International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

June 4, 2004

June 4, 2004





**  The Khobar attacks in Saudi Arabia threaten "global economic stability." 

**  Arab and right-of-center Euro dailies urge "solidarity and support" for the Saudi government.

**  Muslim writers blast the attackers for desecrating Islam's "deep-rooted values."

**  Euro and Asian outlets note Riyadh's "increasing vulnerability."




Al-Qaida sought to attack 'stable oil prices'--  Papers stressed "terrible consequences" if al-Qaida is able to jeopardize the global economy by threatening the "West's main oil supplier."  Brazil's center-right O Globo explained that "there is no target more attractive to the enemies of the West...than the gigantic Saudi fuel tank."  Numerous dailies urged Riyadh to "beef up its counterterrorism measures," because these "fundamentalists endanger everybody."  Japan's moderate Yomiuri noted that "the Japanese economy, as well as the global economy, would likely stall" if Saudi oil production is threatened. 


'The international community must support Riyadh'--  "Saudi Arabia deserves all manner of support," said the elite Jordan Times, adding that it is not "time to turn the ratchet on Riyadh."  Conservative French and British observers held that the kingdom's "survival is preferable to any of the plausible alternatives"; France Soir saw a "pressing need to protect the oil fields as well as the regime that controls them."  But Philippine and Israeli papers hoped the U.S. would consider "economic and diplomatic sanctions" on the "single biggest spawning ground of terrorism in the world."  Manila's liberal Today concluded the U.S. "invaded, occupied and punished the wrong country in the Middle East."


The terrorists 'committed the worst act' any Muslim can--  Saudi dailies pledged to remain "united in our war to eradicate" the terrorists and their "blind hate and madness."  Moderate Al-Bilad, promising "Islam will remain the oasis of peace and security despite all these waves of paganism," joined others in urging educators to instill "true values" and prevent the rise of "deviant groups."  Business-oriented Al-Iqtisadiah stated there will be no "negative impact on investments" and that Saudi Arabia will "remain the world's leading oil supplier."  A few anti-U.S. dailies blamed the U.S.' "undeclared war on the Muslim world" for the attacks; India's Quami Awaz cited U.S. policies as being "responsible for the growing militant activities." 


Riyadh must 'change from within'--  "Paradoxically, the kingdom created the conditions in which extremism could flourish" due to the "zeal with which it spread" Wahhabism, according to many observers.  Britain's conservative Times said Riyadh cannot reconcile its "two contradictory policies:  appeasement of puritanical Islam and alliance with America."  Other dailies saw "growing dissatisfaction" towards the "shocking corruption" among Saudi rulers and expressed "no confidence in the political health" of a government "riven by internal dissension" and dismissive of even the "mildest encouragement for democratic change"; Hungary's liberal Magyar Hirlap termed the nation a "ticking time bomb."


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 64 reports from 35 countries over  30 May  - 3 June 2004.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




SAUDI ARABIA:  "A New Pre-Islamic Paganism"


Jeddah’s moderate Al-Bilad contended (6/2):  "No two people can disagree about the vicious nature of the criminal attacks by terrorists on Khobar, Yanbu, and Riyadh.  All the well-known faiths have condemned these crimes.  Islam is a religion of justice and mercy.  These terrorists have committed the worst act that anyone claiming to be Muslim can perform.  Islam will remain the oasis of peace and security despite all these waves of paganism.  Islam over the years has fought these criminal and terrorist movements and has come out victorious on every occasion."


"Everybody’s Responsibility"


Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina editorialized (6/1):  "To get rid of terrorism in this country, we need to confront it from within and fight the deep-rooted ideologies that gave birth to such criminal thoughts.  We also have to free the podiums from the occasional speakers who often unintentionally promote terrorism and provoke violent behavior.  These people have strengthened the beliefs that some people have about classifying others as unbelievers and taking action based on that wrong conception."


"Not Distract Us"


Jeddah’s moderate Okaz opined (6/1):  "The battle against terrorism and unveiling those who are harboring them will not distract this country from other major development projects.  Despite the recent unrest in the kingdom, the leadership has not forgotten about women’s issues and the important role they play in this country’s progress.  The Council of Ministers has on its agenda the task of finding additional job opportunities for Saudi women.  The Council is also discussing the procedures that are required to open branches of international financial institutions in Saudi Arabia.  These examples demonstrate that our fight against terrorism will not prevent us from planning for the future that our citizens deserve."


"Soldiers Protecting This Country’s Gates"


Abha’s moderate Al-Watan observed (6/1):  "There is no doubt that the hand of terrorism will be amputated, thanks to the conscientious efforts of our security forces.  But, like never before, we are all responsible for being watchful, diligent and responsive to our surroundings.  Security force personnel are our brothers, sons, fathers, and this country’s soldiers.  They protect our country and defend its peace, security and economic growth.  That is why we need to work with them hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder."


"Combating Terrorism Is Everybody’s Responsibility"


Dammam’s moderate Al-Yaum held (6/1):  "Fighting terrorism is based on two simultaneous factors.  Resorting to strong force in dealing with those who try to undermine the country’s security and stability, and killing innocent citizens and foreigners, is the first factor. The responsibility of intellectuals and educational institutions to educate youth about our true values, to prevent them from falling in the lap of deviant groups, is the second factor."


"Our Country’s Cause Is Right"


Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina editorialized (5/31):  "The terrorists this time have exceeded every limitation and gone overboard with their criminal activities.  They raided stores, killed innocent civilians, inflicted pain upon citizens and residents who have come to this county to help us develop it.  They targeted economic facilities thinking that they could cripple our economy.  Well, they are wrong.  Their actions will only increase our commitment to eradicate the terrorists.  With their crimes they have given us the reason to go after them and those who harbor them.  With God’s will we will win, because our country’s cause is right, and they are wrong."


"Our National Principles And Commitments To The World"


Jeddah’s moderate Okaz contended (5/31):  "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia confirms once again that it has fundamental political, security, and economic principles upon which this country was built.  The safety of citizens and residents is top priority.  All those who live in this land and help build this country will be protected.  Those who want to shake this solid foundation must remember that Saudi Arabia has stood steadfast in the face of many threats.  Not long ago, Saudi Arabia increased an additional two million barrels of oil a day to stabilize the price of oil in the international market.  These are examples of the moral and ethical principals of this country towards its citizens, residents, and the whole world during crisis."


"The Law Of Murders And Criminals"


Jeddah’s moderate Al-Bilad observed (5/31):  "We do not need to think more about how to deal with those criminals.  We must stand united in our war to eradicate them.  These criminals have desecrated our deep-rooted values, and they have found joy in the killing of innocent people.  Wherever they go they bring disasters with them.  We must not open dialogue with those who have put themselves on the list of organized criminals.  We must strike them with an iron fist, and have no mercy on them.  Because they have removed any kind of mercy from their hearts, and their minds have been filled with blind hate and madness."


"Standing Firm Against Terrorism In Khobar"


Riyadh’s business-oriented Al-Iqtisadiah commented (5/31):  "Despite several wars and political problems in the region, Saudi oil continued pumping to support international market demands. Saudi Arabia has gained tremendous experience in dealing with crisis. Foreign investors have carefully evaluated their investments in this country, and they understand that temporary events have no negative impact on their investments.  The economic and investment wheel will go forward and the kingdom is likely to remain the world's leading oil supplier for the foreseeable future. Development programs will not be affected by irresponsible acts committed by deviant groups.  Development is carried out by the joint efforts of citizens and foreign brothers from all over the world." 


"Desperate Terrorist Attempt"


Makkah’s conservative Al-Nadwa opined (5/30):  "The purpose of the recent armed terrorist attack at Al-Khobar was to attract media attention and mere propaganda after they lost the capability to coordinate or carry out major terrorist attacks.  It was also an indication of their collapse....  The terrorists used new tactics in Al-Khobar and Yanbu attacks to directly target vital economic and government interests.   It was also an attempt to deceive expatriates here that they are no longer protected.  Nonetheless, this tactic is condemned to failure under the tough and close security monitoring of terrorists."  


ISRAEL:  "Saudi Arabia Hasn't Stopped Cheating"


Guy Bechor stated in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/3):  "A wave of terrorist attacks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, followed by arrests and pursuits, has created the impression that the fight against Islamic terror in that country--and its export to the entire world--has finally begun....  But an in-depth investigation reveals that the Saudis are deceiving the world....  Clerics are still inciting the population against the West and globalization....  It is also doubtful whether there has been a change in direct Saudi funding of terrorism....  Therefore, for the sake of its own interests and of those of the rest of the world, Washington must crack the Saudi nut, even at the level of diplomatic and economic sanctions.  However, this is a tough task for the U.S., in light of Saudi control of the world's oil taps.  In the future, the U.S. should also consider direct control of the Saudi oilfields....  Washington must make clear to the royal Saudi household that the time has come to act, first of all by changing the social order in its country.  If it doesn't do so, [Saudi Arabia] could become the most dangerous foe of the U.S.--and of world stability--which should be fought accordingly."


BAHRAIN:  "Another Dark Chapter In War Against Terror"


The English-language pro-government Bahrain Tribune opined (6/1):  "It is a thorn in the side of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But it is by far a thorn for everyone in the region and the rest of the world as well. The terrorists had struck anew and this week’s incident, which ended with 22 dead adds another dark chapter to this global war against terrorism....  The terrorists in their usual fashion have time and again laid down their agenda of extremism and absolutism sacrificing the lives of innocent people whose agenda probably is nothing but to live simply, work simply and be left in peace....  Definitely this all leads to a losing game--whether for the terrorists, for governments, for innocent people. Acts of violence lead to nothing and no amount of violence can be justified as a means for a better end. The terrorists’ claim that they are targeting only Westerners holds no ground for any civilised society. Whomever they are targeting is not the issue here--the issue that remains is that they intend to harm human beings and destroy societies....  The world is aligned on the side that condemns terrorism.  Yet this is not a time to be soft to these terrorists. The mere savagery of those who carried the Al Khobar attacks should be left with no room for negotiations....  The terrorists deserve no extensions. Their deadline has long been overdue. It is sad that some of the killers had managed to escape but the message is clear to all of them, that their acts will not be tolerated. And all of them will someday have to face the court of justice.  The world is one in sharing grief with Saudi Arabia over these spate of attacks. In the Al Khobar massacre, at least 10 nations have their own citizens killed by the terrorists, most of them ordinary guest workers. Countries and governments across the world are one with Saudi Arabia in condemning another cowardly deed by this treacherous but largely unseen enemy."


JORDAN:   “Who Is Behind This Disarray And Violence?”


Mohammad Amayreh wrote in semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai (6/1):  “Why is this phenomenon of disarray and violence overtaking the Arab countries these days?  Who is behind this killing and destruction that is taking place everywhere?  Saudi Arabia witnessed a number of bombings....  Syria suffered from such actions...and Lebanon is now witnessing some cases of violence and unrest....  All this gives the impression, or is meant to give the impression, of the presence of an atmosphere of instability, insecurity, worry, tension and protest!  All this is designed to indicate that there is a need to fight so-called terrorism, so that the American and Israeli occupations are no longer the only reason for instability and the absence of security and peace in the region.  In addition, all this is designed so that political regimes would respond positively to the manufactured-in-America calls for reform and democracy....  If Washington is really serious about its democratic project, then why does it not start with the real reason for this violence, oppression and instability in the region, namely the Israeli presence and the Israeli occupation of Palestine?  How can citizens believe America’s claims when they see America’s ‘democratic’ experience play out in Iraq?  Is the Abu Ghraib prison not the best example of this democracy?"


"Undeterred, But Needing Help"


The English-language elite Jordan Times editorialized (6/1):  "Like the attacks which occurred earlier this month, the slaughter of 17 people in Khobar yesterday was another vicious act aimed at disrupting Saudi Arabia's stability and economy.  By the accounts of those who escaped the carnage when Saudi forces stormed the housing compound where the terrorists were holding around 50 people hostage, the perpetrators seemed to spare Muslims but not without advising them towards their ill-guided version of piety.  The 'masterminds' of such attacks may have deluded themselves into believing that their senseless actions can force the disruption of oil supplies from an area which is close to the core of the Saudi oil industry....  But despite the current of tensions between the US and Saudi Arabia, the top crude oil exporter had promised to increase production....  In 1996, Al Qaeda tried to destabilise the US-allied country by killing 19 American soldiers at the same compound. These attacks are not new. But they are now more frequent. Therefore, Saudi Arabia deserves all manner of support from the Arab and international community.  The situation also demands that Washington take better stock of everything that is happening in Saudi Arabia before lobbing accusations of negligence and bad governance. This is no time to turn the ratchet on Riyadh from within and outside the country. There are both political and economic implications of a continued campaign to discredit the country or destabilise it. There is also a pressing need for regional cooperation in the efforts to combat the threats from terrorism.  With the Iraqi and Palestinian conflicts raging, strengthening the resolve of Saudi Arabia to fight off Al Qaeda requires the full support of all sides."


KUWAIT:  "Media Incitement"


Faisal Al-Qenai wrote in independent Al-Seyassah (6/1):  "Arab satellite channels have played a big role in inciting people against America.  In addition, some Arab newspapers and magazines are playing a direct role in fanning the culture of violence against America and the West at large, and are issuing an almost open invitation to kill non-Muslims.  It is only by fostering anti-terrorism sentiments in peoples' minds and ending all sorts of incitement, that terrorism can eventually be eradicated.  Americans and Westerners live and work in our countries at our invitation, to help us develop and to defend us.  They are neither enemies nor occupiers, but they are friends whom we must protect and respect in accordance with the teachings of Islam." 


LEBANON:  "Denying Al-Qaida Space In A Modernizing Saudi Arabia"


The moderate, English-language Daily Star declared (6/2):  "A sitting duck makes an easy target.  This is one lesson the Saudi royal family can learn from the latest bout of violence which visited the eastern city of Khobar on Saturday.  It is a lesson that should have been learned before now....  Al-Qaida whose excesses apparently know no bounds, is taking advantage of the fissure in Saudi society that has been created as a result of the brisk modernization and development processes that kicked into overdrive with the 1973-74 oil boom.  The changes that Saudi society has undergone in a few short decades are phenomenal--a life colored by mud brick huts, subsistence agriculture and trading by camel train is, for example, still in living memory.  Now, modern infrastructure that is the envy of many Western countries is well established.  Along the way, however, some problems were created which have not yet been resolved.  An older generation of princes, perhaps, has not quite kept pace with the changes over which they have presided, while a sense of reality appears to elude some of the younger generation.  This must change.  The undeniable talent and resources residing in the kingdom, and the courage, must be mustered to press ahead with a renewed development drive.  There is no reason to shy from continuing the modernization process that is the legacy of visionary members of the royal family such as King Faisal, himself a victim of radical reaction against change.  Young Saudis face many non-traditional problems which require non-traditional solutions.  The initiative must be regained; an easy life based on oil revenues cannot be relied on indefinitely, and the forces of instability are, as we have seen, hard at work."


OMAN:  "Everybody Is Against Terrorism"


Government-run Arabic-language Oman noted (6/1):  "Terrorism in all its forms is against all peaceful means available to solve social ills.  In a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oman clearly condemned the al-Khobar terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia.  Terrorism has become a dangerous phenomenon, a phenomenon that threatens the stability of the region.  What is happening in Saudi Arabia has a negative impact in the region and in the world.  Thus, we all must stand united against terrorism.”


"Al Khobar Crime And The Necessary Support"


Semi-independent Arabic-language Al-Watan commented (6/1):  "Again, innocent people were killed in the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  The crime was committed by an ignorant group of extreme terrorists who think they have the legitimate right to kill; yet they kill by the law of evil.  A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned this terrorist act sacrificed innocent people.  The Sultanate assured the government of Saudi Arabia of its solidarity and support for Saudi efforts to fight terrorism or any act that might threaten the stability of the region.”      


UAE:  "Saudi Claim Of Success Surprises"


The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf News held (6/1):  "The loss of life in Saudi Arabia's hostage drama in Al Khobar may prove to be a turning point for the kingdom to put more substantial resources into its fight against terrorism in the country. The operation in Al Khobar succeeded in releasing many of the hostages, and the large number killed might have been hard to prevent, but the escape of three of the four terrorists was a substantial blow which should have been prevented.  The brutality and ruthlessness of the hostage-takers gave the Saudi authorities a very tough assignment, but despite their best efforts they did not achieve full success. In order to prepare for the future, the Saudi forces must go through more extensive training. Terror attacks have been growing over the past year and it is only reasonable to prepare for more, while hoping that they never happen....  It is not an easy skill for security forces to master, but it is essential that the Saudis, backed by their GCC allies against terror, get ready to be able to deal successfully with such an event.  What occurred in Al Khobar this week may never happen again. But that is more likely if the authorities act to encourage preventative measures, such as good intelligence and sound intelligence work, public awareness campaigns, as well as better guards and surveillance arrangements on likely targets. The last GCC summit agreed that the alliance should take on greater responsibilities in fighting terror. Now is the time for all GCC states to pool their skills to be able to act effectively in the future as required."




BRITAIN:  "Black Gold"


The conservative Times opined (6/3):  "The attacks in Saudi Arabia over the weekend do raise legitimate questions about the possible impact of continued instability in that country.  Although the U.S. had reduced its dependence on Saudi oil in recent years, it still relies on the kingdom for 18 per cent of its needs....  Terrorists would have to hit important pipelines in only a few sensitive places to reduce Saudi output for up to two years.  And it appears that this is their intention....  Yet even if a new regime were to take power in Saudi Arabia, it would not inevitably cut off oil supplies to the West....  In the absence of any other substantial industry, political expediency may well trump ideological distaste for certain customers."


"Fuelling The Crisis"


The left-of-center Guardian maintained (6/3):  "The deeper fears arise not from a current shortage of oil but from the nightmare scenario in which Saudi oil production (10% of world output) is taken out by a terrorist attack or a regime change.  This has moved from being fanciful to quite possible."


"West Must Do All It Can To Keep The House Of Saud In Power"


Patrick Bishop maintained in the conservative Daily Telegraph (6/2):  "It may be hard to love the Saudis, but it is in our interests to carry on supporting them as they try to weather what is looking like a particularly bad patch....  The need for reform has been admitted by the rulers themselves.  Yet their cripplingly cautious approach to change, as well as internal family tensions, means that progress has been minimal....  From our point of view, their survival is preferable to any of the plausible alternatives."


"The House Of Saud Is Doomed By Its Contradictions"


Michael Binyon editorialized in the conservative Times (6/1): "There have been many other challenges and the House of Saud has so far survived them all--by sticking together, tactical compromise and paying off enemies. None of that will work any more. The ruling house is old and disunited.... The ruling family has little room to maneuver. For its own existence, it cannot jettison either of the two contradictory policies: appeasement of puritanical Islam and alliance with America.... The ruling family hopes to ride out the crisis, al-Qaida is making that all but impossible."


FRANCE:  "Dangerous Liaisons"


Philippe Gelie wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (6/2):  “In the moving sands of the Arab peninsula, President Bush has no more important and no more uncertain ally than Saudi Arabia: proof that oil can join in unholy matrimony U.S. democracy and Wahhabism....  But how long will the union last?  The relationship between Washington and Riyadh involve complexities that go beyond America’s foreign policy and touch upon domestic interests.”


"Al-Qaida Hits Where It Hurts the Most"


Arnaud Dingreville stated in right-of-center France Soir (6/2):  “For those who still had doubts, here is proof that al-Qaida’s terrorists are expert strategists....  With the attack in Saudi Arabia, they have hit a nerve center....  With tension at its highest and the price of oil ready for a hike....  It was the worst possible time for an attack against foreigners in a leading OPEC nation....  The reassuring comments by U.S. and Saudi officials cannot hide the pressing need to protect the oil fields as well as the regime that controls them...but without a guarantee of success.  And so the threat continues to hover and to hinder the economy, including in the euro zone.”


“The Weak Link”


Jean-Michel Helvig commented in left-of-center Liberation (5/31):  “For Islamic terrorists, the real WMD are located in Saudi Arabia, where Mecca and oil co-exist....  This is also where the best opportunities for destabilization are offered to these same terrorists....  While police operations are needed to combat them, the Arab-Muslim world needs more: a change in its political and religious system of governance, more democracy and more religious tolerance. Nothing that is being said and done in Washington appears to be feeding this meager hope.”


“Islam’s Soft Belly”


Charles Lambroschini said in right-of-center Le Figaro (5/31):  “There are two reasons why Ben Laden is determined to assail Saudi Arabia. First, because Saudi Arabia is a strategic target, but also because it offers a ‘soft belly.’ A revolution in the Saudi capital would give Al-Qaeda’s leader major strategic, religious and financial assets in his fight against the American Satan....  Conquering Saudi Arabia is the first step to establishing a Caliphate that would unite, under the same green banner, the Muslims of the world....  Saudi Arabia’s leaders believed they could reconcile the American shield of protection against Iraq and Iran with Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabism. Today, the U.S. no longer accepts Saudi Arabia’s ambivalence and Ben Laden is pointing a finger at Saudi Arabia for becoming Washington’s vassal....  And so the escalation of terror is turning into a war of attrition. Because President Bush has lost the lead, on the Iraqi front as well as in Saudi Arabia, he has no choice but to persevere.”


GERMANY:  "Long-term Instability"


Centrist Abendzeitung of Munich contended (6/3):  "The price of oil has not stabilized at its currently high level.  There is still the chance that it drops. But the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia show that the region in the Persian Gulf will not be pacified for a long time to come.  On the contrary, it is this unease that, in addition to the high demand for oil in the U.S. and China, is pushing up prices.  The high price of oil is also pushing inflation.  The inflation rate in Europe has already crossed the two-percent level....  If it stays that high, the European Central Bank must react and increase interest rates.  But this would be poison for the economy."


"Fire At The Gas Station"


Clemens Wergin said in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (6/2):  "The Khobar attackers have achieved their goal:  the price of oil rose considerably on Tuesday....  But those make a mistake, who want to take away the pressure for reforms from the Saudi regime to avoid any danger for the rulers.  The widespread view that Saudi Arabia remains a stable dictatorship or Islamic chaos will be looming is false.  If the Saudi monarchy falls, then not because it has opened, but because it will drive too many frustrated young men into the arms of radicals.  And the reverse is also true:  the more leeway moderate opposition forces will get to articulate their views, the fewer sympathizers al-Qaida will get.  But the regime has obviously not understood the challenge, since otherwise, so many human rights activists would not be imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.  Pressure must be increased, not only from the U.S....  The Europeans must do more than selling power plants and arms.  If the Saudis fail with their project 'Modern Times,' the gas station of the world will blow up in everybody's face."


"The Domino Strategy Of Terrorists"


Martina Doering noted in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (6/1):  "It is no coincidence the that most recent terror attacks occur in Saudi Arabia.  The Saudi monarchy announced that it wants to increase the export of oil.  In view of the skyrocketing price of oil and a few days before the beginning OPEC conference, this is a signal to the United States.  The message is that we stabilize the price of oil on the global markets by producing more oil.  As a partner we remain indispensable.  The message is:  with a higher production of oil, we stabilize global prices.  We do not need a conspiracy theory to explain the moves of Al Qaida cells.  They do not have better strategies than the Bush administration or a leadership that develops domino theories or orders action.  It is enough to know that there are a few constants in U.S policy.  The United States needs more and more oil, and this is why the Saudis are necessary to create an acceptable price.  Because this so, we must fear that the terrorists continue to attack the United States and its allies."




Center-right Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung argued (6/1):  "Much too long the partners in the West...preferred a stable, allegedly mild dictatorship over uncertain consequences of political changes--with the foreseeable consequence that radical forces will see this strategy as a of the regime.  This development has now been sped up by the developments caused by the Iraq war....  This is the field on which bin Laden can sow the seeds of terror and where his prospects are good to reap in a good harvest; the real theater is not Afghanistan or Iraq, but Saudi Arabia.  If bin Laden and his brothers succeed in ousting the regime in Riyadh, gain control over the Holy Sites and the oil fields, the Mideast will get a face that will cause nightmares not only in Washington."


ITALY:  “A Reign On A Sword Thread”


Marco Guidi declared in Rome's centrist Il Messaggero (5/30):  “Saudi Arabia has become a territory that is no longer safe from al-Qaeda’s attacks.  As everyone knows, Saudi Arabia monarchy has allowed...for years, that big amounts of money be transferred from Saudi Arabia to...Usama bin Laden and his organization.  That means some kind of ransom to keep terrorism away from that country.  However, the fact that Saudi Arabia was one of al-Qaeda’s main targets...was already quite clear....  Saudi Arabia is facing one of its most difficult, complex moments....  One thing is certainly clear: al-Qaeda terrorists are not only getting support from Saudi society, but likely also from its military forces.  The fight is bound to consolidate, and a good portion of Saudi Arabia’s future, as well as the world’s future, depends on the outcome of that fight.  It should, in fact, be considered that Saudi Arabia is the major oil producer in the world and the country is placed in a vital strategic position.”


RUSSIA:  "Terror Starts In CIA"


Vyacheslav Tetekin stated in nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (6/1):  "It is doubtful whether blaming terrorist acts on al-Qaida is justified.  As we said on more than one occasion, al-Qaida is increasingly seen in the world as a CIA unit.   It is common knowledge that Usama bin Laden is a CIA agent.   But the world is only beginning to realize that al-Qaida (reportedly called enemy Number One by the United States) continues to carry out delicate (that is, dirty) missions it gets from the 'world government,' which relies on the U.S.  Finding al-Qaida's involved in a terrorist act is like finding a CIA officer's ID at the scene of a crime.  But Americans can't do without this bugbear.  Millions and millions of dollars have gone into painting the specter of 'global terrorism.'   There is no time for creating another one just as horrible....  The current wave of terrorism in Saudi Arabia has to do with the United States' Middle East policy and undeclared war on the Muslim world.   President Bush, as he speaks of his greater Middle East plan, implies installing regimes totally controlled by America.   A similar policy may later be spread to countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus."


"Using Terror In Power Struggles"


Mikhail Zygar said in business-oriented Kommersant (6/1):  "The terrorist acts in Khobar and a crisis in Saudi Arabia's oil industry may gravely affect the political situation in that country.  There have been more rumors lately of intensified power struggles inside the royal family."


AUSTRIA:  “Role Model Iraq”


Gudrun Harrer commented in liberal Der Standard (6/1):  “In spite of the measures taken by the authorities, extremism in Saudi Arabia is on the rise....  Following recent events in Khobar, analysts were quick to stress that current upheavals on the oil market would be short-lived only. Nevertheless, the attack was a success for al Qaeda....  Stability in Saudi Arabia has been jeopardized by the Iraq war and the hopelessly botchy transition attempts....  The U.S. strategy to withdraw some troops from Saudi Arabia and thus to take pressure off the Saudi rulers...has not resulted in an increase in stability there....  Although Cassandra-like predictions may be somewhat premature, for the first time there are concerns about the reliability of Saudi Arabia’s oil production. Proof that the Saudis are taking the issue pretty seriously themselves came from the country’s oil minister, who immediately reached out to Western companies, trying to pour oil on troubled waters....  Washington’s plan to free itself from its dependence on Saudi oil via Iraq has failed miserably....  In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, military power won’t suffice to defeat the phenomenon of bin Laden’s ever-growing flock of followers, as has been proved by the steadily increasing number of attacks in the past year.” 


BELGIUM:  "Al-Qaida's Shadow"


Erik Ziarczyk maintained in independent financial De Tijd (6/1):  "The attacks (in Saudi Arabia) are causing unrest in the West.  That has much--if not everything--to do with the importance of oil.  The fear of terrorism has pushed the price of oil this month to the highest level in twenty years.  There is a means (for countering) higher oil prices: higher output levels.  However, every new attack neutralizes higher output levels.  The uncertainty on international markets is too high.  Furthermore, the attacks in Saudi Arabia send an particularly negative signal.  It is virtually the only country that can afford higher output levels.  Of course, there is also Iraq, but not everything is running smoothly there either.  The continuous violence there renders the reconstruction of the oil industry virtually impossible....  Osama bin Laden is confident that he can win 'the domestic game.'  Al-Qaida leaders also cleverly exploit growing dissatisfaction in Saudi Arabia over the authoritarian regime and the shocking corruption of the ruling class.  Despite all the promised political reforms, nothing has changed yet.  Additionally, the Saudi regime is the victim of the zeal with which it spread its strict Islamic ideology for years.  That ideology--Wahabism--is an extreme interpretation of Islam.  With its scrupulous worldwide promotion of Wahabism--with oil dollars--Saudi Arabia has boosted Muslim extremism.  Today, Osama bin Laden is exploiting that gratefully."


"Economic Target"


Gerald Papy asserted in conservative Catholic La Libre Belgique (6/1):  "Until recently, the attacks in Saudi Arabia were directed against the American troops that had been dispatched there after the end of the Gulf war in 1991 and against the Saudi security forces.  However, after the end of the war in Iraq, Washington announced an official end to its military presence in the Saudi Kingdom.  With the attacks in Khobar--a change in the strategy--the target has become economic....  The attacks are impregnated with cruelty to influence the minds of employees of Western companies....  A boomerang effect has turned the Saudi monarchy into a target of a movement that it nourished during the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets.  Today, the monarchy seems to be engaged in a resolute war against terrorism--with failures as the attacks in Khobar have shown.  For the monarchy, too, it is a question of survival." 


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Warning From Khobar"


Pavel Masa commented in center-right Lidove noviny (5/31):  "The terrorist attack in Khobar is a cruel reminder of the strategy of the fundamentalists from al-Qaida.  In the last few years, Islamic terror in the subconscious of the world’s statesmen and the public has been connected with the struggle of Muslim fanatics against the U.S....  This is a mistake.  The goal of al-Qaida remains the creation of a Muslim empire, a Caliphate from Indonesia across the Middle East to Morocco....  In their plans, Saudi Arabia is the Islamic pearl of their dreamed about Caliphate....  The action in Khobar combined at once three tactical aims:  undermining of the power of the Saudi ruling family, scaring away the West, and attacking world economic prosperity that depends on stable oil prices....  While the once united Western front has come apart and assistance to Muslim states has remained only as a thought, al-Qaida continues in its coordinating activities.  At this point to argue about who carries the blame for this situation is moot.  One thing is clear--the fundamentalists endanger everybody:  Americans, Europeans and Arabs.  European help in stabilizing Iraq and the entire Middle East should in this situation stop being one of the options and become a necessity."  


FINLAND:  "Saudi Arabia Feared To Waiver"


Leading centrist Helsingin Sanomat contended (6/1):  "A key motivation for the U.S. attack against Iraq was probably U.S. fears that Saudi Arabia's stability might be endangered. Washington wanted strong foothold in a neighboring country, which was also an important oil producer.  But the war in Iraq only seems to have increased unrest in Saudi Arabia, and Iraq's own internal situation remains very unsettled.  Uncertainty on oil markets is likely to continue for a considerable time.  There is no confidence in the political health of Saudi Arabia.  There is no confidence in Iraq's political development--and most importantly, there is no confidence in the United States' ability to control the increasingly complex Middle East situation."


HUNGARY:  “'Smells' Taliban”


Endre Aczel wrote in leading Hungarian-language Nepszabadsag (6/2):  “The soul and structure of a ‘body’ [of a country], like Saudi Arabia becomes really interesting to study only if there is any kind of problem with [crude] oil. And right now there is a problem. And not only for one, but for two reasons. One is that the price of [of the crude oil] is going up. The other is that al-Qaeda has taken aim at an ‘oil-target’ on the south of the Saudi kingdom.  Crude oil is an especially valuable commodity. A disruption of oil-supplies jeopardizes the world’s economic stability. It would have terrible consequences if the clones of the Taliban took over power in Saudi Arabia. I regret to inform [the public] that the Saudi kingdom already 'smells’ of the Taliban, a fact that the so well educated West has come realize a bit too late.  The U.S.' grand Iraqi adventure is about democracy, right? Democracy is meant to have a disintegrating effect on the Middle East countries. The Saudi monarchy has successfully resisted even the mildest encouragement for democratic changes so far, which is a smaller problem. The bigger problem is that, although promised, Saudi Arabia has not yet done anything with its own terrorists.”


“Shaky Saudi Throne”


Liberal Hungarian-language Magyar Hirlap editorialized (6/2):  “Saudi Arabia, a monarchy known before as a stable country, is today an instable spot in the Middle East. It can explode at any time.  Should that happen, the world’s largest oil-exporting country will suspend production. The number of Osama bin Laden’s younger generation of supporters is increasing.  If the attacks become more massive and serious [against Saudi Arabia’s oil -reserves and oil-industry], the U.S. won’t have any other option but to intervene in Saudi Arabia.  Although no information has been leaked from circles of the Saudi royal family so far, there are still signs, such as tightened security, that there is a crisis and everybody is scared. Saudi Arabia, the embodiment of Islam, is a ticking time bomb today.” 


IRELAND:  "Oil Fears"


The center-right, populist Irish Independent stated (6/2):  "The spectre of petrol crisis and economic slowdown inched closer yesterday with oil reaching an incredible $42 a barrel. We're a long way from the doomsday scenario yet. But just how vulnerable we are is evident from the soaring price, already at a 21-year high in the US last week.  The weekend attack on a major oil hub in Saudi Arabia has been minimized by the Saudis in an attempt to calm international markets. But the reality is that the very exposed nature of oil production makes protecting all the pipelines from attack virtually impossible. We are all at the mercy of the terrorists.”


"Instability In Saudi Kingdom"


The center-left Irish Times remarked (6/1):  "Strategically and economically Saudi Arabia is more important than Iran or Iraq.  These attacks raise the question of how vulnerable the ruling regime there is and what the consequences for the rest of the world would be if it is undermined.  The question is inseparable from the wider issue of peace and stability in the Middle East--especially between Israel and the Palestinians and the future of Iraq.  The political inter-connectedness of these issues is starkly revealed by these latest atrocities, as are their potentially dangerous economic consequences....  Saudi leaders say they are determined to destroy the Islamic fundamentalist organizations responsible for the series of attacks on such targets over the last year and are capable of providing a continuing reliable supply of oil.  But quite aside from these extremist groups, there are many sources of instability and popular dissatisfaction in the desert kingdom.  It is ruled by an archaic system of interlocking families which no longer have the resources to meet growing demands for employment and political reform from a more and more sophisticated population.  The rulers are divided between reformist and repressive wings.  A prolonged Islamist insurgency combined with rising political conflict opens up a prospect of indefinite uncertainty. President Bush has called for democratic change in the Middle East harnessed to a democratic transformation in Iraq.  But the actual policies he has followed have weakened the potential agents who could deliver such an objective and intensified the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Saudi Arabia is now joining this dangerous cocktail of regional instability that endangers the rest of the world.”


NORWAY:  "Terror And Oil"


Independent VG argued (6/2):  "The terror in Saudi Arabia is far from an internal Saudi problem.  International experts on terrorism predict that it is most probably only a matter of time before terrorists with connections to al-Qaida try to carry out a spectacular attack targeted directly at the country's oil industry....  One thing is that Saudi Arabia is in severe need of political reforms....  However, also among Saudi Arabia's most important partners in the West there is a strong sense of uneasiness, of a somewhat different kind though.  They do not stand together in the battle against international terror like they should; they have no common political agenda that will prevent fresh recruits from joining the ranks of terrorists."


POLAND:  “Oil Price, Dethroning Bush”


Joanna Przyjemska wrote in right-of-center Zycie (6/3):  “One again Bin Laden masterminded an attack so it could affect the global economy, including America....  Terrorists made a mockery of politicians, market analysts, terrorism experts and all sort of pros. [The terrorists] demonstrated they are unpredictable...and their actions have long-term effects. The March 11 attack in Spain resulted in the unexpected success of a [political] party that immediately withdrew [Spain’s] troops from Iraq. The Khobar attack made many car owners pay more for gasoline....  How much this will cost George W. Bush is something we will be able to assess only in November.”


SWEDEN:  "Terrorism Has No Borders"


Conservative Stockholm-based Svenska Dagbladet held (6/1):  "The recent terrorist attack (in Saudi Arabia) clearly shows that al-Qaeda is making serious its treat to open a new front in Saudi Arabia. The attack was the second one in a short time and was targeted against oil industry interests. This is not a coincidence. The Saudi oil is the grease of the world economy. However, the Saudi Royal House is also regarded an enemy (of al-Qaeda)....  Hopefully this outrage can help increase understanding of the U.S. actions in the wake of 9/11, when the terrorist attacks changed the world. But in Europe there is a tendency to forget that a war is going on. Instead of showing solidarity with the U.S., which is bearing the heaviest burden, anti-Americanism wallows in faultfinding, and elements of complacency are considerable.  Global terrorism is creeping closer and closer to our borders, but in Sweden there is a sentiment that we will not be affected...that this cannot happen to us. The fact is that it already has, and it is naïve to assume that it will not happen here.”




AUSTRALIA:  “Heart Of War On Terrorism”


An editorial in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald read (6/1):  "Those responsible for the weekend attack in the oil port of Khobar were inspired, if not directed, by a fellow Saudi, Osama bin Laden. If there is any one person identified as the enemy in the United States-led war on terrorism, it is him....  Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network--or, more aptly perhaps, franchise--will survive him if he is caught or killed tomorrow. That is true as long as the abnormal situation in Saudi Arabia lasts. The privileged elite in charge in Saudi Arabia rule by a system that by its actions ensures its own fate as a constant target of attack from desperate extremist opponents. The West is locked in as an equal target of this extremism in direct proportion to its support for the present Saudi rulers. “


JAPAN:  "Attacks In Saudi Arabia Part Of Global Problem"


Leading moderate Yomiuri editorialized (6/1):  "A weekend rampage by terrorists in Khobar, Saudi Arabia's eastern oil hub, ended after Saudi commandos neutralized the situation, but a sense of insecurity remains.  The most remarkable feature of the latest terrorist attack...was that the militants targeted the oil industry upon which Saudi Arabia depends for its very survival....  Some observers say the latest attack has further clarified one of the goals of the terrorists.  Saudi Arabia is the largest oil-exporting country in the world, and a very important ally for Japan, as one-fourth of our imported crude oil comes from there.  If crude oil production in Saudi Arabia is threatened by terrorists, the damage will be not limited to that country.  The Japanese economy, as well as the global economy, would likely stall.  The terrorists are apparently trying not only to topple or undermine the Saudi royal family, which rules the country, but also to destabilize the international community....  The latest incident took place as world oil prices remained at high levels, partly due to the recovery of the global economy and a subsequent increase in oil demand in the U.S., China and other countries....  The effects of the attack in Saudi Arabia were already being felt Monday as gasoline futures prices rose to their upper limits....  Meanwhile, the Saudi government must beef up its counterterrorism measures....  It needs to take tougher steps than before, including finding terrorist bases and cutting off their financial support....  A backdrop to the incident is the fact that the Saudi public is frustrated by a domestic political system that has seldom seen reforms and an unemployment rate for younger Saudis that is reported to be more than 20 percent.  Along with reinforcing counterterrorism measures, the Saudi government may have to stabilize the domestic situation through political and social reforms.  The terrorist problem is not one that Saudi Arabia can handle alone.  The international community must support Riyadh by further expanding the global coalition against terrorism."


INDONESIA:  “Danger Behind The Hostage Taking In Saudi Arabia”


Leading independent Kompas concluded (6/1):  "The taking of dozens of expatriates as hostages in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, still leaves a deep sense of fear although the drama ended on May 30 in a liberation operation.  The threats of violence and terror are not yet over....  Apparently, the militant groups were using  momentum from world panic due to the skyrocketing oil prices to launch their action at the main source and supplier of oil, Saudi Arabia.  The effects of the incident were very high. Regardless of the economic factor, the taking of hostages constituted a terrorist act because it created deep fear....  Although all the information and explanations about the activities of Al Qaeda are never very clear, the violence in Saudi Arabia during the past year is believed to have a direct correlation to Osama bin Ladin’s dream and obsession.”


NEW ZEALAND:  "Stand Firm In Saudi"


The leading left-of-center New Zealand Herald declared (6/1):  "Al Qaeda's latest, and bloodiest, attack in Saudi Arabia has prompted the U.S. to urge its citizens to leave the kingdom. The reaction is as regrettable as it is timid. It pays no heed to the resolve and efficiency of the Saudi anti-terrorist response at Khobar. More fundamentally, Washington, even if unwittingly, is fuelling al Qaeda's belief that the Western world has a soft underbelly; that it will cut and run when the fire is at its hottest....  It is vital to the smooth functioning of the world economy that the six million expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia remain there. Essentially, they run the country's oil industry and other sectors. An exodus would lead to disruptions to oil supplies in months, if not weeks. With prices already soaring, that is a dire scenario.  This is one reason the kingdom is such a magnet for terrorist activity. The Khobar assault was the second in less than a month on the Saudi oil industry. Al Qadea's ultimate ambition, however, is to overthrow the House of Saud and replace it with Muslim fundamentalist rule....  The House of Saud is riven by internal dissension, widely disliked, and undoubtedly fragile. But under its rule Saudi Arabia has prospered enormously from contact with the West. Many of its best and brightest have been educated in the U.S. and could be expected to favour the forces of modernisation over those of fundamentalism. Somewhat paradoxically, they live in a country that continues to expound an austere version of Islam. This has always been a form of protection for the House of Saud. Whether it is now serving to aid and abet extremist violence has become a subject of debate....  Al Qaeda is always probing for weak points. It knows the White House is distracted by events in Iraq. There, the U.S. is promising to stay the distance. America cannot afford to be anything other than equally tough-minded in Saudi Arabia."


THAILAND:  "Saudis’ Faustian Deal Backfires"


Independent, English-language The Nation observed (6/1):  "The hostage drama in the Saudi Arabian oil city of al-Khobar has not only exposed the failure of the kingdom's anti-terrorism strategy but is testimony to a serious need to put an end to the activities of the radical establishment that helped make possible al-Qaeda's version of political Islam.  Until last year, the ruling Saudi family consistently dismissed any suggestion that Muslim insurgency was taking shape in the kingdom, which often boasts about its generosity to the Islamic world but failed to detect militant Islamic activities in its own backyard.  Instead of taking decisive action when the warnings were first sounded, the royal family chose to turn a blind eye, thinking that somehow these militants would just disappear....  The country's leaders chose to ignore the fact that the real battle is between them and the radicals and that Western countries, particularly the U.S., were caught up in somebody else's civil war....  While they will not be able to wipe the slate clean overnight, it is not too late to do anything about it.  Riyadh can still turn up the heat on the radical clerics and permit Saudi civil society to prosper and have a bigger say in the way the conservative kingdom is run.”


PHILIPPINES:  "Terrorist Spawn"


The liberal Today opined (6/1):  “The weekend massacre in Khobar once again confirms the suspicion that the U.S. invaded, occupied and punished the wrong country in the Middle East.   Saudi Arabia was, is and will continue to be for many years to come the single biggest spawning ground of terrorism in the world today.  That 11 of the 15 known hijackers involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks were Saudi nationals should have been clue enough that Islamist radicalism could not have evolved into the global threat that it is today without Saudi support....  That al-Qaeda operatives seem to have been able to run rings around Saudi authorities gives rise to yet another suspicion: the terrorists have a sufficient number of sympathizers in the Saudi government and ruling elite....  Swimming in mind-boggling riches, the Saudi ruling elite has grown indolent and insensitive to threats, not just to the foreigners who enriched them, but more important to their own survival.  While Filipinos, Egyptians, Americans, Britons and other expatriates made up most of the casualties at Khobar last weekend, no doubt the terrorists also struck to bring down the Saudi royalty.”




INDIA:  "Hostages Rescued In Khobar" 


Centrist Hindi-language Yashobhooomi concluded (6/1):  "The hostage crisis in the city of Khobar, which lasted for almost 25 hours, came to an end when Saudi commandos rescued fifty people.  Twenty-two people were killed by the terrorists which included eight Indians.  The shocking incident brings to light that the terrorists were linked to the al-Qaida.  However, it is even more surprising because Osama bin Laden, who is a resident of Saudi Arabia, is inflicting terror on the country of his residence.  At present Osama is the enemy of the US and Saudi Arabia has friendly relations with America.  It seems that Laden's actions are a result of Saudi Arabia maintaining friendship with the enemy country (U.S.)....  The U.S. is unable to apprehend Osama bin Laden and this raises serious questions about the safety and security of the nations supporting the U.S. in its war against terrorism....  The incident in Khobar serves as a warning that such episodes may occur in the future."


"Terror In Saudi Arabia" 


An editorial in Urdu-language Qaumi Awaz read (6/1):  "The recent bloody incident in the Saudi oil city of Al Khobar in which about a dozen people have been killed reminds us all once again of the deteriorating situation in the country.  Not only the militants responsible for such reckless attacks, targeting innocent people, must be brought to book but effective measures must be undertaken to prevent such tragedies.  However, the U.S. policies in the Arab world are also responsible for the growing militant activities and the overall restlessness in various Arab countries.  Countries where the governments are closely affiliated with Washington and have either supported or remained indifferent to U.S. invasion and destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan have especially been the targets of what is commonly referred to as al-Qaida attacks.  The international community has to seriously address the question that who is really responsible for the menace to become a global threat.  The only way to stop the current wave of terror is to make the U.S. to end its aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan and change its imperialistic policies."


"Killing The Innocent" 


The centrist Hindu held (6/1):  "Saudi Arabia's security forces demonstrated some tactical expertise in rescuing expatriates held hostage by a group of terrorists in a residential complex in the city of Al Khobar....  The Saudi forces are still green and unpractized in this game. They were caught off guard by the attack four weeks ago at the Yanbu petrochemical complex. But this time they had been warned for terrorist groups had openly pledged to target foreigners working in the oil facilities....  The Saudi public knows very well that the extremist groups have a wider range of objectives including the overthrow of the royal family that they portray as a stooge of foreign interests....  Paradoxically, the kindgom created the conditions in which extremism could flourish by aligning itself with a fanatical Wahabi sect that preaches bigotry and stifles all attempts to foster liberal thought and education. These xenophobic tendencies have only strengthened after the U.S. demonstrated through its invasion of Iraq that it is hell-bent on imposing its will on the Arabs....  A website claiming to speak for Al-Qaeda declared that the Indians were killed in retaliation for the 'murder of our Muslim brothers in Kashmir.'  Since Al-Qaeda is a very nebulous organization and since Arab extremists have seldom attacked Indians before, it is difficult to believe that this is an authentic version of the views of the Saudi extremists. However, New Delhi will have to ascertain as quickly as possible whether these extremists now consider Indians to be legitimate targets."


"Warning From Khobar" 


The nationalist Hindustan Times declared (6/1):  "The weekend hostage crisis in the city of Khobar, Saudi Arabia, is a brutal reminder of just how vulnerable the world has become to terrorism. It is not likely to immediately affect the oil production of Saudi Arabia, but it has worrying implications for the future because of the ease with which the terrorists hit at the expatriate workers. India has reason to be concerned because as many as eight of those killed in the 24-hour-long nightmare were Indians. Till now, Indians were never really singled out by international terrorists and even the Al Qaeda, but in the Khobar incident, they were apparently targeted because of what the terrorists said were India's policies in Kashmir....  The terrible events in Khobar suggest that the Al-Qaeda has now expanded its hit lists to include as many foreigners--read non-westerners--as they can....  The Al-Qaeda never made any bones about targeting Saudi Arabia....  The terror network obviously aims to topple the Saudi government and create fear and spread terror. This is bad news, not just for Saudis, since their country has the world's largest exportable surplus of petroleum."


PAKISTAN:  "Attacking Oil"


The center-right national English-language Nation commented (5/31):  "Al-Qaida's latest attack in Saudi Arabia shows a distinct shift in strategy....  Politically, the American conquest of Iraq was supposed to bring into the market its huge production potential, which had previously been restricted under the food-for-oil programme. However, that has not happened, and so long as the American occupation continues, international oil markets will remain unstable....  If an Al-Qaida attack succeeds on a major oil facility anywhere in the world, prices could go through the roof. For an oil importing country like Pakistan, that would be disastrous."


BANGLADESH:  “A Vulnerable Saudi Arabia”


The independent English-language New Age noted (6/1):  "The innocent have been paying a high price in such disparate places as Afghanistan, Iraq and the occupied West Bank and Gaza. The finger of blame points in all directions and when those who sanctimoniously inform the world, as men like George Bush and Tony Blair have been doing, that civilized people cannot stand by and allow brutality to go unchecked....  They may not have realized that the extremists who run organizations like al-Qaida have also in their own way been staying the course.  Any regime seen to be friendly to the West is today in danger of being targeted by terrorists, such as in Khobar. For the Saudi monarchy, the risks today are much greater than they have at any time been in the recent past. It is not merely the issue of Saudi cooperation with the West that has added to the militancy of opposition groups in the country. There is the growing feeling among many that the Saudi political system will need to change from within. While terrorism itself is reprehensible, it is also true that the increasing vulnerability of the Saudi royals is a wake-up call for change. Political liberalization as well as a recasting of foreign policy to make it appear independent of the ties which have linked it to the West, are called for."




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Bloody Harvest"


The liberal Daily Dispatch held (6/3):  "U.S. terror operating under the guise of the 'war against terrorism'--unleashing war, violating human rights and humiliating captives--has this past weekend yielded a bloody harvest....  Al-Qaeda hit back and killed 22 people.  Al-Qaeda grew around the former citizen of Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden. In the face of the increasing McDonaldisation and Coca- colonisation of the Islamic world, the influx of more than six million foreigners to Saudi Arabia, and the presence of American troops in Riyadh, many Saudi men have come to perceive this as an infidel invasion....  He has developed a fluid but effective terrorist network....  Since 9/11 the world has witnessed the emergence of a standoff between economically aggressive neocon-liberals and radical Islamists bent on carrying out 'Allah's revenge'....  The world has become a more dangerous place.  The capture of Osama will not make it safer. By personifying the issues in him, the U.S. has encouraged the vitality of his legend, his promise of martyrdom, and his emulation....  A long line of mujahedeen (holy warriors) stand ready to fill his sandals.  Confronting them with the crude instrument of war is bound to lead to more terrorism.  Let the world instead fall back into the multi-lateral and pluralist approaches of before--detente, summits, debates in the UN--or else the tit-for-tat spiral in the Middle East will continue and it will get worse."




CANADA:  "Assault On Saudi Arabia"


The leading Globe and Mail opined (6/1):  "The latest terrorist attack on foreign workers in Saudi Arabia underlines not only the growing vulnerability of the Saudi regime but the increasing risks this poses to the world's oil supply--and with it, global economic stability.  There is no doubt that this was precisely the goal of the militants who shot up oil company offices Saturday in the Persian Gulf oil center of Khobar and then seized hostages in a supposedly well-guarded resort complex....  The Saudi regime is in many ways the author of its own misfortune.  Leading members of government have long vowed to crack down on the terrorists operating in their midst.  Yet members of the royal family funneled money to known terrorist organizations and belong to a fundamentalist sect preaching its own extremist form of Islam....  The regime has failed its people in other important ways.  The House of Saud could have blunted the appeal of the militants to disaffected young people if it had used its vast oil wealth to develop a healthy, diversified economy capable of providing good job opportunities.  It has also resisted social and political reforms that could starve the extremists of fuel for their hatred.  Worried U.S. officials have been prodding Arab regimes toward reform, but too gently.  As a result, as a recent meeting of the Arab League showed, there has been far more talk than action on the reform front.  And now it may be too late."


"Al-Qaida's Threat"


The centrist Winnipeg Free Press editorialized (6/1):  "The al-Qaida terror network showed the world that it was still in business on Saturday when an armed band stormed into an oil company office and residential compound in Khobar, Saudi Arabia.  During a 25-hour standoff with Saudi police, they killed four Saudis, an American, and workers from Asia, Africa, and Europe....  The Saudi government and the oil companies should improve the defenses of their office and residential compounds so they can assure decent security to their employees.  They should not yield to the demands of the terrorists by scaling back oil production or by removing foreign workers.  That would teach al-Qaida that terrorism works, inviting it and its imitators to repeat these tactics elsewhere....  The Saudi Arabian government should stand firm where the electorate and the rulers of Spain flinched.  They should intensify their efforts to arrest and imprison local terrorists and they should step up measures to defend the oil companies from terrorism.  Security for Canadians, who are also on al-Qaida's target list, lies in defeating terrorism. "


ARGENTINA:  "Challenge"


Marcelo Cantelmi asserted in leading Clarin (5/30):  "The blow on Saudi Arabia is a clear demonstration of force.  There is neither naiveté nor mistakes in the operation.  This country is bin Laden's land, the scenario of the final battle, also for the oil, to be waged among that formerly loyal partner of Washington, the Saudi kingdom and the empire itself.  It is clear that al-Qaida is not what is said to be.  It has no central organization.  It is composed of autonomous groups that use al-Qaida's name as a banner of war.  One or several of those groups are located in said Arab nation that has the largest oil reserve in the world but with its people harassed by poverty.  This characteristic provides them with a lot of allies.  There have been two other attacks launched on Western targets during this month.  But yesterday's is a major challenge."


"The Real 'Axis Of Evil'"


Claudio Uriarte observed in left-of-center Pagina 12 (5/30):  "Yesterday's triple al-Qaida attack in Al Khobar has the virtue of refocusing the attention on the place where everything started--Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia is the place where Osama bin Laden is from.  It is in Saudi Arabia where he obtains part of his money....  Saudi Arabia is the West's main oil supplier, and, therefore, it is the channel through which the oil voracity of the U.S. and other Western economies funds terrorism that will then turn against them, and it wages an endless fight to expel them from the Middle East.  This oil dependence is the real 'Axis of Evil'....  Al-Qaida's purpose is not only to obtain Bush's defeat in November but the departure of all Western corporations and armies from its own region, and the destruction of Israel....  There will be no truces or partial agreements."


BRAZIL:  “The Saudi Ghost”


Center-right O Globo remarked (6/1):  "Everything indicates that the wave of attacks in Saudi Arabia is a byproduct of the war in Iraq, just as napalm is a byproduct of petroleum.  It’s easy to prove the cause and effect relationship between President Bush’s disastrous military adventure and the terrorist campaign to destabilize the neighboring Saudi kingdom. It’s enough to imagine that, if in fact the American forces really controlled the situation in Iraq, the opposition displeased with the excessive centralization of the House of Saudi would very unlikely have the audacity to plan and execute spectacular actions such as last weekend’s attack on a residential condominium in Khobar....  Based on research in the region, the respected London institute, the IISS, asserts that the war in Iraq has diverted precious resources from the fight against terrorism, and strengthened Al-Qaeda.  Osama bin Laden’s organization today has a greater number of activists than before the invasion, and operates in over 60 countries.  As expected, the organization has taken responsibility for the attacks in Saudi Arabia.  Thus it has fulfilled the sinister warning from those opposed to the intervention--nearly the whole world--that an unstable Iraq would contaminate the whole Middle East. Saudi Arabia is one of the nerve centers of the world economy.  The Saudis have no rivals in petroleum exports and they are the owners of one third of the world’s reserves. Thus, there is no target more attractive to the enemies of the West, such as Bin Laden, than the gigantic Saudi fuel tank.  This explosive reality, created in part by Bush’s blindness, is added to the increase in consumption--by thirsty expanding economies, such as the Chinese--to put pressure on prices.  It will be a relief if Saudi Arabia can convince OPEC partners in Beirut, as has been promised, that an increase in oil production is also in the interest of the cartel.”



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