[Last update: 6 August 2002]

Briefing Depicted Saudis as Enemies: Ultimatum Urged To Pentagon Board

by Thomas E. Ricks

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47913-2002Aug5.html
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 6, 2002; Page A01

A briefing given last month to a top Pentagon advisory board described Saudi Arabia as an enemy of the United States, and recommended that U.S. officials give it an ultimatum to stop backing terrorism or face seizure of its oil fields and its financial assets invested in the United States.

"The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader," stated the explosive briefing. It was presented on July 10 to the Defense Policy Board, a group of prominent intellectuals and former senior officials that advises the Pentagon on defense policy.

"Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies," said the briefing prepared by Laurent Murawiec, a Rand Corp. analyst. A talking point attached to the last of 24 briefing slides went even further, describing Saudi Arabia as "the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent" in the Middle East...

...Murawiec said in his briefing that the United States should demand that Riyadh stop funding fundamentalist Islamic outlets around the world, stop all anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli statements in the country, and "prosecute or isolate those involved in the terror chain, including in the Saudi intelligence services."

If the Saudis refused to comply, the briefing continued, Saudi oil fields and overseas financial assets should be "targeted," although exactly how was not specified.

The report concludes by linking regime change in Iraq to altering Saudi behavior. This view, popular among some neoconservative thinkers, is that once a U.S. invasion has removed Hussein from power, a friendly successor regime would become a major exporter of oil to the West. That oil would diminish U.S. dependence on Saudi energy exports, and so -- in this view -- permit the U.S. government finally to confront the House of Saud for supporting terrorism.

"The road to the entire Middle East goes through Baghdad," said the administration official, who is hawkish on Iraq. "Once you have a democratic regime in Iraq, like the ones we helped establish in Germany and Japan after World War II, there are a lot of possibilities."

Of the two dozen people who attended the Defense Policy Board meeting, only one, former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger, spoke up to object to the anti-Saudi conclusions of the briefing, according to sources who were there. Some members of the board clearly agreed with Kissinger's dismissal of the briefing and others did not...

...Other members of the board include former vice president Dan Quayle; former defense secretaries James Schlesinger and Harold Brown; former House speakers Newt Gingrich and Thomas Foley; and several retired senior military officers, including two former vice chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired admirals David Jeremiah and William Owens...

...The anti-Saudi views expressed in the briefing appear especially popular among neoconservative foreign policy thinkers, which is a relatively small but influential group within the Bush administration.

"I think it is a mistake to consider Saudi Arabia a friendly country," said Kenneth Adelman, a former aide to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who is a member of the Defense Policy Board but didn't attend the July 10 meeting. He said the view that Saudi Arabia is an adversary of the United States "is certainly a more prevalent view that it was a year ago."

In recent weeks, two neoconservative magazines have run articles similar in tone to the Pentagon briefing. The July 15 issue of the Weekly Standard, which is edited by William Kristol, a former chief of staff to Quayle, predicted "The Coming Saudi Showdown." The current issue of Commentary, which is published by the American Jewish Committee, contains an article titled, "Our Enemies, the Saudis."...


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