Nearly a year ago, Khalid Mishaal, a senior leader of Hamas, the militant Palestinian organization, attended a charitable fund-raising conference here where he talked at length with Crown Prince Abdullah, the de facto Saudi ruler.
According to a summary of the meeting written by a Hamas official, Mr. Mishaal and other Hamas representatives thanked their Saudi hosts for continuing "to send aid to the people through the civilian and popular channels, despite all the American pressures exerted on them."
The Saudi government, of course, says it doesn't support terrorists:
- "It's a ridiculous accusation; no Saudi government money goes to Hamas, directly or indirectly," said Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign affairs adviser to Prince Abdullah. "Why on earth would we not stop this kind of funding? Why on earth would our crown prince say we do not want to support Hamas and then allow people to do this under the table?"
But note the qualifier: no Saudi government money goes to Hamas. In a country where just about all the wealth is concentrated in the hands of the royal family (or close associates like the bin Laden clan), the distinction between their private donations and government policy amounts to precious little difference.
Of course, another Real Reason for evicting Saddam was that it would supposedly, somehow, give us more leverage over the Saudis. But we were getting leverage from Saddam while he was in power, when the Saudis needed American troops to defend against the threat he represented. Now those troops are supposed to be going, and the leverage is already gone. Meanwhile, a major chunk of American military combat strength -- not only regular army, but the reserves, fercryinnoutloud -- are bogged down in the Iraqi occupation, with no end in sight, and al-Jazeera daily carries on-site reporting that makes a mockery of the sunny pronouncements of Dubya's aides and shills. How exactly has this enhanced our freedom of action vis-a-vis the Saudis?
It hasn't been a great month for the Fake Reasons for the invasion either. Kay's report on WMD has been delayed, apparently because they couldn't even find evidence of enough nebulous weapons-related activity to say that Saddam had a "program" for developing weapons -- they seem to have given up on actual weapons long ago. And as I'm the last lefty blogger on the planet to note, Dumsfeld has just admitted that he has "not seen any indication" that Saddam had a thing to do with 9/11, even though his knee-jerk response to the attack when it happened was to try to turn it into an excuse to launch an attack on Saddam. Links via Thinking it Through