Tuesday, June 19, 2007
by Eric Margolis
"Anyone who wants to understand what really goes on in the Mideast should have a look at the scandal that erupted earlier this month over the outsized character of Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia.
Bandar has long been a renowned mover, shaker, and charmer. As Saudi ambassador to the US, the influential Bandar schmoozed official Washington for two decades. He became an intimate of the Bush family. He invested a least $60 million in Saudi funds in the Carlyle Corp., in which the Bush family has important interests. Equally significant, Prince Bandar was a particular favorite at the CIA, where he was long considered one of its prime Mideast “assets.”......
The most significant effect of this revolting scandal is being felt in the Muslim world. One of the major reasons for the fast-spreading influence of militant Islamic groups like Hezbullah, Hamas, and Taliban has been their success in uprooting the Muslim world’s endemic corruption and nepotism. We are so used to Islamists being demonized as “terrorists” that their highly effective and popular social accomplishments are rarely noted. In fact, their appeal and popularity is based primarily on their welfare and incorruptibility.
Islamic militants insist the west exploits their nations by keeping deeply corrupt regimes in power. In exchange for protection from their own people and neighbors, and fabulous wealth, these authoritarian Arab regimes – always termed “moderates” by western media – sell oil on the cheap to the west and do its bidding. US-installed governments in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan are all noted for egregious corruption, including secret payoffs from Washington to their leaders.
No wonder Prince Bandar was always so amiable and accommodating. Or that he managed to fly out a planeload of Saudis the day after 9/11 when all US flights were grounded. Or that the Bush administration was trying to position the always amenable prince as the next Saudi monarch.
The Bandar scandal is hugely embarrassing for Blair and Bush, who claim to be leading a crusade to bring democracy and good government to the benighted Muslim world. It starkly confirms Islamists’ accusations that the west promotes corruption. And it dramatically exposes the dirty underbelly of the west’s much-vaunted “special relationship” with the Saudi royal family."