16 MARCH 2002, Page 38

From Mr Paul Kellogg Sir: Suggesting that destabilisation is our

friend, as Mark Steyn does, in regard to Saudi Arabia, is a foolish if not irresponsible position. Has not the Middle East already been the source of great anguish? Why go looking for more? Wouldn't it be wiser to take the Saudis at their word, to explore their plan for peace, to determine if it is genuine, and to see if anything constructive might come of it?

Bin Laden and his terror network are the spiritual descendants of two schools of thought: mediaeval religious fundamentalism and the revolutionary nihilism of the 19th and 20th centuries. On the one hand, they are linked to Saladin, the Arab leader who swore to throw the 12th-century Crusaders back into the sea; on the other, to revolu

tionaries such as Sergei Nechaev, Mikhail Bakunin and V.I. Lenin.

The Saudis — Arab nomads who practise the Wahhabi brand of Islam — are the protectors of the holy places, Mecca and Medina. They asked for American troops to protect these holy places during the Gulf war of 1991. Bin Laden has claimed that the presence of these soldiers pollutes the Islamic holy places. Surely we don't want to find ourselves taking bin Laden's position, do we?

Paul Kello


New York, USA