A Changed Saudi Arabia - Amb. Dore Gold


Manage episode 197572351 series 1527508
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I get asked all the time, “You wrote a book, we seem to remember, about Saudi Arabia’s contribution to the rise of global terrorism after 9/11. Yet you are now associated with the effort of the State of Israel and others to bring Saudi Arabia into the tent and to create a kind of new relationship – perhaps a reconciliation – between the Jewish state and the Saudi Kingdom. How do you explain that? Isn’t that an inconsistency.” The Israeli security establishment at the time estimated that between 50 and 70% of the Hamas budget came from Saudi Arabia. When Israel was forced to move into Palestinian cities during that period and entered into the headquarters of many of these organizations, it discovered Saudi documents in Hamas files. In those file drawers were canceled checks, from even Chase Manhattan Bank and from other financial institutions, which linked Saudi Arabia to these various terror organizations through certain financial arms. Saudi Arabia had large international charities like the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), and the Charitable Foundations of al-Haramain that are involved in terrorist financing from Bosnia to Indonesia. But something happened since then that changed this picture. In May 2003, Riyadh was struck by a triple suicide bombing attack – 18 people were killed and Saudi Arabia shifted from being on the side of those who were launching these terrorist attacks to those who were victims of terrorism. Basically, Saudi Arabia from that point onward was on the same side as the United States, Israel, and those countries of Western Europe that were being affected by the escalating wave of suicide bombing attacks that was striking all of us. We also got a clearer picture of where the ideology for these attacks was emanating from. While it was true that Wahhabi Islam – that entered the world stage in the 1700s – was associated with the revival of jihad in the Arabian Peninsula, the ones who were really behind the ideological push towards a renewed terrorism were organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, which had sought and received sanctuary in Saudi Arabia when it was attacked by Ba’athist Syria or Nasserist Egypt. So what is the situation today? What draws Israel and Saudi Arabia to the same side of the fence? *** Ambassador Dore Gold has served as President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs since 2000. From June 2015 until October 2016 he served as Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Previously he served as Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN (1997-1999), and as an advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

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