Saudi Intelligence Chief Explains Why Saudis Support Bin Laden Cause, Says Arafat “Man Of Peace”
In criticism of U.S. President George W. Bush, Saudi Arabia's senior intelligence official called Palestinian President Yasser Arafat “a man of peace” and warned that any action by the United States to weaken him would completely destroy the chances for a peace settlement. In addition, it would have serious repercussions for the Kingdom, according to the New York Times.
In an interview Saturday, Prince Nawaf ibn Abdulaziz, director of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service, also acknowledged that the vast majority of Saudi young adults sympathized for the cause of Al Qaeda network leader, Osama bin Laden after September 11. However, they rejected the attacks in New York and Washington.
A classified U.S. report taken from a Saudi intelligence survey of educated Saudis between the ages of 25 and 41 in mid-October concluded that 95 percent of those surveyed supported bin Laden's cause, according to an administration official. Prince Nawaf confirmed the existence of the survey, but not the findings. He attributed the support to what he called people's feelings against the United States, mainly, he said, because of its firm support of Israel.
Although he insisted that Saudi Arabia had no intention of asking the United States to remove its military presence, which bin Laden has long demanded, the prince stated that the Kingdom would not support a campaign against Iraq or any Arab or Muslim country.
With regards to comments made recently by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, Prince Nawaf challenged the criticism on Arafat and warned the United States not to punish him.
“All the governments, the people of the region, believe that America is supporting Israel whether it is right or wrong, and now if something happens to Yasser Arafat, the feeling against American policy will be stronger,” the prince conveyed. “Anybody will be able to use it to damage American interests in the area.”
The prince is a half brother of both King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz, the de facto ruler.
Following the interview at his headquarters, the prince participated at a reception at the crown prince’s residence, held in connection with an annual Saudi festival.
There, Prince Abdullah was less critical of U.S. foreign policy. Asked what message he would send to Bush regarding the war on terrorism, he replied, “My advice to President Bush is to pursue the interests of the United States. This will solve everything.”
The crown prince has called on the administration to become more engaged in resolving the Palestinian crisis and has criticized Washington harshly for what he sees as its refusal to exert pressure on Israel.
For his part, Prince Nawaf said that, if Arafat left the arena, no other Palestinian would make peace. ”If the United States is going to make it worse by cutting ties with Arafat, who will come to make a peace settlement?” he asked.
“I'm telling the Americans: You can accuse Arafat of anything except that he is not a man of peace,” he declared. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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