Manipulation of public perception has risen to a new level with the emergence of powerful social media. Facebook, Twitter and Google are multibillion dollar corporate giants hugely influencing public understanding. Social media campaigns include paid ‘boosting’ of Facebook posts, paid promotion of Tweets, and biased results from search engines. Marketing and advertising companies use social media to promote their clients. U.S. foreign policy managers hire these companies to influence public perception to support U.S. foreign policy goals. For example, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made sure that Twitter was primed for street protests in Iran following the 2009 election. She insured that Twitter was ready to spread and manage news of protests following the election and strange killing of a young woman. (p 423, Hard Choices hardback).
The results of media manipulation can be seen in the widespread misunderstanding of the conflict in Syria. One element of propaganda around Syria is the demonization of the Syrian government and leadership. Influenced by the mainstream and much alternative media, most in the West do not know that Bashar al Assad is popular with most Syrians. There were three contestants in the Syrian presidential election of June 2014. Turnout was 73% of the registered voters, with 88% voting for Assad. In Beirut, the streets were clogged with tens of thousands of Syrian refugees marching through the city to vote at the Syrian Embassy. Hundreds of Syrian citizens from the USA and other western countries flew to Syria to vote because Syrian Embassies in Washington and other western capitals were shut down. While John Kerry was condemning the Syrian election as a “farce” before it had even happened, a marketing company known as The Syria Campaign waged a campaign to block knowledge of the Syrian election. Along with demonizing President Assad, they launched a campaign which led to Facebook censoring information about the Syrian election.
The Syria Campaign was created by a larger company named “Purpose”. According to their own website they “incubated” The Syria Campaign.
The major achievement of The Syria Campaign has been the branding and promotion of the “White Helmets”. The “White Helmets”, also known as “Syria Civil Defense”, began with a British military contractor, James LeMesurier, giving some rescue training to Syrians in Turkey. Funding was provided by the US and UK. They appropriated the name from a real Syria Civil Defense.
The “White Helmets” are marketed in the West as civilian volunteers doing rescue work. On 22 September 2016 it was announced that the Right Livelihood Award, the so called “Alternative Nobel Prize”, is being given to the US/UK created White Helmets “for their outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians from the destruction of the Syrian civil war.”
The Right Livelihood organizers may come to regret their selection of the White Helmets because the group is not who they claim to be. In fact, the White Helmets are largely a propaganda tool promoting western intervention against Syria. Unlike a legitimate rescue organization such as the Red Cross or Red Crescent, the “White Helmets” only work in areas controlled by the armed opposition. As shown in this video, the White Helmets pick up the bodies of individuals executed by the terrorists, they claim to be unarmed but are not, and they falsely claim to be neutral. Many of the videos from AlQaeda/terrorist dominated areas of Syria have the “White Helmets” logo because the White Helmets work in alliance with them. This primarily is a media marketing tool to raise public support for continuing the support to the armed opposition as well as the demonization of the Syrian government.
The Rights Livelihood press release says the White Helmets “remain outspoken in calling for an end to hostilities in the country.” That is false. The White Helmets actively call for US/NATO intervention through a “No Fly Zone” which would begin with attacks and destruction of anti-aircraft positions. Taking over the skies above another country is an act of war as confirmed by US General Dempsey. The White Helmets have never criticized or called for the end of funding to extremist organizations including Nusra/AlQaeda. On the contrary, White Helmets is generally embedded with this organization which is defined as “terrorist” by even the USA. That is likely why the head of the White Helmets, Raed Saleh, was denied entry to the USA.
The foreign and marketing company origins of the White Helmets was exposed over one and a half years ago. Since then, Vanessa Beeley has revealed the organization in more depth in articles such as “Who Are the White Helmets?” and “War by Way of Deception“.
Despite these exposes, understanding of the White Helmets is limited. Many liberal and progressive people have uncritically accepted the propaganda and misinformation around Syria. Much of the progressive media has effectively blocked or censored critical examinations amid a flood of propaganda about “barrel bombs” dropped by the ‘brutal dictator” and his “regime”.
In the last week, Netflix started showing a 40 minute documentary movie about the “White Helmets”. It is actually a promotion video. A substantial portion of it takes place in Turkey where we see trainees in hotel rooms making impassioned phone calls to inquire about their family in Syria. The “family values” theme is evident throughout. It’s a good marketing angle, especially effective with females. The political message of the video is also clear: after a bombing attack “It’s the Russians …. they say they are fighting ISIS but they are targeting civilians”. The movie includes video previously promoted by the White Helmets such as the “Miracle Baby” rescue. It’s debatable whether this incident is real or staged. The video includes self promoting proclamations such as “You are real heroes”. While no doubt there are some real rescues in the midst of war, many of the videos purporting to show the heroes at work have an unrealistic and contrived look to them as revealed here.
“Alternative media” in the West has sadly echoed mainstream media regarding the Syria conflict. The result is that many progressive individuals and groups are confused or worse. For example, the activist group CodePink recently issued a media release promoting the Netflix White Helmets propaganda video.
The White Helmets video is produced by Grain Media and Violet Films/Ultra-Violet Consulting. The latter advertises itself as a marketing corporation specializing in social media management, grant writing, crowd building and campaign implementation. The only question is who paid them to produce this video.
There is growing resistance to this manipulation and deception. In response to a petition to give the Nobel Peace Prize to the White Helmets, there is a counter petition at Change.org. The Right Livelihood Awards have just been announced and there will soon be a petition demanding retraction of the award to the White Helmets.
The story of the White Helmets is principally a “feel good” hoax to manipulate public perception about the conflict in Syria and continue the drive for “regime change”. That’s why big money was paid to “Purpose” to “incubate” The Syria Campaign to brand and promote the White Helmets using Facebook, Twitter, etc. That’s why big money was paid to create a self-promotional documentary. The judges at Rights Livelihood were probably influenced by the documentary since critical examination of facts around Syria is so rare. It’s a sad commentary on the media. As Stephen Kinzer recently said,
“Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press.”
Rick Sterling is a retired aerospace engineer who now does research/writing on international issues. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has ruled out the establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria, stressing that such a measure would merely complicate the ongoing crisis in the Arab country and strengthen foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants on the ground.
“A no-fly zone (in Syria) will benefit terrorists, who have everything except for military aircraft,” Rouhani said during a presser after his speech at the 71st United Nations General Assembly session in New York on Thursday.
“They have mortar shells, tanks, missiles and armored personnel carriers. They have cannons and artillery batteries but no warplanes. The creation of a no-fly zone is a not a right step. This is an ill-advised suggestion,” the Iranian president added.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry demanded that Russia and the Syrian government halt anti-terror flights over the Syrian battle zones in order to “restore credibility” to the efforts aimed at resolving the Arab country’s years-long crisis.
The Iranian president noted that humanitarian disasters are unfolding in Syria as a portion of the country’s soil is under the control of terrorist groups like Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, Syria’s al-Qaeda branch formerly known as al-Nusra Front).
“They kill people. They burn victims alive. The crimes we witness are unprecedented in history,” the Iranian president said.
The Iranian president further made a reference to the plight of millions of Syrians, who have been internally displaced and have not received the necessary foodstuff and medicine for months due to the foreign-backed militancy in their homeland.
He also listed the delivery of humanitarian aid, the fight against terrorism, the participation of various political groups and factions in the future Syrian government through a popular vote as the main requirements for real democracy to flourish in the crisis-hit Arab country.
‘Terrorism contagious virus’
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian president highlighted the significance of combating terrorism and extremism in the Middle East, which he described as “plagued by instability and insecurity” that has “spread to other parts of the world too.”
“It has plagued Europe, Africa, Asia, and America. The terrorism virus is contagious,” Rouhani stated, adding, “The issue of terrorism must be tackled with unity and collaboration, and failure to do so will endanger all of us.”
Iran’s nuclear agreement
Broaching the subject of the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers, President Rouhani criticized the US government for the belated license to allow the sale of commercial airliners to Iran, stating that the green light must have been given right after the implementation of the agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on January 16.
Iran has had numerous negotiations with leading aerospace companies Boeing and Airbus before and after the implementation of the nuclear agreement, he added.
Rouhani stated that Tehran welcomes American traders, technicians, business owners plus company representatives, and is determined to expand banking ties with world countries.
The Iranian president further noted that the Islamic Republic expects the United States to stand firmly committed to its obligations under the JCPOA.
He stressed that the JCPOA is in the interest of the region and the world, and its significance remains intact even if the other side does not honor its commitments under the nuclear accord.
‘Iranian Armed Forces not seeking adventurism’
Rouhani stressed that the Iranian Armed Forces have long been present in the Persian Gulf, and they are duty-bound to defend the country’s territory and airspace, and to secure its interests in the high seas.
He pointed out that the Iranian forces are not seeking adventurism, military confrontations or the escalation of tensions, questioning the presence of US forces in the Persian Gulf when Washington is not militarily involved in a war in the Middle East.
The Iranian president added that the American forces in the region must obey international regulations, highlighting that tensions would not benefit anyone at the current tense situation in the Middle East.
Saudi ‘miscalculation’ in Yemen
“Saudi Arabia is making a miscalculation” over its aggression against Yemen. About two years of bombardment of Yemen has had no achievement for them, and has been devastating for the people of Yemen,” the Iranian president said.
Hundreds of thousands of Yemeni women and children are being slaughtered on a daily basis, while the country’s entire infrastructure has been destroyed, he added.
The Iranian president further noted that Saudi Arabia does not have unlimited authority over the holy sites in Mecca and Medina, and that the Riyadh regime must discharge its responsibility regarding the annual Hajj rituals.
‘Not important who wins US election’
Rouhani went on to say that it does not concern Iran who wins the forthcoming presidential election in the United States, stressing that the Islamic Republic attaches great significance to “its own national interests.”
“The next US administration will receive a proper response from Iran should it respect the Islamic Republic’s national interests and reduce tensions. But if it seeks to heighten tensions, new conditions will be created for the two countries,” the Iranian president added.
The Iranian interior minister says the UN has failed to provide Tehran with sufficient aid to help the country cover the expenses of the services it is offering to refugees on its soil, particularly Afghan nationals.
Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli made the remarks in a Tuesday meeting with UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi in New York.
The Iranian minister traveled to New York to attend the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants, which addresses large movements of refugees and migrants.
Rahmani-Fazli further voiced Iran’s concern over the situation of illegal migrants, which has created many problems for both the Iranian government and people.
“The United Nations and relevant international institutions should provide the Afghan government with more serious” assistance so it can organize and secure the repatriation of its nationals, he added.
Foreign assistance to Iran only covers less than three percent of its expenses in dealing with the refugees it is sheltering, said Rahmani-Fazli, urging international aid bodies to take more responsibility “in providing the required expenditure to take care of the healthcare, medical, educational and food costs of refugees and displaced people.”
Iran has been hosting large numbers of Afghan refugees, who fled wars and conflicts in their country. In recent years, Tehran has been urging the Afghan nationals to return home voluntarily to contribute to the reconstruction of their homeland.
More than 350,000 Afghan refugee children are now going to school in Iran while some 48,000 undocumented Afghan children were allowed last year to enroll for the first time in Iranian public schools, according to UNHCR.
Fazli called for efforts to restore security to the countries grappling with terror groups and help them improve their economic conditions as the only “realistic” approach towards stemming mass migrations and displacements.
For his part, Grandi said his observations during a visit to Iran in June showed that the country’s attitude towards refugees “is a model in the world.”
Also on Tuesday, the Iranian interior minister met with Swiss Head of the Department of Justice and Police Simonetta Sommaruga as well as Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has once again confirmed Iran’s commitment to a landmark nuclear agreement Tehran signed with the six world powers last year.
“Iran continues to implement its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amanon said in an introductory statement to the agency’s Board of Governors in Vienna on Monday.
He added that his report on Verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015) summarizes the verification and monitoring activities conducted by the UN nuclear agency in the last few months.
The IAEA chief said Iran has submitted its declarations under the Additional Protocol, which Tehran is applying provisionally, pending its entry into force.
“The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement,” Amano pointed out.
He noted that the IAEA would continue evaluating the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.
In a quarterly report on Iran on September 8, the IAEA confirmed Iran’s commitment to the nuclear agreement reached between the Islamic Republic and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia – plus Germany on July 14, 2015.
The UN nuclear agency, which is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the JCPOA, said Tehran has not exceeded the limits set in the accord on its low-enriched uranium and heavy water stockpile.
Under the JCPOA, which took effect in January, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related bans imposed against Tehran.
The deal requires Iran’s storage of uranium enriched to up to 3.67 percent purity to stay below 300 kilograms. Tehran has also agreed to keep its heavy water stockpile below 130 metric tonnes.
Since January, the IAEA has released regular reports confirming the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear activities and Tehran’s commitment to the agreement.
In April, the IAEA director general hailed Iran for respecting the nuclear accord, saying the Islamic Republic has even gone beyond its obligations.
Iran says it has been paid for selling natural gas from a field that it jointly owns with BP in the North Sea but the payments cannot be accessed due to sanctions.
Ali Kardor, the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), was quoted by the media as saying that the revenues obtained from selling Iran’s share of the products of Rhum gas field have been deposited into an overseas NIOC account, stressing however that the same account is currently frozen.
Kardor added that Iran is currently negotiating with Britain to unfreeze the account which was established at a British bank before the 1979 Islamic Revolution after Iran and BP signed a deal to jointly invest in Rhum field.
The field started producing 190 million cubic feet of natural gas daily in 2005. However, the British government ordered it shut down in 2010 as a result of sanctions against Iran.
Production from the field resumed in 2013 and is presently supporting about five percent of the gas needs of Britain.
In September 2015, Iran’s Deputy Petroleum Minister for International and Commerce Affairs Amir-Hossein Zamaninia told reporters that UK’s Chargé d’Affaires to Iran Ajay Sharma had told him London would pay Iran its share of revenues from Rhum field after the removal of sanctions against Iran.
Zamaninia also discussed the issue with UK’s trade envoy to Iran and chairman of the British-Iranian Chamber of Commerce Lord Norman Lamont this past April. He told reporters that Britain had pledged to remove the barriers on the way of Iran’s access to revenues made from sales of natural gas from the Rhum gas field.
In January, Security Council sanctions on Iran were lifted. America still maintains some of its illegally imposed ones, despite promises of relief following implementation of last year’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal – once again showing its word isn’t its bond.
Bipartisan US policymakers can’t be trusted, saying one thing, doing another. Hillary is militantly anti-Russia, anti-China, anti-Iran, anti-peace.
According to her spokesman Jesse Lehrich, she “supports a clean reauthorization of the Iran Sanctions Act,” imposed solely for political reasons, along with numerous other US hostile actions, punishing the Islamic Republic unfairly and illegally since 1979.
Initially it was by seizing $12 billion in Iranian government bank deposits, gold and various properties in November that year.
A full trade embargo followed, largely maintained despite last year’s JCPOA implementation, normalization with Tehran denied because of heavy bipartisan congressional and Israeli pressure against it.
In 2006, the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act was renamed the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA). Authorized through end of 2016, it prohibits US and foreign oil development investments.
Violators face stiff penalties. They include denial of Export-Import Bank of the United States help, rejection of export licenses, and a ban on all or some violating company imports.
Hillary wants US/Iranian relations based on a “distrust and verify” policy, continuing to punish the country for maintaining its sovereign independence and being Israel’s main regional rival.
She wants ISA renewed for another decade, effectively in perpetuity as long as Iran remains free from US dominance – with congressional authorization for new sanctions any time at Washington’s discretion.
Billions of dollars of Iranian assets remain frozen. European banks face heavy pressure not to resume normalized business relations with Tehran.
According to Iranian deputy oil minister for trade and international relations, Amir Hossein Zamaninia, European banks are reluctant to run afoul of US policies – complicated by deliberate lack of clarity on American-imposed rules for doing business with Tehran.
Sanctions relief isn’t coming as expected, Washington obstructing normalized relations. Decades of punishing Iran continues, things likely worsening if Hillary succeeds Obama.
War is the greatest risk with her in power, escalated against Syria, Iran next if Assad falls, Russia and China to follow. Possible nuclear armageddon awaits if she’s commander-in-chief of America’s military.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
Saudi Arabia on the American chessboard – Part 4
Read part 3: How the occupied mentality syndrome works
Uncovering the extent and details of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the U.S. wars against selected Arab and non-Arab states is somewhat complicated, and the reason is shortage of reliable information. Even if such information were available, we may have to sieve through a huge amount of data searching for patterns, relations, and critical values. For instance, how to search for the methods the U.S. employs to enforce Saudi involvement in its plans and polices? What drives the Arab and regional policy (and wars) of the Saudi regime?
Suppose we search for the true reasons behind Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980. Can we extrapolate data to prove that the United States and Saudi Arabia were the godfathers for a war that lasted over eight years and killed over one million Iranians and Iraqis? Why did Iraq not invade Iran when the Shah was in power given that its basic problems with Iran were, more or less, the same? Was the “secret” meeting between Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Iraqi president Saddam Hussein around June 1980 a prelude to that war? Did the U.S.-Saudi-Iraqi plan to attack Iran materialize during the meeting between the Iraqi president, King Fahad, and the American Ambassador to Saudi Arabia in Jeddah, July 1980? Can we read the past in present terms to see what the U.S.-Saudi plans of the 1980s have done to the region in the successive 35 years?
We can answer these and other related questions by mixing facts with speculations. But to answer them rationally thus removing residual doubts on intents and plans, we need more than just incisive analysis. Specifically, we need to venture into the world of hypotheses when stubborn analytical situations require it. Yet, could a hypothesis answer the question whether Iran-Iraq war confirms U.S. plans for Iraq, other Arab states, the Palestinian Issue, and Iran? To be skeptic, where is the evidence that the United States had indeed prepared plans for Iran and the region after the collapse of the Shah’s regime?
In addition, seeing that the U.S. took no military actions against Iran (not even after the hostage crisis and subsequent failed military mission to liberate them), is our supposition of planning to undermine the newly established Islamic regime credible? In the same vein, can another hypothesis address the issue whether Al Saud pushed for and financed that war following an American script or in response to their own objectives? Again, where is the evidence?
When concrete situations are the subject of inquiry, hypotheses have narrow limits on what they can achieve. Generally, hypotheses are limited by own premises and type of background information. To debate this point, we may be able to construct hypothetical models to explain solar eruptions, but cannot depend on hypotheses to explain entities born out of deliberation such as wars. Regardless of purpose, war is a result of calculation and decision-making. Being so, rigorous, repeated examination is the valid way to probe its motives.
Take, for example, U.S. wars in Korea and Vietnam. It does not take hard work to establish a basic truth. These two wars had solid basis in the ideology, philosophy, and economy of American militarism and imperialism. Based on this sturdy fact, would we still need conjectural models to explain their origins? Informed students of the history of imperialism could answer as follows. If we start by negating the American pretexts to contain Communism and so-called Soviet expansionism, all rationales the United States used to prop these wars would fall by their own inertia and lurid justifications. To close, explaining international issues should never depend on hypothetical constructs leading to nowhere.
If hypotheses were of unsure validity, would analytical models work better?
Certainly, but such models are not guaranteed either. Questions on source validity and potential interference would cancel reached conclusions. Furthermore, political analytical models could be deceptive in that they are language- not fact-based; what is worse, they could be infected by predetermined ideology. In such case, both argument and conclusion are inconsequential. In addition, analysis based on deficient, insufficient, or manipulated data is of no use. More important, the identity of the analists can be the decisive factor to accept or reject a given statement or analysis. Would informed people accept an Israeli thesis as to why Zionists feel they have “historical rights” to Palestine? Equally, would informed minds accept Barack Obama’s rationalization as to why the United States bombed Libya and killed its leader Muammar al-Qaddafi? In these two examples, deceptive theses generate misleading results.
In order to make a rational assessment of issues, we need dedicated tools and supportive evidence. Granted that such tools are indispensable to conduct a comprehensive examination of a subject, what about evidence? Can presumed evidence vouch for the correctness of an analysis? That is, what happens when the result of a planned analysis is pre-established by design? Conversely, what happens when a new analysis denies earlier evidence? Here is another problem: if analysis were the logical way to go forward, what if it reaches an impasse and stops there because some elements needed for the conclusion are either unavailable or disputable to begin with?
Yet, can anyone tell us what does evidence mean? Is it material thus concrete, tangible thus acceptable, allusive thus negligible, or fake thus disposable? Curiously, how useful evidence is if the methodology used to produce it is controversial? Because the argument on verification is practically endless, then we have to establish congruency thresholds. Meaning, to avoid being stuck in our search for the optimal level of verification, we have to decide the point in which we either accept or discard an analysis.
Now, if manipulation could fool some, what to make of the conduct of world governments when confronted with U.S. lies? Who would forget when Colin Powell presented— with gelid calmness and unflinching assuredness—his faked evidence to the United Nations (February 2003) to prove Iraq’s possession of WMD? Why did these governments remain silent in front of Powell’s patent lies and deception? Where did logical skepticism go? Or, maybe defying the empire of lies was out of question?
In the quest to find persuasive arguments, and when objective evidence does not find its way to the writing process, some opponents of imperialism (and wars) skip elementary verification altogether and rely on their version of it. As a result, dangling impressions keep flowing uninterrupted as if they were analysis onto themselves. In such cases, complacent assumptions supplant evidence.
The argument I just made leads me to address my own analysis of the occupied mentality syndrome with the following question. What methods must I adopt to support my narratives about Saudi Arabia’s actions and policies and relate them to the policy of the U.S. ruling circles? Inquisitively, must committed writers back up with material facts everything they say, observe, or analyze? Would strong inferences and reason-based deductions suffice?
To recap, no doubt that we need an organizational framework, but we also need tools to probe what these sources say and in what context. Consider this: is it rational or politically acceptable to examine the U.S. Arab policy without considering first the Jewish Zionist forces that move the United States? Since the logical answer should be no, then how to decide on the quality, depth, and accuracy of the debating materials?
For instance, to what extent did Western writers try to investigate the reasons behind the persistent American hostility toward Iran—specifically since the Islamic Revolution of Khomeini? Well, it should not be surprising to know that said hostility has nothing to do with the Islamic Revolution itself. Not only that, but it has nothing to do with Iran’s new theocratic order. . . . America’s anti-Iran enmity has nothing to do with the hostage crisis. And it has nothing to do with democracy—because the U.S. never resented Iran when it was under the Shah’s dictatorship. And above all, it has nothing to do with the Israeli propaganda claiming that former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened to annihilate Israel. In the end, it has nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear program.
A cogent explanation for the U.S. hostility toward Iran can be found in the broken rules of imperialist domination, which is Iran’s exit from the orbit of U.S. hegemony. Said differently, the Khomeini Revolution had accomplished something extraordinary: it ended the American control of Iran via Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Thus, after over 60 years of Western interference (from the end of WWI to the Islamic Revolution), Iran had become a truly independent state. Based on this argument, do we still need to prove that a true independence of nation-states is anathema to U.S. Zionists and imperialists?
Iran’s exit from the orbit of U.S. hegemony is the cogent explanation for the U.S. hostility toward Iran.
To sum it up, it is not a play of words to state that what we know about the history of American-Saudi relation pales in comparison with what we do not know. No one should expect, therefore, that the clandestine deals and scheming between U.S. ruling circles and the Al Saud regime are going to be available anytime soon. Nevertheless, because we do not want our question on the U.S.-Saudi relation to end up like the “endless quest” to uncover who was behind the assassination of John Kennedy, we need to find alternative ways to expose how this relation works and what it means for the Arab nations and the world.
For starters, the multilayered interaction between the United States and Saudi Arabia amounts to a closed system. It is a closed system because many of its sub-systems have pertinent identity, lexicon, operational controls, and rationales—all moving like clockwork. By dint of this assertion, our task is to find out how to open this system up and expose its working mechanism.
American Scientist and psychologist John Henry Holland provided me with the clue on how to deal with the issue of verifying events and relative meanings. In debating of what he called “complex adaptive systems” or “cas”, Holland proposed a framework to transform “Intuitions into deep understanding”. He writes,
“Theory is crucial. Without theory, we make endless forays into uncharted badlands. With theory, we can separate fundamental characteristics from fascinating idiosyncrasies and incidental features. Theory supplies landmarks and guideposts, and we begin to know what to observe and where to act. . . . Many cas have the property that a small input can produce major predictable, directed changes—an amplified effect. . . . The task of formulating theory for cas is more than usually difficult because the behavior of a whole cas is more than a simple sum of the behavior of the parts; cas abound in nonlinearities. Nonlinearities mean that our most useful tools for generalizing observations into theory, and so on—are badly blunted. The best way to compensate for this loss is to make cross-disciplinary comparisons of cas, in hopes for extracting characteristics. With patience and insight we can shape those characteristics into building blocks for a general theory.” 
Holland’s method [Theory] to understand the hidden order of systems is invaluable tool. However, can we use it to uncover the basics, foundation, and structure of the U.S.-Saudi relation? Here is the barrier: even if we construct a general theory of such relation, some problems would remain unsolved. For instance, per se, theories do not encapsulate clues for how to provide proof. Instead, they prepare the ground to dig out a reasoned validation based on methodical analytical processes and dialectical examination of provided premises.
Writing on my MySCR chemistry blog, Ian Miller asks,
“Can you prove a theory to be true?” He answered, “Many/most scientists would probably say, no, you cannot; all you can do is to falsify a theory, while you believe a theory to be true because all evidence supports it.” This raises the problem, what happens when the evidence that contradicts the theory are suppressed? 
Miller debated the issue of falsifying theories in scientific settings. The same thing could happen though in non-scientific environments. Miller did mention the intent behind falsification. But such intent hides an agenda whereby the falsifier hope to achieve a favorable outcome. The keyword is the political decision to suppress evidence thus allowing that outcome to happen. In the history of Western imperialism, suppressing unfavorable evidence is the norm. To limit ourselves to the U.S. wars and interventions, suppressing evidence, manufacturing evidence, inventing pretexts, and theatrical stunts to present them go hand in hand. President James Polk’s war on Mexico in 1846; Lyndon Johnson’s deception to turn the Gulf of the Tonkin incident into war against North Vietnam; and Clinton-Gore’s manipulation of the Kosovo affair to bomb Serbia (1998) are examples.
Does that mean when supportive evidence is unavailable or missing, we cannot buttress verified events with the tool of reasoning?
Take the studies of economics as applied to capitalism. Where can we find uncontested evidence supporting the theory of value? Yet no theories on value from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman and others could compete with Marx’s surplus-value theory (taken from David Ricardo who took it from others). Marx persuasively corroborated his theory with logic, calculations, and common sense. With that, seeing the ongoing destructive effects brought up by insolvencies of financial institutions, by corporate bankruptcies, and by the ritualistic collapse of stock markets, where are the pundits who have been insisting that Marx’s theory on the cyclic crises of capitalism is erroneous?
Political analyses are invariably cause-centered. That is, the analyst writes to support his cause. Because of that, such analyses are also ideologically motivated. However, what is important for us here is to find the correct balance between ironclad political evidence and logically extracted evidence.
Miller offers a good lead in this sense. In the post just cited, he writes,
An observation can be used to prove a scientific statement, provided you can write it in the form: “If, and only if, theory X is true, then you will observe Y”. The observation of Y proves theory X is true, as stated. Of course it may be incomplete, but it will be true as far as it goes. The problem is to justify the”only if” part of the statement, because how can you know that there is not an alternative that has not been thought of yet.  [Italics are mine]
So, to overcome difficulties arising from the verification process, I propose, therefore, a dialectical remedy. Because we are not dealing with a scientific theory requiring repeated tests, we could use Miller’s models to make them work for us. This is how we can do it. We can form a solid theory of the U.S.-Saudi relation and its hidden order by combining facts and a large battery of deductive reasoning. With this approach, we can turn analogical evidence and prima facie evidence into primary evidence by reasoned equivalency.
Having established the method to examine the U.S.-Saudi relation, I shall discuss next Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the U.S. plans for the Arab states and the Middle East. My starting point is Iraq’s war against Iran (1980). Considering Iraq’s modest military power (by international standards) prior to the Islamic Revolution, it is imperative to pose the following question: could that war have lasted over eight years without Saudi and Kuwaiti financial backing? In particular, how can we read Iraq’s war in the context of the Saudi regime’s relation with the United States? Why did the United States extend credits to Iraq, sell it advanced weapons, and allow it to import American chemical weapons technology? Why did the U.S.—the most terrorist state in history—list Iraq as a “state sponsor of terrorism in 1979, remove the tag in 1982, and then list Iran as such as state in 1984? Why did U.S. vassals such as Jordan and Egypt provide logistical and intelligence support to Iraq? What was the purpose of giving military intelligence to Iraq?
Next: Part 5
- John H. Holland, Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity, Perseus Books, 1995, p. 4, 5, 6
- Ian Miller, Can you prove a theory to be true? 18 March, 2013
B. J. Sabri is an Iraqi American analyst of the history, politics, policies, militarism, driving forces, ideological structures, attitudes, terrorism, and wars of contemporary US and European imperialisms, and their interaction with Israel and Zionism. He has been writing articles and multi-part essays for internet readers since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Iran’s foreign minister has categorically denied the US claims that Tehran ships arms to Yemen, saying Washington itself knows better which international parties spread terrorism throughout the world.
Mohammad Javad Zarif was reacting to comments by US Secretary of State John Kerry who accused Tehran on Thursday of transferring “missiles and other sophisticated weapons” to “rebels” in Yemen.
“By such statements, the US administration has implicated itself in the Saudi regime’s war crimes and inhumane and infanticidal atrocities against the innocent and oppressed Yemeni people. It should undoubtedly accept responsibility and be answerable for all the inhuman crimes,” Zarif said.
Kerry made the accusations during a visit to Saudi Arabia, which has been waging a brutal military campaign against Yemen for more than year.
The top US diplomat was in Jeddah where UN special envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed as well as representatives from Britain and Saudi Arabia’s Persian Gulf allies in the war had gathered to discuss the conflict.
“Mr. Kerry knows well better than anyone that the Saudi government has, over the past year and a half, been invariably and sternly frustrating all the efforts taken to bring about ceasefire in Yemen,” Zarif said.
In his remarks, Kerry said “the threat potentially posed by the shipment of missiles and other sophisticated weapons into Yemen from Iran extends well beyond Yemen and is not a threat just to Saudi Arabia and… the region.”
“It is a threat to the United States and it cannot continue,” he added.
Zarif also dismissed Kerry’s claims of Iranian threat to the region and the US, saying the Islamic Republic’s “military might poses no threat to any country and simply serves defensive purposes.”
“What threatens the region and the world today is the ideological, financial and political bases of Takfiri terrorism in the world, whose source and causes Mr. Kerry should know well.”
The Saudi military has been pounding Yemen since March 2015 to undermine Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and to restore power to the former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.
Nearly 10,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Riyadh’s military aggression which lacks any international mandate.
The US maintains strong military ties with Riyadh, which had Washington approve a USD-1.29-billion rearming program for the kingdom last November.
“Without a doubt, the US administration would further discredit its policies in the region through its support and ignorance and inattention to the facts on the ground,” said Zarif.
“It is high time the US administration learned from its glaring past mistakes in Syria and Iraq and open its eyes to realities,” he added.
On Thursday, the UN human rights office said the Saudi military is using cluster bombs against residential areas in Yemen in violation of international law, blaming the Riyadh regime for most of the civilian casualties in its impoverished southern neighbor.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized the United States in May for selling cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia, saying the kingdom had used various types of US-made cluster munitions in its war against Yemen despite evidence of mounting civilian casualties.
With immaculate timing, Turkey unrolled its defiant ‘Plan B’ – billed as the Euphrates Shield operation – in northern Syria just as the US Vice President Joe Biden’s aircraft was about to land in Ankara’s Esenboga airport.
This must be one of the biggest diplomatic snubs that the US has suffered in a long while. And it is being administered by a NATO member country.
I had written yesterday in Asia Times that the US was making a monumental error of judgment by underestimating the grit of the Turkish mind to safeguard its supreme national interests at any cost. (See my article Turkey gets its act together on Syria.)
As I explained, the main purpose of the Euphrates Shield operation is to occupy the strategic border town of Jarablus in northern Syria and have a showdown with the Syrian Kurds (supported by US Special Forces and American air cover). The Kurdish militia had crossed the Euphrates river a few months ago and, contrary to American assurances, they are now moving westward to realise their dream of establishing a Kurdistan straddling Turkey’s border, stretching from Iraq to East Mediterranean coast. Turkey’s ‘red line’ has been breached.
A cat-and-mouse game has been going on between Turkey and the US. The latter was calculating that Turkey won’t act on the ground to confront the Syrian Kurds militarily, especially after the recent coup attempt of July 15, which weakened the military, plus the Russian presence in Syria.
President Recep Erdogan has decided to call the American bluff. In the early hours of the morning, Turkish artillery began pounding Jarablus (which is under the control of the Islamic State presently.) After about 2 hours of shelling, Special Forces crossed the border with F-16 jets providing air cover. The latest reports say a column of Turkish tanks is moving into Syrian territory. (Hurriyet )
The stunning part is that the Turkish incursion follows a tacit understanding with Iran (and Syria). Interestingly, Russian jets aren’t visible anywhere in the Syrian skies to stop the Turkish incursion, either. Surely, NATO is rocking, since it is highly improbable that Turkey took the US-led alliance into confidence over the Euphrates Shield operation, which, ironically, aims at destroying America’s best ally on the Syrian chessboard.
A team of Iranian intelligence officials had made a quick dash to Ankara yesterday morning to give the final touch to the concerted Euphrates Shield operation against the Syrian Kurds. The Iranian delegation presumably carried messages from Damascus for the Turkish side and returned to Tehran yesterday evening itself.
According to Iranian media reports, the deputy head of the Turkish intelligence had paid a secret visit to Damascus on Sunday. Prior to that, Turkish Foreign Minister Mavlut Cavusoglu had a stopover in Tehran on Thursday for 5 hours to personally coordinate with the Iranians – avoiding phone conversations that could have been tapped by the American electronic intelligence system. Clearly, we are witnessing the first tangible signs of a super-secret deal between Turkey and Iran to further their common agenda of preventing the emergence of a Syrian Kurdistan backed by the US and Israel connecting the Kurdish homelands between the Iraqi Kurdistan and Eastern Mediterranean. (Asharq Al-Awsat )
Turkey fears that a Syrian Kurdistan will inexorably boost the separatist Kurdish insurgency on its territory. Iran fears that Kurdistan may turn out to be the playpen of American and Israeli intelligence for undertaking subversive activities against it. Equally, Iraq and Syria also stand to lose since the creation of a Kurdistan will be at the cost of their own national unity and territorial integrity. A convergence on the Kurdish problem brings together Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Indeed, for the first time in the Syrian civil war, government forces have begun attacking Kurds. Last week the US warned Damascus not to launch aerial attacks on the Syrian Kurdish militia on the specious plea that its Special Forces are ‘embedded’ with the Kurds. (Telegraph )
If Biden had hoped for a trade-off with Erdogan over the Turkish concerns regarding Kurds, the latter is literally showing the middle finger. The Euphrates Shield is a stark message to the US that Ankara no longer depends on American goodwill or help.
Erdogan is literally signalling to Biden, ‘No more waffling, Buddy, just send Fetullah Gulen back to us’. Now, that is putting Washington in a fix. Erdogan has repeatedly warned that he will take Gulen’s extradition as the litmus test of US intentions toward Turkey and the raison d’etre of the Turkish-American alliance itself. On the other hand, how can the US possibly allow the extradition of Gulen, who has been the CIA’s longstanding ‘strategic asset’ in Muslim countries?
Biden enjoys a fabulous reputation within America’s political class as wheeler dealer par excellence. His reputation faces an acid test through the coming 12 hours. He’s just about sitting down with the Sultan at Ak Saray (White Palace) — Erdogan’s 1000-room palace in the dark and lovely woods outside Ankara — for a ‘frank’ conversation.
Read today’s column by a dear old friend Ilnur Cevik, a noted Turkish editor, in the pro-government daily Sabah, entitled Welcome to the land of the brave, Mr. Biden.
Iran’s media say German engineering giant Siemens has started talks to invest in the country’s petrochemical industry in a fresh sign of growing post-sanctions opening in the business environment of the Islamic Republic.
Mehr News Agency reported that Siemens is already engaged in serious negotiations with Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum over investing in a certain number of the country’s petrochemical projects.
The report added that a ranking delegation from Siemens had visited Tehran over the past few days to meet the related Iranian officials for investment talks.
It also said that another topic in the meetings of the German firm with Iranian officials was providing the advanced technology as well as the related technical and management solutions for Iran’s petrochemical projects.
In May, Siemens reported a rise in its second-quarter profit by €130 million in what it says was a result of the promising prospects of future activities in Iran.
The company announced in a statement that the resurgent business prospects in Iran after the removal of international sanctions has already increased its expectations of second-quarter revenues by €174 million.
The Munich-based company has always been one of the most active German enterprises in Iran. Even during the multiple years of sanctions that a majority of foreign companies left the Islamic Republic, Siemens kept its office in Tehran open to maintain its business in the country.
It has been mostly providing engineering services as well as technical parts including turbines to Iran’s gas projects. After the removal of the sanctions against Iran in January, it became even more active to pursue an ambitious Iran investment agenda.
In March, the company signed memoranda of understanding on rail infrastructure and gas equipment projects potentially worth billions of euros, as well as an energy agreement with Iranian power and infrastructure group MAPNA.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday unveiled the country’s long-awaited Bavar-373 air defense missile system with characteristics similar to Russia’s S-300, according to the local media reports.
On the National Defense Industry Day, which is celebrated in Iran on August 21, Rouhani, accompanied by Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, visited the exhibition at the Iran Aviation Industries Organization (IAIO) at the Defense Ministry, which showcased the latest achievements in the air defense industry, including the domestically-built Bavar-373 air defense system.
The Iranian president inaugurated the Bavar-373 (meaning ‘Belief’), which was commissioned in February 2010 amid the suspension of a deal with Russia on deliveries of five S-300 systems over the adoption of UN Security Council sanctions on Iran.
The long-range mobile Bavar-373 air defense system has been designed and constructed by Defense Ministry scientists and experts in cooperation with the country’s Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base and other scientific and investigative centers.
The home-grown system was successfully test-fired in August 2014. It is similar to the Russian S-300 and is capable of hitting targets at a high altitude.
The new system uses a phased array radar like Russian 96L6 radar for tracking aerodynamic targets and ballistic missiles in medium to long ranges, mounted on the ZAFAR heavy truck.
In May, Dehghan announced that Iran had completed development of the domestically-produced Bavar-373 air defense system, with mass production expected to be launched later in 2016.
Hassan Rouhani also observed the latest achievements and developments in air defense technology, including fighter and transport aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The president was also briefed on the progress in the designing and manufacturing of the first national Turbojet engine.
On Saturday, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said the country is not going to purchase the Russian-made S-400 air defense missile system, though Moscow has offered to sell it to Tehran.
During his press conference in Tehran, the defense minister confirmed that Russia has offered Iran “S-400 and some other systems,” but Tehran currently has no plans to order them.
He also commented on the S-300 system, which Moscow had undertaken to sell to Tehran under a 2007 contract.
Dehqan said Iran has voluntarily terminated a lawsuit against Russia after the delivery of the missile system to Iran began.
However, he added, Iran reserves the right to legally pursue the case if the full implementation of the deal runs into any problems.
Iran has received the bulk of the S-300 missile system, the minister noted, adding that the remaining parts are expected to be delivered within a month.