August 31, 2002 Special Dispatch No. 416

Saudi Reactions to the Lawsuit by September 11 Families

August 31, 2002
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 416

The lawsuit against Saudi and other Arab officials and organizations by the families of September 11 victims has aroused the ire of the Saudi media. The following are excerpts from articles that appeared in Saudi newspapers on this subject:

Saudi Columnists: The U.S. Should be Sued for Killing Millions
"If America wants to open up the issue of compensation for those who died in the two towers," wrote the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh in an editorial, "it must agree to the establishment of an international court that will examine [its own] war crimes, plundering, coups, what American intelligence did with the drug barons, the policy of abductions and murder, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the claims still pending regarding the black slave trade, and the deliberate annihilation of the Indians - and apply all this to all countries, without statute of limitations, so that we feel we live on one planet that functions according to the same moral principles…" [1]

Saleh Al-Shihi, a columnist for the Saudi daily Al-Watan, held a similar view. In an article titled "This is America," he wrote: "According to American concepts, it is not important what the world loses; what is important is what America gains. This is American logic and American language. This is America, the civilization that arose on the skulls of others."

"America, that carried out the Hiroshima massacre and the Vietnam massacre; America, that incited South Korea against North Korea and Taiwan against China; America, that interfered in the affairs of Chile, Nicaragua, and Panama; America, that tried to assassinate many of the world's leaders… among them Castro, who alone was subject to 30 assassination attempts - one of them by mixing deadly plutonium poison in the cigars he smokes! America, that erected the Statue of Liberty so as to plunder others by it; America, that established liberty in order to kill millions of people in its name, from the Indians to Afghan children… Behind all this stood members of the CIA... This is America, the tyrannous, and all that remains is for it to turn into a pharaoh [the symbol of an evil regime]. This is America, the land of freedom, the land of democracy."

"I still remember the story of the Indian leader who returned from battle with the American colonialist and found that other American soldiers had, in his absence, raided his home and killed his children and wife. All he could do was shout: 'I fought long, but I never killed a child or a woman. These [Americans] are not human.' This is America, gentlemen - do you want us to trust it?!" [2]

Suit Stands No Chance
Muhammad Ahmad Al-Hassani, columnist for the Saudi daily Okaz, took another tack. In an article titled 'Washington and the Birds' Milk,' he wrote: 'In old times, when people wanted to discourage a man in love who wanted to lay with the girl who had stolen his heart... they would ask the poor enamored fellow for a skin of birds' milk for a dowry. He would head out towards the wilderness and the desert in search of the milk of birds and would eventually die of thirst and loneliness, because he believed in illusions, and chased after them, and thought that what they asked of him was obtainable!!"

"I recalled this story because of some U.S. groups' demands from popular and official Saudi institutions to pay an amount in excess of $100 trillion [sic] in compensation to the families of the September 11 victims… Regardless of the fundamental idiocy of this lawsuit, the demand for the sum mentioned is like the search for the milk of birds, or even ants' milk, if ants even have udders and milk…" [3]

Saudi London Daily: A Change in Saudi Arabia is the Key to Rectifying the Crisis:

However, Daoud Al-Shirian, a Saudi columnist for the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat, sought to minimize tensions: "The Saudi press attacked the suit filed by a group of the families of the victims of September 11, and even demanded that the Riyadh government reexamine strategic relations with Washington and called for serious national dialogue on the future of relations with the U.S. The [Saudi media] attack did not distinguish between [the] American government [initiative] and private [initiative]... It presented the damages [from the] lawsuit as an [American] act of political settling of accounts with Saudi Arabia due to its stand on the Palestinian matter…"

"The media clashes between Riyadh and Washington have been on the rise since the September catastrophe. This ongoing escalation has made some Saudis doubt that the American government is uninvolved in what is going on, although it repeatedly and absolutely rejected [the claim] that the [media] attack [on Saudi Arabia] expressed [official U.S.] policy…"

"It is difficult to minimize some Saudis' fears regarding the lawsuit. It is also hard to see the attacks as an expression of an American conspiracy against Saudi Arabia. Yet the Saudi fears are justified, because the continued use of the expression 'Saudi Arabia's hostility towards the U.S." attests to a change in the general political mood [in the U.S.]. This change is likely to affect official policy if it gains the support of the pressure groups and centers of influence in the corridors of American policy…"

"Regardless of the official American stance that Saudi Arabia is a close and strong ally, the events of September 11 led to a reopening of the file of Saudi-U.S. relations and the rebuilding [of these relations]. Washington's adherence to its relations with Riyadh is genuine, but American policy is not laid out by one man or one party; it is shaped by various circles, and therefore what is now happening can be seen as initial signs of change in policy towards Saudi Arabia. This change does not mean hostility or clashes, but change of some foundations and beliefs..."

"A change in the perceptions of public opinion in both countries, primarily in Saudi Arabia, is the key to rectifying this crisis…" [4]

Saudi Ambassador to London: U.S. Acts Like a Paranoiac
Saudi Ambassador to London Ghazi Al-Qusaibi also downplayed the risk to strategic U.S.-Saudi relations: "…When the American president declared that anyone who did not stand with America in its war on terror was on the side of the terrorists, he meant every word. The world, of which we are a part, must adapt itself to the new reality. This reality says that the U.S. we knew and knew how to deal with has disappeared in the smoke of the explosions, and its place has been taken by a new America, fear-stricken and vengeful, that sees the ghost of terror everywhere and perceives every neutral man as an enemy that must be fought as enemies are fought…"

'The U.S. - the president, Congress, and public opinion - speaks from a starting point not much different than that of a man afflicted with paranoia. Psychiatrists know, as does any quasi-intellectual, that someone afflicted with paranoia is as afraid of his friend as he is of his enemy and sees danger where there is none…"

"In the new political reality, Saudi Arabia [is perceived in America] as closer to [the camp of] enemies than to that of friends. This approach did not emerge suddenly from the Pentagon report… Anyone who has monitored the American media since the September events and tried to read behind the lines realizes that there is an 'orchestra' carefully leading and feeding the attack on Saudi Arabia. This orchestra receives instructions from a conductor, which is the extremist right-wing Christian alliance supported by the Zionist lobby. What promoted the success of the attack and [allowed it to] take root is the fact that most of the terrorists did indeed hold Saudi passports, and that Saudi Arabia accepted the accusations of extremism and funding of terrorism in silence…"

"Saudi-U.S. relations coalesced out of common interests, and these interests still exist. The Saudis, like the Americans, must remember this. Saudi Arabia has a quarter of the world's oil reserves, and this fact will not change just because of [American] intrigues in the Caspian Sea region [i.e. the war in Afghanistan, which, according to Arab and Iranian columnists, was launched in order to gain control over the Caspian Sea oil reserves] or [because of American] plans regarding Iraq's oil fields."

"In the foreseeable future, the stability of the oil market and the world's well-being depends on Saudi oil policy, and this is a fact whose repeated stressing will benefit us more than hints at an [oil] embargo. Saudi Arabia, which is situated in a region afflicted with disorder, has always been careful to serve as a stabilizing and moderating element, and we must mention this fact repeatedly as well. On the other hand, it is possible to see that the US has invested a great deal of money in huge industrial projects in Saudi Arabia, and it still is the central source of developed technology, and thousands of Saudi students annually attend American universities. In a world ruled by a single power, it would be a stupidity to be hostile to this power…" [5]

Saudi Press: 'We [Saudis] are Peace-Loving People - You [the U.S.] are Barbarians'
However, in Saudi Arabia itself, the mood of the press remained belligerent. A columnist for the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, Abdallah Al-Kaid, wrote: "Most provocatively, Condoleezza Rice, adviser to the cowboy who rules the White House, said: 'We have moral justification for changing the regime in Baghdad.' Since when does the American administration attach any importance to the moral or human aspect?… The [Saudi] people are not to be blamed for the state of horror to which you [Americans] are subject in your country - a situation from which you will not escape… unless you concede the rights of the people and fight the evil among you and stop your aggression towards the world. You must remember that the 'Country of Falsehood' endures for one hour, while the 'Country of Truth' lasts until Judgment Day!!!"

"We have no need to defend our good and clean name, as we are peace-loving people who never started a war against anyone throughout their history. As for you [Americans], no one needs proof of your crimes, written in history in ink as black as your history of murder and genocide. The land of Japan is the best proof of your barbarism!!! Yes - why did you have to go far afield? Here is the land of the Indians, annihilated by you…"

"After all this, you want to delude us with the claim that you seek to create peace and justice in the world and fight terrorism, and that you are morally justified in attacking the peoples and governments?…" [6]

[1] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), August 18, 2002.

[2] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), August 20, 2002.

[3] Okaz (Saudi Arabia), August 20, 2002.

[4] Al-Hayat (London), August 18, 2002.

[5] Al-Hayat (London), August 21, 2002.

[6] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), August 20, 2002.

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