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Indeed, who will tie the bell around the Saudi Cats neck?

Reader comment on item: Uniting to Exclude Saudi Arabian Airlines

Submitted by Lloyd L Klein (United States), Aug 21, 2007 at 16:24

The Saudi government, whatever other faults it has, maintains the appearance of being among the most business friendly among the large oil exporters. It makes the most publicized efforts to mitigate the huge swings in oil prices which are often attempted by the rogue oil and gas exporters. It is for this political reason that the US, its largest customer and main benefactor, has been reluctant to raise any treats against it.

Neither Mexico, nor Canada, both net oil exporters, can prevent oil price swings as effectively as the Saudis do, just by saying they will. In fact, among the Western nations, Canada and Mexico [and Venezuela, if you can consider it a western country in any sense other than geography] are the only ones that can economically afford to slap down the official Saudi discriminatory actions against other religions, and potentially gain from any oil price increase resulting from Saudi indignation.

I haven't checked this out, but I doubt that Saudia has airport privileges and certainly not a large flying clientele in any of these three countries. However if a Canadian or Mexican action were to lessen the friendliness of the Saudis, the major losers would be the oil importing countries, specifically their major trading partner – the economic elephant on the block - the USA. Should Canada wish to continue to export oil at the world price, while consuming it at lower prices, it could figuratively pour oil on the occasionally inflamed trade relations between it and its largest trading partner.

As for NGOs bringing lawsuits against Saudia for practicing religious discrimination at their airports, I am doubtful that there is a well enunciated and universally recognized law governing which cultural rules/laws apply on an airliner when it is on the ground in a foreign country. I am not a lawyer, so I cannot comment on the legal aspects of such a law suit, but such a lawsuit could be likened to the proverbial "suing the government".

The government can always afford the best legal machinery to fight off a challenge from one of its citizens, by the simple expedient of raising taxes, often the taxes of those very citizens who are challenging it. In a like manner Saudi Arabia can afford the best lawyers, by raising the price of oil on its clientele. At the very least a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia's right to practice what it sees as its religious obligations on its own territory and its own aircraft would be a huge financial black hole and at worst might even offend those Westerners, including the judges hearing this case, who believe that it is Saudia's religious freedoms which need protection, even when their actions trespass on the religious freedoms of others. After all, they might argue, no one is compelled to fly Saudia, nor for that matter is any non-Saudi compelled to visit the Kingdom.

So, in the end, who has enough to gain and little to lose to have the courage to put the bell around the kingdom's neck?

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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