|January 31, 2008|
|Saudi Arabia, PR powerhouse, is biggest deadbeat when it comes to fixing Iraq|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|Saudi Arabia has spent millions for PR in the U.S. since 9/11 to promote itself as a strong U.S. ally in the so-called war on terror. |
The Kingdom stands as a PR powerhouse, skillfully using the talent of Qorvis Communications to massage the hard fact that 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers hailed from Saudi Arabia.
This blogger is all for PR and happy that Qorvis is receiving barrels of petrodollars. He frets that the money could have been put to better use. The reconstruction of Iraq comes to mind. On Iraq rebuilding, the Saudis talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.
Our purported ally is the biggest deadbeat when it comes to living up to its Iraq funding commitment. A report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Construction found that foreign countries have spent only $2.5B of the nearly $16B that was pledged during an `03 conference in Madrid.
Saudi Arabia is the No. 1 financial shirker. It spent only $87M of the $500M pledged, representing a $413M Iraqi gap. Neighboring Arab countries do just a little better. Kuwait spent $135M of its $500M pledge ($365M gap), United Arab Emirates shelled out $62.6M of its $215M pledge ($152.4M shortfall) and Qatar forked over $27.5M of its $100M pledge ($72.5M gap).
The Arabs are taking us to the cleaners. The U.S. spent $440B so far for the Iraq War. The Pentagon, on Jan. 29, asked for another $70B for partial funding for the war in `09. On the reconstruction front, the U.S. spent $29B for Iraq. Congress has okayed another $16.5B.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Qatar are constructing various Disneylands in the sand and buying chunks of American companies. They laugh all the way to the bank as crude oil prices flirt with the $100 a-barrel mark.
Democrats like Rep. Gary Ackerman say enough is enough. He told USA Today:
"They’re charging $100 per barrel of oil, making record fortunes, lecturing everyone else, and then they stiff everybody, including their cousins who they contend to be very nervous about.”
Ackerman, as chair of the House’s Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East, is in a position to make a lot of noise about Arabs running away from their Iraq promises. Other Democrats need to chime in.
If the Arab countries aren’t willing to commit troops/police/civil servants/technicians to help sort out the Iraq mess, at the very least they need to live up to their financial commitments to Iraq.
The reality: $500M is chump change to Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah is spending $10B of his own money to construct a research university in Saudi Arabia that will open next year.
Abdullah probably has the $413M Iraq gap money in his wallet. It's walking around money for the top royal.
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