CASTLES MADE OF SAND: The United States and Saudia Arabia

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Is Saudi Arabia an ally or an adversary? Saudi Arabia remains an autocratic monarchy, where the rights of women and the press are severely restricted. Saudi money is a principal source of funding for the Wahhabi sect, which promotes a militant form of Islam throughout the Muslim world. Osama bin Laden and fifteen of the nineteen participants in the attacks of September 11 came from Saudi Arabia. And yet, for more than 50 years, the United States has treated Saudi Arabia as an ally. Why? What role have Saudi oil and Saudi oil money played in shaping our relationship? Is it time to recognize that Saudi Arabia may threaten American national interests? If so, what should U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia be?

Recorded on Thursday, March 20, 2003

Peter Robinson: Today on Uncommon Knowledge, the United States and Saudi Arabia: time to draw a line in the sand?

Announcer: Funding for this program is provided by the John M. Olin Foundation and the Starr Foundation.


Peter Robinson: Welcome to Uncommon Knowledge, I'm Peter Robinson. Our show today: Saudi Arabia, ally or adversary? Here's what we know about Saudi Arabia--the country remains an autocratic monarchy in which the rights of women and the press are severely restricted. Saudi money funds the Wahhabi sect, which in turn promotes a militant form of Islam throughout the Muslim world. Osama Bin Laden came from a rich Saudi family and 15 of the 19 participants in the terror attacks of September 11th, were Saudis. Yet for fifty years, the United States has treated Saudi Arabia as a close ally, why? Has the time now come to recognize that Saudi Arabia represents a threat to American interests and ideals? If so, what should American policy toward Saudi Arabia become?

Joining us, three guests. Abraham Sofaer is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. As'ad AbuKhalil is a professor of political science at Cal State Stanislaus and the author of the book The House of Bush and the House of Saud. And Daniel Pipes is Executive Director of the Middle East Forum and the author of the book Militant Islam Comes to America.

Title: Laments of Arabia

Peter Robinson: Historian Victor Davis Hanson, "Americans are finally seeing militant Islam as a threat to our very existence. Saudi Arabia is the placenta of this frightening phenomenon--its money has financed it, its native terrorists promote it, and its own unhappy citizenry is either amused by or indifferent to its effects on the world." Saudi Arabia as the primary incubator of Islamic terrorism, true, false, overstatement, understatement, Abe?

Abraham Sofaer: Pretty close to the truth, yeah.

Peter Robinson: Daniel?

Daniel Pipes: No disagreement here.

Peter Robinson: No disagreement, As'ad?

As'ad AbuKhalil: Well, I don't like the word Islamic terrorism, but it is true that Saudi Arabia has funneled and funded fanatic Islamic fundamentalists in cooperation with the United States, let us remember.

Peter Robinson: All right, we'll come to all of that. I would like to know what makes Saudi Arabia the nation that it is. Osama Bin Laden comes from a rich Saudi family. Fifteen of the nineteen participants in the attacks of September 11th were Saudi nationals, thousands of Saudis, we now know, traveled over the years to the Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, and almost 80% of the Al Qaeda forces we captured in Afghanistan and now have detained in Guantanamo Bay are Saudis. So you have the Muslim world stretching from Morocco to Indonesia, why should one country, Saudi Arabia, be responsible for such a hugely disproportionate number of terrorists? Daniel?

Daniel Pipes: Well Peter, if we'd been talking about militant Islam 15 years ago, we would have been looking at Iran. Iran was our problem then, or was the problem then, and today it's Saudi Arabia. So what you have are different states at different times taking the leadership in this and today it is no question Saudi Arabia.

Peter Robinson: And it is intentionally taking to leadership--that is to say, this is to say, this is not necessarily something bubbling up from below, but the royal family intentionally has fomented this?

Daniel Pipes: There's an ideology, the Wahhabi ideology, or as the Saudis themselves call it, the Salafi ideology, which a century ago was peripheral extremist and ignored. And over the century, thanks to the Saudi access to money through the oil, the Saudi control of Mecca and Medina, the two holy cities of Islam, and Saudi energy and creativity has become authoritative, it's central and very powerful. And, as you pointed out, is now the single most important locus for the spreading of militant Islam.

Peter Robinson: Okay, As'ad, a combination of Saudi oil money and the Wahhabi--you called it an ideology, but wouldn't it be right to call it a religious subset of Islam?

As'ad AbuKhalil: No, no, it is an ideology. In fact, we are talking about a very small segment of the Muslim population and a quite unrepresentative doctrine that is imposed on the people of Saudi Arabia by the royal family. I am very much in agreement with all the criticism that should be and can be leveled at the royal family and their promotion of a very strict fundamentalist, fanatical Islam. We in the Arab world, those of us who are on the left--feminists, secularists-- have been complaining about the role of Saudi Arabia in funneling and spawning this phenomenon of fundamentalist Islam for decades. But what I absolutely cannot sit and watch is to evaluate that phenomenon without any reference to the cooperation, that solid alliance, that has been struck since throughout the Cold War between the United States and Saudi Arabia. You see, these two sides have deliberately and very carefully and systematically supported the promotion of this phenomenon of fanatical Islam in order to create an alternative to what America was worried about at that time, which is the left and the secularists and Arab nationalists. And now….

Peter Robinson: Hold on, so you're talking about going back way back, 50 years, when it seemed as though the threat to the West, to the United States, to Western Europe, in the Arab world was perhaps Nasser--secularism in that form.

As'ad AbuKhalil: Right, and in fact, what is very important to note in this regard is that as much as we complain about this kooky, fanatical vision that Bin Laden and his cohorts have, it is quite consistent with the ideology that has been forced on the people of Saudi Arabia by the royal family.

Peter Robinson: As'ad said that American support for the royal family is responsible for a lot of the trouble the Saudis have caused. So why have we been allies with Saudi Arabia for so long?

Title: It's a Gas Gas Gas

Peter Robinson: Over the last 50 years, what has been the relationship of the United States with Saudi Arabia. As'ad has said we've been very close allies with the royal family.

Abraham Sofaer: Well, we have but it's preposterous to say we promoted Wahhabism, that part of it is just totally…

Peter Robinson: So what was our relationship with them?

Abraham Sofaer: We are allies with Saudi Arabia, we've relied on them…

Peter Robinson: Because we want their oil?

Abraham Sofaer: Clearly we want to go on having a stable source of oil. We don't want to seize their oil, we want to buy their oil like any other good customer. We would like to see stability in the Middle East. Clearly the Saudis have provided that to some degree. We worked together in Afghanistan. Now it's true, in Afghanistan…

Peter Robinson: We worked together in Afghanistan when the Soviets had invaded to roll them back.

Abraham Sofaer: Absolutely and between communism and Islam, we certainly preferred Islam and we preferred the freedom of the Afghanis. But we did not by that action support the extension of Wahhabism.

Peter Robinson: But for 50 years then, the United States has in Saudi Arabia a good and indeed useful ally. Do you subscribe to that notion?

Daniel Pipes: Not quite. We have had a very cringing and I would call it obsequious relationship with the Saudis.

Peter Robinson: We have been obsequious or they?

Daniel Pipes: We have been, we have been. It's been a very cozy elite-to-elite relationship where the Saudis have struck a kind of deal with our leadership--bipartisan, Democrat, Republican--and they have focused on this leadership, political, to a certain extent congressional, military, diplomatic. They have rewarded our people for being compliant. You have a pattern of corruption.

Peter Robinson: How have they rewarded our people?

Daniel Pipes: Money, there's a lot of money that's been flowing…

Peter Robinson: They have bought influence in this country.

Daniel Pipes: They have bought influence. Former presidents, former ambassadors, former generals--we have been corrupted by the Saudi relationship and I don't think it's because Saudi Arabia is so important. It is important, it is a very major oil producer. But it is rather, the Saudis have used their money in a creatively corrupt way, that say the Kuwaitis or Venezuelans have not.

Peter Robinson: Let me establish one clean point, I think it can be established cleanly. Do they have leverage over us because they sit on 25% of the world's known oil reserves or do they not? That is to say, the argument, they sit on the oil, therefore we have to behave in a certain way toward them. But the other argument is, wait a minute, the only point of sitting on oil is to sell it. No matter who's running Saudi Arabia, they'll sell the oil. What's your view of that?

Daniel Pipes: I would say no their leverage does not come primarily from the oil because a lot of other states have a lot of oil which they don't have leverage from. They have leverage because they corrupt our leadership.

Peter Robinson: Next topic, what is Wahhabism and why does it flourish in Saudi Arabia?

Title: Children of the Dunes

Peter Robinson: A Muslim sect founded by Abdul Wahhab, 1703 to 1792 known for its strict observance of the Koran and flourishing mainly in Arabia. Now, why is it that a sect founded by a man who died three centuries and a year ago should be flourishing in Saudi Arabia and distinctively in Saudi Arabia, not elsewhere in the Muslin world today? What's going on?

As'ad AbuKhalil: It is not fair to say that it is flourishing in any way. We have to remember that Wahhabi is the result of a marriage of convenience between two families--the family of this person who died, and the royal family of Saud who unfortunately to everybody concerned in the world I think, were able through the force of arms and massacring dissidents and expulsion of people they didn't like to impose their will on the entire peninsula of Saudi Arabia.

Peter Robinson: Why did the Sauds need the Wahhab family?

As'ad AbuKhalil: Because they wanted an ideology to stand for what they wanted to spread throughout the peninsula. But the important thing to remember, the good news about this is, despite the oil wealth, the vast oil resources that they have, they have been trying to ram Wahhabi ideology throughout the world, and this is where I disagree with you, and I think the results have been abysmal failure. Yes there are mosques in the United States and elsewhere who may take money from Saudi Arabia, but Wahhabi is dismissed by most people as a fanatical ideology that is at its core religiously intolerant, misogynistic and anti-Semitic.

Peter Robinson: By most Muslims--most Muslims dismiss it.

As'ad AbuKhalil: Absolutely true, and if it wasn't for the money, that's where all the money is--they buy off critics in much part of the Muslim Arab world, so that they would not voice their criticism of it.

Peter Robinson: I'm going to quote journalist William Kristol: "Wahhabi teachings, religious schools, and Saudi oil money, have encouraged young Muslims around the world to a Jihad-like incitement against non-Muslims. The combination of Wahhabi ideology and Saudi money has contributed more to the radicalization and anti-Americanization of large parts of the Islamic world than any other single factor." Do you go for that?

Daniel Pipes: Basically yes.

Peter Robinson: Abe?

Abraham Sofaer: Yes.

Peter Robinson: And you do?

As'ad AbuKhalil: No, I do not view the underlying causes for Muslim, Arab antipathy to the United States due to funding of schools in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, as sinister as their role may be--because as I told you, I grant you that Bin Laden is a logical extension of the Saudi royal family's ideology and its propagation through their schools, but I have to say this, it's important that we realize that at the core of the underlying causes of anti-American phenomenon throughout the world are real concrete policies.

Peter Robinson: Name one.

As'ad AbuKhalil: America's policies toward Israel and America's support for a dictatorship like Saudi Arabia.

Peter Robinson: So let me give you a test case--if we abandoned our support for Israel, suddenly the antipathy toward us in the Arab world would disappear? Is that the principle source of it in your view?

As'ad AbuKhalil: While I do not wish to reduce it, I would say in large part is America's--and there are public opinion surveys by Gallup and others which substantiated the statement. And the second is, Arabs are also unhappy about America's support for this most oppressive, ruthless dictatorship of the royal family. They don't like that either.

Peter Robinson: Abe, Israel--if we withdraw our support for Israel, our problems in the Arab world would substantially disappear. Do you buy that?

Abraham Sofaer: No I don't buy it at all.

Peter Robinson: You don't buy it at all.

Abraham Sofaer: Absolutely not. Most of the Arab opposition to Israel does not--I mean if you're talking about destroying Israel, it may be that the radical and anti-Jewish elements of the Arab world, which are very substantial, would be very happy indeed. They'd be dancing in the streets the way they were when the World Trade Center came down. Buy if you're talking about would a negotiated settlement and peace in Israel be pleasing to the Arab world--not to these guys--the Wahhabis and people like them and the Saudis even until very recently, they never, ever said anything constructive about the peace process and the notion of two states living side by side in peace has not been accepted by radical Islam to this very day.

Peter Robinson: But you're substantiating As'ad's point though, that it's our support for Israel that is one of the bones of contention in the Arab world, it's not just their spreading of the Wahhabi ideology.

Daniel Pipes: It's not Israel. The key point is whether the Arabs make their own destiny or whether, as Professor AbuKhalil would have it, we make their destiny. The decisions made in Washington and by American corporations are the key to everything. This is the typical left-wing view of the world--that decisions made in the United States drive everything else and the other people of the world are victims, passive, it's essentially a racist notion--we would have to agree on that, that we, white people in Washington, we make the important decisions and those brown people out there, they are the recipients of our decisions. That's wrong. Let me finish, it's wrong, it's wrong. They're making decisions about their own fate, which are equal or more important than the decisions we're making.

Peter Robinson: Now let's look at three different options for reforming our relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Title: Bootprints in the Sand

Peter Robinson: Option number one--the United States should get serious. President Bush identified countries participating in the Axis of Evil--he named Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. The administration should be straightforward and honest enough to add Saudi Arabia to the list, publicly identifying Saudi Arabia as a threat to American interests and ideals. You don't go for that at all?

Abraham Sofaer: Absolutely not.

Peter Robinson: But Daniel will I think.

Daniel Pipes: No, I would say to Saudi Arabia, you have a couple of months to make up your mind. Are you with us or are you against us? I'd give them a chance. I would not preempt the decision.

Abraham Sofaer: I would work with them carefully and intensely after having demonstrated our seriousness of purpose now in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Saudis have been sitting on the fence in part because we have been so inconsistent and so--we've been saying things about what we're going to do to make the world a better place and not following up on them

Peter Robinson: Would it be healthy from your point of view if we did become open adversaries of--or recognized as Daniel would have it, that there are adversaries. Then we're cut free.

As'ad AbuKhalil: I want to say this--I mean I don't answer the question, I want to go, to quote Nietzsche, beyond good and evil in this language. But I would say this, that one of the contentions I have with the United States is not that we want the United States to help us out, but not to thwart efforts for modernization and liberalization, democratization, secularization of the Middle East.

Peter Robinson: And by supporting the royal family we're thwarting all that?

As'ad AbuKhalil: How can the Arabs have control over their own destiny when the United States has three hundred thousand troops in the region, when they support dictatorship over the will of their own people, and when the United States bankrolls the state of Israel and everything that it does to the Palestinians and this being a great factor in Arab antipathy and Muslim antipathy to the United States.

Daniel Pipes: It's all our fault. Oh, the left is so predictable.

As'ad AbuKhalil: Public opinion surveys substantiate that. It is not true that Saudi youth are opposed to American values according to the Gallup poll, it's substantiated. They are very favorable to the American people, American education, American technology, American freedom, they just don't like American foreign policy.

Peter Robinson: Option two--address the causes of Saudi resentment. The United States should demonstrate a new even-handedness in the Middle East by insisting that the Israelis stop the formation of new settlements in Palestinian areas and pull back most of the settlements that already exist. This may not go far enough for you, but I'm the one making it up here. And as soon as Iraq is secured we should withdraw our forces from Saudi Arabia and shut those bases down. Abe?

Abraham Sofaer: We do need a comprehensive balanced approach to the Middle East peace process, one that puts more pressure on the Palestinians to stop their terror and more pressure on the Israelis to provide justice.

Daniel Pipes: Oh, I never wanted a base in Saudi Arabia. I always was an advocate for putting one in Kuwait and that's in fact where our soldiers are.

Peter Robinson: So the two of you disagree on all kinds of things, but on that point, right.

As'ad AbuKhalil: Perhaps some different perspectives and different motives.

Peter Robinson: By the way, can I ask what on Earth--the notion, as I understood it, was that we put a base there to help the Saudis feel secure against Iraq. On the other hand, you have two countries with roughly the same populations and Saudi Arabia is immensely richer than Iraq, why couldn't they defend themselves?

As'ad AbuKhalil: You have to be naïve to believe that America really sent all of its troops because they were worried about the livelihood of the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia. I mean really.

Peter Robinson: It was to protect a giant bodyguard operation?

As'ad AbuKhalil: Of course and the United States has intentions of regional domination.

Abraham Sofaer: They wanted to maintain security in the region. That's the fundamental principle of U.S. national security policy.

Peter Robinson: Okay, look, As'ad is making the point that the Saudi royal family is oppressive, autocratic, it is holding down…

As'ad AbuKhalil: Sexist, anti-Semitic, religiously intolerant and all the rest.

Peter Robinson: And I think Daniel you would agree. And you would agree too? You're saying they are, if not loyal allies, at least useful allies. Shouldn't we cut these people free?

Abraham Sofaer: They could be useful. Going forward, they could be useful. We have to give them a chance to change.

Daniel Pipes: That's because we don't put any pressure on them. Let's have a robust representation of American interests in the form we've not had.

Abraham Sofaer: But we haven't been consistent either. We have not--oh my goodness, they can't take a chance on backing our ideas on moving away from Wahhabism on suppressing essentially a clerical elite that has grown up over the last 200 years in that area.

Peter Robinson: Why can't they take a chance?

Abraham Sofaer: They can't because they don't have the ability to defend themselves against those Islamic radicals within their own country. We need to show…

Peter Robinson: But we're talking about one of the richest nations on earth, why can't they develop that ability?

Abraham Sofaer: There's a lot of rich people who are very weak.

Peter Robinson: Now on to one more option for reforming our relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Title: Rock the Casbah

Peter Robinson: This is option three, which is live with the problem but work it very hard, okay? We should insist that the Saudis stop funding radical Wahhabism at a minimum in the United States itself, but we should also identify, work with them, identify reformist elements within the royal family, we know there are some…

As'ad AbuKhalil: Who are they?

Peter Robinson: So you don't believe there are any reformist elements in the royal family?

As'ad AbuKhalil: Not in the royal family, the royal family has its own stakes to protect itself against the will of the people.

Peter Robinson: Where do you find the reformist elements though, there's no business class to speak of…

As'ad AbuKhalil: They kicked them out. I mean…

Daniel Pipes: I think the key is for us to have…

Peter Robinson: Lay out the Pipes reform. Give us what we should do.

Daniel Pipes: Well, I don't want to go into detail here, but I would like to say that we should have a much more robust approach to the Saudis. Let me give you an example of the way it is today--not long ago, it turned out that the wife of the Saudi Ambassador to the United States sent money, which at one removed, went to 2 of the 19 suicide hijackers. What was the official American response? The unofficial-official American response was that Barbara Bush…

Peter Robinson: Mother of the President.

Daniel Pipes: …and Alma Powell…

Peter Robinson: Wife of the Secretary of State.

Daniel Pipes: …called the wife…

As'ad AbuKhalil: …to console her…

Daniel Pipes: …to console her and say gee, we're so sorry, this bad news reached the newspapers.

Peter Robinson: And that is a perfect example of the cozy relationship that the Saudis have over the years achieved by throwing parties and giving…

Daniel Pipes: Very close relationship with a lot of different important people in Washington.

Peter Robinson: So that the people who run Washington can't help but see things through the personal prism instead of the prism of the American interest. And that's your point right?

Abraham Sofaer: Well, you can't assume the woman was deliberate and guilty in supporting terrorism. It's so unfair to focus on this one woman.

Daniel Pipes: I didn't assume that she's guilty. I'm assuming that her money ended up there.

Abraham Sofaer: Yeah, but they know her and they know she wouldn't have supported someone…

Daniel Pipes: Oh they do, do they? How do they know that and how do you know that they know that?

Abraham Sofaer: They know her, they know her personally. I think they genuinely believed…

Daniel Pipes: Are you part of the ruling elite that's corrupted by the Saudis or what? I mean, why are you apologizing for them?

Abraham Sofaer: I am neither unfortunately part of the ruling elite nor fortunately corrupted by them.

Peter Robinson: Abe's price is too high. But your point is that whatever the particulars of the case might turn out to be, somebody high in the administration should have called for a full--there should have been a voice of outrage, we should have called for a full investigation at a minimum, right?

Daniel Pipes: At a minimum. Rather than consoling the wife without knowing the facts. I don't know the facts, you don't know the facts, and they don't know the facts.

Abraham Sofaer: These were people who knew each other, they called each other…

Peter Robinson: He's right about this, right? You don't like the cozy relationship either? Clearly the two of you have quite different motives, but on the other hand, your positions are virtually identical. He says we should be much more assertive in dealing with the Saudis, get rid of the cozy relationship between the Saudi royal family and the American elite, and push them in the direction of reform…

As'ad AbuKhalil: No, I'm more extreme than that. I argue there are no salvageable benefits of any relationship with the royal family. You mentioned earlier that a reformist in the royal family, without boring the audience with details, there are reformist individuals. The most notable one is Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz, he is as of now, the only son of the founder of the modern kingdom who is not allowed to hold any official post, and you know why, because he genuinely at one point was a reformist.

Daniel Pipes: He was called, in the 1950s, the Red Prince.

As'ad AbuKhalil: That's right, and kicked out of Saudi Arabia.

Peter Robinson: Your view is that the family that has ruled the peninsula for, what has it been, 80 or 90 years now, roughly since the end of the fall of the Ottoman Empire…

As'ad AbuKhalil: By force.

Peter Robinson: …by whatever means--the family that has ruled the peninsula for all these years is un-reformable?

As'ad AbuKhalil: Totally un-reformable.

Peter Robinson: We should write them off?

Daniel Pipes: We want them out, we should push them out.

As'ad AbuKhalil: I believe, I mean, controlling the destiny, we should allow the Saudi people to control their own destiny. You cannot call for freedom…

Daniel Pipes: So what do you want us to do?

As'ad AbuKhalil: Taking the troops out and let the Saudis among themselves decide what kind of government they have and let us not reduce all opposition to the royal family to Bin Laden. There are many reformists, liberals, feminists, secularists, even in the kingdom itself.

Peter Robinson: Last topic, final thoughts on what the United States should do about Saudi Arabia.

Title: Family Problems

Peter Robinson: We have the example of Saddam Hussein whose active overthrow we sought after the Gulf War. We imposed an embargo on the nation for a dozen years, you could argue whether that did more harm than good, but we actively opposed that guy and the people of Iraq were not able to rise up and overthrow him. Are you suggesting that the Saudi royal family is in a weaker position in Saudi Arabia than Saddam Hussein was in Iraq?

As'ad AbuKhalil: I argue that the royal family wouldn't have existed in power all these years without the direct British and American…

Peter Robinson: You said that! What I'm asking is what we should do about them now.

As'ad AbuKhalil: Withdraw the troops.

Abraham Sofaer: He says we're part of the problem.

Peter Robinson: But Pipes here, for completely different reasons, is saying I don't want to be part of that.

Abraham Sofaer: Right now what we need to do is now that we've gained some credibility with the Saudis…

Peter Robinson: How have we gained credibility?

Abraham Sofaer: By doing what we're doing in Iraq, absolutely.

As'ad AbuKhalil: You've won credibility with the royal family, not with the people of Saudi Arabia.

Abraham Sofaer: We've gained credibility with every right thinking and sensible person in the world.

As'ad AbuKhalil: Absolutely untrue.

Daniel Pipes: And wrong thinking for that matter.

Abraham Sofaer: And what we should do now is go to the royal family, who run Saudi Arabia right now.

Peter Robinson: Nobody's in doubt about that.

Abraham Sofaer: And we need to get them to disassociate with the Wahhabi leadership. We need them to make that divorce and they can do it. It's going to be hard for them.

Daniel Pipes: That's like asking the president to disassociate himself from the constitution.

As'ad AbuKhalil: Or like asking the Taliban to become feminists.

Peter Robinson: Do you think they're reformable?

Daniel Pipes: Yes, but not in that way.

Abraham Sofaer: The only thing that's going to bring it about, we need to move in that direction.

Peter Robinson: We have on the table decades of woe and turmoil and trouble, but it's television, so I have to ask you the last question. A decade from now, will we see Saudi Arabia as an ally, that's our official position today, or to use Daniel's term, as a rival. I'm not asking what you think we should do, I'm asking what you think will actually be the case a decade from now. Daniel?

Daniel Pipes: I think the change is underway as a result of 9/11 and so much has happened since leading us towards the position of seeing them as rival.

Peter Robinson: As'ad?

As'ad AbuKhalil: We may not have Saudi Arabia as we know it in ten years from now.

Peter Robinson: You think ten years from now the royal family might be gone?

As'ad AbuKhalil: We may have a different situation, yeah.

Peter Robinson: Do you think that's likely or…

As'ad AbuKhalil: I think that's likely, I think likely in ten years. There is a lot of turmoil within the kingdom that we don't' hear about.

Daniel Pipes: No royal, no Saud family?

As'ad AbuKhalil: I'm not sure about that. I mean they may have a different structure--the movement for change is growing.

Peter Robinson: But you seriously foresee major upheaval and reform within Saudi Arabia within the next decade.

As'ad AbuKhalil: I do, unless the United States by force prevents it from occurring, that's a different story.

Peter Robinson: Abe Sofaer, within the next decade…

Abraham Sofaer: I think there will be great changes within Saudi Arabia. The key will be do we, the United States, maintain our course now and maintain stability and strength and our word about what we're going to do in the world and what we're not going to tolerate because if we do, the Saudis will be able to count on us to stand by them when they have to confront the forces within their own society that are truly holding them back from realizing their opportunities.

Peter Robinson: As'ad, Abe, and Daniel, thank you very much. I'm Peter Robinson for Uncommon Knowledge, thanks for joining us.