Saudi Arabia reacts angrily to US hawks' campaign

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia angrily rejected yesterday a "tendentious" campaign led by US hawks after an adviser to Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld lumped the kingdom in the "axis of evil".

By (AFP)

Published: Tue 13 Jan 2004, 1:22 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:06 AM

State-monitored media led the charge warning that Washington's own interests were being damaged.

Rumsfeld aide Richard Perle told CNN on Sunday: "The Saudis qualify for their own membership in the axis of evil," which President George W. Bush described as Iran, Saddam Hussein's Iraq and North Korea.

"I hope that those who believe that we are now getting full cooperation are right," he added, referring to Saudi Arabia's role in the war on terror following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

"I have yet to see the evidence," Perle charged in the latest assault on the kingdom by influential US neo-conservatives.

Turki Al Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence service chief, and today ambassador in London, branded Perle a "Zionist extremist".

The envoy told the Al Hayat newspaper that Mr Perle "has predicted the disintegration of Saudi Arabia and expressed his own point of view much more than that of Washington."

"People have been talking about the disintegration of Arabia and the overthrow of its regime since the kingdom was created in 1932,” said Prince Turki, a senior figure in the royal family.

Saudi Arabia owed its existence to "God, followed by its faithful people," he added. The Okaz newspaper set the tone of the riposte in the media. "The hawks stubbornly follow the same political line they laid out for this administration to impose their hegemony over the world and not to lead it," it said. "While the world refuses war to settle conflict ... Washington is alone against the tide, losing friends, making enemies," the daily said.

Okaz warned that "by tolerating campaigns directed against its strategic interest, the (Bush) administration is acting against American interests."

Al Watan hit out at such "irresponsible statements" which the daily charged were part of a "tendentious campaign".

"Richard Perle, one of the main planners of the war in Iraq, knows only the language of force, murder and destruction," the paper said.

"From his statements and those of his ilk, we do not believe that the United States wants to improve its image in the world.

"This image will not change until it changes the policy based on the recourse or threat of recourse to force."

The Makkah daily Al Yaum branded Mr Perle a "rotten fruit ... dishing out accusations left and right."

"Through its flagrant interference in the affairs of other states," Washington was becoming "a tool destroying world peace," added the Riyadh daily Al Jazira.

Saudi authorities, fearing further attacks such as those that devastated residential compounds in the capital in May and November killing a total of 52 people, have stepped up the hunt for extremists.

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