Recently there has been controversy in the news about the small yet existing U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, and the creation of a drone base. To put this into perspective, the presence of western soldiers isn’t liked in Muslim countries, because the U.S. in a way is seen as a type of colonizing power by some Muslim countries. U.S. presence in Muslim countries is part of the cause of violent backlash that have erupted in many countries over cartoons, movies and even reactions to elections.
In 1990, Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing petroleum from Iraq, so Iraq invaded Kuwait. Some say that there were many other reasons why Iraq invaded Kuwait, including that Iraq competed for oil with Kuwait. After Iraq invaded Kuwait, Saudi Arabia feared that they were next, so they asked for American help, and we agreed.
Not everybody in Saudi Arabia liked that Americans were there, like Osama bin Laden. When the United States made a base in Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden thought that was the biggest violation of Islamic holy lands. In 1988, he created al Qaeda, and as a result, he was banished from Saudi Arabia in 1992.
Bin Laden has attacked many embassies and has hurt many innocent people because he wanted the Americans to leave Saudi Arabia. The United States finally left Saudi Arabia after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. However, the United States kept helping the Saudi government and was still in some Muslim countries, which bin Laden did not like at all because he thought that the Saudi government was an American puppet.
Because western forces were still in Islamic countries, Osama bin Laden and his jihadist group, al Qaeda, decided to attack the innocent civilians in the U.S. They were the group that was responsible for the 9/11 attacks in 2001 that killed almost 3,000 people, and injured more than 6,000. This attack was devastating for people all over the country, and it put everyone in shock. Everybody was thinking the same thing: was there any way to stop it? How can someone possibly do this?And who was ultimately responsible for this?
Who do you think is to blame for the 9/11 attacks? There are layers in this conflict and the rise of terrorism, asking who is the ‘bad guy’ in the war on terrorism points to a picture that has increasingly become blurry. Maybe the United States is responsible because they didn’t take the extremist group al Qaeda as seriously when they said to leave Muslim countries and to stop funding them. Or maybe it was al Qaeda’s fault because they were the people who actually committed the terrorist attack and had unrealistic demands for a superpower. I think that even if the U.S. left Islamic countries and stopped funding their governments, al Qaeda would still have attacked us on 9/11, they needed to create fear and paranoia. It worked, now the U.S. is seen as the bad guy in Muslim countries, and Muslims are discriminated against here in the U.S. While most Muslims aren’t fanatical or violent, there’s always going to be fundamentalists in the group targeting innocent Muslims and non-Muslims. Just like there are extremists in every religious or political group, some of whom also act violently.
I also think that there’s a struggle over resources that is creating a cycle of violence that’s going on between western countries and Islamic fundamentalists, and that cycle doesn’t seem like it will be broken anytime soon. For instance, one of the reasons why the U.S. won’t stop funding and helping certain Islamic countries is because of oil, and how much we want it. The U.S. cares a little bit too much about their precious oil, and they are willing to risk American lives to make sure they can get it. At the same time, Islamic fundamentalists are going to keep seeing the U.S. presence as a type of colonialism and anti-Islamic, and they’re never going to want us in Islamic countries.