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"The Saudis' Secret Agenda"

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By See-Dubya  •  May 3, 2008 07:48 PM

The other day I linked a surprising piece in The Australian quoting a respected analyst who believes that America’s dedication to winning in Iraq has strengthened our world position. It’s the sort of position that’s too heretical for the mainstream media even to note, but the Australian did a good job summing it up and putting it out there.

Looks like they’ve done it again. Different authors, great piece, summing up a worldwide problem into what looks like around a thousand words. Some of it you probably already knew and suspected, but it’s a story that doesn’t get told enough–sometimes for very understandable, if infuriating, reasons. Anyway, Saudi funding:

The Saudi Government – largely through its embassy – is believed to have funnelled at least $120 million into Australia since the 1970s to propagate hardline Islam, bankroll radical clerics and build mosques, schools and charitable orgnisations.

But the Saudi cash that has flowed into Australia, that also allegedly has paid the allowance of hardline Canberra cleric Mohammed Swaiti, who has publicly praised jihadists, is dwarfed by the $90 billion Riyadh is believed to have pumped into promoting Islamic fundamentalism internationally.

There’s an important distinction to be made here between funding for actual terrorists and funding for Wahhabist mosques and studies generally. Even if you, dear reader, may not see much of a difference there, the world does, and it’s useful to bear that fact in mind as you see where the money comes from and where it goes.*

Of course, there’s also the other PR/goodwill money that goes to often awaits career diplomats whom the Saudis take a shine to**, and which universities are always glad to receive:

In Australia, Griffith academic Mohamad Abdalla has defended his decision to seek the grant, saying the money came with no strings attached. But critics, including the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s national security project director Carl Ungerer, say this is naive and the money is part of a Wahhabist “hearts and minds” campaign being waged by the Saudis in the Muslim world.

US-based Middle East expert and author Daniel Pipes says it is wrong to presume that all academics would follow their donor’s line merely to keep the stream of funds rolling.

“Academics have a distinct point of view and are not about to be bought and change their point of view for any sum of money,” he tells Inquirer. “But they are willing to shape their work and their views. So you can’t buy them but you can rent them. So someone who might have been inclined to ask tough questions will do something else. It’s subtle. It’s not like the Saudis come to town to buy up academics who grovel before them, as was the case with Griffith University.”

Last month, Britain’s MI5 director-general Jonathan Evans reportedly told his Government that the Saudi Government’s multimillion-dollar donations to universities, along with other funds from Muslim organisations in countries such as Pakistan, had led to a “dangerous increase in the spread of extremism in leading university campuses”.

There’s still more crammed in the article, including a deviously clever (though politically intractable and legally impractical) proposal by Steven Emerson to stigmatize academies who suckle too deeply at the Saudi petrodollar teat.

* Remember that one of Al-Qaeda’s goals is to destroy the debauched and un-Islamic royal family. I’m no expert in the intricacies of Saudi politics, but I can see this from the Royals’ perspective: the rulers could sincerely want to walk the line, (which I don’t think exists, but I may be wrong, or the Saudis may be deluding themselves) and try to be anti-al-Qaeda and yet pro-Wahhabism. The latter position perhaps because of conviction but also because they want to cultivate street cred among their populace that they’re authentic Muslims, no matter what Al Qaeda and their other radical detractors say. Kind of the Saudi equivalent of Hillary Clinton’s new prayer-warrior pose.

**To be clear, this aspect isn’t mentioned in the article, but I once heard Daniel Pipes discuss it in a lecture and I thought it was worth a mention.
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{Post by See-Dubya}

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Categories: Condi Rice, George W. Bush, Homeland Security, Saudi Arabia

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