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May 07, 2003

Saudi Arabia: The pendulum swings

If you want to know what is going on read this article in Asia Times
KARACHI - The road map for peace in the Middle East envisages as a final destination an independent Palestinian state. But along the way, it will also certainly call for the curtailment of organizations such as Hamas and the Islamic Jehad, which in turn will put pressure on the main sponsor of these groups, Saudi Arabia.

Over the past few months, sections of the Saudi media, some circles of the royal family and the clergy and intellectuals have speculated that after Iraq, the US is determined to bring Saudi Arabia to heel.

[...] Political analysts believe that this development has deep significance. Washington has already compelled Syria to sever its links with the Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian organizations. But Saudi Arabia's case is different. Being the most holy land of Muslims around the world, it would be difficult for the US to deal with Saudi Arabia as it has with Syria - with threats of war.

Nevertheless, the US has already mounted pressure on Saudi Arabia to sever its financial ties with Hamas and other Palestinian groups. It is a demand which the US knows will be hard for the country to accept, let alone implement.

It is an open secret that apart from the state treasury, mosque collections, personal funds of Saudi princes and individual donations by rich Saudi sheiks are the main source of finance for the Palestinian intifada. Once the US troops leave Saudi Arabia, the religious segment of Saudi society can be expected to be more outspoken. MORE