Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Riyadh attack

There was a very serious bomb attack on a compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday. The Americans had been warning of an al-Qaeda attack, and the attack has universally been described as an al-Qaeda operation. Why are we so inclined to believe this?:

  1. The Bush Administration has lied about everything it has said about the Middle East.

  2. We know that the neocons have Saudi Arabia in their sights, and are clearly trying to destabilize the government.

  3. The Americans gave warning of an al-Qaeda attack on Saudi Arabia in advance, which makes it easy to claim it was an al-Qaeda attack once it has happened.

  4. The attack was on a compound known to be inhabited mostly by Arabs and Muslims. Why would al-Qaeda attack such a group? The standard answer is that these non-Saudi Muslims are collaborators with the Saudi regime, and therefore are appropriate targets. But doesn't al-Qaeda seek a universal Muslim state, and wouldn't it want to encourage Muslim solidarity, including having non-Saudi Muslims live in the Muslim holy land? And why would they attack Muslims during Ramadan? Wouldn't an attack on an American or European compound make much more sense? Why waste your resources on an attack which kills Muslims, when you can kill some real sinners, and at the same time really hurt Saudi-American relations?

  5. Another argument is that the attackers hit this compound because it wasn't heavily guarded, and they wanted to attack a soft target that would be easier to get close to. This absolutely does not bear the hallmark of al-Qaeda, which chooses its targets carefully, and has a tremendous amount of patience. Typical of al-Qaeda would be to make a brazen attack on a heavily guarded compound, perhaps after infiltrating the guards, and wait until just the proper time to make the attack.

  6. "U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, who was on a scheduled trip in Riyadh to hold talks with senior government officials, said he was 'personally quite sure' that al-Qaida militants were behind the Saturday night attack 'because this attack bears the hallmark of them.'" Armitage was handily in Riyadh when the attack occurred, where he could presumably immediately consult with the shaken Saudis, and apparently has no evidence to prove it was al-Qaeda except that the attack bears their hallmark. Wouldn't it also then bear the hallmark of some group who was trying to fool people into thinking it was al-Qaeda?

  7. The attack was by people who may have been wearing police uniforms. This is supposed to indicate that al-Qaeda has infiltrated the Saudi military and police forces. We forget that American private companies like Vinnell play a major role in training the Saudi military and guards for the Royals. American companies would have easy access to both the personnel and their uniforms.

  8. An attack on Muslims during Ramadan has hurt al-Qaeda's reputation within the Kingdom, a completely predictable result, and one desired by al-Qaeda's enemies.

  9. Al-Qaeda, which takes credit for what it does, appears not to have taken credit for this attack. One e-mail was received by an Arab magazine from a purported al-Qaeda operative who claimed responsibility for the attack. That is not sufficient to prove that al-Qaeda did anything, and certainly doesn't constitute taking responsibility.

Looked at rationally, and not listening to the American propaganda spin, the Riyadh attack in no way resembles an al-Qaeda attack. It looks like an attack by neocon Americans or their allies (i. e., Israel) on the Saudi ruling elites, intended to 1) destabilize and weaken the Saudi government, making it more dependent on the Americans; 2) direct the Saudi government's attention away from other Middle East issues; 3) force the Saudis into cooperating in the investigation of Islamic fundamentalist organizations; and 4) form part the basis for the eventual removal of the existing Saudi government in favor of something more agreeable to the American neocons and the Israelis.