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Congress, Pentagon heed Layne, Johnson, doubt Saudis

Slowly but surely, the “our good friends the Saudis” campaign (see Ken Layne [1] and/or Charles Johnson [2] on any given day) gathers steam. From the New York Times, “Dismay With Saudi Arabia Fuels Pullout Talk [3]“:

A number of senior officials in Congress and the Pentagon are saying the United States should consider withdrawing military forces from Saudi Arabia because of frustration over what they consider the kingdom’s tepid support for the war on terrorism and the restrictions it places on American military operations.

Cons include all that time and money spent sprucing up Prince Sultan Air Force Base with high-tech command and control facilities. But as the Times quotes Senator Carl Levin [4] (D-MI):

“…I think the war against terrorism has got to be fought by countries who really realize that it’s in everybody’s interest to go after terrorism. I think we may be able to find a place where we are much more welcome openly,” he said, “a place which has not seen significant resources flowing to support some really extreme, fanatic views.”

Levin is referring, of course, to Saudi support for the notorious madrassa schools instilling jihadism and Wahhabism — and nothing else — in Pakistan and elsewhere. Sentiment at the Pentagon is similarly unenthusiastic about the Saudis:

In the Pentagon, a growing number of commanders are frustrated with the Saudis’ refusal to allow American warplanes based at a sprawling airfield south of Riyadh to bomb Iraq and other Islamic countries, except in self-defense. “We’re pretty heavily invested in Saudi right now,” a senior military official said. “But if the opportunity arose to operate somewhere else in the region we’d be pretty interested.”

Other prominent Congressional Saudi critics identified by the article include Sen. Joseph Lieberman [5] (D-CT), Rep. Ike Skelton [6] (D-MO), and to a lesser degree Rep. Porter Goss [7] (R-FL). A credible alternative to the Prince Sultan airfield would probably do wonders for Saudi Arabia’s attitude on investigations in that country, and cooperation with anti-terror campaigns elsewhere.