White House sees improvements in Saudi Arabia, others skeptical

Thursday, December 4, 2003

The Bush administration has determined that Saudi Arabia achieved progress in stopping logistical, financial and moral support to Al Qaida. But some senators have their doubts.

The administration has concluded that Riyad has reduced financing to Al Qaida and related groups. In addition, officials said, Saudi authorities have also curbed extremist clerics and recalled textbooks found objectionable by the United States.

The administration's assessment was reported in a Senate hearing late last month, Middle East Newsline reported. James Oberwetter, President George Bush's nominee to become the next U.S. ambassador to Riyad, reviewed Saudi Arabia's record in its war on Al Qaida during testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"I think the Saudis now begin to understand, especially after the incidents of May 12, that this is not a problem that exists just for the United States or just for the West, but they have this problem too," Oberwetter said.

Oberwetter said the change in Saudi policy began after the Al Qaida suicide attacks against a Western compound in Riyad in May. Since that attack, Oberwetter said, Saudi intelligence cooperation with Washington has improved significantly.

Anti-God scientists may not be as all-knowing as they think
The pig-headed scientist who refuses to admit reality is really just a pathetic creature of the pathetic anti-God clan, which seems to now infest the institutes of higher learning of this nation: Read on . . .

"That tells me that we are getting better at discerning problems ahead of time, and that is a vast improvement over where we've been before," the administration's nominee said.

Senators at the hearing expressed skepticism regarding the administration's assessment of the Saudi fight against Al Qaida. Some of the senators argued that the kingdom has made little progress in human rights or freedom of religion.

Oberwetter agreed. He said as ambassador he would encourage Riyad to respect religions other than Islam.

"Freedom of religion as we know it does not exist, and participation even by some sects of Islam is not allowed," Oberwetter said. "We need to continue to engage in dialogue with the Saudis and discuss with them the opportunities for freedom of religion."

A Texas oil lobbyist, Oberwetter also said the kingdom has increased oversight over Islamic charities. He said authorities have removed charity boxes from mosques.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover