King Abdullah Warns the West

Is the West next in ISIS's crosshairs?


Saudi King Abdullah has warned the West that we are in ISIS’s crosshairs:

Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) – King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has warned that the West will be the next target of the jihadists sweeping through Syria and Iraq, unless there is “rapid” action.

“If we ignore them, I am sure they will reach Europe in a month and America in another month,” he said in remarks quoted on Saturday by Asharq al-Awsat daily and Saudi-backed Al-Arabiya television station.

“Terrorism knows no border and its danger could affect several countries outside the Middle East,” said the king who was speaking at a welcoming ceremony on Friday for new ambassadors, including a new envoy from Saudi ally the United States.

I think that the king’s remarks are best viewed through the lens of Saudi security concerns. ISIS is on his doorstep, a near enemy. Its very proclamation of a caliphate is a challenge to the legitimacy of the kingdom and to the positions of the king and his large, extended family.

While it may be the case that Europe and the United States are on the list of targets for ISIS (they’ve said as much), I strongly suspect that King Abdullah and his subjects have more about which to be concerned with ISIS in the near term than we do and that rather than merely warning the West the king is trying to muster support for his country against ISIS.

I look forward to our colleague John Burgess’s remarks on this subject.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Terrorism, , , , ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. Stonetools says:

    Maybe he should be talking to his friends in Qatar and the UAE who are reportedly bankrolling ISIS and other jihadist militias in Syria. Just a thought.

  2. RGardner says:

    I’m interested in Jordan’s response as well. The Saudis are basically usurpers in the past century, (Wahibbis), while the Jordanian Royal family are the direct descendants of the Prophet Mohammed (see Trans-Jordan). For folks trying to send things back to 800AD, that matters. .The right speech in classical Arabic could make a major impact, but King Abdullah of Jordan politically can’t tell the barbarians they are barbarians/savages.

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    King Abdullah needs to put his blood and treasure where his mouth is. The Sunni monarchies in the ME have supported these radicalized Sunni groups in order to reduce the power of the Shiite Iran and in the process created this IS monster that threatens to envelope them. The US should make it clear to King Abdullah that we will be willing to help him only if he is willing to use his own US supplied powerful air force and his army that has state of the art US military equipment.

  4. Brainster says:

    Smarter to get the treasure than the blood.

  5. John Burgess says:

    It’s certainly true that Saudi Arabia faces a more direct threat than the US, but Jordan has even more to worry about.

    The Saudis (and the UAE) have put their money where their mouths are. Last week, the Saudis gave a $100m donation to the UN for an anti-terrorism center. The Saudis, Emeratis, and Kuwaitis are on the verge of kicking Qatar out of the GCC for its support of extremist organizations. The Saudis have also put ISIS, Nusra Front, the Muslim Brotherhood and others on their list of terrorist organizations.

    Last week, too, the Saudis arrested eight recruiters for ISIS operating within Saudi Arabia. Over the past couple of months, they’ve arrested and banned clerics who were promoting jihad.

    Self-serving? Perhaps. The Saudis have had experience in their past in quashing extremists, including the 1979 takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the 1930s battles against the Ikhwan.

    Frankly, I would not be surprised to see some half-assed attack in the name of ISIS in Europe or the US over the coming months. An attack on US interests in the Middle East region, though, I think is more likely.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    Thank you, John. That’s precisely the sort of substantive contribution I’d hoped you’d make.

  7. steve says:

    John or Dave,

    If ISIS is threatening the US and Europe, what is their goal? Surely they don’t believe that threatening us will keep us out. Bin Laden, at least according to some reports, knew that we would respond to anything by attacking back and hoped to draw us in, hoping to ruin us like he thought they did (mostly incorrectly) to the USSR. Are they wanting us to stay out of things or do they truly want to draw us in also?


  8. President Camacho says:

    That’s rich. Saudis taking a stance on terrorism. What a scumbag. This guy has turned a blind eye for so long to preserve his easy life.

  9. edmondo says:

    rather than merely warning the West the king is trying to muster support manipulate the US into doing the dirty work for his country against ISIS.

    I fixed it for you. The USA has become the 21st Century Hessians.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    Let’s take a look at the ISIS position. They were stopped at Erbil. They lost control of the dam that was, to that point, one of their greatest strategic advances. That’s when they carried out the murder of Mr. Foley. Now they’re losing their hold on Amerli, whose significance I do not know.

    But far from being the Wehrmacht 1939, they’re looking more like the circa 1944 version – fighting well, but losing.

    They occupy an area which is completely surrounded by enemies: Jordan, Damascus, the Kurds, Baghdad, the KSA. Beyond those front-line enemies are still more powerful foes: Israel, Turkey and NATO, Iran, the US.

    This is not a good map for them. Ideally you don’t want to be driving around on desert roads under the watchful eyes of all those air forces.

    They need to break out, or they’ll be slowly suffocated. Israel won’t let them have Jordan. Zero chance, and while I’m sure they’d be thrilled to be killing Jews, the reality is that the Israelis would massacre them. They’ve failed against Assad. They balked at the gates of Baghdad. The Kurds have their peshmerga and the US Air Force and our special forces teams.

    So what’s left? What’s the winning move? If you want to be Caliph you have to take the holy cities. South across the desert. Contrary to all the panic, their position is exceedingly precarious. Al-Baghdadi is in a box.

  11. James Pearce says:


    rather than merely warning the West the king is trying to muster support manipulate the US into doing the dirty work for his country against ISIS.

    It would appear that is the case.

    I had forgotten, until I watched Errol Morris’s Rumsfeld documentary last night, how strongly the Saudis advocated for the 2003 invasion.

  12. Mr. Prosser says:

    Khindaria’s full post is worth reading but this pretty well sums it up. “But the Saudi King may avoid fighting his own battles because the extensive civilian deaths would be Muslim on Muslim and he would get the blame. He may again try to outsource the sacrifice and opprobrium to Americans.
    Some argue that Obama is morally obliged to fight the Islamic State because its rise is an unintended consequence of American blunders in Iraq or his neglect of the viper’s nest in Syria.
    More accurately, it is an outcome of authoritarian rule, sectarian obscurantism and civil strife among tribes, sheikdoms, factions and rulers from Syria to Iraq, including Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.” As John Cole puts it, “What is the Saudi national anthem? Onward Christian Soldiers.”

  13. John Burgess says:

    @steve: Al-Qaeda actually believed that the US would not respond in any significant way. It had not responded with strength to attacks in the past — Beirut, withdrawal from Somalia, legal action against the 93 WTC bombing, not military, etc. He figured that Bush, like Clinton, would toss a few cruise missiles in the region and walk away.

    @James Pearce: Actually, the Saudis were vehemently against the 2003 invasion. I was at the US Embassy in Riyadh then and it was all we heard from the Saudis. They had no issue with the US taking out Saddam, but they preferred an assassination. They did not want a war, fearing, well, exactly what happened.

    They withheld support, too. They allowed only surveillance flights, humanitarian missions, and a few special operations to be mounted from Saudi soil. These weren’t even at the levels they permitted for Operation Southern Watch, never mind Desert Storm.

  14. James Pearce says:

    @John Burgess:

    They had no issue with the US taking out Saddam, but they preferred an assassination.

    Now that you mention it, yes, the support was for removing Saddam rather than a full-scale invasion.

    The Bush Administration weren’t going to remove Saddam by assassination. They wanted the endeavor to have some legitimacy, which an assassination would not. So when Prince Bandar showed up in Cheney’s office advocating the removal of Saddam, he was indeed pushing the US towards an invasion, whether he knew it or not.

  15. anjin-san says:


    rather than merely warning the West the king is trying to muster support manipulate the US into doing the dirty work for his country against ISIS.

    Absolutely right, in my view.

  16. anjin-san says:

    They wanted the endeavor to have some legitimacy, which an assassination would not

    Not many opportunities for Halliburton to make billions out of an assassination, let’s not forget about that.

  17. Barry says:

    @John Burgess: “He figured that Bush, like Clinton, would toss a few cruise missiles in the region and walk away.”

    IIRC, it was about 70. The trick was that there was no political support for anything further.

  18. Matt says:

    @Barry: Am I the only one that remembers the outrage from the right over those missiles too? OMG WAG TEH DOG galore. Cause according to conservatives in the 90s Al queda was a made up threat…..

  19. equalit says:

    U.S. makes the rules of engagement by its example=
    U.S. uses water boarding to get info–ISIS uses water boarding to get information
    U.S. uses drones to kill people remotely, with out due process—ISIS executes people after getting information by water boarding them
    Who is playing by the U.S. rules?

  20. Denny says:

    @Ron Beasley: I agree with you, but in addition since Red China (a non-democratic police state) is receiving the actual benefit of a free Iraq, free of ISIS, that they should be the ones who pay the billions it will cost to rid the middle east of ISIS. They receive virtually all the crude oil coming from Iraq, not USA or even Europe. They are the ones who might lose out, at least temporarily, if ISIS takes over the middle east oil supplies. We have lots of surplus oil in North America and South America. Why should we in the US pay for Red China’s economic well being with our tax dollars and lives lost?

  21. the Q says:

    “….Al-Qaeda actually believed that the US would not respond” ….well, I think there is a tad bit of motivating vengenance between the Cole being hit or the Embassy in Nigeria being bombed, compared to watching 3000 New Yorkers being incinerated on live TV before going to work in the morning.

    I think perhaps the former incidents didn’t really capture the collective mind quite like watching folks plummet 80 stories jumping out of the flames into certain death.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @edmondo: “Janissaries” is the word I keep being reminded of. Old joke from Desert Storm: What’s the Saudi national anthem? Onward Christian soldiers.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    @Mr. Prosser: Sorry about the repeat. That’s what I get for commenting without reading the whole thread.