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July 16, 2007
With Friends Like These...
The involvement of Syria and Iran in aiding and abetting those fighting US troops in Iraq has been well documented for a number of years. But if this report in the Los Angeles Times is true, we may want to sit down with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and have a good, long talk:.
Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers. About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.These figures should come as no surprise to anyone. Nor should the fact that the Administration downplays the fact that so many citizens of the Kingdom make their way to Iraq in order to participate in jihad against the Americans. Saudi Arabia is, after all, a strong ally of the United States and its #3 supplier of imported oil. And it should be pointed out that there is absolutely no evidence that these Saudi citizens fighting in Iraq are being assisted or encouraged in any way by the government of King Abdullah. Having said that, the strain of Islamic radicalism runs deep in the Kingdom and the royal family has done precious little to extinguish it. They may not be encouraging their young men to fight in Iraq. But this evidence points to the fact that they're not doing enough to stop the migration across the border of what the military says are mostly suicide bombers. These fanatics are educated in the several hundred Madrasses run by radical Wahhabists who see America and the west as the devil incarnate and that it is the duty of good Muslims to fight them. Abdullah is threatened by the radicals but he and his government have walked a tightrope for years between suppressing them and tolerating them. It is an extremely delicate situation for the Saudis which is why our jawboning does precious little good. Add to this complex situation the fact that of late, we have come to rely on the Saudis to help us deal with the Lebanon crisis as well as the factions at war in the West Bank and Gaza. King Abdullah has proven himself adept at these tasks and it would not be in our interests to rock the boat with him at this time over the infiltration of Saudi fighters into Iraq. As with all other issues in the Middle East, this one has so many sides, it appears to be a circle.