Saudi Arabia

All ‘hail’ the real king

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/11/2017 - 9:54pm in

The Saudi Monarch’s 4 November purge threatens the kingdom’s longstanding policy on dynastic rule, and paves the way for Salman’s abdication of power to his son Mohammed.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photo by Balkis Press/ABACAPRESS.COM. All rights reserved. Mohammed Ben
Salman (MBS), with the acquiescence of Salman, is now in control of
the kingdom’s three centres of military power, its media narrative
and much of the funds of the country’s business elite, and is thus
able to wield immense influence.

The simultaneous,
but not coincidental, forced
resignation
of Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, formed
part of this, and together with the purge, threatens to cause
regional ructions. Already we have observed an escalation of Saudi
rhetoric towards Iran, and the blocking of Yemen’s ports. This is
especially the case in Lebanon, where this is likely to lead to the
collapse of the current government, which took more than two years to
form.

Implemented under
the auspices of the newly formed anti-corruption committee, headed by
MBS, the purge saw eleven princes initially
detained (including Abdullah’s two sons Mut’ib and Turki)
together with dozens of businessmen including the influential prince
and media mogul Walid bin Talal as well as Walid Al-Ibrahim. King
Fahd’s son Abdulaziz, was also reportedly killed trying to evade
arrest although it is more likely that he has been banished from the
country. Mansour, the son of former Crown Prince Muqrin perished in a
helicopter crash close to the Yemeni boarder, reportedly on route to
visit local projects in Acir, but whose death is attributed to his
attempts to escape capture. In addition, Mohammed bin Nayef, who had
previously been placed under house arrest, saw his assets frozen, as
well as the assets of thousands of other citizens.

MBS
consolidates control

The arrests are
part of an MBS pattern of consolidating control over the levers of
the country’s power, particularly the political, security, economic
and media sectors. He already has political power located in his
office after being appointed as secretary of the royal court,
ostensibly making him a Prime Minister. In June, he fired
then-crown prince Muhammad bin Nayef, who was also interior minister,
and a month later the interior ministry was stripped of many powers,
which were given to a new homeland security agency headed by the
king, thus giving MBS control of the country’s internal security
and large amounts of security personnel and military materiel.

it is well known that MBS wields the power behind the thrown

As defence
minister, MBS also controls the country’s defence forces. With the
arrest of Mut'ib bin Abdullah, MBS now also controls the third
important security-military department, the National Guard. The Guard
is an important arm of the Shammar branch of the royal family, and is
a conglomeration of the tribal forces in the kingdom; the Shammar
effectively control the various tribes through their control of the
National Guard.

By removing
Mut'ib, MBS not only completes his control of the security and
military forces, he also is attempting to take control of the
kingdom’s tribal confederations. In addition, it is significant
that the National Guard was influential in coercing
King Saud (1953-1964) to unwillingly hand over power to his brother
Faisal in 1964, following a power struggle between the two brothers
over the division of political power. By surrounding Saud’s palace
in early 1964, the guard ostensibly rendered it impossible for Saud
to remain at the helm. This is especially since the Ulamah had
already issued a decree/Fatwa in support of Faisal. By removing
Mut'ib, MBS not only completes his control of the security and
military forces, but also is an indicator that he is attempting to
take control of the kingdom’s tribal confederations.

In addition, in
recent months he has imprisoned
dozens of scholars and academics, who would have been an avenue of
opposition to his ascension; while the arrests of the heads of MBC,
Rotana Media, and ART ensures the kingdom’s influence over the
already tightly controlled media narrative; the kingdom will now
‘speak with one voice’ on succession and foreign policy. The
abdication can now be carefully choreographed. It is noteworthy that
Salman has in recent months acted more as a rubber stamp for MBS’s
aspirations; although all the most recent declarations have been made
in the name of the eighty-one-year-old monarch, it is well known that
MBS wields the power behind the thrown.

Further, the
recent rounds of arrests are also informed by MBS’s need to obtain
more funds to drive his ambitious vision 2030 initiative, which seeks
to move the country away from its dependence on oil revenue.
Currently the budget deficit stands at ten percent of GDP,
unemployment had increased to twelve percent, and discontent had
forced him to steer away from his intention to reduce state subsidies
to free up state funds for vision 2030. This is aside from his
intentions to create a five hundred billion dollar megacity (the Neom
project), and a possible listing for the Saudi oil company Aramco.

Moreover, the
Yemeni war, which has been ongoing for the past two years with no end
in sight is draining the kingdom’s coffers by between a hundred and
five hundred million dollars daily. Bin Talal had reportedly refused
to invest in the Neom project, while through the seizures MBS has
likely gained
over thirty billion dollars, around half the 2017-18 budget deficit.
A more extensive freezing of accounts, such as what the increase in
arrests and seizures since Saturday are pointing to, would allow MBS
to leverage over eight hundred billion more.

MBS’s power grab is likely to cause much ructions within the house of Saud

Saad Hariri’s
forced
resignation
, under the guise of an assassination plot was also in
this milieu. Hariri’s business interests are largely based in Saudi
Arabia and since the economic downturn that hit the Saudi
construction industry, His Saudi Oger construction company has been
unable to pay its debts to the kingdom, totalling over three billion.
Moreover, his stake in Saudi Oger, will reportedly net MBS around a
billion dollars, while the ‘disappeared’ Abdelaziz bin Fahd is
reportedly the Saudi Royal point person in charge with Saudi Oger,
making him Hariri’s partner. It is likely that the move was
sanctioned by the Trump administration; Jered Kushner had visited the
Kingdom in October and has likely provided advanced notice of the
move, under the guise of discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Trump has subsequently tweeted his endorsement of MBS’s actions,
playing into the Kingdom’s narrative by criticising the opulence
and corruption of the detainees.

Consequences

Although
successful thus far, MBS’s power grab is likely to cause much
ructions within the house of Saud, which previously divided
government portfolios amongst the different factions to inhibit
fractious succession fights and ensure continuity, especially
following Saud’s 1964 exit. Saturday’s moves have upended this
policy, placing immense powers at MBS’s disposal. It is likely that
factions allied to Bin Nayef, Bin Abdullah, and Muqrin will regroup,
especially if Salman abdicates power in the coming weeks. A rebellion
amongst the National Guard would be an indicator in this respect.
This is as the Guard is a tribally comprised militia, which is
fiercely loyal to Prince Mut’ib. Already it has been reported that
Mut’ib was planning such a rebellion, while Mansour allegedly
sent
letters to over a thousand royals, requesting that they
refuse to support MBS’s succession. It is likely that the
disillusionment will have grown further as a result of the recent
occurrences, especially since Mansour was killed, Abdulaziz likely
banished, and many others allegedly tortured.
If such a rebellion is organised, it will likely lead to the collapse
of the royal family, especially since unlike during the 1960s, the
household has multiple factions with differing interests, most of
whom have been alienated by MBS.

Further, it is
doubtable whether the majority of Saudi citizens would accept MBS’s
modernisation process, even though Saudi Arabia has a bulging youth
population. Already he has alienated and cracked down on many
dissident scholars such as Salman Al-Awda, who have called for this
modernisation, and who do enjoy much popular support. Moreover, many
youth are sympathetic toward the positions adopted by the Islamic
State group (IS), especially as reports of the monarch’s opulence
emerge. While not necessarily fully sanctioned by many in the Saudi
religious establishment, it is possible to see a convergence between
religious dissidents and the factions within this demographic.

the recent asset freezes are an attempt by MBS to nationalise some of the country’s wealth

In addition, the
arrests of Young Reformers such as Abdullah al-Malki and Mustafa
al-Hassan, together with the arrests of Al-Awda in September, point
to MBS’s contradictory and two faced reform initiative. Despite
relaxing conditions on Saudi women’s authorisation to drive, and
advocating a more ‘moderate’ form of regime sanctioned Islam, MBS
has recently instituted two committees (the union on electronic and
software security, and the national authority for cyber security),
both formed in October in an attempt to monitor and control social
media. Through this, the regime is moving away from using religious
institutions to control public discourse, especially since many
scholars that are more conservative have become disillusioned with
MBS, towards using a more direct approach of monitoring and
controlling dissent. Significantly in this regard, Saud al-Qahtani,
the head of the union on electronic and software security, in
September suggested
that Saudi twitter users work to report and blacklist citizens
avowing a different view on the Qatar blockade to that of the
monarch.

Further, while
advocating privatisation, the recent asset freezes are an attempt by
MBS to nationalise some of the country’s wealth. This may
unintentionally cause investors to exercise caution when investing in
his 2030 vision for fear of their funds meeting the same fate.
Already the Saudi stock exchange has fallen; shares owned by bin
Talal have dropped, and investing houses have called for more
transparency.

The region
thunders

The increasingly
gung-ho attitude from the Saudi palace will also have serious
regional consequences. MBS and his deputies have hardened
the kingdom’s stance towards Iran, used war-like rhetoric in
reference to Iran and Lebanon, further threatened the Houthis in
Yemen, and instituted a full blockade on Yemeni ports. While a war
with Iran is unlikely, Riyadh’s moves threaten to destabilise
Lebanon’s complex, sectarian consociational political system in a
manner that could have disastrous consequences. Even though it may
not lead to an all-out war, added measures, such as those Saudi
Arabia has recently announced regarding Saudi citizens travelling to
Lebanon, will severely impact
the Lebanese economy, which is dependent on Saudi and Gulf largess
for its survival. Lebanon’s economy is heavily reliant on GCC
tourism, investments, and five billion dollars in remittances sent by
Lebanese nationals working in the Gulf; the country relies on Gulf
support to maintain its banking sector and currency.

Thirty-two-year old Muhammad bin Salman, has thus cast his country and the Middle East region into a period of great uncertainty.

While there is
concern in the Middle East about where this will lead to, MBS and his
authoritarianism have won unqualified support from the USA and
Israel. Both the US president, Donald Trump, and his son-in-law and
advisor Jared Kushner enjoy a close relationship and mutual
admiration with the crown prince. Kushner returned to the USA from a
personal visit to Saudi Arabia just a week before the recent arrests,
sparking speculation that MBS briefed him about his plans for the
arrests and for Lebanon. Moreover, it is reported that MBS
contributed
around a billion to Trump’s businesses on his May visit to Saudi
Arabia, while the world bank’s female entrepreneurship fund, an
initiative championed by his daughter Ivanka, received
a hundred million dollars from bin Salman.

Israel, which MBS
allegedly visited
in September, has also been jubilant about the new crown prince and
his keenness to normalise relations with the Zionist state. Whether
this was coordinated with Saudi Arabia or not, events in the kingdom
are proving useful to Israel in its battle with Iran, and, ultimately
with the Palestinians. It is however noteworthy that for the time
being a war between Israel and Hezbollah, which many are predicting
will be an outcome of the MBS actions and Tel Aviv’s subsequent
intensification of criticisms toward the party, is unlikely in the
immediate term. Hezbollah will concentrate on stabilising Lebanese
politics, while Israel will not want to risk a conflict which would
increase the group’s support base. However, this destabilization
will allow Israel to continue its violations of Lebanese airspace
without consequence

Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, thirty-two-year old Muhammad bin
Salman, has thus cast his country and the Middle East region into a
period of great uncertainty. From the time he was appointed deputy
crown prince by his father in April 2015, he began to present himself
as the face of the kingdom’s future, and many of his actions –
domestically, regionally and globally – have been crafted to
concentrate power in himself, show Saudis and the world that he is
tough, willing to deal decisively with his enemies, fully in league
with the United States, and to prepare for his coronation. This year,
the blockade against Qatar, increased sabre-rattling on Iran,
normalising relations with Israel, developing intimate relations with
the US Trump administration, and the recent events have all had a
singular motive: strengthening MBS’s hand in preparation for his
being handed the throne by his father. Being a young leader, with
decades of rule left, it is likely that MBS will influence the region
for years to come.  

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The Prince: on how many fronts can Mohammad bin Salman act simultaneously?

Contagion effect and the Saudi grand game in the Middle East

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Abby Martin on the Jimmy Dore Show Talks about US Crimes of Empire: Part 1

This is a longish segment – about half an hour – from the Jimmy Dore Show, in which the two discuss the horrors of US imperialism abroad, domestic oppression and exploitation at home, and the complicity of the mainstream media. Martin is the presenter of The Empire Files on TeleSur English, the South American alternative broadcaster. The show was formerly hosted by RT, for which Martin has been pilloried as a ‘Commie’ and ‘collaborator’. Despite the fact that she has never said anything in prize of the arkhiplut Putin, the latest Kremlin silovik kleptocrat.

With her intelligence and fierce determination to tell the story she wants, Martin comes across to me like a younger, far more politically motivated and impassioned version of Kate Adie, the Beeb journo, who once put the fear of the Almighty into Colonel Qaddafy. It shows the major failings of US mainstream media that, as talented and committed as she is, she does not have her own show on the national networks. I’m a great fan of The Young Turks, and was delighted when they sent Nomiki Kunst over here to talk to the peeps at the Labour party conference back in October. I wish she’d come over this side of the Pond to do something over here. Our politicos are also neoliberal, neocon puppets for the War on Terror. I heartily wish we had someone like her on British TV. Instead, all we’ve got are the corporate shills from Murdoch, the Barclay Twins and Paul Dacre, who turn up occasionally on Have I Got News For You. People like Julia Hartley-Brewer.

The show begins with Dore paying tribute to the how intelligent her work is, calling it ‘Talk smart’. The two then joke about how she’s accused of being a ‘Russia-bot’ to the point where even she’s wondering if she’s human or just an on-line AI. They then go on to discuss her show, The Empire Files. She states that she’s trying to do what Oliver Stone did in his history of the US – covering the untold history of America, and particularly US imperialism. She takes the view that history is written by the victor, but she wants to give the stories of the marginalised, the excluded. The victims of Empire, and counter the dominant story told by the corporate media. She states that she has been most proud of going on location to places like Palestine. Now that she isn’t in RT, she has complete journalistic freedom, and so could spend four weeks in Palestine simply listening to its people. She states that everything, every issue, needs to be examined through the lens of Empire. She admires Dore’s show, because he also talks about the warmongering and imperialism. She states that the First World has risen on the backs of the colonised.

Dore replies by saying that Judah Friedlander, another comedian he’s had on his show, said he learned from travelling around the world that different peoples have a different perspective. Like in Vietnam they don’t talk about the Vietnam War. They talk about the War with the Americans. They also discuss how America is the world’s biggest purveyor of terrorism, as shown by Iraq, and the dropping of the nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. But when you talk about how horrendous that is, you just hear b*llshit from people about how the Japanese shouldn’t have bombed Pearl Harbour. Which by the same logic means that the Mexicans have every right to nuke the US for what the US has done to them.

They then dissect American exceptionalism. This is the belief that America can run rampant across the world, because America’s morally superior to every other country. They joke that it means that everyone else in the world gets healthcare, but not Americans. As for the reasons why Iran hates America, it’s because the US launched a coup against the last, democratically elected prime minister, Mohammed Mossadeq. And why are we friends with the Saudis? It’s because of the Petrodollar. Kerry even went and publicly admitted it.

They then talk about whether Americans really understand the crimes that are being committed in their nation’s name, or whether they do, but the mechanism does not exist for them to influence their lords and masters in Congress. Martin states that it’s the latter, though she doesn’t think that the great American public truly understand how horrendous the situation really is. But she points to Trump as one indicator that people know to a certain extent what’s going on. Trump was elected partly because his rhetoric was occasionally anti-interventionist. People do see through this façade, but the mechanism to change anything isn’t there.

Dore concurs. He states that he’s a night club comedian. He switched to doing this show, because there was no proper media, not even the press. The media was pro-war, and attacked the critics, who opposed the invasions. Phil Donahue had the show with the highest ratings on CNN, but they sacked him because he spoke out against it. Ed Schulz got sacked from the New York Times because he opposed the TPP. Martin states that she joined RT because it was the only network that would allow her to tell this story. She and Dore then discuss the self-censorship of journos like Piers Morgan. Martin states that she paid for editorial freedom that others choose not to do. They then talk about how the media carries adverts for Boeing, the big American aerospace manufacturer and military contractor. As if ordinary peeps could afford to buy a plane.

To be continued in Part 2.

Abby Martin on the Jimmy Dore Show Talks about US Crimes of Empire: Part 3

This is the third part and final part of my article on the interview with Abby Martin on the Jimmy Dore Show. She’s a tireless critic of American imperialism, and the presenter of the Empire Files on TeleSur English, and before that, on RT.

Dore and Martin discuss how the Empire and the Deep State loathes Trump because he ain’t good for the Empire’s image. After Bush had nearly pushed Americans towards revolution, Obama managed to placate people, and win them back to the Empire. But Trump is worse for the Empire because he’s such an a**hole and psychopath. There are people, who are just as psychotic. Paul Ryan, another Republican, hates the poor. But Trump is ramping up the Empire to colossal levels. There are now troop surges in Afghanistan, and the formation of Africom to deal with Somalia. Everybody’s heard of a horrific massacre committed by one of the warlords, and blamed on al-Shabaab. But what you aren’t being told is that week before his village was subject to a bombing raid which killed a load of kids. Martin talks about Trump’s hypocrisy and cynicism. He attacked Killary for the way she sold arms to the Saudis, but has been more than willing to sell them arms himself so they can kill civilians in Yemen. Under Trump, there has been a 400 per cent increase in drone strikes, and a 75 per cent increase in civilian deaths. Under Bush and Obama, the US military just killed every military-age male in a given locality. Now they’re carpet-bombing whole villages. Just like the Israelis kill Palestinians. Well, Trump said he would kill not only the terrorists, but also their families, in direct violation of the Geneva Convention. Unfortunately, he has not honoured the promises Martin hoped he would, like normalising relations with Russia.

And then they get on to MOAB – the Mother Of All Bombs. This ‘mini-nuke’ – actually a conventional bomb that approached some of the destructive power of a nuclear device – was dropped on a cave system in Afghanistan. They said it only killed terrorists, but there were people in that area, and we won’t know if it only killed terrorists, because nobody’s allowed in there. Martin describes ISIS as a barbaric death cult – which is true – but states that this doesn’t give us the right to kill the people, who live in these countries. She makes the point that the applause which greeted the MOAB attack was a dehumanisation of the Afghan people and the victims of this weapon.

They then discuss whether some of the people on the Right, who supported Trump, may now be disillusioned with the orange buffoon. Many people probably voted for him because they thought he was anti-interventionist. But he hasn’t been. This might be because the military-industrial complex and the warfare state are beyond his control. Martin hoped that this part of the Republican based would speak out, but she was disappointed. The base is just interested in having a more efficient War On Terror. They aren’t speaking out about Venezuela, nor about the push for war with North Korea, they just don’t want us to fund al-Qaeda. As for Trump himself, he was never anti-interventionist. He just appeared so as it was a useful stance against Killary. He doesn’t have to surround himself with generals, who just want war because with every new invasion they launch, they get another star on their jacket. They two then discuss how nobody knows why America was in Niger.

I realise that this is an American programme, discussing American issues. But it also directly and acutely affects us. A number of our politicos have attended Republican conventions, and one of Trump’s British buddies was Nigel Farage. The Tories have been copying and utilising Republican policies since Maggie Thatcher took over as premier in the 1970s. And New Labour did the same with the Clintonite wing of the Democrats, adopting their stance against the welfare state, and introducing neoliberalism, deregulation and privatisation, including the privatisation of the NHS, into the Labour Party.

The situation is rather different over here in Blighty, as we are now lucky enough to have a real Socialist as leader in the shape of Jeremy Corbyn. But New Labour is desperately trying to hang on in the shape of Progress, Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement. And they have been using the smearing of decent anti-racists, the majority of whom are Jewish, as anti-Semites and their expulsion from the party as a weapon to purge their left-wing opponents.

As for imperialism, we are still riding on the back of America’s coat-tails, trying to be a world power by exploiting the ‘Special Relationship’. And so we support their wars in the Middle East, and the looting of these countries’ state industries and the brutalisation and impoverishment of their peoples.

Our media isn’t quite as bad as the Americans’ just yet. The news over here does accept that climate change is real at least, and there are still news reports about the poverty caused by austerity and Tory cuts to the welfare state and health service.

But it is heavily biased towards the Tories. The Beeb is full of public school, very middle class White guys, and its news and editorial staff have contained a number of high profile Tories, several of whom have left their posts to work for the party under Cameron and May. ‘Goebbels’ Robinson and ‘Arnalda Mussolini’ Kuenssberg are members of the Tory party. Robinson led a whole series of Tory groups, while Kuenssberg spoke at a fringe meeting in the Tory party this year.

The Kushners noted in their book, Who Needs the Cuts, that the Beeb does not allow anyone to question austerity, and it is just assumed, entirely falsely, as true and necessary by the rest of the media. And academics from Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities have noted that the Beeb is far more likely to talk to Tory politicians and managing directors about the economy, than Labour politicos and trade unionists.

And the war on alternative media is happening in this country as well. The Tories would love to close down RT. We’ve already seen them join in the baying mob accusing it of being Putin’s propaganda arm interfering with British democracy over here. All the while being very silent about how the Israelis were caught trying to get the people they don’t like removed from May’s cabinet. We’ve seen them criticise Labour MPs for appearing on the network, while ignoring their own people, who also have. And May got on her high horse to write a letter to Alex Salmond telling him not to take up a job as presenter with the Network.

And the bots and algorithms cooked up by Google and Facebook to protect us all from ‘fake news’ are having an effect on ‘controversial’ read: left-wing bloggers and vloggers. They direct potential readers away from the sites the corporations have decided are a threat to democracy. Mike’s suffered an inexplicable fall in the readership of some of his articles, and some of his posts have had to be reposted after mysteriously vanishing from Facebook. Even before then, there was an attempt to censor Tom Pride over at Pride’s Purge by claiming that his site was unsuitable for children. The pretext for that was some of the coarse humour he employs in his satire. This is nothing compared to some of the language you will hear on YouTube. It looked very much like his real crime was sending up Dave Cameron and the other walking obscenities taking up space on the Tory benches.

What Abby Martin says about the media and the crimes of Empire describe the situation in America. But it also describes what the neoliberal elites are doing over here.

We have to stop this. We have to take back parliament, and end the warmongering. Now.

Consortium News: Why No Probe of ‘Israel-Gate’?

‘Michelle’, one of the great commenters to this blog, sent me a link to this article by Robert Parry last week. I hadn’t really had time to read it and post it up until now. But the question it raises is acutely relevant. Since Killary lost the election to Trump, the Western media and political-industrial class has been baying that it’s all the Russians’ fault. That Vladimir Putin and RT are spreading ‘fake news’ all over America and the rest of the western media. They’re interfering in our politics. Just this morning the British press reported that Theresa May had joined the attack, claiming that Russia was the biggest threat to western democracy. Or some similar rubbish that sounds like something from the Cold War.

There’s no evidence that the Russians have been trying to interfere in American politics any more than usual. And May has very good, personal reasons for trying to deflect attention away from her on to a perceived Russian threat. Her government is in meltdown, with 40 of her MPs having signed a ‘no confidence’ letter against her. If they find eight more Tories to add their signatures, then May has to give herself up for re-election as the head of her party.

Hence the fear, and the determination to seize on a spurious Russian threat to western democracy in order to distract people from how precarious her ‘strong and stable’ government is. Quite apart from its horrific policies that are privatising the NHS, education, destroying the welfare state and killing the unemployed and disabled through benefit sanctions.

In fact, it isn’t the Russians who have repeatedly and blatantly interfered in American politics. It’s the Israelis, as Robert Parry shows. Parry was the reporter, who revealed many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s. This was Reagan’s dirty little secret about how he was allowing the Contras in Nicaragua to support their war against the Sandinistas by exporting drugs to America’s ghettoes. And how, in order to secure the release of US squaddies taken hostage in Lebanon, he sent a shipment of armaments to Iran.

Parry’s article discusses the way that both the Democrats and the Republicans prostrate themselves before AIPAC, the big Israeli lobbying group in America, and solicits donations from millionaires and billionaires like Sheldon Adelson. Adelson is the proprietor of a chain of casinos, and makes no secret of the fact that he is ‘Israel first’. And congress has repeatedly issued invitations for Netanyahu, whom I’ve heard described by at least one Jewish academic as ‘that b***ard Netanyahu’ to address them. They’ve invited him over three times, the same number as Winston Churchill.

Anyone who steps out of line and does not kowtow to the Israel lobby is duly punished. They’ll be vilified as ‘anti-Semites’, even if they are decent people, who are disgusted by anti-Semitism. Parry gives an example of two Republican politicos, Paul Findley and Charles Percy, both from Illinois, when they tried to open negotiations with the PLO in the early 1980s. The Israel lobby responded by donating handsomely to their opponents, so that both were defeated, Findley in 1982, Percy two years later. Findley later published a book about his experiences in 1985, entitled They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby. It was then comprehensively trashed in the pages of the New York Times by Adam Clymer, who denounced it as ‘one-sided’.

After that, American politicians were much less likely to confront the Israel lobby. Parry notes how Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both visited Israel, Obama in 2008, Romney in 2012, in order to secure Netanyahu’s blessing.

Israel was also involved in the October Surprise. This was the deal Ronald Reagan made with the Iranians to stop Jimmy Carter being re-elected. At the time, the new Islamic revolutionary regime had Americans in Iran captive as hostages. Carter was negotiating for their release, but Reagan arranged for arms to be sent to the Ayatollahs to keep the hostages captive for longer. This was to present Carter as ineffectual and incompetent, and allow Reagan to win the election.

And it worked.

The Israelis were also in on Reagan’s dirty little deal. The Israeli president, Menachem Begin, and many other leading Israeli politicos and officials hated Carter, because he had brokered the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt. As part of the deal, Israel had been forced to hand back the Sinai to Egypt. Begin was afraid Carter would push for Israel to retreat back to its 1967 border, and would recognise a Palestinian state. So he connived with Reagan to scupper Carter’s chances at re-election.

Israel’s part in these manoeuvring was later revealed by Ari Ben-Menashe, an Israeli intelligence official, who had been part of the negotiations. So the Israelis then did their level best to discredit him in turn. And in the same decade, the Israelis also mounted internal spying missions in America. One of these involved Jonathan Pollard, who fed the Israeli spooks highly sensitive American documents.

Parry’s article also describes how the Americans themselves manipulate and interfere in other countries’ politics, often for regime change, using the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID – the US Agency for International Development. It was these agencies which were responsible for the ‘Maidan Revolution’ in the Ukraine, which ousted the pro-Russian Ukrainian president, Victor Yanukhovych.

He also describes how the Neocons collaborated with the Likudniks in 1996 to secure Netanyahu’s re-election in Israel, and how the same politicos and apparatchiks turned instead to the policy of regime change. Instead of negotiating with Arab governments, they were to be overthrown. By 1998 the Project for the New American Century, led by the neocons William Kristol and Robert Kagan, were putting pressure on Bill Clinton to invade Iraq. Five years later, they got their wish, and a new president, George Dubya Bush, launched the invasion. He also states that it was due to Israel that Barack Obama decided to ally with the Sunni forces in the region, including those fighting Assad in Syria. Which makes America ally with al-Qaeda. Parry then brings the story up to last year’s election, when Clinton and Trump both presented themselves as pro-Israel. Both Clinton and Trump attacked Iran as the prime supporter of terrorism in the world, even though it’s actually the Sunni kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states.

He then goes on to discuss the lies spread by US intelligence and the Clintonite wing of the Democrats that it was the Russians, who hacked into the computers at the Democratic National Convention to leak the incriminating documents. In fact, WikiLeaks have repeatedly denied that they received the documents from the Russians.

The article concludes

The U.S. intelligence community also has accused the Russian government of raising doubts in the minds of Americans about their political system by having RT, the Russian-sponsored news network, hold debates for third-party candidates (who were excluded from the two-party Republican-Democratic debates) and by having RT report on protests such as Occupy Wall Street and issues such as “fracking.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making opening remarks at a joint White House press conference with President Donald Trump on Feb. 15, 2017. (Screenshot from White House video)

The major U.S. news media and Congress seem to agree that the only remaining question is whether evidence can be adduced showing that the Trump campaign colluded in this Russian operation. For that purpose, a number of people associated with the Trump campaign are to be hauled before Congress and made to testify on whether or not they are Russian agents.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other establishment-approved outlets are working with major technology companies on how to marginalize independent news sources and to purge “Russian propaganda” (often conflated with “fake news”) from the Internet.

It seems that no extreme is too extreme to protect the American people from the insidious Russians and their Russia-gate schemes to sow doubt about the U.S. political process. But God forbid if anyone were to suggest an investigation of Israel-gate.

See: https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/20/why-not-a-probe-of-israel-gate/

All of this is demonstrably true. And there’s probably more, if you want to look for it. The other year the Israel lobby brought down a Black, Green party politico by presenting her as an anti-Semite and funnelling money into her opponents when she dared to criticise the Israel lobby.

We’ve also seen it in this country, where Al-Jazeera caught various members of the Tory party conspiring with officials at the Israeli embassy to remove awkward members of the Tory party. And there is the continuing witch hunt and vilification as anti-Semites people in the Labour party, like Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and Mike from Vox Political, because they dared to criticise Israel for its barbarous treatment of the Palestinians.

These smears have nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Semitism. Those smeared in the Labour party have, by and large, been decent, anti-racist, men and women. Very many of them, like Walker and Greenstein, are self-respecting Jews. Those smeared included the secular as well as the Torah-observant and even devoutly Orthodox. Many of them have been victims themselves of anti-Semitic violence and abuse.

I’ve blogged before about how the British comedian, Alexei Sayle, who’s the son of Jewish Communists from Liverpool, has remarked on how most of those accused of anti-Semitism by the Israel lobby are Jewish. Well, you can expect that. The last thing Israel and its cheerleaders want is for ordinary Brits and Americans, whether Jewish or not, to realise that Judaism does not equal Zionism, and that to many Jews Zionism is an abhorrent blasphemy.

So decent anti-racists are vilified in Britain and America, and Russia misrepresented as the new threat to democracy, by a corrupt and desperate corporate political class trying to find a scapegoat for its increasing popularity. While a complicit media looks the other way, preferring to join in the creation of a new Cold War, rather than reveal Israel’s very real interference in American and western politics.

Syrian Uprising Directed by Saudi Prince and Other Foreign Governments

This is another video that chips away more of the lies we’ve been told about the armed opposition against President Assad in Syria. In this short piece of about a minute long from RT America’s Redacted Tonight, host Lee Camp discusses the revelation in the Intercept that an attack by the Free Syrian Army was directed by a Saudi prince, and that America was warned the attack was coming. This revelation shows that the Syrian uprising was under the control of foreign governments.

This news comes from a tranche of NSA documents leaked to the magazine about three years ago. Camp wonders why it took the Intercept so long to publish this, and asks his viewers to imagine how many lives could have been saved, and destruction spared, if the magazine had published it then, rather than wait till now.

I’ve put up quite a number of pieces, as there have been repeated news that the forces the West is backing against Assad very definitely aren’t interested in freedom and democracy as we’ve all been told. They consist of ‘moderate’ organisations like the al-Nusra Front, which used to be the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, as well as ISIS. And the goal is regime change purely for geopolitical reasons. Qatar, Jordan and a number of other Arab states want to topple Assad so they can run an oil pipeline through Syria to Turkey and the West. Assad’s blocking it, as he’s an ally of Iran and Russia, and this would harm their oil industry in the region. The Saudis also hate Assad, because he’s an Alawi, a Shi’a sect, and the government he heads is secular and liberal. Whereas the Saudis are Sunni, theocratic and very illiberal. And the Neocons in America and Britain want Assad out the way, ’cause Assad is an ally of Russia and Iran, and a perceived danger to Israel. And besides, the American military and industrial complex has done its best to overthrow secular, nationalist Arab government since the Cold War, because they were seen as next to Communism, and a threat to Western imperial interests.

As for the Syrian resistance themselves, they’re brutal thugs. They’ve also been responsible for a series of massacres and atrocities against civilians, and have been caught trying to stage or actually staging poison gas attacks, which they then try to blame on Assad. This is to get America to send in ground troops to help them.

They are very definitely not the heroic resistance fighting for a free, democratic Syria that we’ve been told by our politicos and the mainstream media.

I have no doubt that many of the revolutions that spontaneously spread across the Arab world against their despotic regimes were precisely that: spontaneous demonstration by ordinary people against terrible oppressive governments. But in Syria this seems to have been overtaken a very long time ago by very anti-democratic and authoritarian foreign interests.

Like the Saudis.

If Saudi Arabia wins, and Syria falls to the rebels, you can expect more sectarian and tribal bloodshed, such as has happened in Iraq. You can expect it to become another Sunni theocracy, and the massacre and ethnic cleansing of its Christian and Shi’a populations, as well as the butchery of ordinary, moderate Muslims, who want to live in peace with their neighbours in one of the most ancient and cultured centres of Arab civilisation. And, just as in Iraq, you can expect the priceless antiquities and monuments to be smashed and destroyed, because they don’t conform to whatever the new theocratic rulers decide is ‘true’ Islam.

The revelation that the Syrian opposition is under the control of the Saudis and other foreign states shows that its also part of a long line of stage-managed coups and coup attempts, which we’ve been told are entirely spontaneous. Like the Maidan Revolution in Kiev, which overthrew the pro-Russian Ukrainian government, and replaced it with one friendly to the West. We were also told that was spontaneous. It was anything but. It was stage-managed by the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy, George Soros and Victoria Nuland in Barack Obama’s government. Who was even recorded telling her subordinates how they should go about making sure that they got the people they wanted into the new Ukrainian government.

None of these revolutions are entirely spontaneous, and whatever the Arab people may have initially hoped, they don’t have democracy and freedom as their goal.

And in Syria our politicians are lying to us, again and again, to cover up the reality that this carnage is being caused solely for the profits of American multi-nationals, the arms industry, the American-Saudi oil companies, and the Saudi theocrats.

‘Florence’ Suggests I should Compile a Book about British & American Support for Fascist Dictators

Yesterday I put up a piece commenting on a video from the Aussie left-wing blogger, Democratic Socialist. This showed the Tory media’s double standard in reviling Jeremy Corbyn as a supporter of terrorism, Iran, and an anti-Semite, when he is none of those things. But the hacks of the Telegraph definitely did not make those accusations against their Tory molten idol, Maggie Thatcher, when she by association supported all of the above through her friendship with General Pinochet.

Corbyn’s support for Iran was based on an interview he made to an Iranian group, the Mossadeq Project. Mohammed Mossadeq was the last, democratically elected prime minister of that ancient and extremely cultured nation. He was no theocrat, but a secular liberal. He was also a Baha’i, a post-Islamic, syncretistic faith which embraces human equality, including that of men and women. The Shi’a Muslim establishment have hated them since the faith first emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and there have been terrible pogroms against them. This hatred is not shared by all Iranian Muslims, and I have personally known Iranian Muslims, who are heartily sick of the way their Baha’i friends are treated.

Mossadeq’s crime was that he dared nationalise the Iranian oil industry, then dominated by the British-owned Anglo-Persian Oil, which became BP. This resulted in us and the Americans organising a coup, which toppled Mossadeq, and began the long process by which the Shah gradually assumed absolute power, ruling through terror and a secret police force, SAVAK.

‘Florence’, one of the many great commenters on this blog, commented

In the early 70s I volunteered to help type up translation transcriptions of reports from torture victims of the “Shit” of Iran, as Private eye called him. (It was as evidence for Amnesty.) Its not something you can ever forget. When the revolution happened, it was simply new bosses at the same slaughter houses. This is another lesson learned; the violence required by a state to terrorise its own people seeps into the culture, and remains for generations (maybe longer, its too early to tell in most of the cases you cover in this interesting and evocative piece). The violence of the state becomes symmetrical in the revolution in many countries, Iran, Iraq, etc. that follows such repression.

(For this reason I also worry that, for example, the almost visceral hatred of the disabled (and other poor) in the UK bred by the eugenics of neoliberalism for decades will not be so easily dislodged with a change in government. )

I see that the experience of having lived through those times is no longer part of the wider political education of the younger members of the left. In Labour the excesses of the neoliberals all but wiped out that generation and the links. I talk sometimes to our younger members in the Labour party and they are fascinated – but totally clueless. I do try to point them at this blog for this very reason. They are oblivious to who Pinochet was, why it mattered to us then and now, the refuge given to that butcher by Thatcher, the entire history of the Chicago school etc. The traditional passing in of this history, personal history too, through social groups in the Labour party has all but broken down.

As a suggestion, perhaps you could edit your blogs into a book we could use in discussion groups? You would help us be that collective memory board for the newer (not just younger) activists. It would help tease out the older members stories of their personal part in the struggles at home and abroad, but more than that your pieces on the collision of religious and political also show the rich complexities of life.

I am really honoured that my blog is so highly regarded and useful. While talking to Mike earlier today, I mentioned the idea to him. He was enthusiastic and supportive, making a few suggestions on how I should go about it. I told him I have had problems finding a mainstream publisher for some of my other books I have written. He suggested I should try Lulu again, and have the cover done by a professional artist. This would be a great help to actually selling the book, and he could put me in touch with some of the great comics artists he’s worked with.

I am therefore definitely going to look into this.

Now for the other points ‘Florence’ has raised in her comment.

As for the point about how a whole generation in the Left and the Labour party having an awareness and opposition to the various Fascist leaders run riot around the world thanks to British and American support as part of their political education, I think that’s how very many people got involved in politics. Private Eye covered these issues, as it still does, and there was the series of comedy reviews put on in support of Amnesty in the 1980s called The Secret Policeman’s Ball. These featured some of the greatest comedy talents of the day, such as the Pythons and the languid, caustic wit of Peter Cook. I don’t think you had to be particularly left-wing to be a fan, only a supporter of democracy and civil liberties. Very many of the other kids in my Sixth Form were into it, including those, who could be described as working-class Tories.

But come to think about it, we haven’t seen anything like that on our screens for many, many years. The series was becoming long and drawn out towards the end, but nevertheless there’s no reason something else like it, which could be launched. And I don’t doubt that there are young, angry, talented comedians out there, who are perfectly capable of stepping up to the mike and doing it.

And some of the absence of comment and criticism of the monsters, who ran amok across the globe thanks to British and American support does come from the victory of neoliberalism. Including its adoption by New Labour. Blair was an Atlanticist, and an alumni of the Reagan-founded British-American Project for the Successor Generation, or BAP for short. This was a group that trained up future British political leaders, sending them on free jaunts to the US, so that on return to Britain they would be enthusiastic supporters of the ‘Special Relationship’. And they did a superb job on Blair. Before he went on one jaunt, he was a supporter of unilateral disarmament. When he returned, after meeting the American nuclear lobby, he was fully on board with us supporting America’s siting of nukes in Britain, as well as our own, independent nuclear deterrent.

Much of the activism against these thugs came out, it seems to me, of the campaigns against the Vietnam War. This inspired the radical young people of the time to look more closely at what America and the West were doing in the Cold War, and the people we supported as the bulwark of ‘freedom’ – which really meant ‘capitalism’ and western big business – against the Soviets. And the brutal realities of Pinochet’s regime, and that of the Shah of Iran, and very many others, were extensively reported. Clive James in one of his TV reviews written for the Observer, acidly commented on an interview on British TV with some high level thug from the Shah’s Iran. This torturer was asked about the brutal methods of interrogation employed by SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police. There was no problem, said the thug. They were improving all the time. Oh yes, commented James, or something similar.

Incidentally, an Iranian friend of mine told me had some experience of the activities of the Shah’s secret police himself. Back in Iran, he’d been a footie fan. But he noticed that several of his mates kept disappearing. He then found out that one of his friends was a snitch for the secret police, and had been informing on them. It’s when you hear these experiences from the people, who observed what was happening, that really begin to understand why so much of the world is less than enthusiastic about western imperialism. And why so many Iranians were taken in by that other thug, Khomeini. When he returned to Iran, he promised freedom to all Iranians. That didn’t last long, as it was back to normal with the rapists and torturers in Evin prison under his regime.

I was also part of a British medieval re-enactment group. One of the great peeps I met in that was an American chap, whose ancestry was South American. He was proud of his Incan heritage, and in America he’d been part of a similar group, that recreated the warrior traditions of this Andean people. He’d also been a translator for one of the human rights organisations, translating documents on abuses from Spanish.

There is indeed a whole generation out there, with personal experience of the dictatorship supported by the West, people whose wealth of knowledge and experience should be passed on.

But part of the problem is the supposed break with dictatorship and the entry of neoliberalism into the Labour party. The Fall of Communism was meant to be the End of History, as heralded by Francis Fukuyama. From now on, Western liberal democracy and capitalism would reign unchallenged. And with the threat of Communism gone, the Americans decided to cut their losses and move against the Fascist dictators they’d been propping up. Hence their ouster of General Noriega.

This gave the impression that the world was going to be nicely democratic, with the unspoken assumption that western, Euro-American culture would remain dominant and unchallenged.

But the old culture of lies, coups and regime change when the dominated countries in the developing world get too uppity is still there. As are the Cold Warriors. We didn’t invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to free its peoples. We invaded because the Neocons wanted their state industries for American multinationals, and the Saudi-American oil industry wanted their oil fields. And Israel wanted to stop Hussein from aiding the Palestinians. Human rights was just a convenient pretext. And it’s been like this for the last 14 years.

Just like we’re also being told lies about the situation in Ukraine. The Maidan Revolution was not spontaneous. It was staged by the CIA, National Endowment for Democracy, George Soros, and Victoria Nuland in Obama’s state department. It was to stop Ukraine becoming too close to Putin’s Russia. Ukraine has always had strong links to its eastern neighbour. Indeed, Kiev was one of the earliest and most powerful of the Russian states to emerge in the Middle Ages. Trying to sever the links between the two is similar, as someone put it, to Canada moving away from America to side with the Communist bloc.

But we aren’t being told any of that. Nor are we told that real, unreconstructed Nazis from the Pravy Sektor are in the ruling coalition, and that there is credible evidence that human rights abuses have been visited on the Russian minority and Russian speaking Ukrainians.

We are just being told that Putin is a thug – which is true – and that he’s ready to invade the former Soviet satellites. Which probably isn’t.

There is also a further problem, in that some of the countries, whose Fascist leaders Britain and America supported, are very remote. I’d guess that many people really wouldn’t be able to find them on a map, let alone know much about their history. And so we face the same problem the Czechs faced, when Chamberlain sacrificed their country to Hitler at Munich. They are faraway countries, of which we know nothing.

And this is a problem with British imperial history generally. Salman Rushdie once said that the British don’t know their own history, because so much of it happened abroad. This is true. British capitalism was stimulated through the colonisation of the West Indies, the slave trade and the sugar industry. How much is a matter of debate. Black and West Indian scholars have suggested that it was the prime stimulus behind the emergence of capitalism and the industrial revolution in Britain. Others have argued instead that it added only 5 per cent to the economy. But that it did have an effect is undeniable, especially on its colonised peoples. In the West Indies, this meant the virtual extermination of the indigenous Amerindian peoples and their replacement with enslaved Africans.

Well, the Empire has gone, and been replaced by the Commonwealth. But western domination of these countries’ economies still remains through the various tariff barriers that the Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal called Neocolonialism. As well as the domination of their industries by western multinationals.

There are book available on the British Empire, some of them critical. Like John Newsinger’s The Blood Never Dried, and a recent book about the internment, torture and mutilation of the indigenous Kenyans during the Mao Mao crisis, Africa’s Secret Gulags. But the people, who appear on TV to talk about imperialism tend to be those on the right, like Niall Ferguson, who will admit that the British Empire was seriously flawed, but on balance did more good. Which might be true, but still glosses over some of the horrors we perpetrated.

And many of these are still kept from us. The public documents supporting the allegations of the victims of British torture in Kenya only came to light because they fought a long and hard battle in the British courts to get them released. I honestly don’t know what other nasty little secrets are being kept from us, in case it embarrasses senior ministers or industrialists.

So if you want to see the brutal reality behinds the West’s foreign policy, you have to read specialist magazines, many of them small press. Like Robin Ramsay’s Lobster, which has been going since the 1980s, and which is now online, and Counterpunch, an American radical magazine and website, which has been digging the sordid truth up about the American Empire and the rapacity of capitalism and the global elite. I also recommend William Blum’s The Anti-Empire Report, and his books, as well as Greg Palast’s dissection of the real reasons we invaded Iraq, Armed Madhouse.

More material on the rapacity of western imperialism is coming to light through the internet, and especially the emergence of alternative news sites. And there is a growing audience for it, as young and older people from across the world are brought together through international links. This isn’t just business, but also through the foreign students coming to Britain, as well as Brits living, working and studying elsewhere in the world.

The problem is getting it out there, and moving it from the sidelines so that it becomes a major topic that can be used to challenge our leaders and hold them to account, without being written off as ‘loony radical lefties’ spouting about things no-one else wants to know about or even hear. About other ‘faraway places, of which we know nothing’.

Contagion effect and the Saudi grand game in the Middle East

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/11/2017 - 1:52am in

The willingness of Mohammed bin Salman to embark on a series of moves against Iranian power in the Middle East already shows evidence of severe miscalculation.

Press/ABACA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved. King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, and his son Defense Minister Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud in Hafr Al Batin area, north of Saudi Arabia, on March 11, 2016. Balkis Press/ABACA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.Domestic
politics in the Middle East especially in a country like Saudi Arabia never
stays that way for long. Recent events in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, demonstrate
the contagion effect not only on the politics in the Middle East but
internationally too.

On November 3, regime forces of King Salman
and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman embarked on an arrest purge of some of the
most powerful figures in the country.
They called it an anti-corruption drive and in some
international capitals such as Washington the ‘cover story’ was parroted.

Despite the cover story about a corruption drive it is clear that the moves
reflect the ongoing power-grab by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince as he clears the
way both internally and externally to accede power from his father and remove
perceived opponents.  

The
regional dimension of moves in Riyadh were apparent when the Lebanese Prime
Minister Saad Hariri who had allegedly been called to visit the Saudi capital
city then made a televised announcement of his resignation.

The Saudi regime
also contended with a missile attack targeting Riyadh fired from neighbouring
Yemen and responded by closing ports and borders
on this broken state.

The
current political landscape in Saudi Arabia is being shaped by an ambitious
individual who has hitherto been hailed as a ‘reformer’ and ‘moderate’. Crown Prince
Mohammed Bin Salman, commonly and also casually referred to as ‘MbS’ has been
credited as the driving force behind Saudi Arabia’s plans to reform and
diversify an economy that has been
tanking and causing cause for concern as local unemployment rates rise. Promises to float an Aramco IPO under his vision
were also welcomed in international trade and finance circles.

Moreover, when
Saudi Arabia made a dramatic volte face and over-turned an archaic driving ban on women in the
Kingdom, the ‘mark’ of Mohammed bin Salman the ‘moderate’ was divined in some
press opinion. On the surface all well and good. However, a series of moves and
political calculations in the last six months have given rise to speculation
that the power grab extends in terms of ambition beyond the borders of this
increasingly unstable Kingdom. 

The significance of
this confluence of events lies in the contagion effect on the Middle East at a
time of growing instability, tensions and conflict. There are fears that
Mohammed bin Salman may be considering taking his country to the brink of war with Iran and seeking to
recover some much-needed kudos in the wake of regional failures in, for example,
Yemen and Syria.

Saudi Arabia has been seeking to recover some authority within
the region ever since the Arab Uprisings of 2011. The masses forced
Saudi-friendly autocrats such as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Tunisian
President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power and newly mobilized citizens
elected populist Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood to power.

With allies
such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia has designed and pursued foreign policy approaches
that have sought to intervene in regional hotspots to beat back the so-called
Shi’a arc spreading from Tehran to the hillsides of South Lebanon and Israel’s
border as well as claim the title of Sunni hegemon from groups like
the populist Muslim Brotherhood.

Within this regional context, however, Saudi
Arabia has had to contend with a record of failures rather than successes. 

Regional contagion

Under the already
relatively short tenure of Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi foreign policy strategies
can be described as aggressive and confrontational. Nevertheless, rather than
steering the country away from further fiasco in the region they are
increasingly augmenting regional instability
and
inducing a greater likelihood of conflict and military intervention. 

Effectively, foreign policy strategy
approaches under Mohammed bin Salman’s influence are contributing to rising
national and regional security concerns with simultaneous fears as it relates
to the security of energy supplies and the grip on power of its regional
proxies.

This is apparent in
the recent Saudi-led campaign against Qatar. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia
spearheaded a campaign against Qatar interpreted as all but an attack on its sovereignty. Saudi Arabia and
three other countries - UAE, Bahrain and Egypt - have imposed land, maritime
and air blockades, cut diplomatic ties, and taken other measures.

They issued
Qatar’s leader Sheikh Hamad al-Tamim with thirteen demands that amounted to a
capitulation of any independence in domestic or foreign policy unless aligned
to Saudi-inspired diktat. Qatar has not yielded to the Saudi-inspired plan.

The
Gulf region has become further de-stabilized with ripple effects apparent in
the international coalition against ISIS, Lebanon, Libya, the occupied
Palestinian territories, Iraq, and beyond. The confidence that Mohammed bin
Salman had in terms of imposing a new regional dispensation according to his
agenda has dangerously faltered. 

Mohammed bin
Salman’s strategic agenda raises significant concerns about the regional
contagion effect of machinations in Saudi Arabia.

Yemen will continue to
exhibit ungoverned spaces that Saudi Arabia can never hope to occupy if it
continues its military campaign, detains its President, and
imposes closures on its border that inhibit the supply lines of the most basic
humanitarian relief to this collapsed state.

Qatar remains defiant and
continues to enjoy powerful support within the US administration and in other
foreign capitals.

Hezbollah’s response to Hariri-baiting them from Riyadh only
demonstrates their more powerful strategic calculus and tenacious hold on power
in Lebanon.

This is a hold that Mohammed bin Salman will not be able to defeat.
This is the lesson Israel was taught when it went to war with Hezbollah in
2006.

The willingness of Mohammed bin Salman to embark on a series of moves
against what might be considered natural ‘Sunni’ allies in the region as part
of a broader conception of hostilities against Iranian power in the Middle East
already shows evidence of severe miscalculation.

That Saudi Arabia would turn
to its new allies, such as Israel, to shore up an emerging military union facing Tehran and its
associates demonstrates how reckless the Crown Prince is being when it comes to
the strategic functioning of the regional system and the role of the Kingdom, whose throne he aspires to sit on, in it. 

Sideboxes
Related stories: 

The Prince: on how many fronts can Mohammad bin Salman act simultaneously?

Saudi Arabia's game of thrones

Behind The Saudi-Qatari spat and the fragmentation of the GCC

Saudi foreign policy under Salman: same goal, different threat perceptions

Country or region: 

Saudi Arabia

Iran

Topics: 

Conflict

Democracy and government

International politics

Rights: 

CC by NC 4.0

Contagion effect and the Saudi grand game in the Middle East

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/11/2017 - 1:52am in

The willingness of Mohammed bin Salman to embark on a series of moves against Iranian power in the Middle East already shows evidence of severe miscalculation.

Press/ABACA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved. King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, and his son Defense Minister Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud in Hafr Al Batin area, north of Saudi Arabia, on March 11, 2016. Balkis Press/ABACA/ABACA/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.Domestic
politics in the Middle East especially in a country like Saudi Arabia never
stays that way for long. Recent events in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, demonstrate
the contagion effect not only on the politics in the Middle East but
internationally too.

On November 3, regime forces of King Salman
and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman embarked on an arrest purge of some of the
most powerful figures in the country.
They called it an anti-corruption drive and in some
international capitals such as Washington the ‘cover story’ was parroted.

Despite the cover story about a corruption drive it is clear that the moves
reflect the ongoing power-grab by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince as he clears the
way both internally and externally to accede power from his father and remove
perceived opponents.  

The
regional dimension of moves in Riyadh were apparent when the Lebanese Prime
Minister Saad Hariri who had allegedly been called to visit the Saudi capital
city then made a televised announcement of his resignation.

The Saudi regime
also contended with a missile attack targeting Riyadh fired from neighbouring
Yemen and responded by closing ports and borders
on this broken state.

The
current political landscape in Saudi Arabia is being shaped by an ambitious
individual who has hitherto been hailed as a ‘reformer’ and ‘moderate’. Crown Prince
Mohammed Bin Salman, commonly and also casually referred to as ‘MbS’ has been
credited as the driving force behind Saudi Arabia’s plans to reform and
diversify an economy that has been
tanking and causing cause for concern as local unemployment rates rise. Promises to float an Aramco IPO under his vision
were also welcomed in international trade and finance circles.

Moreover, when
Saudi Arabia made a dramatic volte face and over-turned an archaic driving ban on women in the
Kingdom, the ‘mark’ of Mohammed bin Salman the ‘moderate’ was divined in some
press opinion. On the surface all well and good. However, a series of moves and
political calculations in the last six months have given rise to speculation
that the power grab extends in terms of ambition beyond the borders of this
increasingly unstable Kingdom. 

The significance of
this confluence of events lies in the contagion effect on the Middle East at a
time of growing instability, tensions and conflict. There are fears that
Mohammed bin Salman may be considering taking his country to the brink of war with Iran and seeking to
recover some much-needed kudos in the wake of regional failures in, for example,
Yemen and Syria.

Saudi Arabia has been seeking to recover some authority within
the region ever since the Arab Uprisings of 2011. The masses forced
Saudi-friendly autocrats such as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Tunisian
President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power and newly mobilized citizens
elected populist Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood to power.

With allies
such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia has designed and pursued foreign policy approaches
that have sought to intervene in regional hotspots to beat back the so-called
Shi’a arc spreading from Tehran to the hillsides of South Lebanon and Israel’s
border as well as claim the title of Sunni hegemon from groups like
the populist Muslim Brotherhood.

Within this regional context, however, Saudi
Arabia has had to contend with a record of failures rather than successes. 

Regional contagion

Under the already
relatively short tenure of Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi foreign policy strategies
can be described as aggressive and confrontational. Nevertheless, rather than
steering the country away from further fiasco in the region they are
increasingly augmenting regional instability
and
inducing a greater likelihood of conflict and military intervention. 

Effectively, foreign policy strategy
approaches under Mohammed bin Salman’s influence are contributing to rising
national and regional security concerns with simultaneous fears as it relates
to the security of energy supplies and the grip on power of its regional
proxies.

This is apparent in
the recent Saudi-led campaign against Qatar. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia
spearheaded a campaign against Qatar interpreted as all but an attack on its sovereignty. Saudi Arabia and
three other countries - UAE, Bahrain and Egypt - have imposed land, maritime
and air blockades, cut diplomatic ties, and taken other measures.

They issued
Qatar’s leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani with thirteen demands that amounted to a
capitulation of any independence in domestic or foreign policy unless aligned
to Saudi-inspired diktat. Qatar has not yielded to the Saudi-inspired plan.

The
Gulf region has become further de-stabilized with ripple effects apparent in
the international coalition against ISIS, Lebanon, Libya, the occupied
Palestinian territories, Iraq, and beyond. The confidence that Mohammed bin
Salman had in terms of imposing a new regional dispensation according to his
agenda has dangerously faltered. 

Mohammed bin
Salman’s strategic agenda raises significant concerns about the regional
contagion effect of machinations in Saudi Arabia.

Yemen will continue to
exhibit ungoverned spaces that Saudi Arabia can never hope to occupy if it
continues its military campaign, detains its President, and
imposes closures on its border that inhibit the supply lines of the most basic
humanitarian relief to this collapsed state.

Qatar remains defiant and
continues to enjoy powerful support within the US administration and in other
foreign capitals.

Hezbollah’s response to Hariri-baiting them from Riyadh only
demonstrates their more powerful strategic calculus and tenacious hold on power
in Lebanon.

This is a hold that Mohammed bin Salman will not be able to defeat.
This is the lesson Israel was taught when it went to war with Hezbollah in
2006.

The willingness of Mohammed bin Salman to embark on a series of moves
against what might be considered natural ‘Sunni’ allies in the region as part
of a broader conception of hostilities against Iranian power in the Middle East
already shows evidence of severe miscalculation.

That Saudi Arabia would turn
to its new allies, such as Israel, to shore up an emerging military union facing Tehran and its
associates demonstrates how reckless the Crown Prince is being when it comes to
the strategic functioning of the regional system and the role of the Kingdom, whose throne he aspires to sit on, in it. 

Sideboxes
Related stories: 

The Prince: on how many fronts can Mohammad bin Salman act simultaneously?

Saudi Arabia's game of thrones

Behind The Saudi-Qatari spat and the fragmentation of the GCC

Saudi foreign policy under Salman: same goal, different threat perceptions

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Saudi faction fight – break Britain’s links

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/11/2017 - 3:45am in

The Speaker of the British House of Commons granted an “urgent question” from Labour on the Saudi blockade of Yemen this afternoon, Tuesday 7 November. We could already foreshadow the line that the British government, and perhaps some opposition MPs, … Continue reading →

Pentagon Think-Tank Praises Al Qaeda as ‘Moderate’ Islamists

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/11/2017 - 3:00am in

by Eric Zuesse An October 24th article by Colin P. Clarke of the Rand Corporation — the main think-tank for the Pentagon — is headlined “The Moderate Face of Al Qaeda”, and a section of it is headed “A Moderate Alternative,” presenting Al Qaeda as the moderate alternative to ISIS. That article praises the 5 July 2005 decision, by Al Qaeda’s then #2 leader — who now is their #1 leader after the killing of Osama bin Laden — Ayman al-Zawahiri; Clarke’s article praises there Zawahiri’s decision to chastise the founder of ISIS, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was then in Iraq. Zawahiri chastised Zarqawi for slaughtering Shia Muslims. However, if one looks at the Zawahiri letter, Zawahiri actually says there that Shia ought to be slaughtered, but not now, because most Muslims won’t understand why Shia deserve death. The matter is presented by Zawahiri as a severe PR problem for jihadists at this stage of building the fundamentalist Sunni movement to establish a global Islamic Caliphate or theocracy, if they slaughter Shia Muslims (such as …

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