Worst Case Scenario

Pro and amateur pundits have wondered in recent weeks, if crippling the Saudi economy is al Qaeda’s newest tactic. If so, it might just be working:

IF THE tens of thousands of Western expatriates who find themselves directly in Al-Qaeda’s sights decided to leave Saudi Arabia en masse in light of an upsurge in terror attacks against them, their departure would have a devastating impact on the Islamic kingdom’s key economic sectors.

That is what the militants hope to achieve as they notch up a gear in their campaign to overthrow the Al-Saud ruling family, and there are early signs that they may be on their way to achieving their goal.

Travel agencies in the Eastern Province, scene of the hostage drama in Khobar on May 29, in which 22 people were killed, say big joint ventures and multinational groups have made recent mass bookings for their American and European executives.

There are even unconfirmed reports in the government-guided Saudi media of mass resignations from the state-owned energy giant Saudi Aramco, where Americans make up the bulk of the more than 10,000 Westerners whose expertise the kingdom still largely relies on to run its most vital economic sector.


If it works? Bad news.

The good news is, Saudi Arabia is no Iraq — just like Iraq doesn’t compare to Vietnam. Should the worst come to pass, we would really have but two interests left in Saudi Arabia:

1) Protecting the oil fields.

2) Cutting off petrodollars to the terrorists.

If you accomplish the first goal, the second goal is accomplished, too. Making things easier, almost all the oil is located in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province which hugs the Persian Gulf coast. 40,000 Coalition troops would probably be more than adequate to secure the richest oil-producing areas. And when the pickings are as ripe as the Saudi oil fields, don’t doubt for one second that the French, Germans, and other recalcitrant nations wouldn’t jump on board, and fast.

The rest of the country has little beyond sand, the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and a whole lot of quite poor and rather fanatical Wahhabi tribesmen. Let them have their desert and their hate and their poverty. Without the oil, they don’t have much to offer the world, other than issuing worthless fatwas and slaughtering not-quite-holy-enough pilgrims traveling to Mecca.

That’s not to say I endorse dismembering Saudi Arabia. War should always the last resort, and is almost as frequently the wrong choice. Even a successful campaign would seriously disrupt the flow of Arabian oil



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