scientists in their attempts to cope with their own cognitive dissonance have been as ―interesting as this surprising return of religion‖. Digressing about this point, he notes that the most typical reactions were ―denial and instant conversion‖. In his view, ―some authors have simply insisted that their expectations of modernization and secularization are basically sound. Focusing on the resurgence of religion outside the modern West allowed them to pretend that these revivals of religion are still part of a modernizing process. And, not surprisingly, many have taken pains to 312

Martin Riesebrodt, Secularization and the Global resurgence of Religion, University of Chicago, paper presented at the comparative social analysis workshop, university of California , Los Angeles, March 9, 2000.


detect a ―Puritan spirit‖ or an ―inner-worldly asceticism‖ in such movements, revealing their problematic reading of Max Weber‘s ―Protestant Ethic‖ as a general theory of modernization‖.313 Nonetheless, we do not see why social scientists should refrain from trying such comparative analysis, as the temptation is actually great and the rewards promising on the theoretical level. If there is nothing to find out from such an endeavour, only the result would reveal it. Yet, if comparative analysis may add something – as modest as it could be – to our knowledge of the studied Phenomena, then why not to give it a shot ? Other authors have chosen the opposite route of instant conversion , says Riesebrodt, by ―denying the existence of any general trend towards secularization in the West and elsewhere. In particular, rational choice theorists have explained secularization as an effect of religious monopolies‖314. He pointed particularly to the sociologist Steven Warner who emphasized ―American exceptionalism in contrast to the European trend towards secularization‖. Warner maintains that there is a ―new paradigm‖ in the making for the study of religion in America which rejects an older paradigm based on the European experience of secularization. Apparently, this is not the only difference in European and American notions about religion and secularization. The ―American exceptionalism‖ in this context reminds us of Charles Taylor‘s ―moral exceptionalism‖, which may also serve as a paradigmatic shift in the history of the West. In the introduction to this study, we have already hinted to the possibility that since 9/11 the world is no longer what it was before, and that at least concerning the American view, there is certainly a new paradigm in the making, as regards world policy. The Europeans are not obliged to have the same analysis, and there is a reason for that: either in the Middle East or elsewhere, the USA is the leading power not Europe. If success there is in tackling hard and complicated issues of world policy, everybody would profit from it ; and if not, the USA would be alone to bear whatever results, because it is her policy, not the Western alliance‘s. Our analysis, all along the four previous chapters, aimed altogether at demonstrating the need for handling regional and international issues differently. A new pattern of thought is already acting

313 314

Idem. Idem.


behind the scene and pulling the strings. To deny it would change nothing to the facts. A point has however to be cleared. It concerns the reaction against such an overwhelming American influence. Many people used to say that this is an Arab-American problem ; but in our view, it is not …at least, not to the degree imagined.

Anti-Americanism « Among the components in the mood of anti-Westernism, and more especially of anti-Americanism, were certain intellectual influences coming from Europe ». The remark was made by Bernard Lewis 315, who goes on pointing out to Germany as one source of these influences. ―A negative view of America formed part of school of thought by no means limited to the Nazis but including writers as diverse as Rainer Maria Rilke, Ernest Junger, and Martin Heidegger‖, he says 316. If we mention this question, it is well because a non negligible part of Arab modern culture has been influenced by European intellectuals, to the point that it is just impossible to make – say – a critic of a modern literary work in Arabic, without any reference to the Western works in the same domain. Indeed this is not only the case of comparative literary studies‘ focus but also that of social sciences. Bernard Lewis acknowledges it when he says ―German philosophy, and particularly the philosophy of education, enjoyed a considerable vogue among Arab and some other Muslim intellectuals in the thirties and early forties, and this philosophic antiAmericanism was part of the message‖317. Social scientists and Arabists who study for example the Baath ideology or the Panarabism cannot omit to look for the European influences on these trends of thought. We do not even need to underline the extensive influence that the Marxist literature enjoyed in the Arab world: to some degree, the Arab anti-Americanism came from this source, but it was not the sole. As European powers were much more present in the Arab world, before the Second World War, it 315

Bernard Lewis, The roots of Muslim Rage, op. Cit. ―In this perception, America was the ultimate example of civilization without culture: rich and comfortable, materially advanced but soulless and artificial; assembled or at best constructed, not grown; mechanical, not organic; technologically complex but lacking the spirituality and vitality of the rooted, human, national cultures of the Germans and other ‗authentic‘ peoples‖. Idem. 317 Idem. 316


was merely unimaginable that the European culture does not mould the Arab elite. When Europe began losing influence and the USA gaining it in the same region, the trend of anti-Americanism was first unleashed by angry Europeans. The Arab elite was at the time hoping that the USA – which had no colonial experience with Arabs-, relieved them from their pains while representing a counterweight to the colonialist powers. Nothing was perhaps more alien to the Arab mind than the idea that the USA could threaten the Arab people: in 1956, when Israel along with Great Britain and France attacked Egypt as a reaction against the nationalization of the Suez Canal, the USA stood against such an aggression. It has never been forgotten, and indeed the US position against France‘s colonialist plans in North Africa in the same period, helped those who were fighting for independence. Therefore, one should look for the seeds of anti-Americanism in the European cultural production of that time more than in the Arab‘s. For one thing: apart from the communist propaganda, nothing in the Arab culture of the time was anti-American. Better : some of the best literature about the new Arab awakening came from the United States, on the hands of people like George Antonius, Nagib al Raihani, or Gibran Khalil Gibran. Yet, things began to change and to worsen with the Arab Israeli conflict getting on, unresolved, and with the USA siding irremediably with Israel, until the picture completely metamorphosed. Today, Arab anti-Americanism has reached peaks even the overzealous European anti-Americans have not attained. Why? That is the question.

New time , new thought There was an opportunity that neither Americans nor Arabs seized to stop the escalation in the love-hate relationship. This is when the Berlin wall collapsed on November 9, 1989, and that the world shaped by the post-second world war politics began to fall apart. It was a good opportunity because the fall of the Berlin wall (1989), followed by the collapse of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, and finally the fall of the Soviet Union in December 1991, generated an optimistic mood regarding the future of international relations, especially in the West. This optimistic perspective was best captured in Francis Fukuyama‘s article ―The End of History.‖ According to this view, the Soviet Union‘s collapse had validated the superiority of the Western liberal model of economics and politics and confirmed its universal 182

application. It was, therefore, expected that those countries that had not yet embraced this model would embark on market-oriented economic reform and democratization. It was also believed that, with the end of the Cold War, military expenditures could be reduced and more funds both at national and international levels would be spent on economic and social development—the so-called peace dividend. This optimism was further strengthened by the victory of the international coalition created in 1990 under U.S. leadership to reverse Iraq‘s aggression against Kuwait and later buttressed by the Oslo process resulting in the 1993 PalestinianIsraeli peace agreement. Indeed, it was hoped that the end of the Gulf War (March 1991) would usher in a new period of peace and prosperity in the Middle East. But, unfortunately, not only that did not happen, but the situation even worsened with the failure of the Oslo process, the rise of the second intifada, and the return of the Israeli falcon, General Ariel Sharon, to power in Israel. Was the new paradigm that would explain the international scene in the aftermath of Berlin wall‘s fall, Huntington‘s ‗Clash of Civilizations‘ as suggest some people? It is true that the attacks by terrorists belonging to the extremist Muslim organization Al Qaeda on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, appeared to validate the clash of civilizations thesis. But if such is all what we can account for, to summarize 1500 years of Western-Muslim relationship, it is rather a very sad conclusion for the whole mankind. Bernard Lewis rightly notes that ―the Muslim world is far from unanimous in its rejection of the West, nor have the Muslim regions of the Third World been the most passionate and the most extreme in their hostility‖318. It is also true that many Muslims share with the West ―certain basic cultural and moral, social and political, beliefs and aspirations‖319. Considering the fact that the greater part of the world is still outside Islam, it would be a madness to make of all those people an enemy, just because they happen to be in ―the house of war‖, according to the Islamic medieval interpretation of the mankind division320. Yet, this is exactly what some fanatics pretend to do. A Wilton Park Conference on rebuilding trust between the Muslim world and the West after 9/11 identified the symptoms of the 318 319 320

B. Lewis, The Roots of Muslim Rage, op. Cit. Idem. Mankind is thus divided into: house of Islam and house of war (unbelief).


current crisis between the Muslim world and the West as involving : « a the attack of September 11, 2001 on the USA and the symbols of Western financial, political and military power; b - the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli crisis; c - the wars of ‗regime change‘ in Afghanistan and Iraq ». 321 In this context, it was stated that « 9/11 has been a watershed in US Arab relations. For the Saudi political elite, the radical questioning of their favored status with the USA has been a severe blow. Whilst both sides have made serious efforts to disavow the stereotypes of ―Crusade‖ or ―Islamic terrorism‖, some of the characterization has stuck. The Saudi political elite has paid a heavy price for the climate of xenophobia and religious extremism, which was tolerated or even encouraged in that country. The US reaction to 9/11 was unprecedented. This attack on the US mainland has yielded a ―zero-tolerance response‖. In spite of the widespread hatred of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, the US has by no means been universally successful in projecting the war as one of liberation and reconstruction ».322 The conference was particularly concerned about violence and terrorism : The prevalence of use of armed force, whether by state or non-state actors, whether through war, occupation, resistance or terrorism, is indicative of a volatile and dangerous set of relationships between the Muslim world and the West. From TV news, place names such as Afghanistan, Baghdad, Ramallah, Bali, New York, Washington, Rabat, Riyadh, Istanbul and Madrid are familiar. The globalization and unpredictability of violence is a feature of our times. The political use of armed force has again become an acute area of debate since 9/11. The Al-Qaeda attacks on the United States brought almost universal condemnation. The US-led coalition‘s wars of ‗regime change‘ deposed dictatorial regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. Particularly the action against Iraq, however, led to deep divisions in the world community. Even within western societies, the justification for, and legitimacy of the war has been vigorously contested. Under the heading ‗war against terrorism‘ many states have introduced legislation, which is also used against political opposition, as well as against possible terrorists. Particularly, but not only, in the Arab world, Israel‘s definition of Palestinian resistance to occupation as terrorism (in contravention of the 321

Report on Wilton Park Conference 745: Monday 3 – Friday 7 May 2004 on ―Rebuilding trust between the Muslim world and the West‖, organized in co-operation with the Swedish Institute in Alexandria. 322 Idem.


United Nations Security Council Resolutions 181, 242 and 337) is widely contested. It is almost universally rejected in the Arab world. Unless international legitimacy and respect for international law is secured, it is difficult to see how « the just war principle of use of armed force », if only as a last resort , can be consistently upheld. Important principles such as the protection of human rights, the state‘s monopoly of armed force, and diplomacy rather than war as the key to international relations have all been weakened in recent years. Representations of ―the West‖ for Arab youth, the material standards of living of the West, and the media reach of globalized communication presents Arab youth with an ambivalent picture. On the one hand, the West is seen as the dominant society holding back development (the hostile Other), on the other hand, it is seen as highly attractive and an Eldorado. In a number of western countries, however, right wing, anti-immigrant political parties have arisen. For the West, this presents the dilemma of whether to deny such parties the ―oxygen of publicity‖ or whether censorship and restrictive legislation would add the glamour of martyrdom to such political views. Second- and third-generation youth from Muslim countries face difficult tasks of ―social navigation‖ in seeking to find their own identity or juggle their multiple identities. They also face the difficult and possibly excessive expectations of being able to act as a ―bridge‖ to the societies from which they, their parents or grandparents emigrated. At the same time, they face difficulties of full acceptance within the community where they live. The existence of such transnational communities presents a wide range of challenges.

Politics of identity Often, the politics of identity operates through a community defining itself in relation to ‗the Other‘. In European history, such sharp, binary definitions have usually been at the expense of Jewish and Muslim minorities. It is more healthy for European identity to be established in terms of ideals such as: the rule of law, adherence to standards of human rights, the legitimacy of democratic politics and the separation of powers. If, however, the identity of the European Union is defined negatively as different from the Muslim world, the impact could have negative consequences both for the sizable minorities of Christians in the Middle East and Muslims within the European Union. « Within European history, there have been strong tendencies for nation states to regard uniformity as a threat. Such anxiety about diversity can easily feed 185

the roots of intolerance and even culminate in ethnic cleansing »323. Tolerance of ‗the Other‘ as an individual is not enough. What is required is the safeguarding of communal rights of those of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. Minorities must have rights both in the private and the public sphere. Fundamentalism, whether of a religious or antireligious sort, cannot adequately respond to other communities. The destruction of Bosnia serves as a warning of what can occur when nationalist ideologies cannot accept ‗the Other‘. « In the war, which destroyed Bosnia, huge numbers of Muslims were killed or expelled. Over 1000 mosques were destroyed. Europe failed to protect a longstanding Muslim community within its midst and failed to protect the diversity of a European country »324. When Mohammed Arkoun talks of enemy construction in the West, focalizing on Islam325, we should recall that at the same time, the Muslim culture – and some call it modern – uses the same tools for the same purpose: in the Arab countries, little children go to the koranic schools since they are 2 or 3 years old. The koranic schools (called al kuttab in the Maghreb) are the second environment of the child directly after the family. In these schools or ―madrasas‖ (kuttab), Koranic verses are learned by heart. Even before he could understand the historical conditions that caused their apparition , the child grows up learning by heart some verses of the Koran pointing out to Christians and Jews sometimes as « people of the Book » - ahl al kitab -, with whom Muslims have to debate, and sometimes as the enemies against whom they have to fight. When we know that there are hundreds and hundreds of books written only for the purpose of interpreting these verses, one may wonder about the wisdom of teaching the Koran to little children, without bothering to explain it to them. Yet, how about teaching the Bible to the children in the Christian countries? Has anybody doubted of the importance of religious teaching in the West? In fact, it is almost the same problem anywhere, and we can add the same observation for the Judaism and other religions. It is always at an early age – when the brain of the child is like a sponge, taking everything in and incapable of reflexion – that religious precepts are taught. Thus, religion is inherited, along with the family legacy, the race, and the country of birth ; it is seldom a matter of free choice. 323 324 325

Wilton Park…Op.Cit. Idem. See our introduction.


If the majority of the terrorists of 9/11 happened to be Saudis, the ideology that shaped their minds in not homogenous, and it is not necessarily Wahhabite. Let us not omit that al Qaeda, as an international network is compounded of elements ideologically diversified, although they share a common ground. Actually, those people were not the first to perform such terrorist operations in the world, and it is unlikely that they will be the last. Radical Islamism leads logically to terrorism. Radical Islamism is not necessarily Wahhabite ; it is not even necessarily Sunnite. It may proceed out of an peculiar interpretation of the Koran and the Hadith (tradition of the Prophet). Those who prepare psychologically and physically young men (and girls) to blow up themselves along with people they never saw before, would use any thought, any idea, any text convenient for their purposes. They act as gurus do with mesmerised followers of their sects. Their secret weapon is brainwashing. Their precedent was the programmer of the Manchurian candidate, if not Ravachol. If they use the Koran as the manual of the little terrorist, it is not the fault of the Koran, though, but their own reading of the verses. Reading the Koran is not complicated. Anybody with some notions in Arabic can do it. But interpreting the meaning of the text , that is the problem. A problem from which have emerged in the 9th century the schools of Islamic thought, which asked the Greeks for help to understand the divine word revealed to the Muslims. In order to understand the Koran, scholars started translating Aristotle and the other philosophers, and comparing what the latter said with what they understood of their own revelation. That is how philosophy was born in those remote centuries in the Arabo-islamic world. ―In the first century of the Abbasid Caliphate most of the great works of Greek philosophy and science – Plato, Aristotle, Euclid and Hippocrates – were translated into Arabic. There were few original thinkers; one notable exception was Al Kindi, the first outstanding Islamic philosopher, who was called the philosopher of the Arabs. He was highly appreciated by the Caliph Mamun and died about 870. Al Kindi was of noble Arab descent in the male line; but most of the famous later Islamic philosophers such as Avicenna (980-1037) were Persian.‖326


Peter Mansfield, The Arabs, op. cit. p50.


From al Kindi, to Avicenna and Averroes, very learned Muslim scholars tried to understand what was the link between Reason and Revelation. The debate was intense. It represents actually the whole history of the classic islamic mind. Yet, despite this rich history, in the XX and XXI centuries, some people assumed that the Koran is to be understood only one single way and it must be theirs, and for that purpose they started their ―jihad‖ to kill anybody who does not agree with them, either in order to make Islam pure or to reach an idealistic purity by the blood. The pressure the Americans put on Saudi Arabia after 9/11 for reforming its educative system was actually ―one-eyed‖: the other eye remained blind and thus unable to see the facts: it is not just the system in Saudi Arabia that produced radical Islamism, it is also different systems in the whole world, for one thing is true: the first wave of radical Islamism was meant to be an opposition to the states some of which were supported by the West. The second was born and grown up in the West. It is thus, as much an arabo-islamic problem as a Western. When the opponents failed to change anything to the local regimes, they thought of striking at the heart of those who support those regimes. They found help and support in Europe and America, among marginalised angry Muslims. The Jihad against the « enemis of Islam » was the rallying slogan. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya , Somalia, Sudan, etc, gave them the possibility for perfoming training and fighting. So, the kind of terrorism, which struck the USA, was of the same brand that struck the Westerners in Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, etc… It is also of the same brand that put the bombs in the Parisian metro, in the Madrid trains station and in the London subway. The game was not initially about ―American arrogance»: how would the Islamists have accepted to be trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan under American supervision, if America was initially considered as their enemy? Would anyone explain this puzzle? Indeed, there is in the Islamist literature – from Sayyid Qutb and Abu al A‘la al Mawdudi to Sheikh Ali Khudhayr and Ayman al Zawahiri – a construction of the West as the historic enemy of Islam, that is. But for any observer who endeavours to read thoroughly some of these texts, it is clear that this discourse aims at opposing the secular and modernist one from an ideologically preconceived basis more than arguing against the Western social scientists and thinkers on a scientific ground. None of the fundamentalist thinkers considers important for example to discuss 188

the theories of Michel Foucault about knowledge and oppression, or those of Derrida about language and deconstruction, or those of Alain Touraine or Taylor about the subject and modernity, or those of the Frankfurt school, etc…although this should have been the logical way to make the demonstration of the soundness of their own arguments as regards the relations between Islam and the West. And one would hardly find any real reference to Bernard Lewis or Francis Fukuyama or Samuel Huntington in their works, at least as a counter-argument or to give substance to their own views. How can any thinker find his own way, if he does not read other thinkers or criticize them? Genuine thought does not stem out of nothing : Nietszche was Plato‘s reader, before reversing him. Marx was Hegel‘s disciple. Sartre was Kierkegard‘s reader. Habermas owes a lot to Weber. Avicenna invented a formula, which was repeated by Averroes and Albertus Magnus: ―Thought brings about the generality in forms‖. Better: ―Averroes is more important in Christian than in Mohammedan philosophy‖, says Bertrand Russel.327 And the history of thought is nothing but such an addition. Where do the contemporary Islamist thinkers belong?

Islam and the West The ―neofundamentalists‖ reject the West out of a misunderstanding, since they never tried seriously to know about the West more than the ―clichés‖ over-used in their dissertations. For them the West is summed up in a few stereotypes : it is the land of the crusaders and the colonialists. They would build up the West they imagine upon this basis ; and they would not lack arguments on this level, since it is true that the largest part of the historical relationships between the West and Islam is concerned by wars and political struggle more than by dialogue : first, the crusades ; then the colonisation ; and in the second decade of the twentieth century, the dislocation of the Ottoman empire, the Sykes and Picot conspirative agreement about the partition of the Middle East between France and Great Britain , then the aggression of Suez in 1956, the war of Algeria, and so on. These are, indubitably, real events of real history. Few people even in the West could reject the idea that imperialism is lurking behind such or such war. Yet, we know that imperialism is not the whole West; 327

Bertrand Russel, A history of Western Philosophy, A Clarion Book, Simon and Schuster, 1967, p 427.


we know that the West that colonized countries and triggered wars was also the West that bred the Human Rights Declaration and invented all the modern welfare we are today enjoying. But how history is reappropriated and instrumented to serve the purposes of such or such party, is another problem. One may contend that this re-appropriation of history is also performed by governments, which is indeed a cogent argument ; that is why educative programs are important. The question is not only about how Christians and Jews and Westerners are represented in school textbooks in the Arab and Muslim countries ; it is also about how Muslims and Arabs are represented in Western textbooks and in the media. How many manuals of history or books of philosophy in the West talk objectively about Muslim contributions to civilization ? How come that a whole historic period -when Muslims were leading universal sciences and thought - is completely omitted, so that young pupils grow convinced that the Western civilization owes everything to the Greeks and the Romans and nothing to the Arabs and Muslims ? The Saudis are criticized because they have made of proselytizing and propagating Islam a state doctrine, though carried out with respect to the law in non-Muslim countries, it can represent no public harm, as conversions are always an individual choice. Yet, what have been Christian missionaries doing in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere, since many years ? Although the recently voiced opinions about the clash of civilizations posit that Islam falls outside the Judeo-Christian and Hellenic cultural continuum, the reverse is actually true : Classical Islamic civilization, as we have already hinted, was constructed out of Arab, Biblicist, and Hellenic cultures, additionally to the fact that it cast a wider net by integrating Persian, Central Asian, and Indian components within its cultural synthesis. Historically, Islam is the true bridge between East and West. We should not omit that Islam‘s Hellenism was mediated primarily through Eastern Christian intellectual circles, and important streams of Muslim philosophical and scientific thought still remain an understudied field linking late Antiquity with the Renaissance. Thus, there are strong grounds of asserting that Islam as a civilization force and religious tradition should be perceived as an integral part of the Western tradition in as much as this tradition tends toward universal ecumenism. As we know, the first peoples to be conquered by Islam were those of the east Mediterranean or Hellenic world, whose minds have been formed by Greek thought. The first Islamic theologians did not 190

reject Greek philosophy out of hand. On the contrary, with the encouragement of the early Caliphs (such as Mamun: 813-833), they studied deeply all the sciences of the classical world ; and it can be said that the Christian West ultimately recovered much of the knowledge of Greek philosophy that it had lost in the dark ages through the Arabs and especially the great universities of Moorish Spain. The Arabs introduced Aristotle to the West centuries before the revival of Greek scholarship, which directly preceded the Renaissance and was one of the causes of the Reformation.328 The Arabic Aristotle of Spain was one of the principle sources for medieval Christian scholars in the thirteenth century. ―During the twelfth century‖ writes Bertrand Russel, ―translators gradually increased the number of Greek books available to Western students. There were three main sources of such translations: Constantinople, Palermo, and Toledo. Of these Toledo was the most important, but the translations coming from there were often from Arabic, not direct from the Greek.‖329 It has been noticed that what is often viewed, as a clash of civilizations is actually a clash of symbols. The symbols on the one side are headscarves, turbans, and other signs of Islamic religious expression that Westerners find sometimes repellant, just as fundamentalist Muslims view much of Western culture as anti-Islamic. Moreover, cultural contact between Islam and the West has been marred by historically unequal power relations, ―leaving the West arrogant and insensitive and the Muslim world defensive and insecure‖330.

The failure of romantic nationalism Muqtedar Khan observes that « the American support for authoritarian regimes in the Muslim world breeds radical opposition in these countries and stimulates anti-American sentiment ».331 And he is surely right, for just observe how the opposition in the Arab world – all trends confounded- reacted to the American intervention to oust Saddam. 328

T.Arnold and A. Guillaume (eds), The Legacy of Islam, London, 1931,p.29. About arabo-islamic contribution to the Western thought, see: Bertrand Russel, A History of Western Philosophy, a Clarion Book, Simon & Schuster, USA, 1967, Chapter X, Mohammedan Culture and philosophy. 330 See the contribution of Abdul Aziz Said, Director of the Center for Global Peace, to the workshop organized by the United States Institute of Peace on November 2001. 331 See the contribution of Muqtedar Khan to the same workshop. Op.cit. 329


Our first remark is that instead of siding with the Iraqi opposition – which should have been the logical course – they sided with Saddam! Even if they did not say so, but rather covered it with anti-imperialist or antiwar slogans, they have de facto supported the dictator at least for labeling the Iraqi opposition as ―agents of the CIA‖, not as people who are fed up with oppression. In the same paper, M. Khan remarks also that the lack of peaceful channels for protest and dissent in the Arab world has slowly radicalized most moderate Islamic opposition groups. The West legitimized the military coup that prevented Islamists from coming to power after winning an election in Algeria in 1992. The United States gave tacit support to Turkey when it forced Islamists out of power in the 1990s, even after they had won popular mandates. ―It is not the hatred of democracy and freedom but the desire for democracy that has made many Muslims hate the United States, which they blame for the perpetuation of undemocratic polities in their world‖332. Other sources of hostility include American troops stationed in the Gulf, and uncritical American support for Israel. There are three dangers, noted Khan, against which all peaceloving people must be on guard : « (1) the conflict emerging from 9/11 must not be allowed to become a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West; (2) hawks and extremists must not be allowed to hijack and dominate the discourses in the West and in the Muslim world; and (3) the search for security and revenge should not be allowed to undermine the moral fabric of our societies ».333 All societies, including those of Europe and North America, carry within them the seeds of intolerance and authoritarianism. What makes the Arab world stand out then is simply its recent record of extreme illiberalism. Nazih Ayubi334 observes in this context that there is a difference between a ―hard state‖ and a ―strong state‖: one punishes and coerces, whereas the other achieves its goals. By these definitions all Arab states are hard states, and a few, such as Syria or Iraq (under Saddam), are ultra-hard or ―fierce‖ states that employ vast bureaucracies, large armies, harsh prisons, and sometimes firing squads to preserve themselves by force. Yet, these hard states are also weak states that lack the capacity to enforce laws, break traditional patterns, and adapt to 332

Idem. Idem. 334 Nazih Ayubi, Over-stating the Arab State: Politics and Society in the Middle East, London, I.B. Tauris, 1995. 333


changing conditions.335 Ayubi argues that, regardless of the status of Arab civil society, « three interconnected factors drastically limit the Arab state‘s capacity for social control. The first pertains to vested interests against political or economic liberalization. The second consists of cultural dispositions favorable to authoritarianism. And the third involves inhibitions against reforms liable to fuel uncontrollable and selfaugmenting demands for redistribution »336. The analysis identifies systematic repression as an obstacle to change. But it is misleading to ascribe the observed repression only to the abuses of state officials. Responsibility lies also, if not mainly, with ordinary citizens who keep quiet or even actively support the political status quo in the face of tyranny and inefficiency. To one degree or another, every Arab country exhibits an expressive equilibrium in which individuals refrain from speaking honestly for fear that the vast majority of their fellow citizens will stay loyal to the status quo, leaving dissidents isolated. And every potential dissident who exhibits such reticence discourages other malcontents from publicizing their complaints. Ayubi argues that pan-Arabism, « far from being an innovative force for growth and liberation, has been a source of illiberal conservatism ».337 Born as a defensive response to Turkish nationalism, European colonialism and Zionism, « pan-Arabism emphasizes communal solidarity and considers individualism an alien trait to be suppressed ». Thus, it uses modern nationalism as a vehicle for preserving the « anti-individualist strands of the Arab cultural heritage ». But it has been manifestly unsuccessful in achieving its political goals. Capable of galvanizing crowds and instilling communal pride, it has taught successive generations that the individual Arab can prosper only as a servant of the global Arab community. Yet, not only it has not unified Arabs, but also by granting legitimacy to the most illiberal regimes of the Arab world (like the Baathist regimes of Syria and Iraq), it has delayed both economic and political liberalization and hindered


A long line of distinguished thinkers, most notably Karl Wittfogel, author of Oriental Despotism (1957), have held that in the Middle East the state has always been strong and civil society always weak. Wittfogel‘s argument, which draws on both Marx and Weber, hinges on the state‘s control of most land and irrigation systems. Although the specifics of Wittfogel‘s thesis are generally treated with skepticism, its essential message enjoys wide acceptance. 336 Ayubi. Idem. 337 Ayubi. Op.Cit.Pp. 136-51.


viable unification while indulging in romantic self-praise and sentimentalist nostalgia. The failure of romantic pan-Arabism may only be understood in the light of the failure of local state-nationalism. Concerning PanIslamism, Ayubi thinks that it has been also a romantic and highly ritualistic doctrine, ignoring many practical issues of modern life, which is true. However, it is not only romantic pan-Arabism that banned individualism from expression, but also romantic local state-nationalism, which in identifying the state to the party in power or to the autocratic leader made of any opposition a ―high treason‖ to the people, and ended up wrapping up the individual and any private life, any private freedoms into the mythological flag, as a way to cover the absence of freedom by a miserable nationalism. In this context, people become the anonymous mass forced to follow the steps of the head of the state. No private life is allowed to the individual in such a situation. In some countries, romantic local state-nationalism has been historically marked by the fascist discourses of the thirties (Xxth century), for an understandable reason : it was hostile to the occupying powers (France and Great Britain, that is). It is exactly in that period that many nationalist leaders and parties struggling for independence have emerged.

Reason and individuality We hardly need to stress the importance of individualism in the modernization process in the West. From literary studies to rational choice theory, issues broadly construed as ‗cultural‘ have inspired academic debates, fostered interdisciplinary exchanges, and prompted battles over the methods, evidence, and objectives of scholarly research. Derived from Max Weber, classic analysis of the ‗effective affinity‘ between the Protestant ethic and the rise of capitalism in the West, these studies attempted to demonstrate how cultural attitudes and beliefs either constrained or promoted progress. In a book published in Arabic under the title ―Assassination of the Reason‖, Burhan Ghalioun starts from the remark that the main dimension of the current crisis in the Arab society is related to culture. But the Arab writers were much more concerned, in his view, by its role in the Nahdha- Renaissance- than by its social function: ―the cultural question has become particularly attractive for the research only after the irruption of the question of identity. The link of the culture to the nahdha has thus become the specificity of those who were preaching change and 194

revolution, whereas the same link to the identity has been claimed by those who preached conservatism, authenticity and independence‖338. Such a division has been enacted and reflected by the controversy over modernity (hadatha) and traditionalism (taqlid). The Arab contemporary thought in its entirety fell under the effect of such a dispute. ―The history of the modern Arab culture has become that of the development of this conflict, of its metamorphosis, and of its different resurrections‖339. The conflict has not only divided the Arab intelligentsia, but also the Arab society, Ghalioun observes. Thus, two opposite camps appeared, each one with its own vision of the past, of the present, of history, of the Reason, of the Rationality, and with its own purposes, its own political and social mottos‖340. More specifically, Ghalioun notes that ―while the call to the authenticity is to be defined by embracing religion, the call to the modernity would rather identify itself with science‖341. We may also paraphrase Ghalioun and say that this debate has crossed several stages and taken varied forms, but since the XIXth century, it has nearly concentrated into the conflicting and – sometimes violent – controversy between Islamic salafism and social evolutionist secularism. The decline of Islamic civilization prompted a number of Arab intellectuals, including some already exposed to European culture and impressed by the accomplishments of Europe, to call for radical reform. As a consequence of the intellectual debate aroused within the Arab world by European advancement, an opposition was drawn between din (religion) and ‘aql (reason), asalah (nobility) and mu’asarah (modernity), din and dawlah (state) and din and ‘ilm (science or knowledge).

Pioneers of Arab secularism The early secularizing elite was dominated by a group of Christian Arabs who had received their education at the Syrian Protestant College and then settled in Egypt. Important figures included Shibli Shumayyil (1850-1917), Farah Antun (1874-1922), Georgie Zaidan (1861-1914), Ya‘qub Suruf (1852-1917), Salama Musa (1887-1958) and 338 339 340 341

Burhan Ghalioun, Ightiyal al ‗aql, ed. Madbouli, Cairo, 1990, 3d print, p 22. Idem. Ghalioun, op. Cit, p 23. Idem.


Nicola Haddad (1878-1954). Al-Muqtataf and Al-Hilal publications, founded respectively in 1876 and 1892, were used by writers and thinkers belonging to this group. They strove to propagate the transcendence of ideas like love of country and fellow countrymen over all other social ties, even those of religion. Through their copious writings, these thinkers succeeded in consolidating the foundations of secularism in the Arab world. Praising the liberal thought of France and England during the eighteenth and nineteenth century and condemning the hegemony of tradition over the human mind, they stressed that reason should set the standard for human conduct. For modernization to take place, they demanded that only traditions, which were compatible with this objective, should remain. The main aim of these intellectuals was to lay the basis of a secular state in which Muslims and Christians could participate on a footing of complete equality. Shibli Shumayyil, who after graduation from the Syrian Protestant College went to Paris to study medicine, is reputed to have first introduced the theories of Darwin to the Arab world through his writings in Al-Muqtataf. He belonged to the late nineteenth century movement, which saw science as the key to unlock the secret of the universe, even as a form of worship. He believed that the religion of science necessitated a declaration of war on older religions. To him social unity, which was essential for a general will to exist, involved the separation of religion from political life since religion was a cause of division. He insisted that nations grew stronger as religion grew weaker, and pointed out that this was true of Europe, which had only become powerful and truly civilized once the Reformation and the French Revolution had broken the hold of religious leaders on society. He condemned both shuyukh (Islamic scholars) and priests of resisting progress and development. Farah Antun (1874-1922) who migrated from Tripoli to Cairo in 1897 chose to propagate his views through a study of the life and philosophy of Ibn Rushd (Averroes). He was influenced by the works of Ernest Renan to such an extent that Hourani calls him Antun‘s master. Antun believed that the conflict between science and religion would be solved, but only by assigning each to its proper sphere. He dedicated his book to what he called ―the new shoots of the East those men of sense in every community and every religion of the East who have seen the danger of mingling the world with religion in an age like ours, and have come to demand that their religion should be placed on one side in a 196

sacred and honored place, so that they will be able really to unite, and to flow with the tide of the new European civilization, in order to be able to compete with those who belong to it, for otherwise it will sweep them all away and make them the subjects of others.‖ Like Shumayyil and other Lebanese writers of the time, Antun‘s aim was to lay the intellectual foundations of a secular state in which Muslims and Christians could participate on a footing of complete equality. His emphasis was on proving the invalidity of what he termed ‗the inessential part of religion‘: the body of laws. His second condition for secularism was the separation of temporal and spiritual authorities, suggesting that the separation of the two powers in Christianity made it easier for Christians to be tolerant than for Muslims. He added that if European countries were now more tolerant, that was not because they were Christian but because science and philosophy had driven out religious fanaticism, and the separation of powers had taken place. Salama Musa (1887-1958) called for separating the sphere of science and the sphere of religion insisting that religion, due to the influence of religious institutions and clergymen had lost its progressive nature and become a heavy burden. He tried to emphasize that Islam and Christianity have identical stands with regard to the freedom of thought and emancipation of the mind. He strongly believed that ‗society cannot advance or progress unless the role of religion in the human conscience is restricted ; progress is the new religion of humanity.‘

Muslim secularizers The next generation of Arab secularist thinkers was mostly followers of Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905). While pressing for reforms, Abduh believed that a modern legal system should develop out of shari’ah and not in independence and favored an equal partnership, rather than separation, between those who governed and the guardians of the law. He stressed above all that no conflict existed between Islam on the one hand and logic or science on the other. Shocked by the magnitude of backwardness in the Arab world, he scorned those who blindly imitated the old and resisted the new. He believed that Islam‘s relationship with the modern age was the most crucial issue confronting Islamic communities. In an attempt to reconcile Islamic ideas with Western ones, he suggested that maslaha (interest) in Islamic thought corresponded to manfa’ah (utility) in Western thought. Similarly, he equated shura with democracy and ijma’ with consensus. Addressing the 197

question of authority, Abduh denied the existence of a theocracy in Islam and insisted that the authority of the hakim (governor), qadi (judge) or mufti, was civil. He strongly believed that ijtihad should be revived because ‗emerging priorities and problems, which are new to Islamic thought, need to be addressed.‘ He was a proponent of the parliamentary system; he defended pluralism and refuted the claims that it would undermine the unity of the ummah, arguing that the European nations were not divided by it. ‗The reason,‘ he concluded, ‗is that their objective is the same. What varies is only the method they pursue toward accomplishing it.‘ However, some of Abduh‘s disciples, such as Qasim Amin and Ahmad Lutfi Al-Sayyid, were not entirely and exclusively influenced by his thought. They had been influenced by the Christian pioneers of the secularist school of thought and began to work out the principles of a secular society in which Islam was honored but was no longer the arbitrator of law and policy. Seeking to reconcile secularist ideas with Islam, they went so far as to develop Abduh‘s emphasis on the legitimacy of social change into a de facto division between the two realms of religion and society, each with its own norms. Qasim Amin (1865-1908), known as the emancipator of women, suggested that the problem with the Muslims was a lack of science. He stressed that it was useless to hope to adopt the sciences of Europe without coming within the radius of its moral principles. The two, he believed, were indissolubly connected, and ‗we must therefore be prepared for change in every aspect of our life.‘ He believed that perfection is not to be found in the past, even the Islamic past, but can only be found, if at all, in the distant future. To him, the path to perfection was science. Since Europe was the most advanced in the sciences, was ahead of the Muslims in every way, he insisted that it was not true that the Europeans were only materially better but not morally. Ahmad Lutfi Al-Sayyid (1872-1963) was a leading member of this group. Although he was a close associate of Abduh, Islam played an insignificant part in his thought. He was not concerned, like Al-Afghani, to defend it, nor like Abduh, to restore to Islamic law its position as the moral basis of society. Religion, whether it be Islamic or not, was relevant to his thought only as one of the constituent factors of society. The official abolishment of the Khilafah (Caliphate) in 1924 aroused a debate among thinkers of the time over the importance of the Khilafah and the response of Muslims to its abolishment. Ali Abdel Raziq (1888-1966), a graduate of Al-Azhar and Oxford, contributed to 198

the debate with a book published in 1925 that turned to be one of the most controversial works in modern Islamic history: Al-Islam wa Usul al-Hukm: Bahth fil-Khilafah wal-Hukumah fil-Islam (Islam and the Fundamentals of Governance: A Thesis on Caliphate and Government in Islam). Abdel Raziq claimed there was no such thing as Islamic political principles, a theory believed to have been drawn mainly from the opinions of non-Muslim writers on Islam. He denied the existence of a political order in Islam and claimed that the Prophet had never established one and that it had not been part of his mission to found a state. His work has been a main source of ammunition in the vigorous campaign launched by ‗secularists‘ in later times against the validity of Islamic law or shari’ah. The book pioneered the idea of rejecting conventional interpretations and replacing them with innovations based mostly on orientalists‘ opinions and writings on Islam. In this connection, what has been remarked about the failure of modernization in the Arab world342 should be explained also in the light of the oppression undergone by individuals and individualistic thought in the Arab world. I would go further and say: the self is in the araboislamic world what has been wiped off as a neglected thing, and without the rediscovery and the reconstruction of that self, it is useless to hope for any real progress. According to Esposito, contemporary Islamic reformers or neomodernists stress the need to renew Islam both at the individual and the community levels. They advocate a process of Islamization or reIslamization that begins with the sacred sources of Islam, the Koran and Sunna of the Prophet, but that also embraces the best in other cultures. They see themselves as engaging in a dynamic process that is as old as Islam itself. Much as early Muslims interpreted and applied Islamic principles and values to their times and adopted and adapted political, legal, and economic practices from the cultures they had conquered, the neomodernist reformers wish to bring about a new Islamic renaissance (nahda) pursuing a similar selective, self-critical path. They distinguish between God's revelation and human interpretations, between that part of Islamic law which is eternal and that which is contingent and relative, between immutable principles and regulations that were human constructs conditioned by time and place. In contrast to neorevivalists, neomodernists are more creative and wide-ranging in their reinterpretation of Islam and less tied to traditional interpretations of the 342

See for example the works of Burhan Ghalioun on this topic.


ulama. For this reason, they are often accused of "deviationism" by the ulama, who charge that neomodernists lack the necessary training and credentials to interpret Islam.343 Or, to paraphrase Charles Taylor, the question ―who am I‖ is often spontaneously phrased by people to describe the problem of identity. But ―this can‘t necessarily be answered by giving name and genealogy. What does answer this question for us is an understanding of what is of crucial importance to us. To know who I am is a species of knowing where I stand.‖344 What is important to underline here is the link between identity and a kind of orientation, which Taylor calls ―framework‖, and he stresses that ―a person without a framework altogether would be outside our space of interlocution ; he wouldn‘t have a stand in the space where the rest of us are‖.345 In other words, ―what I am as a self, my identity, is essentially defined by the way things have significance for me. And (…) these things have significance for me, and the issue of my identity is worked out, only through a language of interpretation which I have come to accept as a valid articulation of these issues.‖346 Outside this framework, it is useless to try to answer the question ―who this individual is‖, for the self is partly made by its selfinterpretations. That is exactly where the construction of the ―Other‖ – as enemy or as ally – fits in. ― What we call identity crisis‖ observes B.Ghalioun in ―State and Religion‖, ―represents only one aspect of the renewal of the national personality in a time of deep civilizational crisis such as what is undergone by altogether underdeveloped societies‖347. In his view, within the world struggle for the construction of the national self and the achievement of independence and distinction 348, the Islamic revival – notwithstanding the existence or inexistence of faith – is a fundamental element in the construction of the communal belonging, ― as a source of common values determining the behaviors and the great historical and human orientations‖.349 343

See : John L.Esposito, Contemporary Islam ; reformation or revolution? From Oxford History of Islam, 2000 Oxford University Press. 344 C. Taylor. Op. Cit. P 27. 345 Taylor, p 31. 346 Taylor, op.cit, P 34. 347 Burhan Ghalioun, naqd assyasa addawlatu waddine, Ed. al mu'assasa al arabiyya liddirasat wannachr Beirut, 1993. P. 255. 348 With the signification given to this term by Bourdieu. 349 B. Ghalioun, naqd assyasa. Op. Cit. P256.


Let us note, by the way, that the debate about identity, authenticity, modernity, etc, is accompanied in the Arab world by a feeling of distrust and even hostility towards the West. And although we can hardly put 9/11 on the account of the reconstruction or the reconquest of the identity, we state only that such a violent expression of the hard feelings toward the West – and particularly the USA – may be a response to that ―construction of the enemy‖, which M. Arkoun has identified as a part of the Western culture, omitting to say that it is also a part of the Arabo-islamic culture. However, despite the relative success of Islamists in providing adversarial idioms and resonant political critiques, the struggle among nominally Muslim citizens and Islamist activists is as pronounced as the solidarities an Islamist adversarial politics has fostered. Being ―Muslim» might signify a set of religious beliefs, an ascriptive attachment, a ―cultural‖ identification, a state classification, a set of recognizable activities, or none of the above. There are those who see a separation of mosque and state as fundamental, and those who advocate their conjuncture. There are those who think the shari‘a should be the source of legislation, those who view it as a source, and those who wish it were irrelevant to contemporary law. There are countries where the ‗Ulamas,- or religious elite - are independent of the state, places where mosque sermons are controlled by the state, and places where the ‗Ulamas are coterminous with the state. There are in short vigorous communities of argument and plural varieties of social and political practice. This plurality makes any invocation of a single political doctrine of Islam empirically untenable and theoretically meaningless.

Towards Liberty There is a tradition of thought in the West, distinguishing three types of liberty: the political, the civil and the economic. As defined by Hayek 350, liberty or freedom is ―that condition of men in which coercion of some by others is reduced as much as is possible in society‖. This conception of individual liberty is closely related to the notion of individualism, ―a distinctly Western concept to which most other civilizations have not subscribed‖, according to Deepak Lal 351. If this is 350

Hayek F.A. The constitution of Liberty, London, Routledge, 1960. Cited in: Deepak Lal, Does modernization require westernization? The Independent Review, v. V, n° 1, Summer 2000. 351 D. Lal. Op. Cit.


really the case, assuming that modernization has not resulted in selfsufficient democratic regimes in the Arab world, then something was wrong since the start. In other words, if individualistic values were not allowed to evolve as integrative part of what Joseph Needam called ―a packet of change‖ – responsible in his view of the ―European miracle‖ of modern economic growth- then it becomes clear that this is a good reason explaining the current failure of the Arab societies on the level of freedom and democracy. Two remarks are worth noticing here : first, economic performance requires economic and civil liberty, because they underwrite the sanctity of private property. The second is that hereditary monarchy, not democracy, indeed delivered the industrial Revolution. As nobody needs to reinvent the warm water, the Arabs do not need to start the change process out of the zero level. However, this does not mean that they are dispensed from democracy, since the first condition – i.e. civil and economic freedom- is still necessary for them to perform an economic genuine progress. For Deepak Lal, ―although individualism was an essential aspect of the West‘s subsequent trajectory, it is not essential – or inevitable, as Hayek‘s cultural evolutionary view would suggest – for the ―rest‖ to adopt this particular Western value in order to reproduce the West‘s economic success‖352. However, we need first to establish as a fact that individualistic values do not exist in any form whatsoever in the Arab and arabo-islamic thought, if not since the Nahdha, then mainly in the classic ages. This is actually far from being proven. If communalism has prevailed over individualism in the modern Arab and arabo-islamic culture, this is not in itself the evidence that the values of individualism have never been of any importance in the Arabo-islamic civilization, not to speak of the preIslamic culture. We need certainly to make a new reading of that heritage with the purpose of seeking these values. Some researches have already tried to question the classic heritage, but with the exception of the psychoanalyst approach achieved by Ali Zay‘ur who studies the individual Arab more than the individualistic values, there are little works that even when escaping the dogmatic ―rape‖ focus on localizing and analyzing these values. D. Lal raised a question also very discussed by the Arab thinkers since the XIX th century: to promote in the rest of the world the material 352



prosperity that the ―European miracle» has brought to the West, does the unique Western value system need to be transferred, and if so, how? The answer he gave opposed Hayek‘s view. The latter has answered positively to the question ―does modernization require westernization?‖ He maintained that the market economy requires cultural underpinnings in the form of a set of ‗modern‘ values based on individualism. He even argued that a form of cultural evolution had, in an unplanned way, led from a Stone Age culture with its sense of communal bonds to a modern culture with respect for abstract rules, such as the rule of law, and a ―detachment from communal, co-operative ends‖. In his view, it would seem that, even though the culture of liberty arose in the West, because of its success it should naturally spread across the world. A similar implicit belief underlies the current Western moral crusade around the world, wherein a combination of the market and good governance (euphemism for democracy) is increasingly offered as a panacea for poverty and war.353 Maxime Rodinson,354 the well-known French orientalist and social scientist, maintains that there is nothing in Islam – either in the Koran and Sunna or the sacred Law that was developed from them- that is especially hostile to capitalist enterprise. However, as P. Mansfield notes, ―it cannot be proved that Muslim societies would have developed a capitalist formation of the European-American type. It is equally impossible to prove that they were incapable of doing so‖355. If the private accumulation of capital never attained the European level, despite a self-confident and enterprising Islamic bourgeoisie existed in the Middle Ages, the result of its failure to reach political power – as this was in the hands of the Mamluks and other Turkish and Caucasian military- in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as happened in Europe, was that when the European powers invaded and occupied many of the Arab lands in the nineteenth century these were all at a preindustrial stage. Did colonialism prevent the Arabs from industrializing? That‘s the question! Anyway, we ought to notice that the heart of the Arab Peninsula – the current Saudi Arabia – has never been occupied by the Europeans. Industry failed to progress out there, though. ―It is a paradox of Islam that as social system it is at once the most democratic and the most authoritarian of religions‖, notes 353 354 355

Idem. In : Islam et Capitalisme. The Arabs, op. Cit. P. 85.


Mansfield356, who adds: ―it is democratic because it has no established church hierarchy to intercede between God and the faithful (…) But because in religious matters the humblest Muslim stands on a level with the caliph or his chief qadi a third root of faith had to be added (to the Koran and the Tradition)- the voice of the people or ‗consensus‘ of the faithful (ijma in Arabic)‖. Even if Ijma does not mean the democratic counting of votes of the Muslim community to reach decisions on points of law or ethics at any given time but the slowly accumulating pressure of opinion over a long period, nevertheless, it is a democratic principle in Mansfield‘s view, ―in the sense that it means the acceptance of the will of the majority‖357. He notes also that Heretics in Islam have been condemned by the orthodox, but they have rarely been persecuted and still more rarely have they been burned at the stake. It is worth noticing in this context, that those who suffered martyrdom like Al Hallaj and Averroes, were not atheists: the first was a great sufi (mystic) and the second was the latest great philosopher of the classical age, the one who tried his life during to find the connection between philosophy and prophecy (Reason and Revelation). That is why the remarkable tolerance of classical and medieval Islam towards variations in belief and practice did not diminish the tendency towards political absolutism. Thus, whereas there was a natural tolerance enjoined by Islam of the Christians and Jews – the dhimmis – who were organized in their own millets or religious communities with internal autonomy and considerable individual and communal freedom, the attitudes toward the Shia Muslim subjects of the Ottoman empire, who existed in large numbers in what are now Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, was more severe. ―There was no requirement for Sunni Muslims to treat the Shias kindly and there was a long history of hatred and warfare between them which especially affected the Shias of Iraq, who were close to the rival and Shia Empire of Persia‖358. It is clear that much of that ambivalence that marked the classical and medieval Islam remained and is still affecting today‘s attitudes. On the other side – that of the West – there is ―the moral exceptionalism‖ to paraphrase Charles Taylor, who says: ―there is no doubt lots of pride and illusion in our self-image. But it is still true that 356 357 358

Op.Cit.P.69. Idem. The Arabs.Op.Cit.p88.


the civilization which grew out of western Europe in modern times (certain aspects of which now extend well beyond Europe) has given an exceptional value to equality, rights, freedom, and the relief of suffering.‖359 As he explains in an end note, moral exceptionalism is just one facet in the complex idea of civilization, which has been an essential notion in the collective self-narration of the Western culture over the last two centuries. ―As it develops in the Enlightenment ‗civilization‘ designates the condition we have evolved to, mainly through the development of the arts and sciences‖. But, the concept was not confined to the scientific- technological-economic domain. « The notion was current that progress in the arts, sciences, and commerce, brought with it a softening of morals : ‗le doux commerce‘ civilizes us ». By the nineteenth century, ‗civilization‘ comes to englobe the new moral sensitivity to suffering and concern for general well-being. In addition, there is a third facet: ―civilization is thought to involve a sense of ourselves as individuals in the triple sense I described earlier‖, says Taylor. Thus, ―civilized people are capable of taking an objectifying distance from their society, culture, and history‖. Why is this possible for the West and much more problematic for the arabo-islamic world? It is true that this did not happen in a few years, but through an accumulation of experiences and knowledge that shaped the Western societies as well as the individual, but this must not be an excuse to condone laxity, apathy, and tolerance of despotism in the Arabo-islamic world. As M. Khan put it, ―Many Muslims have become hypocritical in our advocacy of human rights in our struggles for justice. We protest against the discriminatory practices of Israel, India, and other Non-Muslim nations, but are mostly silent against the discriminatory practices in Muslim states. We rightly condemn Israeli treatment of Palestinians at all international forums. But our silence at the way many Muslim nations have treated the same Palestinians really questions our commitment and concern for them. While we loudly and consistently condemn Israel‘s ill treatment of Palestinians, Russian excesses in Chechnya, or Serbian atrocities in Bosnia, we remain silent when Muslim regimes abuse the rights of Muslims and slaughter thousands of them.‖360 359

Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: the making of modern identity, Cambridge University Press, 1989, P397. 360 M. Khan. Islamic perspectives on Peace and Violence. Special Report. United States Institute of Peace. Op.Cit.


Since the objectification of the self is part of what Taylor called ―moral exceptionalism‖, it is true that the focus on threats to the Western freedom led the Westerners, as noted Robert W. Hefner, ―to overlook the fact that the violence (of 9/11) was directed, not merely against the United States, but against moderate and democratic-minded Muslims around the world. The attack was but the latest chapter in a long struggle between moderate Muslims and Islamists hardliners for the hearts and minds of Muslim believers‖361. Thus, for this writer, ―there is no clash of civilizations between Islam and the West. The really decisive battle is taking place within Muslim civilization, where ultraconservatives compete against moderates and democrats for the soul of the Muslim public.‖ 362 Moreover, Hefner thinks that the globalization so widespread in our age will never bring about a world-wide homogenization of culture and identity: ―What the process has done is make the interests we share with the great majority of Muslims all the clearer. One hopes that we Americans will not forget this fact as we move beyond the events of September 11. The lesson to keep in mind is that our suffering and outrage were shared by millions of Muslims. They look to us now to remember just how deeply we share political challenges and a common humanity‖363. This line of reasoning is consistent with the ―moral exceptionalism‖, which if well understood, should be universal inasmuch as the modernity itself is a common ground for all of us. This emphasis on feelings‘ sharing between people of different religions and communities should be understood as a direct coping with the future. Here too, much of the endeavor with respect to future relations between the West and the arabo-islamic world should stress the individualistic dimension of any change. In fact, we know, nothing can be done outside the ―framework‖ of the individual mind, on both sides. That‘s why any reform should first focus on the education: it is in the years of learning that a mind is being shaped for the rest of the time life. Let‘s put it otherwise. In the terms of Alvin Toffler, ―we can begin our battle to prevent future shock at the most personal level. It is clear, whether we know it or not, that much of our daily behavior is, in fact, an attempt to ward off future shock.‖364 361

Robert W. Hefner, September 11 and the struggle for Islam, Department of sociology, Boston University. Social Science Research Council. 362 Idem. 363 Idem. 364 Alvin Toffler, Future Shock, Pan Books, London, 1980, p 338.


For Toffler, since we use varied tactics unconsciously ―to lower the level of stimulation when they threaten to drive us above our adaptive range‖, why not ―increase their effectiveness by raising them to consciousness‖?365 Whether we are concerned by tactics of control of cognitive simulation or by tactics of control of the body, as those that have been described by Michel Foucault366, we are dealing with a level of consciousness, which means a degree of moral thinking. To generate the result we hope for, we have to adopt the right method with an order of priorities. As Descartes put it: ―the true function of reason, then, in the conduct of life is to examine and consider without passion the value of all perfections of body and soul that can be acquired by our conduct, so that since we are commonly obliged to deprive ourselves of some goods in order to acquire others, we shall always choose the better‖367. This definition of the mastery of reason brings about an internalization of moral sources. ―The Cartesian proof is no longer a search for an encounter with God within‖, says Taylor, ―it is no longer the way to an experience of everything in God. Rather what I now meet is myself: I achieve a clarity and a fullness of self-presence that was lacking before‖368. How much close to this feeling are we today? The question does not concern some people in particular, excluding the others. Americans, Arabs, Europeans, Muslims, Christians, Jews… Everybody should try to answer it, honestly, because it is urgent to know how wide is the gap between us. The Americans think, not without reason, that they are the epicenter of the Western world. They pretend to lead the West and possibly all those who identify to their values and purposes. This is much better formulated by Wallerstein: ―I think that Americans tend to believe that others have less of many things than we have, and the fact that we have more is a sign of grace (…) Americans consider that life in the U.S. is more comfortable, that our production competes more successfully in the world market, and that therefore we are certain to win the wars into which others may drag us. Americans also consider their society to be more efficient. Things run more smoothly – at the work place, in the public arena, in social relations, in our dealings with bureaucracies (…) But of course most Americans would deny that the less-ness of others is 365 366 367 368

Idem. In : les mots et les choses, surveiller et punir ,etc.… Letter to Elizabeth, Descartes‘ letters. Cit. In Taylor, p151. Taylor. Op. Cit. P157.


merely material. It is spiritual as well. Or if the term spiritual seems to exclude the secular humanists, it is cultural as well (…) to all those "huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Our density of freedom is visualized in so many ways. Which other country has the Bill of Rights? Where else is freedom of the press, of religion, of speech so honored? Where else are immigrants so integrated into the political system? Can one name another country in which someone arriving here as a teenager, and still speaking English to this day with a thick German accent, could become the Secretary of State, the chief representative of Americans to the rest of the world? Is there any other country where social mobility, for those with merit, is so rapid?‖369 On the other side, there is a similar feeling that Saudi Arabia has a responsibility vis à vis the Muslims of the world. ―We are the epicenter of the Muslim world‖, says Haifa R. Jamal al-Lail. ―The historic relationship between our government and Islam is crucial. Our role as Custodian of Mecca and Medina is central to all that transpires in the Kingdom. We focus tremendous resources on the annual pilgrimage, or hajj (…) Over two million Muslims perform the hajj pilgrimage each year‖.370 It is true that this only event makes of Saudi Arabia the center of the Islamic world, and it cannot be of any good to underestimate the fact. On the contrary, taking it in consideration may avoid a lot of trouble to those who are pressuring the Saudis for reforms as well as to those who among the Saudi elite claim these changes. The whole affair is to know what kind of change is reasonably acceptable in such a country and what is not? We are not talking about democracy, as we consider that Islam, as a religion, cannot be opposed to democratic regimes. We are rather talking about moral prospects of change. And on this level, the West should accept the fact that it is not going to change the individual Saudi to the extent that nothing would distinguish him (or her) from a Westerner. We have to make these two spheres of human and social endeavor quite distinct, because any ambiguity would lead to more misunderstanding and more conflicting behavior, on both sides. On the one hand, Political reform is a matter of collective options. It involves the 369

Immanuel Wallerstein, America and the World, the Twin Towers as Metaphor, Social Science Research Council, Essays, New York. 370 Haifa R. Jamal al-Lail, Saudi Society, Reform and Terrorism, paper presented to the Norfolk World Affairs Council on May 31,2004.


elite, the state, and the civil society. Like any other country of the world, Saudi Arabia is influenced by the regional and international atmosphere. Thus, reform preaches its own cause from inside the society, as we can state. On the other hand, we should understand that the cultural conceptions are different from a country to another. Those latter include the moral values, which in the case of a ―traditional legitimacy‖ – Max Weber – are much closer to religious faith, and as such, claim a kind of immunity against change forced from the outside. Let‘s take an example: is the notion of freedom the same in the Saudi society and the American? Indeed, we are not talking about political freedom, but moral and religious freedom. On this level, there is much to say, and not much to agree on, I am afraid. In a landmark speech on May 9, 2003, at the University of South Carolina, President Bush announced America‘s firm commitment to democracy and freedom in the Middle East as the key goal for America‘s war on terror: ―We support the advance of freedom in the Middle East, because it is our founding principle, and because it is in our national interest. The hateful ideology of terrorism is shaped and nurtured and protected by oppressive regimes. (I am stressing) Free nations, in contrast, encourage creativity and tolerance and enterprise. And in those free nations, the appeal of extremism withers away. Free governments do not build weapons of mass destruction for the purpose of mass terror. Over time, the expression of liberty throughout the world is the best guarantee of security throughout the world. Freedom is the way to peace.‖ Some widely propagated ideas about change in the arabo-islamic world need to be reviewed, at least because what is thought to be ―obvious‖ in the West is not so elsewhere. Such a work has already begun in the USA, although it needs likely more systematization. We take as an example on this way the article ―Middle East Democracy‖ published on Foreign Policy371. Among the myths that need to be thought over ―promoting women‘s rights is crucial for democratic change‖. ―This myth, a favorite of women‘s organizations and Western governments, reflects the combination of correct observation and false logic. No country can be considered fully democratic if a part of its population (in some cases, the majority) is discriminated against and denied equal 371

Marina Ottaway and Thomas Carothers, Middle East Democracy, Foreign Policy, November-December 2004


rights‖, say the authors. But ―the main problem at present is that Arab presidents and kings have too much power, which they refuse to share with citizens and outside institutions. This stranglehold on power must be broken to make progress toward democracy. Greater equality for women does nothing to diminish the power of overly strong, authoritarian governments‖. Worse: ―Arab leaders know this truth too well. Many autocrats implement policies to improve women‘s rights precisely to give themselves reformist credentials and score points with Western governments, media outlets, and nongovernmental organizations. These efforts, however, often amount to a trick of smoke and mirrors designed to disguise the governments‘ refusal to cede any real power‖372. Another myth, ―Arab Democrats are the key to reform»: No, say Ottaway and Carothers, because if all Arab countries ―boast a small number of Westernized liberals who advocate respect for human rights, freedom of thought and speech, and democratic change‖, we know that ―democratic transformation requires more than the ideological commitment of a few individuals‖. Moreover, Arab democrats in some countries ―are not a persecuted group. Rather they tend to be professionals comfortably ensconced in the upper-middle class. Therefore, they are hesitant to demand genuine reforms that might lead to a hard-line takeover and content to advocate democratization from the top‖. According to the authors of the article, it would be ―a serious mistake‖ under such conditions, ―for US and European democracy advocates to focus on Arab democrats as the key to political change‖.373 A third myth assumes that ―Islamists are the main obstacle to Arab democracy‖, hence they must be forbidden from accessing it. The article is more nuanced; the authors point out to the fact that the chance of an overwhelming electoral victory that would allow Islamists to abrogate all freedoms at once is remote in the Arab world. ―During the last decade‖, they say, ―Islamist parties and candidates have participated in elections in eight Arab countries (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, and Yemen), always with modest results‖ (…) and ―Turkey, a country where an Islamist party took power with a large majority, is becoming an encouraging example of democratic success‖. However, what is noteworthy is the fact that ―Islamist parties are also integral to democratization because they are the only

372 373

Idem. Idem.


nongovernmental parties with large constituencies. Without their participation, democracy is impossible in the Middle East‖374. Hence the question: building upon such myths without regard to the real situation, is it helpful or justified? In another paper, Marina Ottaway, notes that despite the fact that calls for democracy in the Arab world are increasing, there are also clear signs that this newfound interest in democracy has not translated so far into an attempt to build popular constituencies for democratic change. ―Political parties embracing democracy remain weak, their leaders isolated in downtown offices while Islamist organizations set up headquarters in lower-class sections of town. Prodemocracy intellectuals in general shun political parties and prefer to set up nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), often with foreign funding. These organizations can generate quickly visible activities such as conferences that receive attention abroad. But these groups are not necessarily able to speak to the general public in their own countries. As a result, the acceptance of democratic ideas by Arab publics revealed by opinion polls has not become the foundation for the rise of a new political force. Ideologically, the Arab street belongs much more to Islamist preachers than to democracy activists‖375. Taken together, all these features mean that Arab democracy is not underway, and if ever some kind of pluralistic rule is achieved in any of these countries, it might fall under one of the categories created by political and social scientists to designate such an evolvement, which is not necessarily westernized: semi-democracy, formal democracy, electoral democracy, façade democracy, pseudo-democracy, weak democracy, partial democracy, illiberal democracy, and virtual democracy… characterize the ―gray zone‖ that is situated between outright dictatorship and liberal democracy. Some of these terms, such as façade democracy, and pseudo-democracy, apply only to a fairly specific subset of gray-zone cases. Other terms, such as weak democracy and partial democracy, are intended to have much broader applicability. Actually, to talk about democratic change in the Arab world when the Western governments themselves have been supporting such or such dictatorship, is an euphemism. The Western democracies are precisely those that so far sustained with money and weapons the most dictatorial 374

Idem. Marina Ottaway, Democracy and Constituencies in the Arab World, Carnegie Papers, n°48, July 2004. 375


regimes of the Middle East. For that reason, people in the concerned region are much skeptic about so many plans of so-called democratization emanating from the Western governments and supported by them. Therefore: - A sustained effort has to be consented aiming at boosting democratization and modernization together with a serious movement towards resolving the Middle-East conflict in its multiple sides and aspects. Yet, who would lead such efforts, when suspicion is floating about everything and distrust is master? - Modernization should not be pursued at the expense of democracy, because without freedom, the welfare state is just a golden cage. Yet, even modernization revealed to be a false one, as it has been reduced to importing high-tech products and other gadgets, whereas genuine modernization should be creative as well. - Demilitarizing the oil rich region of the Gulf may sound, in the present time, almost a pipe dream, albeit the military build up is not absolutely necessary for the stability of these countries. It may even be a cause of tension. - To call for democratization and to support military expansion or autocratic regimes at once is equal to sending a schizophrenic message to someone who is already in a state of advanced paranoia. - The backbone of any democratic change is the civil society and the social movements. If there is a way to strengthen both of them without triggering a war, generating a revolution, or causing a coup…maybe there is a hope. If not, the society will reproduce itself and ―History‖ will go on, indifferent to all those who have neither the means nor the will to master ―her‖.

Paris, August 1, 2005. Hichem Karoui.



Books : -


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The Quadrennial Defense Review Report issued by the DOD (Department of Defense); September 30, 2001. 2005 Presidential Study Group Report, Security, Reform and Peace : The Three Pillars of U.S. Strategy in the Middle East, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Kenneth Katzman, the Persian Gulf States, Post-war issues for US policy , 2003, July 14, 2003, CRS report for Congress. Kenneth Katzman, counter-terrorism policy, American successes, The Middle East Quarterly, December 1998, Vol: V, n° 4. The 9-11 Commission Report : Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Official Government Edition. Sheila Carapico, Arabia Incognita: an invitation to Arabia Peninsula Studies. Robert Schuman Center For Advanced Studies. European University Institute, Working papers, RSC/2002/12. Mediterranean Program Series. Fred Halliday , Arabs and Persians Beyond the Geopolitics of the Gulf, in : Cahiers d‘études sur la Méditérranée orientale et le monde turco-iranien, n°22, juillet-décembre 1966. Rebuilding America‘s Defenses : strategy, forces and resources for a new century, A report of the PNAC, September 2000. The Future Security Environment in the Middle East, conflict, stability and political change, Edited by Nora Bensahel and Daniel L. Byman, Project Air Force. Rand Corporation. 2004 . Saudi National Security, Military and Security Services, Challenges and Developments, Anthony H. Cordesman and Nawaf Obaid, Center For Strategic and International Studies, September 30, 2004. F. Gregory Gause III, The Approaching Turning Point : The Future of U.S. Relations with the Gulf States, Brookings Project 215










on U.S. Policy Towards the Islamic World, Analysis Paper Number Two, May 2003. Dr. James J. Zogby, ―New Poll Shows Damage Done,‖ December 24, 2001. Accessed via ―GulfWire‖ e-newsletter, Richard Burkholder, ―The U.S. and the West – Through Saudi Eyes,‖ Gallup Tuesday Briefing, August 6, 2002, Shibley Telhami, ―A View from the Arab World: A Survey in Five Countries,‖ March 13, 2002. Available at: ―The 10 Nation ‗Impressions of America‘ Poll Report,‖ Zogby International, August 7, 2002, Alfred B. Prados, Saudi Arabia, Current Issues and U.S. Relations. Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress, April 3, 2003. Alfred B. Prados, Saudi Arabia, Current Issues and US Relations, August 4, 2003, CRS Issue Brief for Congress. Befriending Saudi Princes, A high price for a dubious alliance, Policy Analysis n° 428, March 20, 2002. CATO Institute. Michel Chossudovsky, Who Is Osama Bin Laden? 12 September, 2001,Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), Montréal. Reuven Paz, Is there an Islamist Internationale? July 9,2000. Institute for Counter-Terrororism (ICT), Herzliya, Israel. Olivier Roy, Neo-Fundamentalism, Social Science Research Council. Essays. Febe Armanios, islamic religious schools , madrasas : background. October 29, 2003, CRS report for Congress. Kay Deaux, Negotiating Identity and Community after September 11, Social Science Research Council, Essays on Terrorism and Democratic Virtues. Media, Terrorism, and Reality, Remarks by Khaled al-Maeena, 13th Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference, Washington DC, September 13, 2004. Opec Revenues Fact Sheet, Opec Revenues : Country Details, 216










Country analysis Briefs, Saudi Arabia, January 2005, Energy Information Administration, Department Of Energy. US Government. Jay Hanson, The Best-Kept Secret In Washington, Brain Food, Third Quarter, 1999. Dispassionating the Debate about Modernization and Westernization, HichemKaroui, 11/15/03 , al Jazeerah ; Gary Schmitt, Memorandum To : Opinion Leaders, Addressing Terrorism before 9/11, March 25, 2004, Kimberley L.Thachuk, Terrorism‘s Financial Lifeline : can it be severed? Strategic Forum, n° 191, May 2002. Defeating the Jihadists, a Blueprint for Action, Century Foundation Press, 11/16/2004, The report's authors are Richard A. Clarke, Glenn P. Aga, Roger W. Cressey, Stephen E. Flynn, Blake W. Mobley, Eric Rosenbach, Steven Simon, William F. Wechsler, and Lee S. Wolosky. Rachel Bronson, Issue Brief, August 2004, Council on Foreign Relations . The Democracy Agenda in the Arab World, Middle East Report, n°174, January-February 1992. Andrew Rathmell, Theodore Karasik, and David Gompert, A New Persian Gulf Security System, Issue Paper, Rand Corporation. 2003. The Middle East in the Shadow of Afghanistan and Iraq, National Security Research Division, F.Stephen Larrabee, Rand. 2003. Ivan Eland, The Empire Strikes Out, the new imperialism and its fatal flaws, Policy analysis n° 459, November 26, 2002, Cato Institute. Christopher Preble, After Victory, toward a new military posture in the Persian Gulf, Policy analysis n° 477, June 10, 2003. Cato Institute. Report on Wilton Park Conference 745: Monday 3 – Friday 7 May 2004 on ―Rebuilding trust between the Muslim world and the West‖, organized in co-operation with the Swedish Institute in Alexandria. Deepak Lal, Does modernization require westernization? The Independent Review, v. V, n° 1, Summer 2000.









Robert W. Hefner, September 11 and the struggle for Islam, Department of sociology, Boston University. Social Science Research Council. Haifa R. Jamal al-Lail, Saudi Society, Reform and Terrorism, paper presented to the Norfolk World Affairs Council on May 31,2004. Marina Ottaway, Democracy and Constituencies in the Arab World, Carnegie Papers, n°48, July 2004. P.W.Preston, 9/11 Making Enemies, Some uncomfortable lessons for Europe, Paper presented to Conference on The European Union in International Affairs, National Europe Center , Australian National University, 3-4July 2002. Joseph McMillan, US-Saudi Relations:Rebuilding the Strategic Consensus, Institute For National Strategic Studies-National Defense University, Strategic Forum n°186, November 2001. The Saudi Arabian Oil Miracle, The Center For Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC, February 24, 2003, Presented By Matthew R. Simmons. Saudi National Security: military and security services-challenges and developments, Full Report, Anthony H.Cordesman and Nawaf Obaid, Center for Startegic and International Studies, Sept.30, 2004. The Caspian Basin and Asian Energy Markets, Conference Report, Sept.2001, the Brookings Institution.

Newspapers, Magazines and Journals’ articles : -



Erich Fromm, Individual and Social origins of neurosis, article, first published in American Sociological Review (Vol. IX, No. 4, August 1944). Susan Sontag, Reflections On September 11th, The New Yorker, September 24, 2001. The editorials of New York Times, October 14, 2001 and Washington Post, November 11, 2001. Bernard Lewis, The Roots of Muslim Rage, Why so many Muslims deeply resent the West, and why their bitterness will not easily be mollified, September 1990, The Atlantic Monthly. Sebastian Mallaby, The Reluctant Imperialist: terrorism, failed states, and the case for American Empire, Foreign Policy 81, n° 2, March-April 2002. 218





Editorial of Al Watan, (Saudi Arabia) Is that the way America rewards its allies? August 17, 2002. Peterson, J. E. "Saudi-American Relations After 11 September 2001." Asian Affairs (London), Vol. 33, Part 1 (February 2002), pp. 102-114. Rachel Bronson, The US-Saudi love affair predates Bush, Los Angeles Times, July 9, 2004. Kenneth M.Pollack, Securing the Gulf, Foreign Affairs, July/August 2003. Le Monde, 4 octobre 2001, l‘hypothèse de la piste saoudienne. The Spectator -U.K. September 22, 2001, Stephen Schwartz. Hichem Karoui, Pressure on the House of Saud, October 13, 2001, Media Monitors Network. Pascal Ménoret , Le Wahhabisme , arme fatale du néoorientalisme, Revue: Mouvements, décembre 2004, n° 36. Nationalism and Rationality in : Festschrift for Immanuel Wallerstein, Part One, Journal of World Systems Research, volume VI, n° 2, Summer-Fall 2000. New Crusade : The US War on Terrorism, the Monthly Review, February 2002. Interview with Noam Chomsky by David Barsamian, Monthly Review, November 2001. Washington Post, September 21, 2001, Voices of Moral Obtuseness. J. Bookman, The President's Real Goal In Iraq, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 29, 2002. Marina Ottaway and Thomas Carothers, Middle East Democracy, Foreign Policy, November-December 2004. Al Sharq al Awsat, London, January 4, 2004. San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/02 Fox News, 12/12/01, Forward, 3/15/02, ABC News, 6/21/02, Salon, 5/7/02, Ha'aretz, 5/14/02, Le Monde, 3/5/02, 219







Reuters, 3/5/02, AP, 3/5/02 , AP, 3/9/02, Cox News, 3/5/02, Guardian, 3/6/02, Independent, 3/6/02, 271607 New York Post, 3/6/02, Jane's Intelligence Digest, 3/15/02 . see the DEA report, 6/01 Forward, 3/15/02 Telegraph, 9/16/01, 9/16/wcia16.xml Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01, Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01 Fox News, 5/17/02,2933,53065,00.html Arab News , Wednesday 13 August, 2003. Michael Renner, The New Oil Order : Washington‘s war on Iraq is the lynchpin to controlling Persian Gulf oil, Foreign Policy In Focus, February 14, 2003. Shibley Telhami, Does Saudi Arabia still matter? Differing perspectives on the kingdom and its oil, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2002. The Economist, ―Sudan: An Evangelist at Home,‖ London. Apr. 18, 1992. Dr. Muhammad Talal Al-Rasheed, Senseless Violence, Senseless Death, The Saudi Gazette, November 30, 2003. Wael Al-Abrashi, Roz Al-Yousef (Egypt), May 31, 2003. Daniel Pipes, ―Make the Saudis pay for terror‖, New York Post, April 15, 2002. Security of Oil Supply; Saudi Oil Comes Under Threat, Petroleum Economist, July 13, 2004. Robert Dreyfuss, The Thirty-Year Itch, March 1, 2003, Mother Jones. 220




Jonathan Feiser, Nuclear Iran: Repercussions for Turkey and Saudi Arabia, The Power and Interest News Report (PINR), January 28, 2005. Turki al Hamad, America wal Saudiyya , kay la nafqid al dalil, Al Sharq al Awsat, 18/8 /2002. Khaled Abdallah, attariq al masdud fi al ‗alaqat assaudiya al amirikiyya, 12/8/2002, Al Quds al Arabi, London. Muhammad Ali al Fayez, al ‗alaqat al saudiyya al amirikiyya tadkhulu marhalat kasr al ‗azm, 5/8/2002, Gulf Issues. Shibley Telhami, A Need for prudence in the Persian Gulf, The New York Times, January 29, 2002. Hichem Karoui, What has changed in the imperial views, Al Jazeerah, 11/6/03. Max Boot, The Case for American Empire, Weekly Standard, October 15, 2001.

Miscellaneous documents : -


The Fatwa of ―Jihad against Jews and Crusaders‖ , on the following link : Transforming Defense, National Security in the 21 Century, Report of the National Defense Panel, December 1997. Key Energy Issues to 2025, The Energy Information Administration (EIA), Annual Energy Outlook 2005. Short-Term Energy Outlook, February 2005, Energy Information Administration, Washington DC. Quadrennial Defense Review Report, Sept.30, 2001, DOD. The National Security Strategy of the USA, Sept.2002. The White House, Washington. National Military Strategy of America 2004, Joint Chiefs of Staff, A strategy for today , a vision for tomorrow. American Bases in Japan, March 16, 2004… Sheikh Abd al Aziz al Qassem and Saudi author and journalist Ibrahim al Sakran, the religious curricula in boy‘s schools in the Saudi state school system: : 221


Center for Global Peace, the workshop organized by the United States Institute of Peace on November 2001; contributions of Abdul Aziz Said and Muqtedar Khan. - The report of Freedom House in 2005, Saudi Publications On Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques. - Interview with Dr. Saad al Fagih, Front Line , PBS, 2001. - CRS Report 94-78, Saudi Arabia: U.S. Defense and Security Commitments, February 3, 1994. - Congressional Budget Justification for Fiscal Year 04 Foreign Operations, February 2003, Near East. It can be reached on this URL: - Fiscal Year 2005 US Budget Request, which can be found at: - Guidance For Financial Institutions in Detecting Terrorist Financing, 24 April 2002, Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF). - Dore Gold before the US Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs on July 31, 2003, which also we can read on this URL :  - The testimony of Matthew A. Levitt, before the US subcommittee on international trade and finance , committee on banking, housing and urban affairs, August 1, 2002:


U.S. Foreign Policy in the Gulf After 9/11  
U.S. Foreign Policy in the Gulf After 9/11  

The effect on US-GCC relations Saudi Arabia in the focus