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Saudis and Aussies: Exchange Over Mosques and Information Deficits January 11, 2007

Posted by publicpolitics in Diplomacy, Middle East.
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The embassy said yesterday it had been “shocked” by Mr Downer’s Monday statement on ABC radio that investigators were probing possible funding from “extremist groups in Saudi Arabia” for Australian mosques.

Mark Dodd and Pia Ackerman

The government of Australia and the Saudi Arabian embassy have had a bit of tempest in a teacup over a statement by Aussie Foreign Minister ALexander Downer’s allegation that funds from Islamic extremists based in the Kingdom have been used in Australia to fund mosques. Mr. Downer said that the Department of Foreign Affairs had made its view known about an application by the Saudi government to invest in the development of a Mosque in Park Holme, a suburb of Adelaide. Although the Saudis denied having knowledge of the content of Downer’s statement, the Austarlian governments says that has a result of the Department’s statement, the Saudis blocked funding for the Mosque.

The whole affair revolves around the case of an Iraqi who was a member of the Park Holme Mosque before his capture last month in Baghdad for alleged anti-coalition activities.

The Saudi embassy claims that money is not coming from Saudi Arabia to support any extremist groups and that the Saudis are watching what money goes out of the country very closely.

The most interesting part of the whole story is what was not revealed. When pushed to reveal how much Saudi assistance goes to organizations in Australia, the Saudis referred reporters to the Australian government, which said it could provide no details. It would seem prudent that all governments should have some way of tracking money coming in from other countries, but perhaps this is not legally possible for funds coming from non governmental organizations. In the Australian situation, the funds in question are directly from the Saudi government, and these direct government funds would be, one might hope, less difficult to track.

Tags: extremist-mosque | statement | shocks | probing | Mosque | link | investigating | Groups | Funding | extremist | Saudi Arabia | Saudi | Politics | Monday | embassy | Downer | AUSTRALIAN | Australia | Adelaide

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Saudi Spin Man Is New Ambassador December 21, 2006

Posted by publicpolitics in Diplomacy.
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Saudi Arabia has informed the State Department that it intends to appoint Adel al-Jubeir as the new ambassador to Washington, according to U.S. officials. Jubeir, who is one of King Abdullah’s closest foreign policy advisers, has long been the public face of the oil-rich kingdom in the West.”

Washington Post

Turki al Faisal’s resignation as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US remains unexplained, but the appointment of Adel al Jubeir as the new ambassador to Washington is less of a surprise. Jubeir is known in Washington as being the point man for the Kingdom’s attempt to dissociate Saudi royalty from the al-Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks. Jubeir was also dispatched to the US to defuse an impending uproar over Prince Abdullah’s assertion that “Zionist hands” were “95%” behind terrorist events in 2004.

It is true that the Saudi royals have turned against bin Laden, and that he is dedicated to destroying the Saudi government. But that turnaround took place belatedly, and the new ambassador’s assertion that bin Laden’s popularity has dropped off in the Kingdom is much more questionable.

Tags: al-Jubeir | Jubeir | Adel | well-known | policy | oil-rich | officials | KINGDOM | intends | informed | closest | appoint | AMBASSADOR | advisers | according | Washington | Saudi Arabia | Saudi | department | Abdullah