In case any further evidence were needed that the security situation in Saudi Arabia is tenuous at best, the recent terrorist attacks in Khobar which killed 22 foreign workers, proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Saudi authorities are either unable or unwilling to prevent Al-Quaeda acting with impunity where ever and whenever it pleases within the oil rich kingdom.
Dubious claims of a serious crack down on militants and the announcements of mass arrests, (No doubt, being conducted by Claude Rains.) fly in the face of the massive incompetence demonstrated by the botched hostage rescue attempted by Saudi commandos, in which three of the four attackers were allowed to escape.
As serious as the Khobar incident was, the danger keeping national security officials up at night must be the very real possibility of a successful strike on a major refinery. The possible effects of such a disaster could bring every oil-addicted nation to its knees, send the world economy into chaos, and hasten the collapse of the Saudi regime.
Regardless of the lip service paid to the efforts of the Saudis to deal with their internal insurgency, the fear of such a scenario must have played a crucial role in the Bush administration's decision-making prior to the invasion of Iraq.
Already known to have the second largest supply of oil in the world; the largely unexplored western deserts of Iraq are estimated to contain a supply of crude that equals, if not exceeds, Saudi Arabia's known reserves.
Possessing an oil rich aircraft carrier in the heart of the Middle East is an important hedge against a sudden cutoff of the Saudi spigot. Contrary to the president's daily protestations, the prospect of a truly "sovereign" Iraq anytime soon appears highly unlikely.
[Okay, I swear I didn't see this before I wrote the piece:
"Saudi stability once seemed a relatively safe bet; now analysts are questioning the security of the kingdom's oil facilities and the tight grip of its ruling family. From today's L.A. Times.