Thursday, March 27, 2003 1:00 a.m.
I wonder what my daughters are thinking these days as they sit on the floor of their villas in the middle of the Saudi desert, just a few hours away from the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border, listening to broadcasts in Arabic from Al-Jazeera and then switching over to CNN which they can easily pick up on satellite.
Do they hear the venomous anti-American sermons being ranted by the mullahs in the mosques and sent out via video to the populace? Do they see the bullet-ridden dead bodies of American soldiers as they lie silently face down in the sand while the Iraqi military proceed to defile them before an audience of millions? Are they frightened by the shouts and violence acted out by the mobs of Arab protesters storming through the streets of the Middle East? Are they frightened by the cries of, “Death to America” and the “Stars and Stripes” being burned amongst shouts of anger and hatred?
In a country that never lets anyone forget who their tribe is or what their grandfather was known for – Saudi Arabia and the Middle East maintain their fierce blood alliances forever. My girls are undoubtedly told they are “half-breeds” and reminded, “Don’t forget that your mother is American!”
They are also women, which is the second strike against them. So they sit in silence helplessly watching both sides of the war and know that they can do nothing. They know that I have fought valiantly for their freedom, but they also know the power of the Saudi men that control them and the Saudi government that forced them to disavow their mother and America just a few months ago in London.
I’m sure they must wonder why these Americans on television are fighting so hard to liberate Iraq when no one from the American embassy or State Department has fought for them. They don’t know much about politics and the ways of the world. They probably don’t even know much about life outside their desert cage since all news is censored and the tightly controlled Saudi regime affords no freedom of speech or other liberties that we take for granted. But their hearts cannot help but hope and long for liberty as they told me many years ago, “Mama, don’t leave us here. Take us to America.”
They don’t know that their mom had “done deals” on the table with the Saudis for their release that were stymied by the U.S. State Department, hired three teams of mercenaries to rescue them, had personal messages delivered to four U.S. presidents, worked for almost two decades for their freedom. No, the girls don’t know this and, even if they did, there would be nothing they could do but weep to know that America cares so little for them.
When questioned in London last fall by Bill O’Reilly’s producer from Fox television, they stated they didn’t know what the West was like. They were forced to wear the dreaded black abaya even in a London hotel. Then, as soon as the Saudi government and their well paid flacks were done with my daughters for their PR stunts, they whisked them back to their desert dungeon. Like rape victims, they were used and then discarded.
President Bush sent 250,000 U.S. troops into the Middle East to rescue a people controlled by an evil dictator. Many of these people don’t even know why the U.S. is there. Is it to liberate them or to dominate them? They are Arabs – many poor, illiterate people that live day by day and close to the land. They, too, cannot identify with the West. Like my daughters, they must be frightened.
The president wants the U.S. taxpayers to pay $75 billion for this effort called, “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” He says Saddam Hussein is a menace to the world and must go. But the roots of terrorism are allowed to continue – inside the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As we are learning, the money trail of al-Qaida leads to the Saudis – members of the royal family might be involved in funding the largest terrorist network in the world and yet the U.S. government says the Saudis are our allies. They prop up one despotic regime and encourage it to thrive and take down its neighbor as the axis of evil in the world.
It’s funny: I testified before Congress four times last year and the president never called me to say he would liberate Alia and Aisha from 17 years of repression and torture. All Ari Fleischer could say was, “This is a child-custody issue.” Secretary of State Powell dismissed the entire matter on Fox News when questioned by Tony Snow. Now they want me to participate in contributing to liberating Iraqis that may or may not even want us on their soil after Saddam goes.
Perhaps America should get their priorities straight. Which despot should go first?