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    Gifts and Bribes Routine for Saudi Rulers Buying Friends and Influence

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    Reports of a $700 million payment to the prime minister of Malaysia from Saudi Arabia’s ruling royal family reveals the way Riyadh routinely does business, US Middle East analysts told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — "It is certainly not unprecedented in a broad sense," Policy Director of think tank Just Foreign Policy Robert Naiman told Sputnik.

    Naiman noted that The New York Times recently reported that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used Saudi checks as a slush fund for decades.

    A transfer of nearly $700 million Malaysian Prime Minister Najob Razak’s alleged private bank account before a 2013 election was a ‘personal donation’ from Saudi Arabia’s royal family and not illegal, a Malaysian investigating body said.

    Naiman, however, said it was likely that the CIA had been aware of the payment to Malaysia’s leader, but deliberately turned a blind eye to it.

    "I think the interesting question is: what did the CIA know about this, and when did they know it? The most plausible theory is that this donation was intended to help his re-election campaign," he explained.

    Helena Cobban, author and Middle East historian and publisher of Just Books Publishing specializing in issues of Middle East war and peace, agreed that making such enormous cash transfers to prominent leaders around the world was a routine manner in which the Saudi rulers do business.

    "They do it all the time!" she pointed out.

    Cobban said the Saudis had used their financial clout to extend their influence throughout the region, especially in Syria and Lebanon.

    "Look at the whole ‘March 14th’ movement in Lebanon; or their support, both overt and covert, for many salafi Islamist groups in Syria," she stated.

    Cobban also recalled that the Saudis had played a central role in the 1987 Iran-Contra scandal in which figures in the administration of former President Ronald Reagan sought to illegally arm anti-communist rebels in Nicaragua seeking to topple its Marxist government.


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