Russia » Economics
Author`s name Michael Simpson

Can Saudi Arabia do without the USA? - 9 September, 2002


The USA has evidently made haste to spread rumors about its hostility to the Arab nations and to Saudi Arabia particularly. Dependence of the USA upon Arab resources and Arab money deposited in American banks is tremendous. It is not clear who is to collapse first if Saudi princes give up friendship with the USA. And Saudi Arabia actively uses every opportunity to drop hints about it to the USA.


According to the Wall Street Journal, Saudi Arabia said it wouldn’t allow access to the earlier promised natural gas fields for western companies. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told about changing his position last week in a letter to the oil consortium where Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch-Shell are the members. The letter says, foreign companies will not be allowed to the developed gas fields, and the decision is perfectly resolute. Instead, Saudi Arabia offers less developed fields for gas production. But western companies realize perfectly well that millions of dollars invested in development of these fields will be not justified.
 
Western companies have been planning to develop Saudi oil and gas fields for a long period already, they even wanted to invest $25 billion in the sectors. And Saudi leadership is said to have promised access to these sectors. According to the plan, western companies were also to have built and controlled large-scale energy, water supplying and petrochemical complexes in Saudi Arabia.

It is like a tempting carrot before a donkey nose. The matter of the fact is that since the 1970s, Saudi Arabia has bought out shares of western companies in Aramco and currently produces oil and gas independently. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has no companies such as Russia’s Gazprom and LUKOIL. It is the state, or the ruling dynasty that owns gas and oil fields and the product itself in Saudi Arabia. Producing companies are just contractors. There is no chance to buy up the controlling stocks and take control over the Saudi gas and oil industry. And even the USA is powerless to buy the Saudi state itself. In other words, the Saudi economic model drastically differs from that of the USA. Methods traditionally used by America for conquering economies of other countries failed in Saudi Arabia. So, it is a chance to consider advantages of monarchy over democracy.
 
Certainly, it was a hasty decision for the USA to think it is the best, and the whole of the world is ready to kiss the ground under its feet. Such statements are absolutely wrong, although they are sometimes true to reality. Currently, the USA can afford to ignore its EU partners, exert pressure upon Japan and ignore China, not to mention Russia. As it turns out, although the USA is rattling the sabre, it fails to ignore small Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Saudi David is delivering painful blows against American Goliath.

That is why it is perfectly clear why the ruling Saudi elite was so much indignant when families of the 9/11 victims registered a claim against Saudi Arabia for compensations. It is not ruled out that three members of the Royal Family can be brought into account in connection with the claim. In fact, it is not yet officially proved that Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was closely connected with the 9/11 terrorism attacks.
 
On the other hand, it is an open secret that Saudi Arabia spends trillions of dollars on spreading Vakhabism all over the world. The CIA and FBI are so much worried about this problem. However, in this respect the ruling Saudi family is true to its own religious and political principles. 
 
In any case, along with a successful forcing Coca-Cola out of the Arab markets and threats to register counter-claims against the USA, Saudi Arabia has started gradual withdrawing of its savings from the US banks. It is being done on a lower scale so far, for the sake of prophylaxis. And the sums are not so great yet.

For example, Saudi bank Al-Rajhi Investment and Development Corp. has already declared its intention to remove  its deposits from American banks. This Saudi bank, together with other Saudi banks, charitable organizations and members of the Royal family became a respondent in the case on secret financing of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Saudi depositors keep about $750 billion in American banks. Saudi mass media have launched a real hysteria with appeals to remove deposits from US banks and deposit money in the Saudi banks. Indeed, is it really wise to sit and wait till George W. Bush decides to freeze this money on some plausible pretext?
  
At the same time, Er Riyadh insists that political relations with the USA should be revised. America has been one of Saudi’s basic strategic allies for over 50 years already. Saudi newspaper Al-Riyadh which is close to the government, proclaimed on Friday:

“We should ask ourselves, to what extent it is right to say that America is our strategic choice that has no alternative at all. This opinion is groundless.”
 
Currently, Russia hopes to become the key oil supplier to the US market. Especially that Russian gas reserves are the biggest in the world. The Kremlin thinks that it is a good chance for Russia to change and improve its political and economic status. Some political scientist in the West said that President Putin is aiming to win a position of a so-called universal vice-president. It is clear that only foreigners can allow such tactless statements. In any case, it seems that currently Russia highly appreciates friendship with the USA. However, who can guarantee that it is the only true strategic solution?  
 
Dmitry Slobodanuk
PRAVDA.Ru

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