This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Al-Mamlakah al-'Arabiyah as-Sa'udiyah) is a monarchy with a population of approximately twenty million. Saudia Arabia is minimally forested, and half of Saudi Arabia is essentially grasslands. Less than two percent of Saudi Arabia is used for permanent agricultrure. 
Saudi Arabia is the major focus of the current geopolitical struggle in the Middle East, and is home to Makka and Madina, the two holiest sites in Islam. Saudi oil reserves are sufficient to fuel literally any world military effort.
Fifteen of the nineteen suicide hijackers who carried out the Setember 11, 2001 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the U.S. were citizens of Saudi Arabia, although the country said it bears no responsibility for their actions.
May Support Iraqi insurgency
Saudi Arabia "has told the Bush administration that it might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq's Shiites if the United States pulls its troops out of Iraq, according to American and Arab diplomats," Helene Cooper reported December 13, 2006, in the New York Times.
"King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia conveyed that message to Vice President Dick Cheney two weeks ago during Mr. Cheney’s whirlwind visit to Riyadh, the officials said. During the visit, King Abdullah also expressed strong opposition to diplomatic talks between the United States and Iran, and pushed for Washington to encourage the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, senior Bush administration officials said," Cooper wrote.
"The Saudi warning reflects fears among America's Sunni Arab allies about Iran's rising influence in Iraq, coupled with Tehran's nuclear ambitions. King Abdullah II of Jordan has also expressed concern about rising Shiite influence, and about the prospect that the Shiite-dominated government would use Iraqi troops against the Sunni population," Cooper wrote.
Saudi Ambassador Quits
"Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, flew out of Washington" December 11, 2006, "after informing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and his staff that he would be leaving the post after only 15 months on the job, according to U.S. officials and foreign envoys. There has been no formal announcement from the kingdom," Robin Wright reported in the Washington Post.
"The abrupt departure is particularly striking because his predecessor, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, spent 22 years on the job. The Saudi ambassador is one of the most influential diplomatic positions in Washington and is arguably the most important overseas post for the oil-rich desert kingdom," Wright wrote.
Saudi Arabia and the tobacco industry
Philip Morris' techniques for circumventing Saudi total ban on cigarette ads
In a 1986 Philip Morris (PM) marketing presentation about Saudi Arabia, the presenter describes the methods that PM uses to circumvent a total ban on cigarette advertising in Saudi Arabia. The writer begins by saying, "Saudi Arabia provides a striking example of how it is possible to grow volume, market share and income in a market where advertising is completely banned...."
PM used "creative approaches" to get around the ad ban, which included strategies such as placing advertisements in "local journals from Pan Arab publications which find their way into Saudi Arabia." PM also "develop[ed] sponsorships in neighboring markets which provide good opportunities for promotion and publicity on TV." PM also teamed with car companies to sponsor motor sports in the Gulf, because "events such as these are widely televised ... Saudi networks cover some directly while neighboring countries cover others." PM also sought to "profit from the Arab interest in motor sports by exhibiting a simulator of a Formula One Marlboro car at this year's motor show in Jeddah. This attracted large crowds."
The writer also explains that, "Since both Arabic, mainly Kuwaiti and English foreign language press do get into Saudi, we use these to promote Marlboro and other brands ... " PM also says, "We've also been using cross-border television advertising in a joint program with Canon cameras. These carry shots of Marlboro Formula One cars intermingled with the main advertisement, Canon cameras."
PM made an agreement with a private home video distribution company to promote Marlboro by putting commercials on video cassette movies for home rental "to advertise the distributors extensive library of 'Westerns'."
In the same report, PM describes its vigorous fight against the Gulf Council Health Ministry's attempts to require bigger warning labels on cigarettes, as well as a proposal to restrict the nicotine content of cigarettes. The report also documents a huge increase in cigarette exports from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia by PM alone between 1975 and 1985. PM says that in 1975, the company exported three-quarters of a billion cigarettes to Saudi Arabia. By 1985 that number had jumped to fifteen billion "units" (cigarettes). 
- US trained military personnel: 1,380
- US military aid: $295,900,000
- US provided US aid or training to police
- This country practiced torture on an administrative basis during this period
Related SourceWatch Resources
- Gary E. German - oil advisor
- Axis of evil
- Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
- Libyan oil industry
- oil industry
- Pax Americana
- Pax Americana, Africa
- preemptive war
- Project for the New American Century
- Qorvis Communications
- Saudi Arabian oil industry
- September 11, 2001: Evacuation of Saudi Nationals
- war on terrorism
- weapons of mass destruction
- Hisham Nazer - former oil minister
- Sir Andrew Green
- Steven Stalinsky, Preliminary Overview. - Saudi Arabia's Education System: Curriculum, Spreading Saudi Education to the World and the Official Saudi Position on Education Policy, ropma.net: "For the past two decades, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been engaged in an extensive effort 'to spread Islam to every corner of the earth.' This has meant supporting or creating schools with a curriculum primarily based upon the teachings of Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab, the 18th century founder of the Islamist Wahhabiyya movement."
- Country Profile: Saudi Arabia, BBC/UK.
- "History of Saudi Arabia," Wikipedia
- U.S. Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.
Articles & Commentary
- Paul Reynolds, "US ready to seize Gulf oil in 1973," BBC/UK, January 1, 2004: "It was thought that US airborne troops would seize the oil installations in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and might even ask the British to do the same in Abu Dhabi. ... The episode shows how the security of oil supplies is always at the forefront of governments' planning."
- Michael Isikoff, "New Questions About Saudi Money--and Bandar," Newsweek, April 12, 2004.
- Henry A. Waxman and Edward J. Markey, Letter, April 19, 2004: Re Bob Woodward's revelation on 60 Minutes that George W. Bush has an agreement with Saudi ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan to lower oil prices prior to U.S. presidential election, 2004.
- Dale Hurd, Saudi Arabia: A House Divided, CBN News, July 22, 2004.
- "Saudis plan fence around Iraqi border. 560-mile barricade designed to keep out extremists," Associated Press (MSNBC), September 27, 2006.
- "Chad accuses Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda, of interference," Monsters and Critics (UK), December 1, 2006.
- Michael van der Galien, "Saudi Arabia 'Supporting' Iraqi Sunnis," The Moderate Voice, December 7, 2006.
- Ran Wei, "Saudi Arabia: Middle East on brink of exploding and GCC intends to go Nuclear," Global Research (Canada), December 11, 2006.
- Robin Wright, "Saudi Ambassador Abruptly Resigns, Leaves Washington," Washington Post, December 12, 2006.
- Helene Cooper, "Saudis Give a Grim What If Should U.S. Opt to Leave Iraq," New York Times, December 13, 2006.
- Salah Nasrawi, "Saudi royal family, gov‘t split on Iraq," Associated Press (Jordan Falls News), December 13, 2006.
- Juan Cole, "The New Middle East Cold War: Saudi/Israel/Lebanon versus Iran/Syria/Iraq/Hizbullah," Informed Comment, December 13, 2006.
- "16 Saudis released from Guantanamo arrive home," Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), December 14, 2006.
- "Pakistan, Saudi Arabia vow to strengthen ties," Daily Times (Pakistan), December 14, 2006.
- George Jahn, "OPEC Eyes February Production Cut," Associated Press (Forbes), December 14, 2006.
- Jad Mouawad, "OPEC Calls for 2nd Cut in Oil Output," New York Times, December 14, 2006.
- AJ in DC, "Follow-up on Saudi ambassador's resignation," AMERICAblog, December 15, 2006.
- "US 'plans huge Saudi arms deal'", BBC News, 28 July 2007