Saudi Arabia

world's largest conventional oil supplies
only country named after its ruling family

related pages: the Empire's new Middle East map - 1980s OPEC quota war

"My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a plane. His son will ride a camel."
-- Saudi saying

2019: why would the House of Saud sell off interest in Saudi Aramco?

The Oil Mystery Undermining An Aramco IPO
Posted on October 30, 2019 by Lambert Strether
Lambert here: Hard to imagine buying an enormous store selling hard goods without taking a physical inventory, it is true. Over-simplified?

By Kurt Cobb, a freelance writer and communications consultant who writes frequently about energy and environment. His work has also appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Resilience, Le Monde Diplomatique, TalkMarkets,, Business Insider and many other places. He is currently a fellow of the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions. Originally published at

It's what you can't see—the oil beneath the Arabian sands—that potential investors in Saudi Aramco's on-again, off-again initial public offering (IPO) ought to focus on. The truth about the remaining oil resources beneath the Saudi desert continues to be a state secret.


2018 update:

The assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey has focused deserved international outrage on the House of Saud, the dynasty that owns and runs "Saudi" Arabia. It seems blatantly obvious the murder was ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - a story widely covered in the international press, in part because Mr. Khashoggi was a columnist for the Washington Post and well connected with elites in the US, Europe and other parts of the world. He had been close to the royal family until expressing views that went beyond the narrow range of permitted debate and fled to the US, where he had residency.

Two points.

While Mr. Khashoggi's torturous murder and dismemberment was an outrageous crime, it pales in comparison with the Saudi war on Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, a nation that had not attacked the Saudis. Accurate figures are impossible to state, but the minimum estimate of dead (as of November 2018) is around fifty thousand people. The United Nations is warning that perhaps twelve million people are at risk of starvation if the war continues due to the complete destruction of the society's structures. The blockade of a port city that food is imported through is a severe war crime. While accountability for Khashoggi is critically important for its own sake and for the implication of the safety of dissidents from Saudi Arabia and all other countries, the lives of Yemenese people are also important. There has been some discontent in countries that sell weapons to Saudi Arabia that are being used to destroy Yemen -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany. Will the human rights of the Yemen people on the receiving end of these weapons become acknowledged enough to stop weapons sales to this extreme human rights abuser? Saudi Arabia still dismembers people in public as its form of the death penalty, using swords to chop off heads of the accused.

Also, as conventional oil continues to decline globally, the export capacity of Saudi Arabia and other OPEC member states becomes even more critical for the global economy, especially in Europe, India, Japan and China. Most OPEC members have increasing domestic demand for their export products as growing populations reach adulthood and want to enjoy the motorized toys and increasing affluence they see in the richer countries. (Indonesia has even left OPEC, since rising domestic consumption and decreasing production led to that country flipping from being an exporter to an importer.) Crown, or clown, prince Mohammad bin Salman is promoting the idea that by 2030 Saudi Arabia will somehow diversify its economy to be less dependent on oil and has been attracting international capital for the transformation. Unfortunately for them, Saudi is totally dependent on food imports from other parts of the world, paid for by the oil export business. With less oil available in the coming years and decades, these transactions may become increasingly difficult.

In 2001, this author met retired geologist Walter Youngquist, a leading export on petroleum. In 1995, he predicted the global peak of conventional oil would be around 2007, which is close to what happened. He said to me that he was glad to be an old man and would not live to see the Arabs run out of oil, since he thought they would also run out of food when that happened. As the oil fields are used up, it seems likely conflict to control what is left will increase. The "alternatives" of solar panels, wind turbines and other technologies still require oil to make, move and install, and none are as concentrated as fossil fuels. Will civilization, staring into the abyss of global resource wars, choose international cooperation to mitigate these challenges? It is an interesting time to be alive.


"Many of us still don't recognize that the 'new war' most Americans support as a just campaign to wipe out a band of evil terrorists may morph quickly into a war to control the oil fields dominated by Iraq and the Saudis." (October 2001)
[in aug 2002 this turned out to be an accurate prediction, as the Pentagon leaked a briefing that threatened the Saudis with seizure of their oil fields]


The next war - or at least one of the next wars - will be Saudi Arabia.

The Pentagon's Defense Policy Board stated in August 2002 that the transformation of the Middle East would result in this strategy:

"Iraq is the tactical pivot.
Saudi Arabia is the strategic pivot.
Egypt is the prize."

Egypt has the largest population in the Arab world, so calling the change of Egypt the "prize" isn't incomprehensible. Many Arabs have pointed out how the bulk of their population are separated from the bulk of the oil wealth by national boundaries drawn by Europeans after World War I (the war to end all wars) -- and therefore, a pan-Arab strategy is needed.

Saudi Arabia's oil wealth is almost exclusively along the Gulf, in an area with most of the Shia population of that country. Riyadh, the capital, is where the Saud family comes from, the center of the Arabian peninsula (an area without oil). Mecca and Medina are in the west, near the Red Sea, and are also not near oil fields.

The population distribution is one reason why Saddam Hussein was allowed to stay in power in 1991. If Saddam had been toppled after Desert Storm, it was probable that Iraq would have fragmented into a Kurdish state in the north (something Turkey didn't want) and a Shia state in the south (something the Saudis didn't want). In addition, keeping Saddam in power justified continued US military presence / domination of the region.

While most of the 9/11 hijackers had Saudi passports, neither the hijackers nor the Saudi government suppressed the numerous warnings provided to the White House that 9/11 was imminent, did not paralyze the Air Defenses over New York and Washington, or schedule 9/11 style war games that morning. Saudi Arabia does not run NORAD, the National Security Agency, or the National Reconnaissance Office (where the CIA ran a "plane into building" exercise as 9/11 unfolded).

Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11", like his book "Dude, Where's my Country?", pinned 9/11 on the Saudis as part of his effort to dump Bush in November 2004. See for an excerpt from Moore's "blame the Saudis" campaign, which was about as accurate as his claim that General Wesley Clark was a supporter of peace.

In August 2002, a leaked Pentagon briefing predicted that the US could seize Saudi oil fields after invading Iraq. The "Saudis did it" theory of 9/11 must be understood in this context.
The PowerPoint That Rocked the Pentagon
The LaRouchie defector who's advising the defense establishment on Saudi Arabia.
By Jack Shafer
Posted Wednesday, August 7, 2002

"Diplomatic china rattled in Washington and cracked in Riyadh yesterday when the Washington Post published a story about a briefing given to a Pentagon advisory group last month. The briefing declared Saudi Arabia an enemy of the United States and advocated that the United States invade the country, seize its oil fields, and confiscate its financial assets unless the Saudis stop supporting the anti-Western terror network. ....
".... Murawiec lights out for the extreme foreign policy territory, recommending that we threaten Medina and Mecca, home to Islam's most holy places, if they don't see it our way. Ultimately, he champions a takeover of Saudi Arabia.
The last slide in the deck, titled "Grand strategy for the Middle East," abandons the outrageous for the incomprehensible. It reads:

"Iraq is the tactical pivot
Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot
Egypt the prize"

Saudi oil fields are in the east, along the Persian Gulf. The two holy cities of Mecca and Medina are in the west, along the Red Sea.

The neo-conservatives are floating the idea of partioning Saudi Arabia into at least two countries - one with the holy cities but without oil, the other without holy cities but with oil fields. The US merely wants to control the oil and is not interested in occupying Mecca and Medina.
The Khuzestan Factor In Saudi-Iran Relations
Iran's Khuzestan and Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province (EP) mirror each other in the sense that both oil-rich provinces are home to marginalized ethnic/religious minorities who complain of state-sponsored oppression and discrimination. The Arabs in Khuzestan and the Shi'ites in the kingdom's EP both live on top of the majority of their respective countries' oil reserves yet have not reaped the rewards of such petro-wealth.

from the 1981 book "The Kingdom: Arabia and the House of Sa'ud" by Robert Lacey (Avon Books)

"In the last week of November 1979 there had been riots in the Eastern Province. Buses had been burned, the windows of shops, houses and a bank had been smashed - and at least eleven demonstrators had been killed by the National Guard. Several score more had been arrested, and the government did not report the trouble.
In one sense, the riots in the Eastern Province of November 1979 had nothing to do with the trouble in Mecca. They stemmed from the grievances of the 200,000 Shia Muslims who had lived in and around the town of Qateef for centuries, and there was no love lost between the Shia and Wahhabi fanatics like Juhayman [leader of the failed 1979 rebellion in the Grand Mosque in Mecca], who felt that the Sa'ud were too tolerant of these Islamic deviants. ... the riots in Qateef recalled that seventy years previously the eastern coast of Arabia had been independent of Nejd [central part of Arabia, traditional home of the Sa'ud family, location of Riyadh, capital of modern Saudi Arabia], and that regional feelings still burned strong.
If the Eastern Province had never been conquered by the Al Sa'ud, its massive oil wealth would have made it a prosperous state in its own right - richer than any other country around the Persian Gulf. But in 1981 none of the towns of eastern Arabia can stand comparison with the prestigious developments of Kuwait, Bahrain ... the 200,000 Shia Muslims of Qateef and the Eastern Province live in poverty compared with the conditions enjoyed by Sa'udis anywhere else in the Kingdom.
The Shias actually carry out much of the manual work in the Sa'udi oilfields - they make up 40 percent of Aramco's workforce - and their fate, producing the Kingdom's wealth but scarcely enjoying it, symbolizes the imbalance of which many easteners complain. During the disorders in November and December 1979, a daring cartoon showed a vast camel standing across Sa'udi Arabia: it was feeding in the east, it was being milked by a mercantile character in the west, and the milk was being handed to a slothful character sitting in the middle just where Riyadh is. The brand-new palaces, ministries, highways and hospitals of the capital are built with money from the east, but the east itself has nothing so grand to boast of."
pp. 487-8

"One Saudi field alone, the Ghawar field, the largest onshore field in the world, contains more oil than all the United States oilfields put together. ... the average oil well, anywhere else on earth, produces less than 100 barrels per day, the average Sa'udi well produces 10,000. This is a function of the natural pressure of the oil and gas in the Sa'udi fields. the oil seldom needs to be pumped to the surface: it comes up of its own accord - and as a consequence Sa'udi oil is among the world's cheapest to produce.
pp. 498-9

"when we mock or deplore the ancient ways of Sa'udi Arabia we should remember that our late twentieth-century way of life has owed not a little to the stability and discipline that fifteenth-century values have imposed upon one very undisciplined corner of the world. We should also reflect on what could happen if that discipline were removed too rapidly."
p. 513

from the book "Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom," by Sandra Mackey (1987: Signet / Penguin Books)

"By the Shiites' numbers, geography, and the disdain with which they are regarded by the rest of the Saudis, the House of Saud can move its military against them with impunity. There are perhaps 150,000 Shiites, conveniently congregated in settlements around Damman, Qatif, Dhahran, and Ras Tanura. With the tacit support of the Saudi Wahhabis and Sunnis, the House of Saud has used force against the Shiites in the past, specifically during the labor unrest of 1956 and during the rioting of 1979. But since 1979, it has become obvious that although a town such as Qatif cannot defend itself against tanks, the Shiites command their own sources of power. Through their willingness to do manual labor and their ambition for education, the Shiites have become heavily concentrated in both the oil fields and the management of ARAMCO [Saudi national oil company]. If the Shiites chose to rise up in support of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini or simply because they hate the other Saudis, they could close down oil operations. This possibility terrified the House of Saud particularly between 1979 and 1984. But when Iranian planes threatened Saudi Arabia, the Shiites, as a whole, seemed to have cast their lot perhaps not with the House of Saud but with Saudi Arabia. ....
"The House of Saud has endured and it will not easily be dislodged. The royal family is a massive corporation, fanning out across the kingdom. It holds the governorships of the provinces. It is integreated into all elements of the armed forces. Its righteous pray with the religious leaders and fund their work. Its members command the major positions in the bureaucracy. Its secret police are in place in every organization and institution. The carefully built system of checks and balances between the military forces and the National Guard, each representing not only a different political bloc but a different style of life, frustrates the military from uniting against the political system. That leaves the opposition, although far-ranging, fragmented and leaderless and all but fatally handicapped by a culture that shuns planning and organization and seems incapable of sustaining any emotion-charged activity beyond a short period of time. Without an external invasion or a military defeat that could ignite the fuse of revolution, nothing short of sudden, total rebellion is likely to dislodge the House of Saud."
pp. 419-20

On Terrorism, Methodism, Saudi "Wahhabism," and the Censored 9-11 Report
by Gary Leupp

... Also in August [2002], Hudson Institute's co-founder Max Singer presented a paper to the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment, in which ("thinking outside the box" as Rumsfeld likes to say), he urged the dismemberment of Saudi Arabia, in the spirit of the post-World War I reconfiguration of what had been Ottoman Arab territory. The Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia could, Singer argued, constitute a new "Muslim Republic of East Arabia," peopled primarily by Shiite Muslims unsympathetic to the dominant "Wahhabi" (more properly, Muwahhidun) school of Islam in Saudi Arabia, leaving Mecca and Medina in the hands of the "Wahhabis" while placing the oil fields, concentrated in the east, in the hands of western oil companies. The British MP George Galloway, Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party Foreign Affairs Committee (and passionate antiwar activist) says that in British government circles some are saying: "Saudi Arabia could easily be two if not three countries, which would have the helpful bonus of avoiding foreign forces having to occupy the holiest places in Islam, when they're only interested really in oil wells in the eastern part of the country."

From victims to a growing force
Uprising encourages Shiites across Mideast to demand rights
By Evan Osnos
April 11, 2004

.... In Saudi Arabia, Shiites make up about 10 percent of the population, but the kingdom's official brand of Islam is the hard-line Wahhabi sect that brands Shiites as infidels. In the past, activists have been imprisoned, and Shiites were barred from the top tiers of government. But last May, a dozen Shiite leaders took the unusual step of presenting a petition to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah seeking equal political and religious rights.
The Saudi government is particularly sensitive about Shiite autonomy because the minority is concentrated in the oil-rich Eastern province, and any unrest or effort at secession might devastate Saudi oil production. A year after the war in Iraq, the Saudi regime has reached out to Shiite leaders.
"Things are really better than before. And Saudi Shia are ready for more and more," said King Saud University professor A.A. Abdul Hai, a Shiite recently appointed to a new state-sponsored human-rights commission. "It is a natural thing that the majority should get their share of things, but at the same time that does not mean they deny the rights of the minority."

Saudi oil fields (black dots)

brief history of Saudi Arabia (politically) and their oil reserves

From the April 9, 2004 print edition of the Houston Business Journal
Energy Beat
Houston analyst upsets Saudis in squabble over oil reservoirs
Monica Perin
Houston Business Journal

Matthew Simmons has really riled up the Saudi Arabians.

The Houston oil analyst and consultant touched off the feud at a Washington, D.C. conference earlier this year when he proclaimed that Saudi Arabia -- the world's major oil supplier for more than 50 years -- is running out of oil.

Simmons says the Saudi's rosy forecasts of continuing oil production are based on past performance and not to be trusted. This is because Saudi Arabia's five major oil fields, like many in the United States and elsewhere, are getting old and depleted and will require massive investments in technology to continue producing oil.

Simmons drew his conclusions from an in-depth study he conducted after becoming concerned about sketchy and conflicting data on Saudi oil reserves.

Simmons' allegations got worldwide press coverage and unprecedented response from normally tight-lipped executives of Saudi Aramco, the national oil company. They began their rebuttals at the Feb. 24 conference and have continued to voice strong disagreement with Simmons in numerous media interviews.

Saudi officials even went so far as to take journalists on fly-overs of Saudi Arabia's oilfields in the so-called "Empty Quarter," pointing out the high-tech wells that the kingdom insists will keep it the top exporter of crude oil for decades.

Saudi Arabia claims to have 260 billion barrels in proven crude reserves -- more than a quarter of the world's total supply.

The giant Shaybah field alone contains 15.7 billion barrels, and the country's development costs are the lowest in the world.

But Simmons says that on a visit to Saudi Arabia he began wondering about the kingdom's high concentration of old fields and the intense use of technology. He questioned where the vaunted capacity could be.

And he trusted neither OPEC data nor the estimates and projections of the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the International Energy Agency, claiming that all contain "many holes" and have an "awful" track record of prediction. (Both organizations predict that Saudi oil output will double over the next 15 to 20 years.)

So Simmons downloaded 200 technical papers from the Society of Petroleum Engineers relating to Saudi Arabian oil challenges and found "a very different story than the conventional wisdom."

After studying these papers, he wrote a rough draft of his findings and sent the results to a dozen senior technical experts, including several retired Aramco employees.

Some of his conclusions include:

• Saudi Arabia's five giant oil fields, which have produced 90 percent of all Saudi oil from 1951 to 2000, were discovered between 1940 and 1965. All five have been using water injection to produce "fabulous wellhead oil flows" that "defied normal depletion." But the era of easy oil is over.

• While Saudi Arabia has over 300 recognized reservoirs, more than 90 percent of the oil comes from only a small number of reservoirs.

• Saudi's "king" of oil fields, Ghawar, is the world's largest oil field. Wildcat discoveries there from 1948 to 1952 proved reserves estimated at 170 billion barrels of oil in place and 60 billion barrels recoverable. Those numbers remained unchanged in Aramco's 1975 reserve estimates. Ghawar has accounted for 55 percent to 60 percent of all Saudi oil produced. If these numbers are correct, Ghawar's oil is 90 percent gone.

Simmons points out that 20 percent of the world's oil supply comes from 14 fields that are an average of 60 years old. New giant oil field discoveries, he says, ended in the late 1960s to early 1970s.

Yet the world continues to assume that Saudi Arabia "can carry everyone's energy needs cheaply," Simmons said at the conference.

"There is no plan B," he said.

Douglas-Westwood, another independent energy analysis firm based in Great Britain, also warns that "the world is drawing down its oil reserves faster than ever and is facing a future of oil price increases."

Michael R. Smith, author of "The World Oil Supply Report 2004-2050," points out that global oil demand grew a dramatic 2.6 percent in 2003, with the greatest increase coming from China.

At the same time, the world has been drawing down oil reserves at an unprecedented rate with 52 countries, including the United States, already well past their peak and another 16 peaking soon.

And "no new oil provinces were identified last year," the report notes.

By 2008, the report warns, "all OPEC countries will need to begin to increase production as much as they can to meet even modest demand growth."

The report concludes that all consuming nations must get ready to face "a high energy cost world" and ongoing issues of energy supply security. • 713-960-5910
New York Times
February 24, 2004
Forecast of Rising Oil Demand Challenges Tired Saudi Fields

When visitors tour the headquarters of Saudi Arabia's oil empire - a sleek glass building rising from the desert in Dhahran near the Persian Gulf - they are reminded of its mission in a film projected on a giant screen. "We supply what the world demands every day," it declares.
For decades, that has largely been true. Ever since its rich reserves were discovered more than a half-century ago, Saudi Arabia has pumped the oil needed to keep pace with rising needs, becoming the mainstay of the global energy markets.
But the country's oil fields now are in decline, prompting industry and government officials to raise serious questions about whether the kingdom will be able to satisfy the world's thirst for oil in coming years.
Energy forecasts call for Saudi Arabia to almost double its output in the next decade and after. Oil executives and government officials in the United States and Saudi Arabia, however, say capacity will probably stall near current levels, potentially creating a significant gap in the global energy supply.
Outsiders have not had access to detailed production data from Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company, for more than 20 years. But interviews in recent months with experts on Saudi oil fields provided a rare look inside the business and suggested looming problems.
An internal Saudi Aramco plan, the experts said, estimates total production capacity in 2011 at 10.15 million barrels a day, about the current capacity. But to meet expected world demand, the United States Department of Energy's research arm says Saudi Arabia will need to produce 13.6 million barrels a day by 2010 and 19.5 million barrels a day by 2020.
"In the past, the world has counted on Saudi Arabia," one senior Saudi oil executive said. "Now I don't see how long it can be maintained."
Saudi Arabia, the leading exporter for three decades, is not running out of oil. Industry officials are finding, however, that it is becoming more difficult or expensive to extract it. Today, the country produces about eight million barrels a day, roughly one-tenth of the world's needs. It is the top foreign supplier to the United States, the world's leading energy consumer.
Fears of a future energy gap could, of course, turn out to be unfounded. Predictions of oil market behavior have often proved wrong.
But if Saudi production falls short, industry experts say the consequences could be significant. Other large producers, like Russia and Iraq, do not have Saudi Aramco's huge reserves or excess oil capacity to export, and promising new fields elsewhere are not expected to deliver enough oil to make up the difference.
As a result, supplies could tighten and oil prices could increase. The global economy could feel the ripples; previous spikes in oil prices have helped cause recessions, though high oil prices in the last year or so have not slowed strong growth.
Saudi Aramco says its dominance in world oil markets will grow because, "if required," it can expand its capacity to 12 million barrels a day or more by "making necessary investments," according to written responses to questions submitted by The New York Times.
But some experts are skeptical. Edward O. Price Jr., a former top Saudi Aramco and Chevron executive and a leading United States government adviser, says he believes that Saudi Arabia can pump up to 12 million barrels a day "for a few years." But "the world should not expect more from the Saudis," he said. He expects global oil markets to be in short supply by 2015.
Fatih Birol, the chief economist for the International Energy Agency, said the Saudis would not be able to increase production enough for future needs without large-scale foreign investment.
The I.E.A., an independent agency founded by energy-consuming nations, and Washington see investment in energy exploration and field maintenance as vital, but such proposals face strong opposition inside Saudi Arabia. Tensions with the West, particularly the United States, make such investment politically difficult for Saudi society. For example, an effort by Crown Prince Abdullah, the kingdom's de facto ruler, to encourage Western companies to invest $25 billion in his country's natural gas industry essentially collapsed last year.
"Access to Persian Gulf oil reserves, especially Saudi Arabia's, is the key question for the whole world," Dr. Birol said.
President Bush has said he wants to make the United States less reliant on oil-producing countries that "don't like America" by diversifying suppliers and financing research into hydrogen fuel cells, but achieving that remains far off.
His administration backs foreign investment initiatives in the gulf region, including Saudi Arabia, and his energy policies rely on Energy Department projections showing the world even more dependent on Arabian oil in 20 years. That may be enough time for governments to find alternatives, but oil field development requires years of planning and work.
Publicly, Saudi oil executives express optimism about the future of their industry. Some economists are equally optimistic that if oil prices rise high enough, advanced recovery techniques will be applied, averting supply problems.
But privately, some Saudi oil officials are less sanguine.
"We don't see us as the ones making sure the oil is there for the rest of the world," one senior executive said in an interview. A Saudi Aramco official cautioned that even the attempt to get up to 12 million barrels a day would "wreak havoc within a decade," by causing damage to the oil fields.
In an unusual public statement, Sadad al-Husseini, Saudi Aramco's second-ranking executive and its leading geologist, warned at an oil conference in Jakarta in 2002 that global "natural declines in existing capacity are real and must be replaced."
Dr. al-Husseini, one Western oil expert said, has been "the brains of Saudi Aramco's exploration and production." But he has told associates that he plans to resign soon, and his departure, government oil experts in the United States and Saudi Arabia say, could hinder Saudi efforts to bolster production or entice foreign investment.
Saudi Arabia's reported proven reserves, more than 250 billion barrels, are one-fourth of the world's total. The most significant is Ghawar. Discovered in 1948, the 300-mile-long sliver near the Persian Gulf is the world's largest oil field and accounts for more than half of the kingdom's production.
The company told The New York Times that its field production practices, including those at Ghawar, were "at optimum levels" and the risk of steep declines was negligible. But Mr. Price, the former vice president for exploration and production at Saudi Aramco, says that North Ghawar, the most valuable section of the field, was pushed too hard in the past.
"Instead of spreading the production to other fields or areas," Mr. Price said, the Saudis concentrated on North Ghawar. That "accelerated the depletion rate and the time to uncontrolled decline," or the point where the field's production drops dramatically, he said.
In Saudi Arabia, seawater is injected into the giant fields to help move the oil toward the top of the reservoir. But over time, the volume of water that is lifted along with the oil increases, and the volume of oil declines proportionally. Eventually, it becomes uneconomical to extract the oil. There is also a risk that the field can become unstable and collapse.
Ghawar is still far too productive to abandon. But because of increasing problems with managing the water, one Saudi oil executive said, "Ghawar is becoming very costly to maintain."
The average decline rate in Saudi Aramco's mature fields - Ghawar and a few others - "is in the range of 8 percent per year," without additional remediation, according to the company's statement. This means several hundred thousand barrels of daily oil production would have to be added every year just to make up for the diminished output.
Every oil field is unique, and experts cannot predict how long each might last. For its part, Saudi Aramco is counting on Ghawar for years to come.
The company projects that Ghawar will continue to produce more than half its oil. One internal company estimate from 2002 puts Ghawar's production at 5.25 million barrels a day in 2011, more than half the total expected crude oil capacity of 10.15 million, according to United States government officials and oil executives.
"The big risk in Saudi Arabia is that Ghawar's rate of decline increases to an alarming point," said Ali Morteza Samsam Bakhtiari, a senior official with the National Iranian Oil Company. "That will set bells ringing all over the oil world because Ghawar underpins Saudi output and Saudi undergirds worldwide production."
The I.E.A. warned in November that huge investments would be needed to offset the decline rates in mature Middle Eastern oil fields - it put the average at 5 percent - and the increasing costs of oil and gas production. The agency, based in Paris, forecasts that Saudi production will need to reach 20 million barrels a day by 2020. (I.E.A. and other research estimates say that more than 90 percent of that would be crude oil; the rest would be liquid products like natural gas liquids that result from the processing of crude oil.)
In his speech in Jakarta, Dr. al-Husseini noted the need for exploration, pointing out that colleagues at Exxon Mobil predict that more than 50 percent of oil and gas consumption in 2010 must come from new fields and reservoirs.
Harry A. Longwell, the executive vice president of Exxon Mobil, says finding new sources of oil is crucial. Mr. Longwell, in an interview, said that increasing demand and declining production were not new problems, but they were "much larger now because of the world's demand for energy and the magnitude of the numbers now are much larger."
To offset its declines, Saudi Aramco is bringing back into production one idle field, Qatif, and is enhancing production at a nearby offshore field, Abu Safah. The company says that with expert management, these fields will produce about 800,000 barrels a day.
But current and former Saudi Aramco executives question those expectations, contending that the goal of 500,000 barrels a day for Qatif is unrealistic and that development costs are higher than anticipated.
Qatif poses real difficulties. It is near housing for Saudi Arabia's minority Shiite population and contains high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, a highly toxic gas. Its development is "particularly challenging," according to a technical paper by Saudi Aramco engineers presented last year in Bahrain, which said that 45 percent of potential drilling sites "were rejected due to safety concerns."
At Abu Safah, Saudi Aramco has experienced increasing water problems as it has turned to submersible pumps to extract oil. Experts, including American and Saudi government officials, say the technique is ill advised. Saudi Aramco, in its written response to questions, defended the use of the pumps at Abu Safah and its ability to manage the water after 37 years of production.
One United Sates government energy expert noted that "submersible pumps is what the Soviets went to on an indiscriminate basis in West Siberia and it went south." Samotlor, a huge field in Siberia, once produced more than three million barrels a day, but it declined sharply in the 1980's after the Soviets pushed it too hard. Today it produces only a few hundred thousand barrels a day.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
January/February 2004, Volume 60, No. 1, pp. 20-22, 70

Oil: The illusion of plenty
By Alfred Cavallo

In March 2003, the Saudi oil minister reassured the International Energy Agency of Saudi Arabia's longstanding policy and practice of supplying the oil markets reliably and promptly, and highlighted the collective responsibility that producing countries have shown in addressing the concerns of world oil markets. This was most likely viewed as a temporary measure, as it was assumed that Iraqi production would be restored and expanded rapidly after the United States took charge.
In addition to the impending interruption of Iraqi production, in early 2003 Venezuelan oil production was far below its OPEC quota due to a conflict between populist president Hugo Chavez and the business community; Nigerian production was also depressed by civil strife.
OPEC rose to the occasion (or, more likely, felt compelled to rise to the occasion, given the huge U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf in preparation for war) and increased production by about 3.2 million barrels per day--equivalent to the production of the Norwegian North Sea sector--virtually overnight, more than compensating for lost Iraqi, Venezuelan, and Nigerian production.
About 65 percent of the increase came from just two countries, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait; Saudi Arabia alone contributed more than half and probably controls what remains of any spare production capacity.
The critical role that OPEC, in particular Saudi Arabia, plays as the swing producer for the world oil market is clearly evident from this episode, which allows one to quantify the ability of the Saudis to affect the world oil market and the world economy.
The U.S. assault on Iraq has not undermined the power of OPEC and Saudi Arabia. On the contrary, it has if anything enhanced that power. This will not change until Iraqi oil production significantly exceeds its pre-invasion level. Thus, even in the short term, and on the most cynical level, U.S. Iraq policy vis-à-vis oil has been a failure.
Oil supplies are finite and will soon be controlled by a handful of nations; the invasion of Iraq and control of its supplies will do little to change that. One can only hope that an informed electorate and its principled representatives will realize that the facts do matter, and that nature--not military might--will soon dictate the ultimate availability of petroleum.

Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2004
From: Adam Hurter
Subject: [911truthalliance] my letter-to-the-editor to Boston Globe (you too can write one)
I liked the column by Craig Unger encouraging the 9/11 Commission to look at how 140 Saudi nationals were flown out of the U.S. two days after 9/11, when almost no one was flying. There are, though, perhaps even more serious questions that the 9/11 Commission needs to address that Unger misses.
Saudi Arabia does not control the United States air defense system; our own military does. So it is our own government that should be called into question as to why the off-course planes on 9/11 were never intercepted or shot down, why did the military did not respond in a timely manner to a plane headed for the central military base of the United States, the Pentagon. This inaction was in violation of military standard operating procedure, and incompetence does not cut it as a reason. For who has been held responsible? No one.
Especially understanding as we now do that there were many warnings of 9/11, one would think the U.S. defense system would be prepared. The 9/11 Commission should address this issue head-on, but, to the dismay of frustrated victims' family members who have faced an uphill battle trying to force any external investigation of 9/11, it probably will not.
Adam Hurter

Cheney and Abdullah

book review by "Name Base"

Unger, Craig. House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties. New York: Scribner, 2004. 370 pages.

With over a thousand end notes and a hundred books in the bibliography, this is a rather good overview of the information and literature available on the Saudi connection to the Bush family. It's about the oil-cash pipeline between Houston and Riyadh, with the slick deals and greased palms from BCCI to the Carlyle Group, that preceded and followed the two Bushes into the White House. If you loved Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," you'll like this book. If you think the problem runs deeper than two generations of greed in two privileged families, then you'll find something lacking in the party-partisan assumptions that motivated this research.
Author Craig Unger finds little fault with Bill Clinton, except that Monica made it easy for his enemies. Unger primarily does magazine pieces, and sometimes CNN or ABC Radio. This book succeeds within the limited scope of its title, but Unger, it must be said, is a sound-bite expert. Here he expands bites into chapters and end notes, but it still falls short. Would Al Gore would have stayed out of Iraq? Unger probably assumes so, but we don't. The problem isn't that the wrong person ended up as President. Rather it's that no one with the values needed to make a difference has even a slight chance of getting his message out and running a competitive campaign. The entire system is corrupt, not just one political party.
ISBN 0-7432-5339-6   Seymour Hersh on CIA   "King's Ransom" - Saudi monarchy    more on Saudi Arabia

Liberal columnist in The Nation adds fuel to the "Saudis did it" theory (even though several of the "Saudi hijackers" were probably identity theft, according to the BBC and other internationally respected news services)

the mysterious kingdom of Saudi Arabia remains a very suspicious kind of "friend." Let's remember, fifteen of the nineteen September 11 hijackers, as well as Osama bin Laden himself, were Saudis.
If there is a linchpin nation for Islamic fundamentalist terror, it remains Saudi Arabia, a fact consistently obscured by the President. Someday we may gain access to the censored portion of the September 11 Congressional report dealing with US-Saudi connections.
Posted September 9, 2003
COLUMN LEFT by Robert Scheer
Bush Must Admit the Error of His Way

From: "Mike Ruppert"
To: "9-11 Truth Alliance "
Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2003 20:26:30 -0700
Subject: [911truthalliance] Reconcile This With The Saudi Choices

Nothing is watched more closely by the CIA than nuke weapons technology. Why would Saudi Arabia acquire it? Why would we let them have it. Prior stories in my file indicate that the US has special arrangements with Musharraf to send Delta types into Pak to seize nukes in times of trouble and that the US has access to key facilities. Tenet and Armitage are close to Musharraf. What will happen if the Saudi goes unstable after the WH says, “Gee, they’ve acquired a couple of bombs too,”?  Would any American oppose military intervention and occupation of the key bases and cities in the east where the oil is?

A blind man could see this set up coming!

Quote: “Saudi officials also remind their interlocutors that a closed meeting -- later well publicized -- of the U.S. Defense Policy Board in 2002 listened to an expert explain, with a 16-slide presentation, why and how the United States should seize and occupy Saudi oilfields in the country's eastern province.”

Pakistan-Saudi trade nuke tech for oil
By Arnaud de Borchgrave
UPI Editor in Chief
Published 10/20/2003 7:00 PM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have concluded a secret agreement on nuclear cooperation, an unimpeachable source said Monday.

"It will be vehemently denied by both countries," added this ranking Pakistani source known to this correspondent for more than a decade as a knowledgeable insider, "but future events will confirm that Pakistan has agreed to provide KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) with the wherewithal for a nuclear deterrent."

In a lightning, hastily arranged, 26-hour "state visit" in Islamabad, Crown Prince Abdullah Abdulaziz, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, flew across the Arabian Sea with an entourage of 200, including Foreign Minister Prince Saud and several Cabinet ministers. The pro-American Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan, who is next in line to succeed to the throne after Abdullah, was not part of the delegation.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf met Abdullah at the airport and saw him off Sunday night with a 21-gun salute.

In Washington, Mohammed Sadiq, Pakistan's deputy chief of mission, said Monday the report about Pakistan and Saudi Arabia reaching agreement on nuclear cooperation was "totally wrong."

"This is against our policy," Sadiq told UPI. "Pakistan would never proliferate its nuclear technology. It's a very clear policy. This was not even discussed in the talks we held with the Saudis in Islamabad this week. It was not even on the agenda. It is out of the question."

The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not immediately comment on the report. A joint Pakistani-Saudi communique? posted on the embassy's Web site concerning Abdullah's visit to Islamabad mentioned only an agreement for "the maximum utilization of the existing economic potential of the two countries." There was no mention of military cooperation, nuclear or conventional.

The CIA believes that Pakistan already exported nuclear know-how to North Korea in exchange for missile technology. Last year, a Pakistani C-130 was spotted by satellite loading North Korean missiles at Pyongyang airport. Pakistan said this was a straight purchase for cash and denied a nuclear quid pro quo.

This correspondent and the chief of staff of the North Korean Air Force stayed at the same Islamabad hotel in May 2001.

"Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia," the Pakistani source explained, "see a world that is moving from non-proliferation to proliferation of nuclear weapons."

Pakistan, under the late dictator Gen. Zia ul-Haq decided to pursue the nuclear option following India's first nuclear test in 1974. Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is now estimated at between 35 and 60 weapons.

The Sunni Saudis have concluded that nothing will deter Shiite Iran from continuing its quest for nuclear weapons. Pakistan, on the other hand, is openly concerned about the recent armaments agreement between India, its nuclear rival, and Israel, a long-time nuclear power whose inventory is estimated at between 200 and 400 weapons. Iran and India, located on either side of Pakistan, have also signed a strategic agreement whose aim is regarded with suspicion in Islamabad.

Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafrullah Jamali is scheduled to fly to Tehran later this week to sound out Iranian leaders on the reasons for the defense deal with New Delhi.

To counter what Pakistani and Saudi leaders regard as a multiregional threats, they have decided quietly to move ahead with a two-way exchange -- free or cheap oil for nuclear know-how and expertise.

Pakistani pilots have been employed as contract pilots for the Royal Saudi Air Force for the past 30 years. Several hundred thousand Pakistani workers are employed by the Gulf states, both as skilled and unskilled workers, and their remittances are a hard currency boon for the Pakistani Treasury.

In their private talks, according to the United Press International source, Abdullah and Musharraf also discussed the possibility of Pakistan supplying troops, not to Iraq, but to the kingdom. Abdullah can see that the world's largest oil reserves look increasingly vulnerable over the next 10 years.

By mutual agreement, U.S. forces withdrew from Saudi Arabia earlier this year to relocate across the border in the tiny oil sheikhdom of Qatar. Saudi officials also remind their interlocutors that a closed meeting -- later well publicized -- of the U.S. Defense Policy Board in 2002 listened to an expert explain, with a 16-slide presentation, why and how the United States should seize and occupy Saudi oilfields in the country's eastern province.

Richard Perle was then the chairman of the Pentagon-funded Defense Policy Board. Later in 2002, he resigned the chairmanship following a conflict with his business interests, but he remains a member of the influential panel.

Perle is also known throughout the Middle East as one of the key architects of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a former strategic adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu while the latter was Israel's prime minister.

The denials of any secret nuclear agreement between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the source said, "must be seen in the same context as Iranian denials about its own nuclear weapons plans."

Prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, along with the United Arab Emirates, were the only countries that recognized and aided Afghanistan's Taliban regime that had been educated in Pakistan's madrasas (Koranic schools). Taliban is now resurgent along the mountainous regions that straddle the Pakistan- Afghan border. Pakistani and U.S. Special Forces have been working the area in tandem since last summer to flush out Taliban and al- Qaida high altitude hideouts.

Pakistani officials are also fearful that the Bush administration will leave them in the lurch after al-Qaida leader Osama bin laden has been killed or captured. They also speculate about what the policy would be in the event of a Democratic Party victory in the 2004 U.S. elections.

To this day, the Saudi clergy continues to fund Pakistan's madrasas that are a substitute for the country's non-existent national education system. The only schools outside madrasas are expensive private institutions. Pakistan, with a crushing defense burden, only spends 1.7 percent of GDP on education (vs. 8 percent in India and 16.5 percent in the United States).

Some 12,000 Koranic schools provide free room and board to some 700,000 Pakistani boys (ages 6 to 16) where they are taught to read and write in Urdu and Arabic and recite the Koran by heart. No other disciplines are practiced, but students are proselytized with anti- American, anti-Israeli and anti-Indian propaganda. By the time they graduate, the majority is convinced that becoming a jihadi, or holy warrior, is the only way to block America's alleged plans to destroy Islam.

Musharraf, in a milestone speech three months before Sept. 11, 2001, denounced the danger of these schools and urged syllabus reform.

"We are producing terrorists," he warned at the time.

But all attempts at reform have been blocked by the mullahs with the support of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal -- a coalition of the six major politico-religious parties -- that now governs two of Pakistan's four provinces.

Musharraf has opted for appeasement of the MMA rather than confrontation. At the state banquet for Saudi Arabia's Abdullah, the principal MMA chieftains were invited and attended. The two traditional mainstream parties were not present. They were pointedly left off the guest list.

Copyright 2001-2003 United Press International
Smouldering rebellion against Saudi rule threatens to set country ablaze
By John R Bradley in Sakaka, Saudi Arabia
28 January 2004

The tiny city of Sakaka, the capital of Saudi Arabia's remote al-Jouf province that borders Iraq, may seem an unlikely setting for the beginning of a popular, violent revolution against the ruling Saud family. But you do not have to spend too long here to realise this is what is happening.
Al-Jouf has been witness to an extraordinary level of political violence in recent months. The deputy governor, say locals, was assassinated. Also killed was the police chief and the region's top Sharia court judge. Seven men have been arrested. Saudi officials admit the attacks are linked and that the seven may have been aided by as many as 40 others.
There are new social problems in al-Jouf, of the kind starting to plague the whole of this once crime-free Islamic state. The region's archaeological sites are defaced by the graffiti of the alienated and are littered with evidence of drug abuse. The violence is political, insist locals, who say it stems from the fact that al-Jouf is the historic power base of the al-Sudairy branch of the Saudi royal family, which includes King Fahd and his six full brothers.
Known as the Sudairy Seven, they include Prince Nayef, the Interior Minister, Prince Sultan, the Defence Minister, and Prince Salman, the Riyadh Governor. The Sudairy Seven make all the important economic and political decisions.
When it comes to business and local government in al-Jouf, the Sudairy clan have ruled the roost for the seven decades since the kingdom was founded. There are clear signs of the impact of a rebellion by local merchant families and tribes who were prominent before al-Jouf was incorporated into the Saudi kingdom and the Sudairys took over.
The five streets which constitute Sakaka are deserted after dusk. Since the killings, members of the Sudairy clan have not been able to venture out of their walled villas without an armed guard. Secret police watch outsiders allowed past the permanent roadblocks on the approach roads.
The families and tribes are taking advantage of the vulnerability of a perhaps fatally weakened Saudi ruling family to reassert their territorial claims over those of the Sudairy. Locals say that the final straw was the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, when US troops took control of the airport in the nearby town of Arar, the official border crossing with Iraq.
This was deeply resented by all Saudis, but especially by al-Jouf's residents, because they have historic links to Iraqis across the border. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Saudis have sneakedinto Iraq to join the uprising against the US-led forces. The rebellion in al-Jouf shows in microcosm what is happening throughout Saudi Arabia, where there is near-universal domestic resistance to the rule of the Saud. For 70 years, the family has claimed to unify the people of the land it conquered and gave its name to. But they only did so superficially. Getting rid of the Saud is becoming a question of necessity and honour for Saudis.
A Saudi told al-Jazeera television station last year of suppression and growing instability in the kingdom. Abdul Aziz al-Tayyar, who was arrested minutes later, said: "All tribesmen are now willing to fight this government - we will protect the rights of our people. This is not the kingdom of Saudi Arabia any more. It is a jungle full of monsters - the Saudi people are suppressed. They suffer poverty and unemployment."
Shias, too, have revolted in the city of Najran, near Yemen, in protest at the arrest of their mosque leader on trumped-up charges of "sorcery". Persecuted Shias, who have provided the manpower to keep the oil industry alive, are damned in schools as "infidels".
Anti-Wahabi merchant families of the Hijaz, a vast area of land that is home to Mecca and Medina, are also speaking out. They have seen their culture of Islamic tolerance and diversity destroyed by the Wahabi zealots, whom the Saud used to conquer the region in the 1920s.
In the West, the fear remains that, without the Saud, the kingdom will split along regional and tribal lines, resulting in instability, or leave a vacuum that only a Taliban-style regime could fill - and control one-quarter of the world's oil reserves.
Attacks by Osama bin Laden have brought home the terrorism Saud helped to export for decades. The subsequent crackdown has put the Sudairy Seven and their repressive internal security forces in the line of fire. Al-Qa'ida leaders realise that targeting Saud is not repulsive to most ordinary Saudis.
Royal decadence and Saud's dependence for its external security on the West has always disgusted pious Saudis. However, the frustration among the youthful, anti-Western population now runs much deeper. It is more akin to that which led to the French Revolution: hatred of the privilege and unearned wealth of the ruling class in a period of worsening economic crisis.
John R Bradley is the author of the forthcoming book 'Saudi Arabia Exposed: Princes, Paupers and Puritans in the Wahhabi Kingdom'
27 January 2004 21:01

Molly Ivins lent tacit, unintended support for the US invasion of Saudi Arabia
MONDAY August 04, 2003
Ivins: 9-11 report offers findings that were obvious from the get-go
by Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate

AUSTIN, Texas -- The congressional report by the committees on intelligence about 9-11 partially made public last week reminds me of the recent investigation into the crash of the Columbia shuttle -- months of effort to reconfirm the obvious.
In the case of the Columbia, we knew from the beginning a piece of insulation had come loose and struck the underside of one wing. So, after much study, it was determined the crash was caused by the piece of insulation that came loose and struck the underside of the wing.
Likewise in the case of 9-11, all the stuff that has been blindingly obvious for months is now blamed for the fiasco.
The joint inquiry focused on the intelligence services, concluding that the FBI especially had been asleep at the wheel. And that, in turn, can be blamed at least partly on the fact that the FBI, before 9-11, had only old green-screen computers with no Internet access. Agents wrote out their reports in longhand, in triplicate. Although the process is not complete, the agency is now upgrading its system: Many agents finally got e-mail this year.

[note: the claim that the FBI had been asleep at the wheel is part of the coverup is a "limited hang out" - fessing up to a small crime to avoid what actually happened the FBI official who suppressed the lower-level agents reports about the "flight schools" received a promotion after 9-11 - it was NOT incompetence, but deliberate policy]  the propaganda preparation for 9-11
an insightful article that starts with the death of the FBI's chief counter-terrorist ( John O'Neill ) in the WTC attack. O'Neill had recently quit the FBI in frustration that his investigations into al-Qaeda were being blocked by the administration, and had just started a new job as Security Director for the WTC complex. Recommended reading for an insight into how "intelligence" operations work, and a probable explanation of what actually happened.
The Bush 9/11 Scandal for Dummies by Bernard Weiner June 1, 2002
9 June 2002 A Controlled Burn
For a number of weeks now the smart money has been betting that the whirlwind of admissions and apparently damaging leaks about 9/11 has not been an uncontrolled disaster for the Bush Administration but instead has been a managed attempt at a "controlled burn," which refers to the somewhat counter-intuitive firefighters' practice of lighting small blazes in the path of an advancing wildfire in order to stop it. The name of the game is to admit one kind of wrongdoing in order to obscure another that is worse -- in Watergate parlance, a "limited hangout." Obviously a major part of the Bush Administration's strategy in spinning their prior knowledge of 9/11 is to direct attention to failures down the rungs.

9/11 Evidence - Smoking Gun ... by Cheryl Seal
also at
one of the best articles available anyone describing the evidence and the motivations, pre-9-11 warnings, the curious nature of the Pentagon attack (on the mostly empty part of the building), the Bush administration's interference with the FBI investigation of al-Qaeda, and much more.
"At the very least Bush allowed 9/11 to happen. But the evidence indicates his guilt involves more than just a huge intentional sin of omission - this now seems certain. .. .... why would Bush admit to having been warned about 9/11 in the first place? In the corporate and political world, this admission is a strategy that has been used over and over by creeps who are guilty of huge crimes and know the heat is on. By confessing to a lesser charge, they try to draw the heat away from the main, more dangerous issue."


Molly Ivins:
My particular bete noir in all this is the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service), which distinguished itself by granting visas to 15 of the 19 hijackers, who never should have been given visas in the first place. Their applications were incomplete and incorrect. They were all young, single, unemployed males, with no apparent means of support -- the kind considered classic overstay candidates. Had the INS followed its own procedures, 15 of the 19 never would have been admitted.


"The Great Deception" (investigative documentary from Canada's Vision TV)
Part 3 of a multi-part series
Transcript of Mon.,Feb 4, 2002 Broadcast
What really happened on Sept. 11th ? "9/11 -- Part 3"
Michael Springmann is a Washington lawyer. He worked for the US State Department’s foreign service for 20 years. He spent two years as chief of the visa section at the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His superiors repeatedly ordered him to issue visas to unqualified applicants. It was illegal. He protested.
He’s just written this article in the reputable Covert Action Quarterly of Washington, D.C. and was interviewed by the CBC radio program Dispatches.
“I had not been protesting fraud. What I was protesting was, in reality, an effort to bring recruits, rounded up by [the Agency and] Osama bin Laden, to the U.S. for terrorist training by the CIA.” He details numerous cases.
“The State Department did not run the Consulate in Jeddah. The CIA did. Of the roughly 20 Washington-dispatched staff there, I know for a certainty that only three people (including myself) had no ties, either professional or familial, to any of the U.S. intelligence services.”

Molly Ivins:
The incompetence of the INS was underlined when it issued a visa to Mohammad Atta, the lead hijacker, six months after 9-11. In the wake of the attacks, the Bush administration promised to increase funding for the INS, to get the agency fully computerized with modern computers and generally up to speed. All that has happened since is that INS funding has been cut. [Another possible explanation for the visa issuing is that it might have been a deliberate effort to inflame public opinion about the allegedly incompetent INS as part of the plan to create the massive Homeland Security uber-bureaucracy.]

Much attention is being paid to the selective editing of the report, apparently to protect the Saudis. I think an equally important piece of the report is on the bureaucratic tangle that prevents anyone from being accountable for much of anything. [Much of the focus on the Saudis is a deliberate effort to distract from the most damning piece of information about 9-11 -- the absolute refusal of the US Air Force to scramble interceptor planes according to its well-tested procedures.
Saudis were not controlling NORAD's air defense system on September 11.]
Sunday, 23 September, 2001, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Hijack 'suspects' alive and well
Revealed: the men with stolen identities
By David Harrison (Filed: 23/09/2001)

more on hijacker story Read more on the "Saudi connection" at


Confusion Over Names Clouds Identities of Attackers on Jets
New York Times - Sept. 21, 2001, pg. B8

    CAIRO, Sept. 20 — Many of the 19 hijacking suspects in the terror attacks last week remain shrouded in confusion, with almost nothing known about some and up to five apparent cases of mistaken identity.
    The F.B.I. list of hijacking suspects does include the names of at least six missing Saudi Arabian men who left their country, ostensibly to join the Islamic fighters battling the Russians in Chechnya, plus four others whose parents have lost contact with them.
    But the lack of the details about the suspects, plus the assertions of mistaken identity, have left their parents refusing to mourn and Saudi Arabian officials dismissive of the entire list.
    "The haste in publishing the names of suspects in the attacks has made the media fall into the error of involving innocent people, especially Saudis," Prince Mit'eb bin Abdullah, the deputy commander of the Saudi National Guard, complained to reporters in Riyadh.
    The use of wrong names and pictures may indicate that the hijackers filched the identities of fellow Saudis.
    In the United States, Robert Mueller, the director of the F.B.I., acknowledged Thursday that there were questions about the identities of several of the hijackers on the list.
    "We have several hijackers whose identities were those of the names on the manifest, we have several others who are still in question," Mr. Mueller said while touring the crash site in Pennsylvania of one hijacked plane.
    An official at the Saudi Embassy in Washington said there were five mistaken identities on the list, adding that all the men were alive and living abroad.
    Saudi officials say part of the problem stems from the proliferation of similar names in Saudi Arabia, as well as the numerous varieties of spelling them in English.
    One of the most common surnames on the F.B.I. list is Alshehri. But in English various members of the clan might spell it Alshahri or Alshehiri or Al-Shehri, entangling search efforts.
    Far more difficult is the fact that the country's huge tribes repeat the same names over and over again.
    Saudis use at least three names: their given name, their father's name, and their tribal name. Between the father's name and the tribal name, many also insert the name of a fourth, favored ancestor. But even brothers do not always choose the same name.
    To narrow the search to specific individuals, Saudi officials said they needed at least one and preferably two middle names. What they are given to work with now is a lot of Joe Smiths.
    For example, there might be thousands and thousands of people with the name Waleed Alshehri, one of the men whose name appears on the list of suspects who rammed the first plane into the World Trade Center.
    For a while, suspicion focused on the son of Saudi diplomat with that name who had studied at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, but his father said he was alive and working as a pilot for Saudi Arabian Airlines. The confusion apparently stems from the fact that the F.B.I. is matching the names on the passenger manifests to students who have trained in flying.
    In the southern Saudi town of Khamis Mushait, however, there is an established businessman named Mohammed Al-Shehri who is missing 2 of his 11 sons. One of them is Waleed Mohammed Al-Shehri.
    Mr. Waleed, 21, was studying to be a teacher, while his brother Wail, 26, already had a degree in physical education and was teaching, their father told the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan The older brother was suffering from psychological problems and kept seeking the help of clerics to perform a kind of religious exorcism to cure him, the father said.
    Both men disappeared in December while on a trip to seek yet more help and have not been heard from since. They had grown increasingly religious before their disappearance and spoke often about joining the fight in Chechnya, the paper quoted family friends as saying. Their pictures match those released by the F.B.I.
    To try to eliminate confusion, Saudi officials said they had repeatedly asked for more information on the suspects, especially longer names, but they had yet to receive it. Plus, in a few cases it appears the hijackers resorted to outright deception.
    A passenger using the name Abdel Azia Al-Omari and the birth date of December 24, 1972, is listed on the manifest of the flight that hit the towers first. But a man with the same name and birth date turned up alive in Riyadh, where he told the Al Sharq Al Awsat daily that he had studied electrical engineering at University of Denver. His passport was stolen there in 1995.



Molly Ivins:
The CIA controls only 15 percent to 20 percent of the annual intelligence budget. The rest is handled by the Pentagon, despite widespread agreement that it needs to be centralized. The Bush administration has ignored these calls, mostly because Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld doesn't want to give up any power.
Time magazine reports, "It was striking that the Pentagon came under such heavy fire in last week's bipartisan report for resisting requests made by CIA director Tenet before 9-11, when the agency wanted to use satellites and other military hardware to spot and target terrorists in Afghanistan."
But the most striking thing about this report is that none of its conclusions and none of its recommendations have anything to do with the contents of the PATRIOT Act, which was supposedly our government's response to 9-11. All the could-haves, would-haves and should-haves in the report are so far afield from the PATRIOT Act it might as well be on another subject entirely.
Once again, as has often happened in our history, under the pressure of threat and fear, we have harmed our own liberties without any benefit for our safety. Insufficient powers of law enforcement or surveillance are nowhere mentioned in the joint inquiry report as a problem before 9-11. Yet Attorney General John Ashcroft now proposes to expand surveillance powers even further with the PATRIOT II Act. All over the country, local governments have passed resolutions opposing the PATRIOT Act and three states have done so, including the very Republican Alaska.
The House of Representatives last week voted to prohibit the use of "sneak and peek" warrants authorized by the PATRIOT Act. The conservative House also voted against a measure to withhold federal funds from state and local law-enforcement agencies that refuse to comply with federal inquirers on citizenship or immigration status. All kinds of Americans are now waking up to the fact that the PATRIOT Act gives the government the right to put American citizens in prison indefinitely, without knowing the charges against them, without access to an attorney, without the right to confront their accusers, without trial. Indefinitely.


[The obvious parallel is the "Enabling Act" passed under a similar emergency situation in Germany in 1933, after the burning of the "Reichstag" (parliament), attributed to a foreign communist.

Molly Ivins:
The report was completed late last year, but its publication was delayed by endless wrangles with the administration over what could be declassified. Former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who served on the committee, said the report's release was deliberately delayed by the White House until after the war in Iraq was over because it undercuts the rationale for the war. The report confirms there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.
"The administration sold the connection to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war," Cleland said. "What you've seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends."
Creators Syndicate, Inc.
Neo-con Pacifica
By Joseph Wanzala

Thus (see below) we have a leading KPFA/Pacifica voices (inadvertently) furthering a neo-conservative agenda. Larry Bensky recently interviewed Gerald Posner and Amy Goodman interviewed two authors (Peter Lance and Richard Miniter) whose books both pushed the 'Saudi Arabia did it' thesis though the emphasis was more on the supposed failure of the US intelligence agencies to do their job. These sort of developments show how problematic it is for Pacifica and progressives in general to marginalize so-called 'conspiracy theory' researchers and instead develop a preference for 'safe' journalists like Posner and Lance. What good is Pacifica if middle-of-the-road watering holes like 'Salon' can make more incisive contributions to one of the most critical questions facing progressives than anything one might hear on Democracy Now? I think it is clear that the overbearing concern of many leading Pacifica commentators - including Bernstein, Bensky and Goodman not to be seen as 'marginal conspiratologist' is having the effect of leading Pacifica into the intellectual arms of the neo-cons. There is now a community of investigative researchers (Ruppert, Chossudovsky, et al) who have raised critical questions about 9-11 and the criminal nature of state power in general but who have been declared 'beyond the pale' by the left establishment. Therefore the general thrust of their work is rejected. Since no other progressive journalists seem to be doing their own original work on this question - they turn to establishment/mainstream journalists safe in the knowledge that they will not be attacked for putting out the wrong message. I think this is a very dangerous trend and I hope that we can begin to see a change in attitude from progressives to the extent that (they/we) recognize the dangers in the trend I have laid out above and which is discussed further below.
Joe W.
Monday, October 20, 2003
Salon has an excellent article written by Mark Follman concerning Gerald Posner's allegations concerning the American interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, allegedly a top al Qaeda operative. Abu Zubaydah supposedly claimed that Pakistani air force chief Mushaf Ali Mir made a deal with bin Laden in 1996 to support al Qaeda, and that this deal had the blessing of the Saudis, and in particular four Saudi princes: Prince Ahmad bin Salman, Prince Sultan al-Saud, Prince Fahd al-Kabir, and Prince Turki bin Faisal. To back up the claim, Posner cites the fact that the results of the interrogation were conveyed to the Saudis a month after the interrogation, and, shortly after the issue was raised, Prince Ahmed, Prince Sultan and Prince Fahd all died within a few days of one another. Seven months later Pakistani air force chief Mushaf Ali Mir died in yet another of those mysterious Pakistani airplane crashes. The deaths of all the guilty parties except Prince Turki, who is said to be too powerful to kill, are supposed to show how those involved were removed once it became clear that the Americans were aware of the plot. Therefore, the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were involved at the highest levels in al Qaeda and, by extension, in the attacks of September 11.Joseph Wanzala’s follow-up comments: Every, and I mean every, person who is in any way knowledgeable about the assassination of JFK would tell you, without the slightest hesitation, that Gerard Posner's book on the assassination is the single worst piece of crap written on the subject. Considering the amount of nonsense written about the death of JFK, that tells you all you need to know about Posner.
What about the deaths of the Saudi Princes and Mushaf Ali Mir? Isn't it obvious that the whole story was concocted after these people died, and they were included as the people implicated by Abu Zubaydah as: 1) their deaths seem to back up the story; and 2) they are no longer in a position to point out how ridiculous it is? Prince Turki, who is still around, vehemently denies it.
The experts in the Salon article point out how implausible it is for the mainstream of Saudi rulers to be behind 9-11. The most striking thing about the attack is that, of all foreign countries, it is Saudi Arabia that suffered the worst damage from it. It is certainly plausible, and even likely, that some Saudi princes supported al Qaeda, but it is a long way from that to say that al Qaeda was supported by the rulers of Saudi Arabia. We have to use a little common sense. Why would the rulers of Saudi Arabia support a group devoted to their violent overthrow, and support an attack on the United States that was guaranteed to hurt their interests? The Saudis are heavily, heavily invested in the United States, and the last thing they would want is any kind of attack that would hurt the American economy. It is true that, at the instance of the United States, the Saudis had provided support for the Islamic fighters against the Russians in Afghanistan. It is also true that the Saudis support the bin Laden family. But there is not one piece of evidence that the Saudi government intended to commit suicide by supporting terrorist actions, which, if discovered, were guaranteed to lead to its violent end.
Pakistan is a different situation, and the true nature of the relationship of the Pakistani government and al Qaeda is still murky. Pakistan actually benefited from 9-11, and the relationship between the ISI and the Pakistani government is complicated. Pakistan certainly supported the Taliban (and still does), but seems to be genuinely fighting al Qaeda remnants to the extent it can. Whatever the true relationship between Pakistan and al Qaeda, Posner's story is sufficiently unbelievable with respect to the Saudis that we can't rely on it to implicate the Pakistanis.
The Saudis claim that they have been told that the American interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has revealed that he was instructed by bin Laden to use Saudi nationals in the 9-11 attack in order to strain relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Leaving aside the fact that I have grave doubts about whether the United States actually has Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in custody, and the fact that there is still no proof of the real nationality of any of the hijackers, this idea makes a lot of sense. Since one of bin Laden's main goals is to replace the current corrupt leaders of Saudi Arabia, it would make sense for him to use Saudi nationals, or at least identities stolen from Saudi nationals, in his attack on the United States.
In response to the bad image of Saudi Arabia in the United States, the Saudis have released details on their efforts to assist the Americans in the war on terrorism. From the Salon article:
" The most intriguing and controversial claim, however, involved none other than the alleged key Saudi conspirator, former intelligence chief Prince Turki. Turki claimed his intelligence service warned the CIA in late 1999 and early 2000 about two al-Qaida members, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who were later among the Sept. 11 hijackers. 'What we told them was these people were on our watch list from previous activities of al-Qaida, in both the embassy bombings and attempts to smuggle arms into the kingdom in 1997,' Turki told the Associated Press.
The CIA denied receiving any such information from Saudi Arabia until after 9/11, and Prince Bandar, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S., admitted that 'no documents' were sent. But Turki insisted his agency communicated the warning to the CIA, at least by word of mouth."
The famous Malaysia 'summit' meeting of al Qaeda, attended by al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, was held on January 5-8, 2000. The fact of a Saudi warning to the CIA at around the same time as the al Qaeda meeting just makes the failure to add the names of these terrorists to the U. S. 'watch list' even more inexplicable.There is currently a tremendous neocon propaganda campaign going on against the leaders of Saudi Arabia. The Posner story just appears to be another aspect of it. It is unclear whether Posner is part of the propaganda war or has just been taken in by the neocons. As I've said before, the neocons are insane, and the result of their plans will be tragic for both the world and the United States. At some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, Americans are going to realize that the neocons are a much, much greater threat to the United States than any foreign country or group of terrorists. It is an amazing thing that anyone still listens to them after the debacle of their attack on Iraq, but they are carrying on with their PNAC plans as if that attack was a complete success, and appear to now have almost total control of the American government. Their goal is still to take out any and all possible opponents of Israel, and secure all Middle East and Central Asian oil under American control. Unless the neocons are stopped, any idiot can see that this is going to lead to complete disaster (a very large multiple of the disasters in Afghanistan and Iraq). The attack on the Saudis is intended to further the neocon goal of eventually destroying the Saudi government so the United States can take over the Saudi oilfields. The propaganda campaign has been so successful, the neocons even have Michael Moore parroting it. The main trick was to leave the Saudi matters out of the published 9-11 report, so people could think the worst of the Saudis, and then slyly make people believe that it was left out because Bush was protecting his Saudi business friends. A brilliant strategy! All of this propaganda works only because Americans are still afraid to admit who was really behind 9-11.
A hint: the Saudis don't run NORAD.