In the ten years since the attacks on Sept. 11th, 2001, we’ve been at war with al-Qaeda, fighting the outfit in Afghanistan and Iraq, while keeping up the pressure on their networks with drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. (Libya remains a “humanitarian intervention,” and al-Qaeda has yet to plant its flag there.) Those countries all have a long record of supporting terrorism, or harboring terrorists, or, as in the case of Iraq, becoming hotbeds for terrorism after we arrived. But there is one country conspicuously absent from the list of nations we’ve aggressively targeted — Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia, home to 15 of the 19 al-Qaeda hijackers, has remained our friend and close ally. (Had 15 of the hijackers been from Iran, we’d have 150,000 troops celebrating Christmas in Tehran; had 15 of the 19 been from Iraq, we’d have been in Baghdad on September 12.) Osama bin Laden himself, of course, was a Saudi citizen whose prominent family had close ties with the royals. The Saudis, along with Pakistan, were just two of the three counties that recognized the Taliban government. Yet officially the country remained above reproach. In the past ten years, the Saudi government has never been even verbally attacked by the State Department or the White House. The most stinging rebuke, in fact, was from Rudy Giuliani, who famously rejected a $10 million gift from a Saudi prince — and he got away with it because our anger was still so raw after the attacks.
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