Saturday 20 October 2018

The Saudi monarchy is a graver danger to Christendom than Iran or even Turkey

The Washington Post writer who was killed and cut up (in what order I do not know) by the Saudis, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, was a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was not a believer in single-sex marriage or feminism any more than American evangelical Protestants are. He was one sort of Islamist and the mortal (literally) enemy of the Islamists who are in power in Riyadh. 

He was their enemy because he was very close to the highest Saudis and knew a lot of their secrets. This is why he was tortured and killed by people close to the Crown Prince. I imagine he may have had a heart attack while being tortured or have put up a struggle that led to his killing.

It could be a Hitchcock film, but re-made by Quentin Tarantino. (I just re-watched The Man who Knew Too Much, where a political assassination is averted by Doris Day, but she was not there to save poor Mr Khashoggi). 

Some people who see the Saudis, who are allied effectively to Israel, as a force for stability disgustingly make light of the killing. 

Everyone wants to use this death for political purposes. The American left are using 'the death of an American resident' to blame President Trump, though he cannot fairly be blamed. Turkey is using it as a powerful weapon to increase their influence among Sunnis. Russia uses it to mock the U.S. Administration and thus increase Vladimir Putin's standing in the world. Israelis are not able to make any capital out of what is a threat to them and point out that Khashoggi was a keen supporter of the Palestinians. In Riyadh who knows what political games are being played?

Perhaps the Crown Prince believed that he could get away with this because he was a close ally of Mr. Trump and his daughter and son-in-law. So the former head of MI6 thinks, but if so this was stupid of the Prince.

Perhaps Saddam thought he had the green light from the Americans to attack Kuwait. 

Perhaps Syrian rebels thought that when Mr. Obama called for regime change in Syria that meant he would bring it about. 

Stupid mistakes in all cases, for which American diplomats are probably partly to be blamed.

The Crown Prince is very scary indeed. He detained the Lebanese Prime Minister, he imprisoned his enemies in a hotel until they disbursed huge amounts of no doubt unlawfully gotten money. Unlike the gerontocrats who previously ruled the kingdom he has the energy and intrepidity of youth. He is also inexperienced and seems not to be very clever.

The Saudi monarchy is Islamist, and spends a fortune spreading Wahhabism around Europe and the world.  The Crown Prince is or perhaps was very dangerous. This killing ought to trigger his fall from power, at least if Donald Trump wants it. 

This, unfortunately, is a big if.

And, of course, the Saudis continue to commit terrible war crimes in Yemen about which the media never inform us, unlike those of Russia in Syria.

Which reminds me that Vladimir Putin said recently at Sochi:

“Empires often think they can make some little mistakes . . . because they’re so powerful. But when the number of these mistakes keeps growing, it reaches a level they cannot sustain.”
“A country can get the sense from impunity that you can do anything. This is the result of the monopoly from a unipolar world . . . Luckily this monopoly is disappearing. It’s almost done.”
If I were American I would welcome America getting out of the Middle East and interfering less in the world, yet we Europeans, ruled by America for so long, find the idea of defending ourselves (against whom?) frightening.

This seems a good moment to repost my views on why we should not back the Sunnis against the Shias, from April last year.

Obviously, the USA and UK should never have invaded Iraq. They should have launched a short punitive expedition into Afghanistan in 2001, restored the monarchy and then allowed the Taliban to come back. Nation-building was always (a liberal) folly: Afghanistan and Iraq were not post-war Germany, as should have been clear.

But having broken it, as Colin Powell warned, the USA bought Iraq. Leaving it alone led to ISIS. So what is the solution?

I don't know. Unfortunately, the USA may now back the Israeli-Saudi-Sunni alliance against the Shia crescent (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah). I hope Mr. Trump resists this temptation.

Almost all the terrorist atrocities against Western Europe and the USA are committed by Sunnis, yet we are constantly told that Iran, which is fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda, is the great threat. Why? 

Because Iran is a great threat to Israel?

I have no animus against Israel but don't want the UK to fight wars for Israel. Israel is not our business. I don't see why it's the US's but I get it that the US must be loyal to allies like Israel and the monstrous Saudi monarchy.

The Saudis created IS to fight the Shias in Iraq and Syria. Al Qaeda, who fight with the Syrian "moderate" rebels whom the Anglo-American back, is a criminal organisation created and financed by Saudis.

We are told "Iran finances terrorism in the Gulf, Syria, and Lebanon" – though the same could be said of the Saudis. And Syria is a war zone where the Iranians are on the government side, so terrorism is not the mot juste there. 

Iran considers herself at war with Israel and is the reason why the Assad regime did not collapse five years ago. A Syrian Christian friend says that 'Iran is the devil'. Still, Iranians do not plant bombs or mow people down in trucks in Europe. I know they bombed Buenos Aires, but that was 25 years ago.

I fear Trump will turn out to be a traditional Republican with a traditional American foreign policy. I hope I am wrong and bombing Syria was merely a deserved punishment for using chemical weapons. 

I hope very much that the US does not start fighting the Assad-Iran axis. I certainly hope that Great Britain, or England as she used to be called, does not take part on the American side.

How paradoxical that, long before Obama's Iranian detente, George W. Bush overthrew Iran's two great enemies, Saddam and the Taliban, and gave Iraq to the Shias, while proclaiming that Iran was part of the Axis of Evil. Having done so much to aid the horrible Iranian regime it seems rather illogical not to try to rub along with the mullahs if possible.

Yet, in an article headlined How Trump Can Help Cripple the Iranian Regime in theWashington Post, neo-cons Reuel Gerecht and Ray Takeyh depressingly claim that 
a consensus has developed in Washington for some“push back” against the Islamic Republic of Iran
and argue for committing American ground troops to fight Iran in Iraq and Syria:
It is way past time for Washington to stoke the volcano under Tehran and to challenge the regime on the limes of its Shiite empire. This will be costly and will entail the use of more American troops in both Syria and Iraq. But if we don’t do this, we will not see an end to the sectarian warfare that nurtures jihadists. We will be counting down the clock on the nuclear accord, waiting for advanced centrifuges to come on line. As with the Soviet Union vs. Ronald Reagan, to confront American resolution, the mullahs will have to pour money into their foreign ventures or suffer humiliating retreat.
And today the Times [what Americans quaintly call the London Times] reports that Mr. Trump has been told 20,000 troops are needed to beat the Taliban, a war that he rightly said last year was unwinnable.

The truth is that Russia and China, which both have very large Sunni Muslim minorities, are very scared of and want to defeat Sunni jihadism. This threat was vastly increased by George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq and, to some extent, by Mr Obama calling for regime change in Syria. 

Neocons like Reuel Gerecht and Ray Takeyh persuaded the US Government to make these mistakes. Do these people never tire of trying to squander lives pointlessly?

The answer to that, of course, is no. More importantly, will Donald Trump be true to his instincts and his words in the campaign about America First or will he be turned?

At this point a very traditional pro-Sunni, anti-Iranian foreign policy is emerging.

Donald Trump has announced a review of the Iran nuclear deal.

On Wednesday James Mattis said, speaking of Yemen

We will have to overcome Iran’s efforts to destabilize yet another country and create another militia in their image of Lebanese Hezbollah.
Yet it is arguably the Saudis who are destabilising Yemen.

On the same day, Rex Tillerson said Iran has 

“the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it.”


  1. 'Having done so much to aid the horrible Iranian regime'

    I would've thought that your kind of conservative wouldn't consider the Iranian regime (or at least what their society is like at the moment) to be horrible. I would've thought that you rather liked it just....something a la that Darius Guppy guy.

    1. The horrible Iranian regime and all Islamic dictatorships are Calvinist. A mistake to liken them to dictatorships like Franco's or Salazar's. Nor do I like any dictatorships, though obviously some are very much better than others.

  2. Here's a perspective :

  3. Pssst.... there is not Christendom anymore. It died around the time of the Titanic, schroedingers cat, and Ypres.

  4. The only thing we can really be sure of is that if there's a way for the U.S to make a bad situation in the Middle East even worse then they'll do it.

    And Britain will continue to fantasise about being a great power while managing to commit every possible foreign policy blunder, just as she has done for a hundred years.

    And the Israelis will continue to laugh at the stupid Brits and Americans dying for Israel.

  5. Sadly Christendom is dead and buried. The Saudi monarchy might well be a grave danger to our current liberal world order. In which case, more power to the Saudi monarchy. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

  6. Every president of the US of A has had to deal with Saudi Arabia for over 90 - the US of A was instrumental in setting up the kingdom in the first place, KSA has been the US's closest ally in the Middle East since then and has been instrumental in developing its infrastructure and in its "westernisation". This is what neocolonialism looks like - mutual influence rather than western oil companies exploiting resources on the old colonial model. :) Families like Bin Laden (family of Yemeni origins) and Kashoggi (of Turkish origins) did well in the Kingdom, but of course were politically unempowered. It's a very complex situation for the US - but of course the Middle East/Near East is a complex region historically, and especially since the fall of the Ottoman Empire WW1. It's a shame western journalists don't explain some of the complexities to their readers, but of course in most Middle Eastern countries outside of Israel there is no tradition of a free press. Speaking truth to power in that part of the world is a dangerous activity. :)

  7. Good Read Paul, Thank you

  8. Ryan Hunter:

    The only people in the world who believe Saudi Arabia's statement that Washington Post journalist and dissident Khashoggi died at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul "after a fistfight" are the Saudi propagandists themselves and their apologists among various U.S. and U.K. politicians who stand to lose billions in arms deals to the brutal regime as international and domestic outrage mounts.

    From the time Saudi Arabia was established in the late 1920s and early 1930s as a usurping power through violent means with American and British military aid (and Astor, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Rothschild financial support), it has supported and exported the most brutal and violent interpretations of the Wahhabi Islamist ideology. It has also suppressed and tortured those Hanbali ulama (Muslim scholars) within the kingdom who have objected to its bloody policies.

    Whenever Wahhabi-formed terrorist jihadists commits attacks, the Saudi regime makes vague promises about combating terrorism, and U.S. political figures from FDR and Kennedy down to Clinton, Bush, Clinton, Obama, and Trump have almost always taken these lame statements at face value. Under pressure from BP and Standard Oil, Churchill and FDR recognized Abdul-aziz al-Saud as king of the Hejaz and Nejd regions in 1940, and even since then, the US and UK have been Saudi Arabia's unwavering oil buyers and uncritical political allies. The Trump Administration and May Governments, like all their recent predecessors, have made billions of dollars in selling arms to the Saudi regime, which has recently used them to wage a largely ignored war of attrition (many observers have called it a genocide) on the Houthi Shi'a Yemenis who are supported by Shi'a Iran, Wahhabi Saudi Arabia's chief enemy in the region.

    The Saudi regime has done more than any other to tolerate ans indirectly sponsor the growth of ultra-Wahhabi terrorism worldwide, in many instances directly encouraging radicalization and hatred of Shi'a and non-Muslims with their hate-spewing, brainwashing textbooks. Widely covered by Western investigative journalists, the Saudi government's Ministry of Education-approved textbooks overtly encourage the readers to hate and act violently toward Shi'a, Christians, Jews, etc. These books refer to Shi'a as heretics, Jews as pigs, and Christians as apes.

  9. Ryan Hunter continued:

    Horrifically, this regime has been the staunch regional ally of every U.S. President from FDR to Trump, and U.S. support for the Riyadh regime remains a hallmark of every administration regardless of which party is in power. Presidents Trump, Obama, and Bush all received the kingdom's Abdul-aziz al-Saud Award, named after the country's founder, as a mark of the close friendship of the U.S. government toward the Saudi regime.

    In 2003, when President Bush declared his "War on Terror" and invaded Iraq, overthrowing the brutal secular dictatorship of Saddam Hossein, Saudi Arabia supported the decision, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis during the invasion and subsequent balkanization of the country and rise of opposing Sunni and Shi'a militant groups. In 2011, when Obama and then-Secretary Clinton championed the various Arab Spring revolts across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia was assured that it need not fear U.S. or NATO support for any such revolution or revolts in the streets of Riyadh. The Trump Administration has continued its predecessors' recent policies of massively profitable arms deals to the Saudi government, with the President openly bragging about the profitability of such deals.

    Given how the Saudi regime treats literally anyone within the kingdom who dares challenge them in any way---pious Shi'a a and Sunnni clerics who dare challenge the tyranny and corruption, Shi'a and non-Muslim minorities who want to worship freely, women who demand their basic Islamic rights, journalists who dare to expose the massive abuses of power--- it doesn't even remotely strain the imagination to think that they'd send a "medical assassin" to butcher one of their leading Western-exiled Saudi critics while he was still alive. This decision of course also violates the political sovereignty of the Turkish government.

    Without U.S. and U.K. support, this barbarous, disgusting regime would disappear in months. Literally all scholarly acounts affirm that the Saudi state was established by U.S. and British colonial military support and foreign intelligence 'aid' in the 1930s, with the first King brutally suppressing, exiling, and killing his rival emirs, sheikhs, and critics. From its very inception, it has been the closest ally to the U.S. and U.K in the region, and, since 1948, the State of Israel. It is thus an astonishing irony that this regime---whose textbooks demonize Jews as "pigs" and Christians as "apes"---which purports to be the very pillar of the supposedly pure Wahhabism is the #1 uncritical regional ally of America and Israel!

    Even in terms of criminal justice proceedings for violent crimes, other regional Islamic states such as Iran, Pakistan, and Jordan all have constitutions which specify the death penalty (usually by hanging) for their murderers and rapists only after public trials, in which the defendant has the absolute right to confront his or her accuser, to have the aid of an attorney in his or her defense, and to an appeal of the sentence.

    In contrast, Saudi Arabia regularly beheads not only rapists and murderers *without* any public trial, legal defense, or right to appeal, but also alleged 'witches' and 'sorcerers', counterfeitters, atheists, women deemed subversive by the state, minorities who dare to challenge the barely-disguised migrant slavery system, Shi'a clerics who insist on basic freedom of worship for their peoples, and non-Muslims who are routinely executed for apostasy.

    Until and unless the U.S., U.K., and NATO cease their disturbing support for this brutal regime, demand a formal U.N. investigation into abuses of power by the Saudi regime, and consider sanctions against Riyadh (which will never happen due to the world's oil dependency on the regime), all promises of forthright dealings with the Saudi state will ring hollow.

  10. This reminds me of Sting (and other musicians) having a concert in one of the less democratic Central Asian republics and saying it was just entertainment. Some MPs are lured to defend countries like this, as long as there is a material incentive, others not. Same, alas, with some journalists.

    1. Why shouldn't he sing anywhere? He's a singer. What an age of humbug and cant we live in.