(SAUDI ARABIA and EXTREMISTS, to 2000 – continued)

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SAUDI ARABIA and EXTREMISTS, to 2000 (3 of 4)

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Saudi Arabia to 1986

In 1982, after an illness, King Khalid died and was succeeded by Crown Prince Fahd. By now, Saudi Arabia was second only to the United States as an importer of goods. Saudi Arabia bought a new infrastructure. It bought the construction of the best roadways, huge airports, fancy hotels, other great buildings and air-conditioned malls with Italian marble water fountains, balconies and hanging greenery. Luxury villas arose. Camels disappeared as the Saudis moved about in Mercedes, Japanese cars or mobile homes pulled by diesel trucks.

Since 1974, education levels in Saudi Arabia had soared, creating a problem of more educated people than there were jobs for them to do. For menial work the Saudis hired people from abroad. A joke went around that people of different nationalities were asked whether sex was fun or work. A Saudi was said to have answered that sex was fun, that if it were work he would hire a Pakistani to do it.

The Saudis bought U.S. surveillance aircraft and jet fighters. Gaddafi of Libya began a dispute with the Saudis, complaining about U.S. planes with U.S. crews affronting Islam by flying over Mecca. Gaddafi denounced the Saud dynasty as corrupt and urged an uprising against it. The Saudis believed that Gaddafi was supporting attacks on their diplomats and were financing groups within Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, and Tunisia against governments there. Saudi Arabia broke relations with Libya and King Fahd persuaded the Saudi Arabia's ulama to declare Gaddafi a heretic.

The sale of jet fighters to Saudi Arabia became an issue in the U.S. Congress, Congress voting down such sales and also sales to Saudi Arabia of stinger missiles. The Saudis were trying to protect themselves from Iran, while Congress was concerned about use of military equipment against Israel.

The Saudis wanted to keep the Middle East stable and advocated peace initiatives for settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a plan for Israel to withdraw from occupied territories and the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.


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