Vol. 67/No. 20
June 16, 2003
Saudi Arabia: fruit of imperialist carve-up of region
BY SAM MANUEL
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. government’s recent decision to close its military bases in Saudi Arabia and the recent bombings in the Saudi capital targeting U.S. personnel have highlighted the growing strains between Washington and the government in Riyadh.
What lies behind these strains is the drive by the U.S. rulers to gain more control over the oil and other resources of the Mideast—at the expense both of their imperialist rivals in Europe and Japan and of the various governments in the region, including the royal family in Saudi Arabia.
At the end of April, within two weeks of the U.S. seizure of Baghdad, the Pentagon announced it would withdraw most of its 5,000 troops from Saudi Arabia and set up its main regional command center in the Gulf state of Qatar, which Washington considers a more reliable ally.
In an interview in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair magazine, U.S. deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz cited one outcome of the U.S.-led assault on Iraq that was “almost unnoticed, but it’s huge”: it removed Washington’s need to keep U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia.
Growing U.S.-Saudi strains
Under U.S. pressure, the Saudi authorities have rounded up more than a dozen people in connection with the May 12 suicide bombings in Riyadh that left 34 people dead, including eight U.S. citizens. Among those arrested were three religious figures who were accused not of being involved in the attacks but of speaking favorably about them.
Deep opposition in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Mideast to the imperialist assault on Iraq, as well as to the U.S. rulers’ hostility toward the Palestinian national struggle, has exacerbated problems for the monarchy because of its dependence on Washington. As a result, the Saudi government has placed some limits on the U.S. presence in the country. During the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. military had used Saudi Arabia as a staging ground for its attack on Iraq.