The elephant in the room for decades. We sell them weapons, indulge their fundamentalism and allow gender apartheid without comment. The moral bankruptcy of Western foreign policy could almost be summarised through its relationship with Saudi Arabia alone.
Here’s a fascinating new feature in Vanity Fair about the regime’s ties to the 9/11 hijackers:
In spite of the fact that it had almost immediately become known that 15 of those implicated in the attacks had been Saudis, President George W. Bush did not hold Saudi Arabia’s official representative in Washington at arm’s length. As early as the evening of September 13, he kept a scheduled appointment to receive Prince Bandar at the White House. The two men had known each other for years. They reportedly greeted each other with a friendly embrace, smoked cigars on the Truman Balcony, and conversed with Vice President Dick Cheney and National-Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
There is a photograph of the meeting, which has been published in the past. This year, however, when the authors asked the George W. Bush presidential library for a copy, the library responded in an e-mail that the former president’s office was “not inclined to release the image from the balcony at this time.”
It would soon become evident that, far from confronting the Saudis, the Bush administration wanted rapprochement. The president would invite Crown Prince Abdullah to visit the United States, press him to come when he hesitated, and—when he accepted—welcome him to his Texas ranch in early 2002. Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice were there, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell and First Lady Laura Bush.
It seems that 9/11 barely came up during the discussions. Speaking with the press afterward, the president cut off one reporter when he began to raise the subject.