|Posted: June 4, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
"Opposition parties should have the freedom to organize, assemble and speak with equal access to all airwaves. All political prisoners must be released and allowed to participate in the election process. Human-rights organizations should be free to visit. If the government truly wants to advance the cause of workers, it will permit trade unions to exist outside of government control. And for open trade, we should have a government that"s fully democratic, which respects the rule of law and where the human rights are protected."
That quote is excerpted from a recent speech by President Bush.
The topic? The possibility of opening up relations with Cuba.
My question? Why don"t we apply the same standards to the equally oppressive regime in Saudi Arabia?
Let"s call the Saudi Arabian House of Saud what it is: It"s a wealthier version of the Taliban.
Remember, only three nations maintained diplomatic relations with Afghanistan"s terror sponsors. Saudi Arabia was one. The Saudis poured money into the madrassas in Pakistan that inspired the Taliban and created its leadership. The Saudis directly sponsor suicide-bomb terrorism against Israel by, in effect, providing life-insurance policies for "martyrs."
Saudi Arabian soil may not grow much. But it is fertile ground for al-Qaida-style terrorism. Most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi citizens, carrying Saudi passports. This is the country in which Osama bin Laden built his fortune.
A recent poll conducted by Saudi intelligence and reported by the New York Times showed 95 percent of Saudis sympathetic to bin Laden.
It"s no wonder then that the Saudis impeded investigations into the Riyadh and Khobar Towers bombings that killed 23 Americans in 1995 and 1996. They refused to disclose to Federal Aviation Agency officials who was arriving in the United States from foreign flights. In 1996, they had a chance to take bin Laden into custody from the Sudanese and didn"t accept the offer. They refused to allow the U.S. to take Hezbollah"s Imad Mughniyah, responsible for the bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut.
It is illegal in Saudi Arabia for those who do not subscribe to a specific strain of Islam to worship God - even in the privacy of their own homes.
Anti-Jewish hatred is so prevalent in Saudi Arabia - the press, in the schools, in everyday life - that former Central Intelligence Agency Director James Woolsey describes the Islamists there as "the functional equivalent of the angry German nationalism of the 1920s and the early 1930s that gave rise to Nazism."
I can"t help but recall first lady Laura Bush decrying the Taliban"s horrendous anti-woman polices and calling the Afghan regime one of the most repressive governments in the history of the world. Maybe so. But the Taliban adopted those policies after studying its sponsors in Saudi Arabia.
Women are not even permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia.
In March, 15 schoolgirls burned to death in Mecca because religious police reportedly prevented them from fleeing a burning building without proper Islamic dress.
Just last month, you might recall, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah asked that only male air-traffic controllers guide his flights during his visit to Texas to see President Bush. According to some reports, he may have actually been granted his wish by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The truth is Saudi Arabia may be more repressive than Fidel Castro"s Cuba. It is certainly less free than Iraq, a nation constantly on the verge of invasion by U.S. troops. Like Iraq, Saudi Arabia has desperately tried to get its hands on weapons of mass destruction from China and other sources.
So why does Saudi Arabia get a free ride?
There was an easy, one-word answer before Sept. 11: Oil.
Today, the answer is slightly more complex. Because bin Laden"s major objective has always been the removal of U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia, we cannot withdraw now because it will represent an apparent victory for al-Qaida.
But the U.S. must begin to distance itself from this corrupt, totalitarian, brutal regime. We must wean ourselves from Saudi oil. We must be ready, at the right strategic moment, to close down our military bases there and allow the royal family to protect themselves.