Sept. 11 Aftermath Strains U.S.-Saudi Ties

Financial advisers who deal with the Middle East estimate that the GCC's wealthy citizens have moved at least $500 billion out of the Gulf states because of the feelings of insecurity.

One Western banker in Dubai said that Gulf money is also leaving the United States and seems to be heading mainly for Swiss banks, rather than going home.

Internal Dissatisfaction Grows

The increased tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United States comes as the ruling House of Saud faces a reckoning of its own.

For years, the country's leadership has faced charges that it is a corrupt crony of American interests.

The charges are gaining weight now, amid a decline in the economy, arising from massive defense spending, stagnant oil revenue and crushing debt.

Increasingly, critics are blaming the country's economic woes on corruption in the House of Saud.

Complicating the situation is the presence of thousands of American troops in the area, a legacy of the Persian Gulf War.

Saudi Arabia is the holiest country in the Muslim world, and the royal family's decision to allow a foreign and non-Muslim military presence on its soil gives the impression that it is relying on such a presence to stay in power.

Add to this situation the country's expanding population of college graduates, many of them unemployed, and therefore potential dissidents, and Saudi Arabia's leaders may be facing a revolution.

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