The great Walid Phares on how the Saudis tried and failed to play both ends against the middle. From FrontPage:
“And remember,” said Osama bin Laden in his February 11, 2003 audio tape to al Jazeera, “those who deal with the infidels will be treated as infidels.” The master of al Qaeda, angry with his former friends of the 1980s, blasted the Saudis for not cutting their relationship short with the US and its allies.
In this important speech, the man who ordered the September 11 massacres against the hated Kuffars (infidels in Arabic) wanted to see the Saudi monarchy sever all ties with Washington. Thus, as President Bush established his famous equation of being with us or with the terrorists, al Qaeda mimicked his words, threatening: “Either you’re with the infidels or you’re with us.”
The Saudis understood bin Laden’s message, but they had two different criticisms to deal with: the first from the US, blaming them for two decades of Wahabi teachings and noting the citizenship of fourteen of the 9/11 hijackers; and the other from international Jihadists warning them not to engage in the War on Terror, let alone participate in the War in Iraq.
From the Fall of 2001 to the Spring of 2003, Riyadh tried to survive these two opposing messages. Its spokespeople in Washington practiced all their PR skills to dodge questions on the subject. The media savvy Adel al Jubair dismissed media and legislative critics a hundred times, claiming “We are in the War against Terror in as much as you are.”
But practically speaking, the Salafi clerics within the kingdom continued to hail al Qaeda and al Jazeera, amplifying their voices around the Muslim world. Crown Prince Abdallah promised war against terror, while his religious emirs vowed Jihad against the West. The Iraq war didn’t help any.