Book Review – Sleeping with the Devil, How Washington Sold our Soul for Saudi Crude
Most of the Americans were of the belief that Iraq was behind the9/11 attack though it was alleged that it was Saudi Arabia that financed the Bin Laden - Book Review – Sleeping with the Devil, How Washington Sold our Soul for Saudi Crude introduction. One other fact was that 15 out of 19 hijackers were Saudis. It was alleged that real brain behind for the 9/11 attack was the Saudi Arabia which said to be financed , implemented the attack . In fact Saudi Arabia had misled Americans that Iraq was behind the attack. Robert Baer, a case officer for the Directorate of Operations for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1976 to 1997 who handled the Middle East assignment in his book “Sleeping with the Devil” has vividly dealt these situations.
His insights in the book are invaluable. According to him, Bush administration had ignored the country which has in fact financed the attack and permitted the religious sect supporter of terrorism to get away with it while attacking the Iraq which aha As per Baer, whenever a U. S citizen is buying a gallon of gasoline and if that petrol came from Saudi Arabia that indicates obliquely that they are supporting terrorism. According to Baer , U. S is strongly supporting the Saudi Arabia even after knowing that it funded the 9/11 attack .
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This loyalty may be due to the recognition of its help during the first Gulf war in supplying the petrol to US at a cheaper price . Had there been no supply from Saudi Arabia, the cost would have escalated to $ 90 per barrel then. Further U. S had necessarily to depend those countries which supply the goods relatively at a cheaper price. This is evident that it has to depend upon China for its competitive consumer goods and Saudi Arabia for the cheap petrol. Else the economy of the U. S would be in turmoil. As per Baer, U. S is deeming Saudi Arabia as its employer and imagine that employer is paying a good salary and U. S in a position not to find alternate jobs and hence it is unconcerned what its boss is really doing and hence U. S becomes too dependent on Saudi Arabia. According to Baer, Saudi Arabia has transferred half a billion USD to Al-Qaeda during the past decade and also transferred at least hundred million dollars to the Taliban. Baer sees two reasons why Saudi Arabia is supporting the terrorist groups. One is to buy off Al-Qaeda and other terrorist group by paying protection money.
This money is mainly to extend protection from not destroying their oil fields. Further Saudi Arabia being a Muslim nation as a fundamentalist branch of the Islamic faith which itself turns to be proliferation ground for terrorism. According to Baer , the rise of Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda is mainly due to deeply corrupted Saudi royal families who engaged in the “ illegal ventures ‘ , construction contracts and arms deals always goes with greasing of royal family members , even selling illicit liquors and visas , try to seize forcibly the common man properties .
Baer is of the view that some of the members of the Saudi Arabia’s royal family are the sympathizer of Bin Laden. Some of the royal family doesn’t like American colonialism as it supports Israel. They are of the view that their army is worthless but still they are deferring huge amounts on defense. Most of the royal families are fundamentalist with exception of some young generations who are having Westernized tastes. Baer strongly doubts that it is the protection money that protects the Saudi Royal family members from the suicide terrorist’s attackers or terrorist car bombing.
Further there were only handful terrorist’s attacks in Saudi Arabia in 95, 96 and 98. But in the bombing of U. S. Embassy in Kenya and U. S. S Cole attack, they were a bunch of Saudis involved. Dissenting from Baer views, in a country there exists always disgruntled section as in the case of democratic, the opposition. Some elements may not like the U. S imperialism like Al-Qaeda are indirectly waging war and this can not be construed that Saudi Government is waging war with U. S. As said early, 15 out of 19 9/11 attackers were Saudis.
But despite of this fact, Saudis were granted US visa’s immediately but a Syrian or an Iranian have to wait for 30 days. For Saudis, US visas are granted immediately with out any formalities like interviews or any background check. The all 9/11 hijackers though unemployed and unmarried and as per U. S Immigration law was supposed to be treated as possible immigrants and therefore ineligible for tourist visa but were granted visas even without interviews. Bayer really disturbed for the preferential treatment extended to Saudis. Differing from Bayer , this procedure has been ceased after a year from 9/11 attack .
Perhaps U. S considering the cordial relations that exists with the Saudi Government, its investment in US and as a reliable trading partner , these exceptions might have been extended to Saudi and one should not compare the same standard with that of other countries . It is Saudi’s money which extends patronage to university chairs , presidential libraries , American defense contractors think tanks , Middle East study centers , arms suppliers , K street lobbying firms , plane manufacturers , construction companies such as Halliburton and Bechtel, Oil services which makes the U.
S officials to be accommodating to Saudi’s. Further Baer finds that Saudi Ambassador to U. S, Prince Bandar is actually running a virtual employment exchange for high-ranking U. S government officials after their retirement. The State department still believes that Saudi is actively engaged in anti-terrorist activities even after the Saudi Interior Minister; Prince Nayef refused to meet FBI director in the background of Khobar Towers bombing. CIA also reluctant to report national intelligence estimates on Saudi Arabia as it would irritate the American President! Baer views that one another reason why U. S doesn’t want to rub on wrong side of Saudi Arabia because it keeps more than trillion dollars as deposit in U. S. banks. It was strategic plan of Kissinger who persuaded the Saudi Arabia to keep the profits generated by them on their oil sales to the U. S in U. S banks as it will not lead to economic depression or recession due to increased outflow of foreign exchange to Saudi Arabia from U. S due to volatility of oil price. According to Bayer, Saudis are cleverly offering consultancy services and jobs to politicians which also induced some government employees to chuck their jobs.
He also pointed out that some of the erstwhile CIA’s employees like Ray Close took jobs with the Saudis. He also cited the interview given by Saudi prince Bandar bin Sultan who was also U. S ambassador to the Washington Post in this regard. Bush Administration has declined to reclassify the chapter of the congressional 9/11 report concerning Saudi Arabia’s position in financing the attacks recommends the administration’s discomfort with what connections might come to light .
To the observers, this is baffling and U. S action is to be condemned. Baer is of the view that Wahhabi sect of Islam that prevails in Saudi Arabia is susceptible to terrorism. They are fundamentalist and want to lead 18th century life which their forefathers spent in desert by rearing camels and trading on dates. A sect of Muslim which belongs to violent political Islamic faction from Egypt and settled in Saudi Arabia had lot of influences in Saudi Arabia. Baer is of the view that in U. S Christian can not use the church as the venue for preaching violence. Likewise, the entire Muslim nation should not allow the mosques or madarasa to be the breeding ground for terrorism. Baer thinks Syria in this regard has made good standards despite of the fact that its support to Hezbollah Baer wants Saudi to eschew mosques which advocates righteous murder and terrorism. Saudis should also vouch that the donations they are making is really going to benefit the widows and orphans and not for weapons.
Baer wants Saudis to identify those Saudi Arabians who involved in September 11 attacks. Baer arguments in this regard are thought provoking and If U. S is really concerned about its security, it should bring enough pressure on Saudi Arabia to make efforts to desist mosque and madarassa being turned to be breeding grounds for terrorism. Baer also questions the action of US government in allowing family of Bin Laden and Saudi Royal families to leave the U. S without questioning just after the 9/11 attacks while the U. S airspace was closed for traffic. Baer also has criticized the actions of US government for allowing a Saudi who is a wife of Syrian convicted in Chicago to leave the US though she was also part of the case and also US was never let by Saudis to interrogate Bayyumi who aided to 2 of Saudi 9/11 hijackers . This is really making concerns and perhaps the U. S might have acted on tremendous pressure from Saudi Government.
Baer also alleges the action of wife of ambassador of Saudi Arabia claiming that she has donated money to charity but it really went to a Jordanian women’s account and as there is already despise between these countries and wonder how the money being donated to a Jordanian in the name of charity and had been later delivered to the 9/11 hijackers. Since the Saudi is having 25% of total oil reserves of the world and US has to depend on Saudi not only for oil but also they also keep trillion dollar deposit and also source capital goods from U.
S like defense, Boeing and business relationship like Carlyle Group, Baer alleges U. S is keeping silent and rather hesitant to displease the Saudi Government by resorting to retaliate. Saudi’s interior minister refuted that Saudis were involved in 9/11 attack and referred it as the conspiracy of Zionists. Saudi’s are having strong financial background and they have the power to buy anybody. If it all US wants to punish, they may retaliate by declaring sanctions against US for their petrol.
Baer recommends that the only option available to US is to invade the Saudi as it did it in the Iraq to save the US economy. Baer is of the view that if Monarch system is overthrown and a democratic government is installed in Saudi, it will pave the way for fundamentals to capture the government. Then they will foster the U. S as their foremost enemy. Further the Saudi government openly declared that they could not arrest Bin Laden in 1996 as it would lead to national uprise in his favour in Saudi Arabia.
According to Baer overthrowing Saddam would not bring any peace in Iraq but may bring an endless turbulence as what is happening in Israel-Palestine today. Further he is more concerned with the fundamentalists than Saddam. According to Baer, the quicker U. S desists from meddling in the Middle East, the brighter is the chance to negotiate a truce with terrorism. The formidable mistake the U. S has committed is its invasion of Iraq as it will nurture more bin laden with terror ideologies and zealots.
Baer wishes U. S should also desist from its interference in Israel –Palestine conflict and try to find permanent solution with the help of U. N. O and other align countries. Further he is of the opinion that U. S should wean from Middle East oil by finding alternatives. He also feels sad that the U. S military is facing severe restraint from Iraqis and suicide car bombing has become a daily affair in Iraq. Baer is of the opinion that shadow war against Iran had directed US in the wrong direction.
According to Baer, Saudi Arabia is a power keg lingering to explode due to increasing birth rates, declining per capita income, high rates of unemployment and perilous Wahhabi ideology. To prevent the fundamentalist to capture the power, Saudi rulers are funding the Muslim terrorist groups including Al –Qaeda. Sa’ud is changing the mosques and schools as a teaching ground for terrorist ideology. It channels the anger of the Jihadists against the West to distant it from the rot in the House of Sa’ud, Baer adds.
According to Baer, CIA joins forces with Sunni extremists before the Red army deployed into Afghanistan. Further Baer emphasis that it was the same crew which U. S had deployed to do their ‘ dirty work ‘ in Yemen , Afghanistan and other places now turned against to execute the “dirty work” to the U. S When Baer has been asked to confirm that Saudi Arabia is funding the Al-Qaeda and Hamas, he was of the view that he thinks so. This illustrates that he doesn’t have concrete proof to establish his claim and his views may be based on illusion.
In one another reference, he says that Saudis were in Iraq right now to aide to attack the American troops. This also seems to be delusive allegation as he refers some article written Bremer in the Christian Science Monitor. Baer explains that average Saudi is living below the poverty line, subjugated, demoralized and unable to speak freely or make any criticism against Saudi government. Thus the average Saudi is happy with the paltry sum given to them by Al Sa’ud, going to mosque, reciting Quran, enjoying subsidized food and even one way ticket to Afghanistan.
But Baer is concerned with the those Saudis who control the oil money , pay the protection money , flying to Morocco for enjoyment who would rather tries to keep the Saudi Arabia stuck to ninth century and to enjoy the oil money rather than to build a stable country. Baer book reveal the entrenched system that links U. S politics to Saudi money and oil has taken hold and hold of U. S citizens that much less safe for it. It is still to be explored whether U. S sold its soul for Saudi crude, but it is an open secret that it has sold its security.