So, did OBL get what he wanted? After all, U.S. troops have vacated the "holy land." Isn't that partly what he was fighting for?
NY Times - Last American Combat Troops Quit Saudi Arabia
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 18 ? The last few American combat troops pulled out of the Prince Sultan Air Base here earlier this month, officially closing the Persian Gulf headquarters used by the Air Force during both Iraq wars and concluding a nearly 13-year run of extensive United States military operations in Saudi Arabia.
The withdrawal signaled the end of a long strategic arrangement, mutually beneficial until it fell victim to tensions resulting from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, in which 15 of 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens. Since then, the countries' fragile diplomatic relations have undergone considerable strain ? only worsened in recent months by the American military presence in the kingdom, American and Saudi officials said here this week.
As one American diplomatic official based in the region put it, "on both sides, actually, the alliance had become a little bit of poison, and both sides were glad to see it end."
Nearly 500 advisers now constitute the only American military presence left in a country that during the 1991 Persian Gulf war had as many as 550,000 American troops at several sites. The advisers are helping to train the Saudi National Guard.
The Prince Sultan base, which at the height of the war this spring housed 10,000 American troops and 200 planes, has now been supplanted as the Middle East's main American military air operations center by Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
This last phase of the American departure from the base occurred with almost no fanfare, attracting only minor mention in the Saudi press. "It was as if they were never here," a senior Saudi official said. "They left very quietly."
The drastically reduced American profile could simplify the government's position among Saudis who espouse Osama bin Laden's contention that the American military foothold was an affront to the kingdom's sovereignty. For years, the American presence not far from Islam's two holiest sites, at Mecca and Medina, has provided Al Qaeda with an important rallying cry.
Partly for this reason, members of Saudi Arabia's royal family had rarely acknowledged the large number of American troops who used the base as a launching pad for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. About 50 miles southeast of here, the sprawling high-security installation does not appear on most Saudi maps and is marked on a barren desert road by an unassuming Arabic sign.