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Saudi Arabia Backs out of Support for US

Saudi Arabia Backs out of Support for US
 Anti-Terror Offensive – After Possible
Palace Revolution
US War Offensive Delayed by Loss of Saudi Base - and
 Fading Away of Arab Coalition
Washington Hurriedly Hunts Bases of Operation
 for Lost Saudi Facilities in Turkey,
Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan
Read More on this DEBKAfile Exclusive
further down this page
DEBKAfile World Exclusive
Saudi Royal Family Secretly Sends Ailing King Fahd
 and Other Members of Royal House Out of Country
 in Anticipation of US Offensive in Region
Leading to Military Crisis
In Last 72 Hours, a Saudi Royal Airlift of 12 Flights
Carried King and Royal Party to Palace in Geneva
Two More Royal Flights Due in Geneva Saturday
Fahd Flew Aboard His Private Mobile Hospital
Boeing 757 HZ-HMED
US Bereft of Arab Coalition After
Saudi Arabia Backs out
22 September:  The United States has delayed the start of its offensive against Afghanistan and Osama Bin Laden, in retaliation for the terrorist strikes in New York and Washington, because of a dramatic turnaround of Arab support in the Middle East, DEBKAfile ’s Gulf and Washington sources report.
Saturday afternoon, it became clear that events in Riyadh had dealt the final deathblow to the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell’s failed efforts to create an Arab front to bolster the Bush administration’s world war on terror.
The reason for King Fahd secret exit from Saudi Arabia, followed by a large royal party (see earlier DEBKAfile World Exclusive on this page), is believed by our most reliable sources to be a palace revolution sparked by differences in the royal family over support for the US offensive against Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden’s terror network and other rogue targets.  King Fahd and his Sudeiri faction, including defense minister Sultan, were in favor of letting the US place assault forces in forward bases on Saudi soil; the conservative, religious Crown Prince Abdullah, who runs the kingdom since King Fahd became ill, overruled him, backed by the religious establishment.
As a result, Saudi Arabia refused to let the US use the kingdom’s new combined air operations command center at Prince Sultan Air Base near Riyadh, after Air Force Lt. Gen Charles Wald had been dispatched to the base earlier this week, to take command of US air forces assigned to the Middle East and Southwest Asia.
His mission was to run the air war from the new, sophisticated air base opened this summer, a base linked to Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates and Seeb in the Sultanate of Oman. The Saudi base was also to have been the central command post not only for the 175 aircraft already based in the region for patrolling south Iraq’s no-flight zone, but also for directing attacks from other bases in the region in the new war offensive.
When General Wald landed in Saudi Arabia with his top aides on Tuesday, September 18, he was told he had no command base. That was when the feuding inside the royal house over its role in the American war against terrorism reached its climax. The monarch’s defeat in the argument inside the palace was apparently the main reason for his abrupt departure the next day, Wednesday, September 19. 
The Pentagon has since then been casting about for replacement bases of operation and holding up the onset of the scheduled US campaign.
DEBKAfile ’s military sources believe that one of General Wald’s options for his command post is the Bahrain. Some of the fighter craft due to have been based in Saudi Arabia have been moved to Incerlik, the big air base in South Turkey, after Anakara made all its bases available for the American war effort, and the Uzbek military airport of Tuzel, 15 km. from Tashkent.  Large-scale air and commando forces also landed Saturday in Tadjikistan, on the border of Afghanistan.
The American forces are now laboring to catch up with their schedule for the operation.
The upset in Riydah also sent the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat racing to Riydah to meet Crown Prince Abdullah and update his own strategy with the turn of events in the royal house.  DEBKAfile ’s Palestinian experts expect Arafat to turn tail and back out of the accommodations he broached under US and European pressure – including his commitment to a ceasefire.
According to DEBKAfile ’s Washington sources, the Bush administration realizes it has been let down by the Arab world, chiefly the Saudis and President Mubarak of Egypt, in its first steps to launch an international campaign to defeat world terrorism. It will go ahead, but not forget in a hurry.



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