Tuesday, April 15, 2008

House of cards

From 9/11 to BAE, the Saudis have turned the purchase of political power into a fine art

By Craig Unger
(author of House of Bush, House of Saud)
The Guardian, Tuesday April 15 2008

"If Saudi Arabia continues to escape unscathed for its role in the alleged bribery of BAE Systems, it won't be the first time that the Saudis' enormous political power has tipped the scales of justice. Several years ago no less an authority than Prince Bandar, the Saudi national security adviser who reportedly received £1bn in the BAE scandal, blithely confided to an American television reporter that the House of Saud may have stolen tens of billions of dollars from the kingdom it ruled. "If you tell me that building this whole country ... we misused or got corrupted with fifty billion, I'll tell you, 'Yes' ... So what?" Bandar said. "We did not invent corruption."

The House of Saud has turned the purchase of political influence into a fine art. In the 70s, young Saudi billionaires such as Salem bin Laden, the half-brother of Osama, and Khalid bin Mahfouz, a banker, made their way to Texas and, directly and indirectly, entered a variety of business relationships with politicians on the way up. "[The Saudis] wanted to build up relationships with key people at the same time they had return on investments," said Nawaf Obaid, an oil analyst close to the House of Saud. Ultimately, these ties led to business deals with, among others, George W Bush, his father, and James Baker, the elder Bush's secretary of state......

Moreover, because one of the disastrous consequences of the Iraq war has been the rise of Iran, the west is now in a position where it has to lean on the Saudis to win support for its policy of isolating Iran. As a result, the Saudis have a stronger hand than ever."

Watch Bandar:
Bandar: We Are Corrupt; So What!

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