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Saudis reverting to piracy?

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WASHINGTON — Why do so many roads lead to Saudi Arabia? That oil-rich nation effectively controls Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the cartel that attempts to control world oil prices.

Financial support for a variety of Middle Eastern terrorist organizations, including Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida, can be traced to Saudi citizens, if not the Saudi government. Further, wealthy Saudis have invested heavily in America and elsewhere in the industrialized world.

And is there a difference between Saudi Arabia and Saudi citizens? Yes and no. There are so many members of the Saudi royal family and people close to those members that they are often perceived to be acting with the blessing of the king. The bin Laden family, for example, has made a fortune in the construction business due in large measure to its royal family ties. Osama bin Laden has been officially disavowed by his family, but the shunning is not universal either among the bin Ladens or the Saudi royals.

Why would the Saudis want to tear down and disrupt the very nations that have become their best oil customers? There are several answers.

Clearly, there are fundamentalist elements that look upon non-Muslims as infidels, but these same people also often oppose the Saudi government.

Osama bin Laden, for example, claims his anti-American crusade began because American troops were allowed on Saudi soil — a desecration to him.

More often it is simply a matter of money. The two commodities that usually rise dramatically during an international crisis are gold and oil. On the other hand, when a crisis sparks a recession, oil suffers accordingly because demand decreases. So those who would create turmoil to force prices up clearly have no stake in creating a recession.

Oil has made Saudi Arabia and its royal family and friends rich. The oil price hikes manipulated by OPEC that began in the early 1970s resulted in the greatest peaceful transfer of wealth in history. It worked so well that the Saudis are said to be looking to create similar cartels based around other commodities.

Intelligence sources tell us that the Saudis are actually seeking to supplant capitalism as we know it with a modern mercantile system.

Mercantilism in its heyday many centuries ago witnessed the accumulation of wealth by nations that used monopolies to control high-demand commodities. This resulted in the flow of gold into those countries' coffers. Today's mercantilism turns to U.S. dollars and U.S. investments instead of gold, but the result is the same.

In the old mercantilism, nations attacked competitor's commerce shipping even when they were not at war. And they used exclusionary tactics to prevent competitors from infringing upon their sources of supply.

Similar predatory practices are being employed by the modern mercantilists, except terrorism has replaced piracy and an international adherence to sovereign rights has replaced armed fleets.

It all sounds sinister — perhaps too sinister to be believed — but we need look no further than the history books to see what is happening has happened before.

United Feature Syndicate