Saudi Arabia on the American chessboard – Part 3
Read part 2: “The occupied mentality Syndrome“
Previously I argued whether Saudi Arabia’s repeated involvements in U.S. interventions and wars stem from free national will or in response to a specific condition. For starters, in Saudi Arabia there is no national will. In Saudi Arabia, the national will is the will of the Al Saud clan. Still, when a major Arab state allies itself with a superpower that committed unspeakable crimes against humanity in almost every Arab country, then something is wrong. This fact alone should compel us to examine the U.S.-Saudi relation for one exceptional reason. As a result of the U.S.-Saudi wars, hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia have lost their lives. Millions became displaced in their own homelands. And millions more rendered refugees.
Attributing the Saudi policies to the bonds of “partnership” with the U.S. is frivolous. There are no bonds between these two thugs except those of business, military deals, secret plots, and wars. Proving this point, bonds such as these have no space for the American and Saudi peoples to share significant cultural or societal exchanges. If partnership is not the reason for the Saudi contribution to the U.S. strategy of empire and imperialism, then another reason must exist.
This leads to three possibilities. (1) The Saudis are exercising their supreme national rights to do whatever they want. Or, (2), they are responding to inducement. Or, (3), they are complying with applied pressure. While the first possibility cannot be taken seriously, the remaining two possibilities are plausible. This means the Saudi participation in the U.S. wars—by proxy and directly—must have origins in factors other than the fluid concepts of alliance and partnership.
By the way, yielding to pressure is not new in international relations. In the age of today’s imperialism, the U.S. use of the UNSC to impose its policies is an example. If impositions fail, then the U.S. acts unilaterally. Examples: the imposition of the no-fly zone in Iraq 1991-2003 and the invasion in 2003. In the era of classical colonialism during 19th century, Britain’s gun boat diplomacy to force the opening of China to foreign trade is another example. Again, when a nation succumbs to another nation, that succumbence is never ordinary.
I also argued that succumbence to power is the result of protracted material, mental, and emotional processes performing as one element. From this premise I went on to coin the term: Occupied Mentality Syndrome (OMS) to describe such an element. Unlike other forms of mentalities (national, group, personal, and so on), the mentality I am debating is atypical. Driven by subjective factors but influenced by politically construed constraints—real or imagined—, this mentality has special traits. It competes with ideology, it conforms to pressure, it lays the blame on others, and it discards accountability.
Although such traits may not appear all at once, the presence of any one of them in a given situation is a reason to suspect that an OMS is lurking behind. Most interesting, those afflicted by this syndrome accept what comes next as a normal outcome of free deliberation. This is an anomaly. It is so because those who endorse it only calculate value versus detriment.
But calculations gutted from analysis, congruency of purpose, or the study of variables lead to contentious decisions. It is no mystery that decisions with far-reaching negative consequences impacting others could lead to tension or even open hostility. How does the Saudi regime get away from the impact of their decisions?
The usual act has been to reject any responsibility without discussion—as it happened with Iraq’s war against Iran. In doing so, the Saudi regime takes cues directly from Niccolò Machiavelli. Explanation: after converting the deliberation process into a justificatory procedure, the Saudi regime moves to the next phase: conferring legitimacy to already made decisions. Here is how they do it: make the decisions appear as if they were the result of (1) the collective national will—through the regime’s talking heads, preachers, and media,—and (2) purported adherence to the “Islamic Sharia”. The bogus legitimacy ruse that ensues is ludicrous. A tyrannical and obscurantist regime has now the authority to move forward with its decisions by calling on its citizens to observe a Quranic verse—taken out of context—calling on Muslims to obey their rulers.
To test the validity of the OMS concept, let me reprise my argument about how the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan shaped the mindset of the Saudi regime. Although the outcome of the 18-month long anti-Shah demonstrations was predictable, it, nevertheless, caught the U.S. and Saudi Arabia unprepared for his downfall. With the Shah gone, a psycho-political “drama” unfolded. The United States lost one of Nixon’s two pillars (the other is Saudi Arabia) in the Middle East; Israel lost its only ally in the Muslim world; Al Saud lost their inner confidence. The mere idea of a Khomeini-style revolution sweeping Saudi Arabia was enough to induce convulsive spasms in all those concerned with power, money, and oil.
Afghanistan was a different story. While the United States was mostly concerned with the Soviet power and on how to respond to the invasion, Saudi Arabia was literally terrified about the potential spread of “godless” Communism. . . . Thus was born the “special relationship” between U.S. ruling circles and a reactionary, absolutist clan.
What do we understand from the U.S.-Saudi relation?
Marked differences between the U.S. and Saudi polities make it intuitive that such a relation is no more than an opportunistic convergence between two regimes. Said differently, what we have here is a forum for massive business encounters and ideological boastings that both regimes struggle to call “alliance”. Generally, in the pre-9/11 period that relation had two sets of motives. While the American set is trite—empire-building, hegemony, oil, wars, and Israel—, the Saudi’s is issue-focused. (1) The clan must have the absolute primacy over Saudi life and society. (2) The clan defines its quest for security and survival in U.S. imperialistic context. That is, whatever the U.S. needs, the Saudi regime can supply in exchange for the clan’s needs.
It would be interesting to imagine the following scenario. The subject is Afghanistan. Was it ever possible for the Saudi regime to pursue a course independent from the objectives of the United States policy because they run against the legitimate interests of the Saudi people? To debate this point: was the spending of over $3.2 billion (indexed for that period) on the anti-Soviet Afghan war of any benefit to the Saudi society?
Let us make another supposition. Because Al Saud think of their clan as being the most powerful on earth, then a pressing question comes to mind. If they were that powerful, why did they not take alternative measures to counter U.S. pressure in the decades before 9/11? For instance, they could have purchased technology, weapons, and advanced commodities—and even “protection” from any industrial country other than the United States.  Or, with all the money they had, they could have started an autonomous national industrialization process like that of India, Iran, Turkey, China, South Korea, and others.
Ironically, even if the Saudi regime had the means to undertake that process, it would not have moved to implement it. Explanation: advanced statecraft mechanisms leading to independent decision making in any sector of the national life are unavailable because of the despotic nature of the regime. Not only that, but achieving sovereignty means also sovereignty for the people. This would surely curtail the power of the clan due to increased popular participation in the setting of national priorities.
Let us consider another point: the Saudis have always bragged that their “alliance” with the U.S. is unbreakable. This has an implication: the preventive imprisonment of their critical judgment and free will. Explanation: while the Saudis are unwilling to break with the U.S., the U.S. can discard them at will and play them at any given time—as happened recently with the story of the 28 pages never published from the 9/11 report. Tentative conclusion: from the clan’s perspective, it appears that whatever the U.S. wants can be addressed and accepted. Still, my earlier supposition that Saudi Arabia had the means and will to be independent from the United States has merit, It means, any U.S. pressure on the Saudis for burden sharing would be useless if the Saudis resist and go somewhere else for their needs.
If a counter-argument suggests that the Saudi spending in Afghanistan was worth it to deter a potential Russian aggression, then a reasoned rebuttal could be as follows. Fact 1: we know that the U.S.-Saudi relation revolves around deterring hypothetical “threats” against the kingdom. Fact 2: but we also know that neither the USSR, nor any other regional or international power has ever threatened to attack or invade Saudi Arabia. Amusingly, the only rumored threat of invasion came from Saudi Arabia’s “ally”, the United States (and from Britain) consequent to the Arab oil embargo in 1973. Conclusion: Al Saud had no impelling reasons to finance the U.S. imperialist enterprise in Afghanistan—even if they loathed the Soviets.
My argument: the Saudi regime has been concealing the primary motive feeding their “alliance” with the United States. Yet, it is not that difficult to guess what the clan thinks. Being a superpower with massive Zionist and Israeli influence, the United States offered the best guarantee for the survival of the regime on two fronts.
On the domestic front, the U.S. may help the regime survive if domestic unrest becomes unstoppable. The American-authorized French intervention to quell the Mecca uprising in 1979 is an example. As for The Zionist and Israeli component in American politics viewed from a Saudi angle, this is intuitive too. Like all Arab regimes, deluding themselves that the U.S. has a sovereign Arab policy, the Saudis thought of their U.S. relation as a buffer against America’s ally and protégée: Israel.
Furthermore, whereas Saudi motives are clan-based, those of the United States are system-based. This means, they are global, rationalized, and originate from how the ruling circles view the role of the United States in the world. Still, motives need forces to have effect. Consequently, the motives of a political state are the same motives of the ideological and material forces that drive it. For instance, in post-WWII United States, such forces worked as one construct to drive the purpose of U.S. hegemony. The economics, politics, and ideology of militarized capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, and Zionism are a few examples of such forces.
I mentioned colonialism as a force in the making of the United States. Does this apply to the United States of today? Here is how I see it. With military bases in over 160 countries, with bases count ranging from 761 to 900 plus, with military personnel in excess of 156,000, with a land mass of over 2,202,735 hectares (approx. 5,443,076 acres) occupied by the U.S. military, and with $150 billion annual budget, the United States is nothing but a global colonialist power whose bases are nothing less than outposts for a colonialist enterprise in progress. See deployment map in the article: These are all the countries where the US has a military presence. , , , ,  [Note: I included several links to the issue of bases because some data differ from one source to another. Besides, the cited articles could offer an integrated view of the subject.]
Three motives define the course of U.S. power. These are (1) the determination to expand the spheres of U.S. influence, (2) the relentless intent to dominate geostrategic regions, and (3) wars as economic enterprises. How does the United States implement its domination project? The U.S. has an impressive array of tools and gadgets. Limited sampling: planned hostility, military interventions against countries resisting U.S. demands, wars against independent-minded countries that U.S. rulers love to call “rogue states”, seizure of foreign assets in the U.S., economic sanctions against “disobedient” states, applying U.S. laws on foreign states, dubbing adversaries as terrorists, harassment of big rival powers . . .
If examined in the context of classical colonialism, the U.S. domination of Saudi Arabia has all the signs of a colonialist dependency model. In this model, the periphery depends on the center in a way designed to consecrate the primacy of the center. But Saudi Arabia has never been a U.S. colony. This is true but irrelevant. The changing nature of modern dependency uses revamped practices. In one such practice, Washington makes the decisions and Riyadh implements them as if they were its own. The examples of Libya, Syria, and Yemen are instructive.
Keeping this in mind, I contend that many facts of the U.S.-Saudi relation point into the direction of multiple forms of dependency. The U.S. as a “protector” of the clan, massive Saudi purchase of U.S. arms, financial deals, and U.S. military presence in the kingdom are just the most prominent forms. One crucial aspect of the relation deserves stringent analysis. The U.S.-Saudi “alliance” goes beyond dependency, beyond petrodollar deposits, beyond investments in the U.S. economy, beyond the purchase of weapons, and beyond buying of treasury bonds. I am referring to a subject often overlooked: Saudi Arabia as a destructive interventionist tool in the hands of U.S. imperialists and Zionists.
To recap, stating that the U.S.-Saudi coupling is an alliance makes no sense. The alliance notion has different requirements, defining clauses, and formal obligations. Not even the claim of partnership is valid. Partnership takes its name from concepts such as equal sharing of burden, profits, and losses. This is not the case between the United States and Saudi Arabia. What we have here is an opportunistic platform between two different regimes pursuing separate agendas.
Again, prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. aims included the opposition to Communism, containing Arab hostility to the U.S. and Israel, securing cheap oil, and providing basing rights for the U.S. military. On the Saudi side, preventing potential Iranian-style Islamic and progressive national revolutions in the region was the top concern. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, things changed. Generally, while the Saudis are obsessed with keeping the status quo in their regional milieu, the Americans are maneuvering their regional marionettes and intervening directly to alter the socio-structures and political assets of the entire region known as the Middle East.
Countless facts during the past 35 years attest that Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy coincided with or was in response to the U.S. world agenda. As a result, we can draw a preliminary conclusion. From 9/11 forward, the disoriented Saudi regime has been devotedly executing what the United States wants it to do in exchange for not complicating its life. With that, Saudi Arabia has become the material accessory and financing tool of the United States and Israel to remake (destroy) the Arab homeland according to the U.S. and Israeli plans. Iraq, Syria, and Libya are examples. , 
It is natural that an event such as 9/11 would have traumatized the clan and drove them to panic and despair. This is not only due to the nationality of some of the alleged attackers but also because Wahhabism, the creed of the Saudi state, has taken a post among the accused. For one, 9/11 worsened the socio-political instability of the clan and amplified their notorious arrogance. But 9/11 alone cannot explain the real reasons behind the intensified proclivity of the regime for violence toward the few remaining Arab states that still reject U.S. hegemony and Israeli settler colonialism.
However, in Saudi contest, the principal effect of 9/11 was “surgical”. It exposed the ugly face of Saudi barbarity by externalizing its warring enmity toward Iran and any Arab nation that opposes U.S. hegemony and the criminal practices of the Wahhabi state. That proclivity for violence and that foaming anti-Arab and anti-Iranian enmity were the means with which Al Saud thought they could placate post-9/11 United States and appease Israel in the process. Involving the Saudi ruling family in 9/11 was a master stroke of a strategy. With it, the United States has skillfully exploited the primal fear of the Saudi regime from losing power. And just like that, with one unsubstantiated accusation, the United States seized the grand moment—the prey was ready to be devoured.
It is beside the point to state that analyses meant to explain post-9/11 Saudi actions and policies must consider the determination of the Saudi regime to take whatever is needed to appease the United States. After 9/11 the Saudis thought they could silence the hyper-imperialist bully by withdrawing their recognition of Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. It did not work out. Then they moved, as requested by the United States, to cut off funding to religious organizations and Wahhabi-inspired schools in many countries. It did not work out either. Afterwards, they offered King Abdulla’s initiative to recognize Israel. Still, it did not work out. . . .
Here is what the crude mentality of Al Saud failed to comprehend. The appeasement the hyper-empire was thinking of was much wider, much deeper, and has no end—it is the unconditional Saudi willingness to play along with the U.S. plans and strategies.
I maintain, therefore, that explaining the Saudi post-9/11 wars and interventions against selected Arab states is ineffective without proper investigative tools. What we need are approaches that would enable us to see below, above, and around the appearances of events.
Another significant outcome of 9/11 was tangible: the transformation of Saudi Arabia from an American “ally” into a near hostage pliable for blackmail. For instance, the Saudi regime voiced concern and even some opposition to the planned U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Still, they were unable to stop the U.S. from using their territory, airports, ports, and military facilities for that purpose. But when the invasion took its course, they mightily supported it. This is duplicity, of course; but I do not have to debate that such behavior says more than it could hide. Simply, it indicates fear from opposing U.S. moves.
I hold, therefore, that the radical change in Saudi Arabia’s post-9/11 regional conduct (the war against Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iraq; the harassment of Lebanon; the anti-Iran bellicosity; the tryst with Israel) was not in response to pressing Saudi needs, or to sudden wakening of the regime’s dormant “democratic values”. By extracting meanings out of statements, and by reading deeply into the cumulative consequences of the Saudi actions and their purpose, the answer should dispense with theoretical uncertainties. That is, those radical changes were in response to U.S. pressure or other forms of hard persuasion including implicit blackmail.
In which way did Iraq’s war against Iran confirm the U.S. scheme for the Middle East? What role did Al Saud play in that war? How does all this relate to and corroborate the occupied mentality syndrome?
Next: Part 4
- I should mention that Saudi Arabia has purchased missiles from China, as well as advanced weapons from Germany, Italy, Britain, Japan and other countries. Still, none of these deals would have been completed without the United States approving them first. The U.S. approval is motivated. First, U.S. military industry licenses the making of its weapons abroad and has deals to manufactures other weapons in partnership with many countries. Second, by submitting the weapons sale to its preventive approval, the United States establishes equal control on buyers and sellers. And this is how hegemony works. (Read: Why Did Saudi Arabia Buy Chinese Missiles? This is an imperialist view by the Foreign Policy Magazine. Pay attention to how Jeffrey Lewis explains the conditions that made the purchase possible. He writes, “Apparently with the approval of the George W. Bush administration.” [Italics mine]. Needless to say, the word “apparently” should have been omitted. . . .
- Gilbert Achcar, Greater Middle East: the US plan, Le Monde Diplomatique
- Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Plans for Redrawing the Middle East, Uruknet, 18 November 2006.
- David Vine, The United States has Probably More Foreign Military Bases than Any Other People, Nation, or Empire in History, The nation, 14 September, 2015
- David Vine, Where in the World Is the U.S. Military? Politico Magazine, July/August, 2015
- Julia Zorthian and Heather Jones, This Graphic Shows Where U.S. Troops Are Stationed Around the World, Time, 16 October 2015
- Tom Engelhardt, The US Has 761 Military Bases Across the Planet, and We Simply Never Talk About It, AlterNet, 7 September 2008
- Louis Jacobson, Ron Paul says U.S. has military personnel in 130 nations and 900 overseas bases, POLITIFACT, 14 September, 2011
Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has rejected an initiative put forth by US Secretary of State John Kerry to resolve the crisis in the war-torn country.
Mohammed Abdulsalam, the Ansarullah spokesman, said Saturday that the offer aims at depriving the Houthis of their arms in their fight of resistance against the Saudi invasion.
“Whoever has a greedy eye on our weapons, we will have a greedy eye on his life,” Abdulsalam wrote in a message posted on Facebook.
Kerry earlier called on Houthis to hand over their weapons including ballistic missiles and to pull back from the capital Sana’a. In return, the US secretary of state said Houthis and allies can have a share in Yemen’s future unity government.
The proposal comes amid reports that Houthis have stepped up missile attacks on border regions in Saudi Arabia over the past weeks. The attacks are carried out in reaction to deadly Saudi airstrikes that the regime in Riyadh says are meant to undermine Houthis and allies and to restore power to Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, Yemen’s president who has resigned and fled the capital.
About 10,000 people have been killed across Yemen since the Saudi campaign started in March 2015.
The conflict in Yemen re-escalated after peace talks mediated by the United Nations and held in Kuwait collapsed earlier this month. The talks hit a snag after Houthis rejected a similar initiative proposed by the UN, saying it lacked any clear mechanism for transition of power.
Houthis had declared since the start of the talks in April that they were ready for disarmament and withdrawal from key areas they control in case a broad political agreement is reached in which Hadi would have no role.
As the Yemen International Conference in the Support of Yemen was in full swing in the British capital, London, Yemenis came in their hundreds of thousands to pledge their support to the Resistance movement this August 20, 2016 – yet another popular show of force, yet another grand display of sovereign political will in the face of foreign diktat.
To the sounds of explosions, and flying Saudi war planes it is Yemen which came to defy its invaders; a proud nation under unprecedented duress, a land united under the banner of its resistance.
“We won’t bow down to the House of Saud” chanted the crowd. “We will never bow down to the criminal House of Saud,” millions repeated in unison.
If Yemen remains in the throes of a brutal war of attrition for its dared ambition to live free under its skies, its people are quite determined to weather whatever storm Saudi Arabia will throw, so that their right to self-govern and resist oppression could be affirmed – never to be questioned again.
However one chooses to look at Yemen’s war, it would be foolish to deny still that those brave souls corporate media still label as “rebels” are in fact the carrier of a nation’s will; the very expression of a people’s inherent right to carve its own political future, regardless of what anyone else might think.
Let me be brutally honest here – Yemen neither needs foreign approval, nor does it require foreign vetting. Yemenis want what they want because they can! It is really that simple.
Yemen needs no liberating from the Houthis, for the Houthis are Yemen. Yemen is not being overrun by Shiites, Yemen is Zaidi country. There is no Iranian agenda at play either, only a desire to disappear the suffocating influence of the House of Saud.
Standing in opposition of the most violent, radical and reactionary theocracy ever to grace the pages of our history does not make Yemen an “Iranian agent”, it makes Yemen an expectant independent nation.
Media coverage of Yemen so far has been criminal at best, misleading always.
The public has been conned into a narrative which is devoid of all humanity, and democratic courtesy. The simple fact that media feel entitled to slap derogatory adjectives before the Houthis as to direct their readers’ self-righteous sense of political morality is despicable.
I read the terms Iran-backed Shia Houthis rebels too many times not take offense. How dare you define a people whom you know nothing about? How dare you speak over and at an entire nation because their will does align with yours?
Let’s play the adjective game shall we?
When have you ever read the following statement: Wahhabi-backed-Western-sold-out- twice-resigned-once-runaway-child-killer-Sunni President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi? Likely never … Why? Because Saudi Arabia and its allies are still hiding behind this pale figure of a man to legitimize their odious genocidal military intervention against Yemen.
Let me tell you of this so-called legitimate political figure the West has canonised as Yemen’s forever president.
Hadi is a fraud and a traitor. Not only did he allow for the killing of his countrymen, he actually actively pursued their annihilation in the name of a chair he never truly was appointed to. Hadi was elected in a one-man election in 2012 for the duration of a 2-year’s mandate – not exactly what you call democratic.
Hadi was never the choice of the people, he was Riyadh’s choice through the GCC-brokered transition of power agreement (2011).
How can anyone speak of democracy and refuse Yemenis their own?
How can anyone still read corporate media and not deplore the stench of their abominable hypocrisy and bias?
Do not tell Yemen what it wants, but hear what it is telling you.
Hear what an entire nation is screaming from the top of its glorious lungs, and witness the rise of a Resistance which breadth will maybe crumble al-Saud tyranny.
“We won’t bow down to the House of Saud … We will never bow down to the criminal House of Saud!”
Can you hear them now? Can you not respect that a nation simply cannot bring itself to live the abomination which is Wahhabism? Can you not recognise that Yemen is the last line of defense for all free folks in Arabia?
Who will speak for democracy and political self-determination when radicalism will have nations at the mercy of their guns? Can you not see that what you refuse Yemen – free will, is exactly what you demand for yourself?
Do not tell me of the will of a people when under bombs millions have rallied before their appointed leaders.
Yemen is free today by the strength of its Resistance movement.
Yemen is dignified today for one man rose from the oppression of religious repression to reclaim pluralism his own coat of arms. Sheikh Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, one of the sons of Hamdan, Yemen’s very own legacy offered Yemen its Freedom to keep none for himself.
Sheikh al-Houthi liberated Yemen from al-Saud never to demand a seat at power’s table.
Do not speak of what you don’t know Mr corporate media. Do not define with your adjectives the nature of a land for which you have no respect for.
Yemen might be poor and battered but it is a grand and noble land.
Of course Saudi Arabia would want you to believe that Yemen’s political ambitions are illegitimate, unlawful and nefarious.
Have you ever bothered asking why? Have you even given the infamous “Houthis” the time of day before dismissing them under misapprehension?
I think not. What the public did is assume. What the public did is read those adjectives media associated ad nauseam to Yemen resistance movement, and automatically accept those labels as truths. Adjectives those days have become dangerous weapons of mass-destruction.
Adjectives have cost Yemen its freedom!
Yemenis this August 20, 2016 came to publicly offer their support to the new highest political council – and still Riyadh has cried foul play.
Millions took to the streets knowing full well that Saudi Arabia warplanes were up above to offer their voice and their arms to the Resistance, and still Western capitals have called for Hadi’s “restoration.”
What will it take for you to wake up?
Yemen has bled, burnt, exploded, pleaded, negotiated, mourned, cried and starved while you turned your nose up in disgust arguing what future a people should have instead of the one they want for themselves.
If you like the idea of a life spent in the shadow of Wahhabism why not book a ticket to Saudi Arabia and experience first-hand the type of democracy al-Saud have in mind for Yemen, you might find new respect then for the Houthis of Yemen.
One more thing before I go: no one said you had to love the Houthis, only that you respect that Yemenis do.
Catherine Shakdam is the Director of Programs of the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies and a political analyst specializing in radical movements.
Nuremberg: “a war of aggression … is the supreme international crime”
Waging genocidal war on a defenseless country was never so baldly and honestly put on any agenda for talks among US secretary of state John Kerry, representatives of Saudi Arabia’s dictatorship, and their mutual allies, even though they are all engaged in an endless genocidal war on Yemen. This war is a war of aggression, started by Saudi Arabia in March 2015, with crucial US blessing, participation, personnel, and ordnance. The US has been a willing, guilty partner and enabler in 18 months of military atrocities in a one-sided war that everyone involved knew – or should have known – was a pure war crime based on a paranoid delusion.
American participation in this war of aggression was a war declared by press release from the National Security Council on March 25, 2015, another example of the imperial presidency’s ability to act by fiat without fear of serious objection from the public, the media, or even Congress:
President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]-led military operations. [emphasis added]
The fundamental crime in Yemen is waging a war of aggression, which encompasses all the subsequent war crimes including bombing civilians, using cluster bombs, bombing hospitals, bombing food supplies, and trying to starve a population to submission or death. Yemen, with a population of 26 million people, was the poorest country in the region even before it was attacked. What the US supports and sanctions against Yemen makes any US complaint about Russian actions in Crimea sound like howling hypocrisy.
For all that the Saudis frame their war on Yemen as a defense against a threat from Iran, there has never been any credible evidence of any credible threat to Saudi Arabia from any element of the miniscule Iranian presence in Yemen. Yemen is fighting a civil war, a new version of the same old civil war Yemenis have been fighting for decades, both before and after Yemen was two separate countries. The Iran “threat” is the paranoid delusion supposedly justifying a merciless war on a civil population already beset by a four-sided civil war. There is no way that those who decided to wage this war of aggression could not have known the reality in Yemen if they had wanted to know it. Presumably they knew it all full well and chose a war of aggression anyway, recklessly, perhaps even thoughtlessly, but criminally all the same.
The Saudi goal was always to get rid of a longstanding threat on its southwestern border, where the tribal land of the Houthis lay both in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. When the long-oppressed Houthis, a Shia minority in a Sunni world, drove out the Sunni government of Yemen in 2015, the Saudis, without saying in so many words, decided on a course of action that could lead to a final solution. And everyone knew, at the time, and no one objected, according to this account by the highly reliable Andrew Cockburn on Democracy NOW! (whose piece in Harper’s Magazine for September 2016, ironically titled “Acceptable Losses,” provides an excellent exegesis of the war on Yemen, but with a more elegiac tone):
I was told, very early on in the war, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken went to Riyadh to ask the—this is two weeks—yeah, it was two weeks into the war [mid-April 2015], when they had already been bombing away, using the U.S. bombs, U.S.-supplied bombs, using U.S. weapons, killing already dozens, if not certainly, you know, hundreds of civilians, destroying factories. And finally, Blinken turns up in Riyadh and asks, “By the way, what are you trying to accomplish here?” And the Saudis effectively said, or at least the Americans understood them to say, “Well, we basically want to wipe out the Houthis.” Well, they termed it as “end all Iranian influence in Yemen.” So, the Americans—Blinken was a bit shocked by that, so I’m told, and said, “Well, you know, that’s going a bit far. But it’s—you should certainly stop the Houthis taking over the country.” And that, effectively, gave the Saudis carte blanche to continue this kind of mindless carpet bombing….
By 2015, American hands were already bloody with the US drone assassination program that had killed not only innocent civilians, but American citizens, without a trace of due process of law. In effect, already enmeshed in its own nexus of war crimes in Yemen, the US green-lighted the Saudi-led war of aggression that would make American crimes pale by comparison. As American policy over the years would have it, American weapons have been dispersed all over Yemen since 2006.
Kerry to consult on terrorism, but not US or Saudi terrorism
Terror bombing, an example of which is Saudi pilots flying American planes dropping American bombs on defenseless Yemeni civilian targets, is probably not the terrorism Secretary Kerry wants to discuss – ever – with the Saudis and their allies, never mind other weapons suppliers like France and the United Kingdom. As the official State Department notice put it in deadly opaque prose:
Secretary Kerry will travel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for a series of meetings with senior Saudi leaders, his counterparts from the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen. His discussion will focus on the ongoing conflict in Yemen and efforts to restore peace and stability….
Those “efforts to restore peace and stability” notably include the destruction of two schools, another hospital, and a potato chip factory, along with the associated men, women, and children, especially at the schools. Perhaps the latest great military “victory” achieved by the war criminals known as the Saudi-led coalition is to drive the world’s leading medical crisis-zone organization out of Yemen by targeting its hospitals over and over and over and over since March 2015. Of course, America the Exceptional does not stand for this betrayal of human decency, and our presidential candidates of all parties have railed ceaselessly against this indiscriminate murder of patients, their families, their doctors and other medical personnel, forcing the White House to take action to bring to an end 17 months of aggressive war and other war crimes and crimes against humanity – no, wait, that’s not happening, is it?
Actually, if any presidential candidate of any political party has expressed the slightest objection to the Saudi-coalition’s genocidal war on Yemen, such evidence is so hard to come by that it may as well not exist. (In August 2015, Jill Stein of the Green Party mentioned in passing that the Saudis “are committing war crimes right now in Yemen,” and more recently she called for an end to US funding for Saudi Arabia and Israel because of their violations of human rights laws. She does not tend to make a point of the US support for a war of aggression in Yemen, but she’s better than any other candidate on Yemen.) At this point, a year and a half into our shared war of aggression, every candidate is complicit in this horrendous, unjustified war promoted and pursued with smug disdain for anything like peace by our peace prize winning President Obama. The blood drips from all their hands, their feet, their tongues and eyelashes, but most of all from every pore of our Nobel Laureate in the White House. (As the book Double Down reported in 2012: “Turns out I’m really good at killing people,” Obama said quietly, “Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.”)
With the US at war, Congress has nothing to say about any of it
The US is at war with Yemen, in support of the Saudi-led coalition that launched its undeclared war of aggression on March 26, 2015. US war-making includes, but is not limited to: US intelligence services providing intelligence to the aggressor nations; US military personnel participating in daily target planning and attack assessment; US tanker aircraft re-fueling aggressor nation aircraft bombing Yemen (46,500 acknowledged sorties in the first 11 months of war); US drones targeting and attacking under US control; US military contractors servicing the Saudi F-15s that bomb Yemen; US personnel training Saudi military; US military personnel operating in Yemen; and the US Navy reinforcing the Saudi blockade intent on starving Yemen into submission.
The US Congress has never debated, never authorized US participation in a war of aggression against Yemen. The US president has never asked Congress for such authorization of a war of aggression against Yemen. Neither house of Congress has acted on any bill that directly addresses the war of aggression against Yemen. More than a year after the war started, two Democratic members of Congress (joined by two Republicans) introduced identical bills intended to respond to the war. California congressman Ted Lieu (joined by Florida congressman Ted Yoho) and Connecticut senator Christopher Murphy (joined by Kentucky senator Rand Paul) asked their colleagues to address the horrors of the war (briefly enumerated in the bill), not by ending the war, but only by temporarily limiting US arms sales to Saudi Arabia. That’s it. They did not mention US participation in the war. Both their bills were referred to committee. At the time there was a spotty ceasefire in Yemen while peace talks proceeded in Kuwait (the talks were suspended in early August, leading to the Saudi escalation currently killing more civilians).
Incredibly, this non-response response to war crimes in Yemen has gotten Rep. Lieu some recent positive press coverage, in The Intercept of August 22 and elsewhere, even though his bill is designed to have no immediate impact on the carnage. Rep. Lieu is a colonel in the US Air Force Reserve. When he was on active duty he taught the law of war to other Air Force officers. His interview rhetoric, like most of his public action, is soft-edged even though he knows perfectly well his country is committing war crimes. He almost said as much in an August 15 statement objecting to the Saudi attack on a school in Haydan, Yemen, that killed 10 children:
The indiscriminate civilian killings by Saudi Arabia look like war crimes to me. In this case, children as young as 8 were killed by Saudi Arabian air strikes. By assisting Saudi Arabia, the United States is aiding and abetting what appears to be war crimes in Yemen. The Administration must stop enabling this madness now. [emphasis in original]
Rep. Lieu and others have also objected to the State Department’s certification of another arms sale to Saudi Arabia: this one is $1.15 billion for 153 tanks, hundreds of machine guns, and other war materiel. This is in addition to the record $100 billion in arms sales to the Saudis already made by the Obama administration. The latest arms deal suggested to Rep. Lieu “that the administration is, at best, callously indifferent to the mass amount of civilians dying as a result of the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing.” He did not openly consider whether 153 Abrams Main Battle Tanks and other weaponry might open the way for the air war of aggression to be matched by an escalation of the ground war of aggression as well. Twenty of those new US tanks are specifically designated as replacements for tanks lost in combat, some of them in Yemen. On the other hand, the official State Department notice of the Abrams Tank sale assures Congress: “The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.” That’s hardly reassuring in a region where wars of attrition and military quagmires are killing not only thousands of Yemenis, but Palestinians, Israelis, Lebanese, Syrians, Saudis, Turks, Kurds, Iraqis, Afghans, and god knows who else, more often than not with Made-in-USA weapons and munitions.
The proposed US tank sale has drawn the attention of several NGOs (non-governmental organizations) looking to wash American hands of the war on Yemen by blocking the sale, or at least having a debate about it in Congress. Human Rights Watch (HRW) wrote a letter to Secretary Kerry August 19, with temperate language of concern about several countries, including Yemen. HRW asked Secretary Kerry “to emphasize the potential consequences if Saudi Arabia fails to improve its conduct.” But it did not suggest what those consequences might be in light of the reality that the US has coordinated and condones all Saudi conduct to date. CODEPINK is supporting a petition to support the Congressional letter that urges President Obama to postpone the US tank sale to the Saudis.
Even The New York Times is expressing something shy of anguish over “American complicity” and “carnage” and targets that are not “legitimate” under international law as it supports efforts to block the tank sale in Congress. The Times doesn’t mention that this is the same Congress that in June – supporting a White House request – refused to block the sale of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia for fear of “stigmatizing” cluster bombs. That’s a reflection of the American version of reality, since cluster bombs are already stigmatized by most countries of the world and using them on civilians, as US-Saudi forces do in Yemen, is widely understood to be a war crime. The solution, according to the Times :
Congress should put the arms sales on hold and President Obama should quietly inform Riyadh that the United States will withdraw crucial assistance if the Saudis do not stop targeting civilians and agree to negotiate peace.
That can’t happen in the real world, where the president and the Saudis all know they are war criminals and are, like Macbeth, so steeped in blood “that should I wade no more,/Returning were as tedious as go o’er.”
There is no reason to expect any good to come to Yemen until a whole lot more Americans face the reality of their country’s support for a genocidal war of aggression. When enough Americans recognize that, then they will have to do a lot more about it than stop selling tanks to the aggressors. Until then the US-sponsored atrocity of ethnic cleansing in a poverty-stricken country that threatens no one will continue unabated.
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.
Saudi Arabia on the American chessboard – Part 2
Since the Korean War, but particularly since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 until today, the United States has been steadily escalating its military presence in the Persian Gulf. Taking advantage of many colossal events of the past 36 years,  the hyper-empire has institutionalized its massive presence on land and sea, and expanded its objectives to include the unambiguous physical control of the area, as well as the clear understanding that local Arab governments should abide by them. The pretext is always the same: in “defense” of the national interests and security of the United States. From observing how the United States has been interacting with the governments of the region, and by judging from the size of its expeditionary force, we could reach a basic conclusion. The United States is occupying, de facto, the entire Arabian Peninsula. (Yemen, devastated by Saudi and American jets is yet to be conquered. Oman? Britain returned not as colonial ruler but as a soft occupying power.)
Under this articulation, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are virtually occupied countries. If we compare this type of occupation to the mandate and protectorate regimes of the past, the results might be identical—the nations affected by it lose sovereignty. When Arab governments comply with the objectives of a foreign power that station military forces on their national milieu, then that power controls them in multiple ways including how they react to policy deliberations and what decisions they intend to take on specific issues. A good method to verify the concept of effective occupation is this: take notice of what the United States says and wants, and then compare it to what the gulf rulers do in response. (I shall discuss this detail at some point in the upcoming parts.)
If the presence of US forces or other means of political pressure are a factor in Saudi Arabia’s interventionist Arab wars, then we need to debate this issue. However, from the history of resistance to colonialism, we learnt: if a powerful state imposes its order on a nation by military means or other forms of coercion, and if this nation does not resist that imposition, then a mental subordination to the powerful state will ensue. This is especially true in the case of Saudi Arabia. One single event, 9/11, has transformed it from a US “ally” into an instant political hostage of the American Empire.
Nine-eleven did not only change the status of Saudi Arabia in American context, it also brought radical changes that altered the character of the regime. It worsened its domestic instability, increased its belligerence, amplified its religious chauvinism, and turned its arrogance of power into an instrument of death and destruction—all at the service of the United States. The reasons for such situation are known. Among the alleged attackers of the still-suspicious event of 9/11, there were 15 Saudi nationals.
More important, Wahhabism, a deranged, dogmatic version of Islam and the creed of Saudi Arabia, is coming under attack by the United States. Charge: it promotes “terrorism”. (Read Obama’s interview with the Atlantic Magazine.) This is, of course, a heavy blow to the US “ally’. How cynical and preposterous! Who could forget that just 36 years ago Carter and Brzezinski promoted Wahhabism as the religion of “freedom fighters” and “holy warriors”, and made Saudi Arabia pay for proselytes and weapons to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan? Without debating what terrorism is, and whether Wahhabism is promoting it, the fact that a master-terrorist superpower is doing such an accusation just today and after Wahhabi militants have destroyed Syria (and parts of Iraq) with US support, is an odious insult to all those who were killed by US and Saudi barbarity through Wahhabi proxies.
Now, from studying the US-Saudi financial and military interactions in all years before 9/11, it is reasonable to conclude that the Saudi regime had become the financier of the American interventionist agenda. Did 9/11 change those interactions? Considering Saudi Arabia’s role in the US invasion of Iraq and their continuing efforts in the wars against Libya, Syria, and Yemen, it is equally reasonable to conclude that 9/11 did not alter the basic Saudi-American relation. However, ample evidence suggests that the United States will continue using the Saudi tool until it will no longer need it. Still, 9/11 did affect their relation—it brought changes to the US strategy for controlling Saudi Arabia and other gulf governments. In addition, the intricate relation between Saudi Arabia of post‑9/11 with the United States of pre-9/11 had also gone through some changes. Nevertheless, relations between the two kept evolving in cadence with the changing of rhythms of 9/11 and with its political interpretations and propagandistic use.
From observing the events from 9/11 forward, it can be said that the Saudi function on the American chessboard changed too. Nine-eleven has transformed Saudi Arabia from a financier and supplier of religiously driven mercenaries to become a powerful criminal organization with a plan to execute. As often discussed by US and Israeli think tanks, that plan cannot be clearer in its declared tenets. I am pointing to the imperialist planned remake of the geostrategic assets and political orders of current Arab states. As such, the US invasion of Iraq, US-NATO bombardment of Libya, US-Saudi-Qatari war in Syria, US-Saudi-UAE war in Yemen, US-Saudi-Kurdish war in Iraq and Syria, and US-ISIS war in Syria, Iraq, and Libya are but one seamless chapter in this plan. With that, 9/11 has become an emblematic alibi for US imperialist expansions. [Read: B. J. Sabri, Imperialist Expansions and 9/11) 
Of interest, the transformation of Saudi Arabia into a terrorist, and expansionist state at the service of the United States (and Israel) did not help alter the way with which the US intended to play the card of 9/11. We need not speculate on the fact that the Saudis are fully aware of the American ploy and its objectives. Yet, their pressing priority has been all too evident: decrease pressure and preempt any pretext for a potential intervention in exchange for bending to US demands. Despite many American voices calling for the nuclear incineration of Saudi Arabia under the pretext of its alleged role in 9/11, the US government— who knows the entire truth about 9/11—had different calculations. (Rich Lowry, now the editor of the National Review, called for the destruction of Mecca with nuclear bombs.  Statement: US nuclear lunatics have no right to incinerate Saudi Arabia—not even a grain of its desert sand. If Saudi Arabia is guilty of something, and the US can prove it through an unbiased team of international panelists, then let them take it to international courts and punish it with civil laws.)
Incidentally, would the United States attack Saudi Arabia if its culpability was proved in international courts? Speculations aside, the United States might not attack Saudi Arabia for one fundamental reason: Saudi Arabia, a US “partner”, had nothing to do with 9/11—and the US knows that very well. In addition, if there were a verifiable Saudi regime’s involvement in 9/11, why wait this long to take action? That is said, the central motive for which the United States does not want to touch Saudi Arabia has to do with the function it established for it. The Saudi regime is an open bank for US world operations, chief buyer of its weapons, oil price manipulator to strangle Russia and Iran, a potential ally of Israel, and controller of the so-called Arab league to gain spurious legitimacy for US policies in the region.
In short, the United States needs Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has all the qualifications the United States needs in a regional player willing to play by its rules. The Saudi regime fits this profile for a number of reasons. It is ideologically structured yet pliable to US views, politically conditioned by an archaic system of governance, socially obscurantist to control potential unrest inimical to Washington, aggressive against neighbors, ruthless against dissenters, but above all, it has a lot of money and is willing to spend it on the American cause.
It is logical to argue, that 9/11 presented the Saudi regime with hard choices regarding their relation with the United States. To save its neck from possible and ever-present American accusations involving it in 9/11, the regime had to re-invent itself. It went from being a willing executioner of the older American agenda (destabilizing Communism, etc.) to be the chief agent of destruction at the service of a re-energized US imperialism with a new agenda.
I am referring to the Zionist American plan to redraw the map of current Arab states and alter their historically developed socio-political and cultural realities. To be sure, 9/11 was also the factor that altered another Saudi reality. It broke Saudi Arabia’s long held assumption for being America’s enduring “partner”. Aside from that, 9/11 benefitted the United States in another way. It securely placed Saudi Arabia and all of its oil and money between the unyielding clutches of US imperialism.
My argument of the Saudi succumbence to the US power is threefold. First, the Saudi regime realizes it has no means, power, or courage to make the United States leave the Gulf or, at least, lessen its supremacy over the governments of the gulf. Second, consequent to this realization, submissiveness to it in the form of fear sets in and resistance to it disappears. Third, besides protracted psychological conditioning, other tangible factors turned the Saudi-American relation into a complex interplay.
On one side, we have the Saudi deference to the United States. I view this deference as follows: (1) confluence and reciprocal opportunism of two different but oppressive ideologies —Wahhabism and imperialism; (2) oil and petrodollars, and (3) a long history of secret deals—since the day Franklin D. Roosevelt met Abdul Aziz Al Saud in 1945. On the other, we have a supremacist superpower that views Al Saud as no more than a backward tribal bunch whose primary function is providing special services to the United States. These include cheap oil, buying US weapons, investing oil money in the US capitalistic system, supporting US hegemonic quest, buying US national debt, and bankrolling its covert operations and wars.
To drive the point, I argue that the combination between lack of means, lack of resistance, and other forms of dependence (US political and public relations support, for example) has created a situation of dependency. It incrementally forced the Saudi regime into a mental subordination to the United States similar to an occupied mentality. What is an occupied mentality?
As stated earlier, noticing the magnitude of US military forces stationed at sea, as well as in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, and Jordan there can be but one conclusion: all these countries are under virtual US occupation. In addition, if we consider US global and regional agenda and the objective of its forces in the region, stating that the material occupation of the Gulf is moving in unison with a parallel occupation of the mind of rulers is a valid statement. Let us take the example of Iraq and see if applies to Saudi Arabia. By all definitions, Iraq of today is a top example of an occupied mentality. Whereas the United States has been occupying Iraq from 2003 until now—through scattered military bases and by directives from the US “embassy”—, the American-appointed Iraqi government still pretends that Iraq is an independent state. This is not schizophrenia. It is a conscious mental adaptation to an existing reality named occupation.
To articulate the argument of occupied mentality, I argue that an array of psychological processes is behind the mental adaptation to imposed captivity. This means, accepting subjugation to a foreign power is not only a symptom of besieged mentality, but also a conscious effort to turn that subjugation into a feeling of normalcy. In turn, this feeling becomes the primary impulse for cohabitation between occupiers and occupied. Generally, the lack of resistance to subjugation is, by itself, acquiescence to it: as a process and as result. At this point, it does not matter whether this acquiescence is induced, taught, imposed or voluntary—the result is still subjugation.
Considering this argument, Saudi Arabia is no different from Iraq when the issue is the adaptation to US domination. For instance, the Saudi regime knows it is under US siege. And it knows that the United States is waiting for the appropriate occasion to strike it someway. Yet, the Saudi regime is busy these days dispensing threats left and right, even to the power that nurtured its monstrosities, with the hope that someone would buy its trivial performance of national strength. To conclude, rulers who live under any form of foreign occupation or diktat and rulers who have lost their basic national decision-making are neither sovereign nor free.
Mapping the transformation of Saudi Arabia in terms of events is an incisive tool to navigate through the mysteries of the Saudi-American relation. Take, for example, the role played by the Saudi regime in Soviet-invaded Afghanistan. With so much money and relative stability, Al Saud had neither national imperatives nor definite rationales to spend billions of dollars on that war. Did they participate in it as (A) an act of self-defense against adversaries who never attacked them, (B) opposition to Communism, or, (C) a response to US-prodding?
For one, the claim that Saudi Arabia intervened in Afghanistan to fight Communism is rubbish. Many regimes of that period opposed Communism. Yet, none took their opposition to the fanatical militant level taken by Al Saud. Moreover, fighting invaders does not translate automatically into fighting the ideology driving their politico-economic system. These are two different categories. Vietnam is an example. The Vietcong fought the American invading force (and the South-Vietnamese army). But nowhere could one read that Vietnam’s war of liberation was directed against US capitalism as a system.
Second, is there any truth to the other claim that the Saudi intervention was an act of solidarity with Muslim Afghanistan? If religious feelings were driving the regime’s animosity against the Soviet invaders, then these same feelings should have risen when the United States invaded a predominately Arab and Muslim Iraq. In that occasion, the Wahhabi regime (whose religious scholars, preachers, and countless imams consistently dub Westerners as heathens, infidels, and nonbelievers)not only did not release a whisper against the coming invasion, it blessed and supported it. (It is on record what Bandar bin Sultan, a high- ranking Saudi emir with a 20-year tenure as ambassador to Washington, with ties to AIPAC and US Zionism, and with intimate connections to the Bush family had said on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. “I will not shave my beard until the US occupies Iraq and kills Saddam Hussein,” then addressing the American public, he added, “I will pray for the life of every one of your soldiers . . .”)
For debate: in terms of semantic equivalency, words such as heathens, atheists, infidels, nonbelievers, etc. are conceptually compatible. A question to the Saudis: why fight the Soviet invaders of Muslim Afghanistan under the charge of atheism, but never fight the Americans invaders of Muslim Iraq under the same charge?
Next: Part 3
- Examples: the Iranian Revolution, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iraqi invasion of Iran, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Gulf War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and US-NATO bombardment of Serbia.
- The Splendid Failure of Occupation: Imperialist expansions and 9/11 (http://www.uruknet.info/?p=10086), 2005
- CounterPunch Services, National Review Editor Suggests “Nuking Mecca”, March 13, 2003
The British government has dismissed concerns about selling arms to Saudi Arabia amid accusations that it misled the parliament over the case.
On Tuesday, a British government spokeswoman defended the recent weapon sales to Riyadh, saying the Saudis have stuck to conditions set by the United Kingdom.
She also noted that London is ensuring Riyadh is not breaking humanitarian laws by bombing civilian targets.
“The UK Government takes its arms export responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world,” the spokeswoman said.
“The Government is satisfied that extant licenses for Saudi Arabia are compliant with the UK’s export licensing criteria,” she added.
The dismissal came in response to a statement by charity group Oxfam, which accused the UK government of being in a state of “denial and disarray” over its continued sales of weapons to the kingdom.
Penny Lawrence, deputy chief executive of Oxfam GB, said Britain was “flagrantly” ignoring its own arms control rules as well as international treaties.
“UK arms and military support are fueling a brutal war in Yemen, harming the very people the Arms Trade Treaty is designed to protect,” she said.
“Schools, hospitals and homes have been bombed in contravention of the rules of war. The UK Government is in denial and disarray over its arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition bombing campaign in Yemen,” Lawrence added.
“It has misled its own parliament about its oversight of arms sales and its international credibility is in jeopardy as it commits to action on paper but does the opposite in reality.”
Oxfam has launched a public appeal calling on the government to stop the war on Yemen.
The UK, the second-largest exporter of weapons in the world, approved licenses for the sale of $11.2 billion in armaments last year, but its licensing export regime is under acute scrutiny amid fears British weaponry, including cluster bombs, is being routinely used in Yemen.
According to sources, London supplied export licenses for close to £3 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia last year. The British government has also been accused of being involved in guiding the Saudi military aggression in Yemen.
Since the beginning of the Saudi war against Yemen in March of last year, nearly 10,000 people, including over 2,000 children, have been killed.
Meanwhile, the regimes that have made major arms purchases from the UK since last year include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and Burundi.
In 2014, Britain only licensed $248 million worth of arm sales. The massive surge in the arms sales in 2015 is largely attributable to sales of weapons to the Saudi kingdom.
The largest export license granted was worth $2.48 billion of fighter jets agreed in May 2015. Additionally, the UK approved the export of $1.45 billion of air-to-air missiles to the Saudi regime in July 2015.
In September, it further approved the sale of $90.5 million worth of bombs to Riyadh. All three sales took place after the Saudi’s brutal bombing campaign of Yemen began in March 2015, prompting concerns that civilian buildings have been targeted in widespread human rights violations.
In 2015, the British government also approved licenses of $123 million in sales of military equipment to Egypt, despite concerns over the country’s repressive policies since the July 2013 coup that ousted the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi.
“This is a clear case of the government saying one thing and doing another, and exposes the blatant doublespeak and hypocrisy that lies at the heart of UK foreign policy,” said Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), which compiled the export sales figures.
A group that campaigns for stricter arms sales controls said on Monday that Western powers were breaking international law by selling vast amounts of weapons to Saudi Arabia that are being used to hit civilians in Yemen.
The Control Arms Coalition said Britain, France and the United States were flouting the 2014 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which bans exports of conventional weapons that fuel human rights violations or war crimes.
“It is extremely concerning that many transfers are still continuing, in particular the governments of the United States, the UK and France have authorized and are continuing to export very large quantities of weapons, including explosive weapons, bombs which are being used daily against civilians in Yemen,” said Anna MacDonald, director of the Control Arms Coalition.
She was speaking to a news briefing as week-long U.N. negotiations began in Geneva aimed at putting teeth into the ATT which lacks a mandatory public reporting system for the $100 billion global arms trade.
France authorized arms licenses worth $18 billion to Saudi Arabia last year, followed by the United States at $5.9 billion and Britain’s $4 billion, the group said in its latest study.
Nigeria’s ambassador Emmanuel Imohe, who chairs the conference, said: “The allegation is quite grave and it should be of concern to everyone including the ATT secretariat itself.”
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said last week it was evacuating its staff from six hospitals in northern Yemen after a Saudi-led coalition air strike hit one of its hospitals, killing 18 people.
Outcry over civilian casualties has led some members of the US Congress to push for restrictions on arms transfers. The Obama administration this month approved a potential $1.15 billion arms package for Saudi Arabia.
Last week, US Senator Chris Murphy slammed his country’s administration over bombing civilians in Yemen, saying “there is an American Imprint on Every Civilian Life Lost in Yemen.”
In a statement on Friday, the Pentagon cautioned that its support for Saudi Arabia in its campaign was not “a blank check,” however, and said it has pressed the coalition on the “need to minimize civilian casualties.”
Campaigners said arms exports also drove fighting in South Sudan last month that killed hundreds, prompting fears of a return to civil war.
“We think that governments of other countries have fueled this violence by repeatedly authorizing arms transfers to South Sudan,” said Geoffrey Duke, head of South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms. He named China, Ukraine and South Africa as the main suppliers to the Juba government.
To date, 87 countries have ratified the ATT, while another 46 – including the United States – have signed it, leaving important gaps, Imohe said.
“For example, in the Arab world only Mauritania is listed amongst states parties, while Asia Pacific has only three states parties,” he said, referring to Japan, Samoa and Tuvalu.
Former U.S. ally and current ally of the Houthi rebels, Ali Abdullah Saleh, said his future government would be ready to open naval and air bases for Russia.
A newly-formed governing council in Yemen could work with Russia to “fight terrorism” by allowing Moscow use of the war-torn country’s military bases, Yemen’s former president said on Sunday.
Ali Abdullah Saleh, a former counterterrorism ally of the U.S. who was toppled by mass protests in 2011, told state-owned channel Russia 24 that Yemen was ready to grant Moscow access to air and naval bases.
“In the fight against terrorism we reach out and offer all facilities. Our airports, our ports… We are ready to provide this to the Russian Federation,” Saleh said in an interview in Sanaa.
The ex-strongman may lack the clout to implement such an offer. But officials from the party he heads now run a political council that controls much of the country along with the Houthi movement. For the first time last week Iran let Russian jets take off from its territory to bomb armed groups in Syria.
Russia is the only major country that maintains a diplomatic presence in Yemen where a 16-month war between a Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi rebels has killed over 6,500 people and raised the prospect of famine in the Arab World’s poorest country.
The war has allowed Islamist militants including al-Qaida and the Islamic State group to flourish, even though the United States has for years launched drone strikes against groups in Yemen.
Russia abstained from a United Nations Security Council resolution in 2015 that imposed an arms embargo on the Houthi rebels.
Moscow’s relations with Yemen date back decades and until the break-up of the USSR, thousands of Soviet military advisers and trainers worked in the formerly-independent south.
On Saturday tens of thousands of Yemenis rallied in the capital to show support for the Houthi-led bloc as the head of the group’s new governing council vowed to form a full government in the coming days.
Press TV – August 22, 2016
Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh says the new government in the country is ready to cooperate with Russia against terrorism by allowing Russian access to Yemeni military bases.
“Russia is the closest to us and we extend our hand to Russia to cooperate in the field of combating terrorism,” Saleh said in an interview with state-run Russia 24 TV channel on Sunday.
He said Yemen was ready to open the country’s military bases to Russia.
“We provide all the facilities in our bases, airports and sea ports. We are ready to provide all facilities to the Russian Federation,” he said.
He said, however, that such cooperation would not mean Russia would be fighting alongside Yemeni forces against Saudi forces waging war on Yemen.
‘Iran has no presence in Yemen’
Saleh also rejected claims that Iran is interfering in Yemen’s internal affairs.
He said Saudi Arabia has launched the war on Yemen under the pretext of defending Saudi national security against Iran, emphasizing that the pretext is “baseless.”
“Iran has no presence in Yemen at all,” he said, adding that, “The international intelligence services know that Iran is not present in Yemen.”
“We are not against Iran; Iran is an Islamic brotherly country. We don’t have any agreement or coalition with her currently,” he said, referring to Iran.
Yemen has seen almost daily military attacks by Saudi Arabia since late March 2015, with internal sources putting the toll from the bloody aggression at about 10,000.
In late July, Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and Saleh’s General People’s Congress party decided to establish the Supreme Political Council to run the country. It was formally launched on August 6, when the Houthis and Saleh’s faction announced that they both had an equal share in the 10-member body.
Casuistry, which one dictionary defines as “specious, deceptive, or oversubtle reasoning, especially in questions of morality” is, rightly or wrongly, inextricably linked to the history of Jesuit order of the Catholic Church. And the rise of the Jesuit order is deeply enmeshed with the Counter-Reformation, a set of measures designed to roll back the spread of Protestantism in Europe during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The control center of the movement was Spain, the world-striding superpower of that historical moment.
Rightfully fearful that Protestantism’s rejection of long-standing modes of clerical privilege and the Church’s “right” to collect vast sums of money from parishioners would undermine their ability to bully and bribe Italian, French, Dutch and German potentates into compliance with their political demands, the Spanish Monarchy undertook an endless series of military adventures against “heretics” across the Continent in the years between 1530 and 1648. This military thrust was accompanied by a well-organized propaganda campaign in which the highly educated Jesuits priests played a crucial role.
Appearing morally and intellectually reasonable while serving as a convinced advocate for the systematic subjugation of other people and their animating ideals is not a simple task. In the long run it is, in fact, an impossible one. No amount of argument can convince a person or group of persons who see them selves as suffering under the boot of another that their bondage is a good and necessary thing. What such a rhetorical posture can do, for a time at least, is convince the subjects of the hegemonic country of, if not the inherent nobility of their bloody mission, its generally benign nature.
A key, if generally unstated, goal of the 16th and 17th century Jesuits was to insure that the highly problematic matter of Rome’s corruption, and the brutal Imperial designs of the Spanish monarchy that lay behind it, never be allowed to occupy the center zone of what then passed for “public” discourse.
When confronted by the emergent Protestant movements about the clear violations of Christian morality practiced by the Church of Rome, they responded with complex disquisitions on the largely circumstantial nature of all moral reasoning. By constantly parsing the intricacies of how overarching moral rules should, or should not, be applied in each particular circumstance (and teaching others to do the same), they very effectively prevented the emergence within the Church, and by extension in the leadership class of the Spanish Empire, of a frank discussion of the quite real and deeply-felt grievances of their many enemies.
I am reminded of all this when I read or watch the news after every so-called “terrorist” attack against a US or European target. Within minutes of the violence, mainstream journalists, begin intense speculation about what particular ethnic group the assailant came from, how he or she became “radicalized” (as if the desire to kill was akin to some sort of contagious moral flu) and whether the “West’s” latest stand-in for PURE EVIL™ (e.g. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, ISIL) was behind the act.
What will almost never be talked about are the many very good reasons a person from the vast region stretching from Morrocco in the west, to Pakistan in the east, have to be very angry at, and to feel highly vengeful toward, the US, its strategic puppeteer Israel, and their slavishly loyal European compadres like France, Germany and Great Britain.
There is never any talk of that group of august “democracies” long-standing penchant for implanting, then staunchly supporting, ruthless and deeply corrupt regimes in that region.
No talk of the very long Algerian experience of French colonialism, nor the US and French- backed coup of that country’s government in 1992 which led to a civil war that left 200,000 people dead.
No talk of the coup against the legally elected president of Egypt in 2013, nor the cold-blooded massacres carried out by his US-backed successor upon hundreds of that same president’s followers.
No talk of the decision of the US to back elements of ISIS in order to cynically extend a Syrian Civil War that was on its way to peace—albeit an imperfect one—by means of a Syrian government victory by late 2013.
No talk of the planned destruction of Libya in 2011 and its enormous effects on the stability of life in that once wealthy country as well as all of northern Africa.
No talk of the US-Israeli nullification of the results of the Palestinian elections of 2006, Israel’s coldly planned siege of Gaza nor the “shoot-fish-in-a barrel” assaults on that benighted enclave by Israel in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014.
No talk of the ongoing Saudi—and therefore US-approved—war on Yemen, nor the ruthless Saudi march on Bahrain in 2011 in which several dozen people died and thousands of democracy activists were tortured and/or carted off to prison.
No talk of the 18-year Israeli—and therefore, US-backed—occupation of Southern Lebanon nor Israel’s 1993, 1996 and 2006 assaults upon that same country.
Oops, I almost forgot. There is no talk of the small matter the calculated US destruction of Iraq, pre-invasion Libya’s rival as the Arab world’s most wealthy and socially progressive state.
But hey, why talk about all that off-putting stuff when you can boil it all down to neat tales of personal ideological contamination, Svengali-like recruiters lurking in mosques, and that old standby, the development of an urgent need to bang virgins in the hereafter.
It seems the media believes that the delicate imperial mind must be left free from understanding the effects of the actions for which it regularly cheers and prays.
The best way to insure this? Casuistry, as the old saying goes, “Pure casuistry”.
Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently released Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.
The US military has withdrawn from Saudi Arabia its personnel who were coordinating with the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen, and sharply reduced the number of staff elsewhere who were assisting in that planning, US officials told Reuters.
Fewer than five US service people are now assigned full-time to the “Joint Combined Planning Cell,” which was established last year to coordinate U.S. support, including air-to-air refueling of coalition jets and limited intelligence-sharing, Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey, a US Navy spokesman in Bahrain, told Reuters.
That is down from a peak of about 45 staff members who were dedicated to the effort full-time in Riyadh and elsewhere, he said.
The June staff withdrawal, which US officials say followed a lull in air strikes in Yemen earlier this year, reduces Washington’s day-to-day involvement in advising a campaign that has come under increasing scrutiny for causing civilian casualties.
A Pentagon statement issued after Reuters disclosed the withdrawal acknowledged that the JCPC, as originally conceived, had been “largely shelved” and that ongoing support was limited, despite renewed fighting this summer.
“The cooperation that we’ve extended to Saudi Arabia since the conflict escalated again is modest and it is not a blank check,” Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said in a statement.
US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the reduced staffing was not due to the growing international outcry over civilian casualties in the 16-month civil war that has killed more than 6,500 people in Yemen, about half of them civilians.
But the Pentagon, in some of its strongest language yet, also acknowledged concerns about the conflict, which has brought Yemen close to famine and cost more than $14 billion in damage to infrastructure and economic losses.
“Even as we assist the Saudis regarding their territorial integrity, it does not mean that we will refrain from expressing our concern about the war in Yemen and how it has been waged,” Stump said.
“In our discussions with the Saudi-led coalition, we have pressed the need to minimize civilian casualties.”
Riyadh Plays down Move
A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asseri, declined to confirm details about the positioning of US military personnel, but played down such moves.
“The relationship between the kingdom and the US is a strategic one. If true, this move reflects something at a tactical level,” Asseri told Reuters.
“The US may move its assets, but that doesn’t have any impact on the bilateral relationship between the countries.”
Since the campaign began, the US military has conducted an average of two refueling sorties every day and provided limited intelligence support to the coalition. That assistance continues, Reuters cited officials as saying.
A US Senator slammed his country’s administration over bombing civilians in Yemen, warning that Washington’s support for Riyadh’s war would have consequence for US national security.
The Saudis are the ones dropping the bombs, but “there’s an American imprint on every civilian life lost in Yemen,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday.
“If you talk to Yemenis, they will tell you, this is not perceived to be a Saudi bombing campaign. This is perceived to be a US bombing campaign. What’s happening is that we are helping to radicalize the Yemeni population against the United States.” Murphy called that “terrible for us right now.”
A Saudi air strike on Tuesday hit a hospital in Yemen, killing 19 people. The US-supported Saudi air campaign against Yemen began in March 2015.
Rights groups and UN agencies say around 9,000 people have been killed in the conflict. The fighting has intensified since peace talks in Kuwait collapsed earlier this month.
Murphy said the Saudis couldn’t fight the war without US help: “It’s our munitions, sold to the Saudis; it’s our planes that are refueling the Saudi jets; and it’s our intelligence that is helping the Saudis (with) their targeting.”
“We have made a decision to go to war in Yemen against a Houthi rebel army that poses no existential threat to the United States,” Murphy said referring to Ansarullah revolutionaries who are known as Houthis.
“It’s really wild to me that we’re not talking more about this in the United States because of the very high level of US involvement in the civil war and the consequences to US national security.”
Murphy noted that the US Congress has not authorized President Obama to “conduct this operation in Yemen.”
He also noted that the target in Yemen is not al Qaeda, the group mentioned in the 2001 war authorization. He called it “another example of a war being conducted by this administration without prior approval by Congress and therefore by the American public.”