January 30, 2013

Is a Revolution possible in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?


Almost since WWII, US led West has dominated, controlled and exploited the resources of West Asia and South West Asia through its axis with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan .The axis can be enlarged to into US/UK/Israel-Saudi Dynasty/ Wahabis –Pak Military/ ISI.
The US-Saudi-Wahabi Nexus
In 1979 Washington lost Shah of Iran its Gendarme in the Middle East region ,but it made up amply by lining up Saudi led Gulf and other Muslim states and Pakistan in ousting from Afghanistan Soviet presence and threat to its oil wells in the Middle East in the process creating nurseries of terrorism in Pak Afghan region , which have since proliferated as Jihadis of various hues like various Taleban , Al Qaeda with local branches all over north Africa , West Asia and elsewhere. Al Qaeda is only a franchise since in Afghanistan iit is said to be no more than a few hundred or even less.
Washington acts as a protector of Saud Dynasty and other regimes in the Gulf who open their money spigots to finance and help achieve US foreign policy and strategic objectives in the Arab and Muslim world .Except for the ruling elite, authoritarian and oppressive in these states, the masses have continued to suffer and forced into silence as in Communist regimes earlier.
Some hopes have since emerged for  a change after the prairie like fire of revolts by the Arab masses in North Africa and West Asia ,right up to the Gulf and Saudi Arabia ,although US led west , NATO and Gulf States have tried to co-opt some of the protests and revolutions or redirect them , say in Yemen, Egypt and opened military and other aid against secular Assad regime in Syria .After the brutal assassination of Qaddafi , the rich and prosperous Libyan state has become a gathering place for all sorts of terrorists with blow backs in Benghazi and Mali .More blowbacks would follow .
In spite of being almost bankrupt, US, UK and France continue to indulge in military aggressions, misadventures and expenditure, having been sent packing from the killing fields of Iraq and soon from Afghanistan too.
In this scenario, tiny but hyper rich Qatar is punching much above its weight
but possibilities of dis- affection .protests and revolts in Saudi Arabia would be game changer not for the region but for the entire world , with Saudi led Gulf states being major energy suppliers and providing employment to tens of millions of expatriates including 6 million Indians.
Below are some news items on the subject.
K.Gajendra Singh 30 January, 2013.

Has the Saudi Head of Intelligence been assassinated?

First Post: 2012-07-31 18:00
The head of Saudi Intelligence, Prince Bandar bin Sultan has not appeared in public or in the media since July 22nd, the same date on which an attack was carried out against Saudi General Intelligence headquarters. Saudi Arabia has not issued any statements regarding the attack either, a fact that has deeply worried leaders in Middle Eastern Capitals, as well as in Washington and Jerusalem. They fear that the Saudi leadership has gone into shock following these events and is no longer functioning. A string of security related events, the center of which is the success of the Iranian Intelligence in breaching the heart of the Saudi governmental and intelligence systems in the capital, Riyadh, and carrying out terrorist attacks there, increases these fears.
Huffington Post
Opinion | January 20, 2013

Revolution in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is the world's last absolute monarchy. Like Louis XIV, King Abdullah has complete authority to do as he likes. But while a revolution in Saudi Arabia is still not likely, the Arab Awakening has made one possible for the first time, and it could come in President Obama's second term.
Revolutionary change in the kingdom would be a disaster for American interests across the board. Saudi Arabia is America's oldest ally in the Middle East, a partnership that dates to 1945. The United States has no serious option for heading off a revolution if it is coming; we are already too deeply wedded to the kingdom. Obama should ensure the best possible intelligence is available to see a crisis coming and then try to ride the storm.
Still, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a proven survivor. Two earlier Saudi kingdoms were defeated by the Ottoman Empire and eradicated. The Sauds came back. They survived a wave of revolutions against Arab monarchies in the 1950s and 1960s. A jihadist coup attempt in 1979 seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca but was crushed. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda staged a four-year insurrection to topple the Sauds and failed less than a decade ago. Saudi al Qaeda cadres remain in the kingdom and next door in Yemen.
Today the Arab Awakening presents the kingdom with its most severe test to date. The same demographic challenges that prompted revolution in Egypt and Yemen, a very young population and very high underemployment, apply in Saudi Arabia. Extreme gender discrimination, long-standing regional differences, and a restive Shia minority add to the explosive potential. In recognition of their vulnerability, the Saudi royals have spent more than $130 billion since the Arab Awakening began to try to buy off dissent at home. They have made cosmetic reforms to let women sit in a powerless consulting council.
Abroad they have sent tanks and troops across the King Fahd Causeway to stifle revolution in Bahrain, brokered a political deal in Yemen to replace Ali Abdullah Salih with his deputy, and sought closer unity among the six Gulf Cooperation Council monarchies. They also have invited Jordan and Morocco to join the kings' club. But they are pragmatists too and have backed revolutions in Libya and Syria that fight old enemies of the kingdom.
The Saudis fear, probably rightly, that real power sharing is impossible in an absolutist state. But we should plan very quietly for the worst.
If an awakening takes place in Saudi Arabia, it will probably look a lot like the revolutions in the other Arab states. Already demonstrations, peaceful and violent, have wracked the oil rich Eastern Province for more than a year. These are Shia protests and thus atypical of the rest of the kingdom. Shia dissidents in ARAMCO, the Saudi oil company, also have used cyberwarfare to attack its computer systems, crashing more than 30,000 work stations this August. They probably received Iranian help.
Much more disturbing to the royals would be protests in Sunni parts of the kingdom. These might start in the so-called Quran Belt north of the capital, where dissent is endemic, or in the poor Asir province on the Yemeni border. Once they begin, they could snowball and reach the major cities of the Hejaz, including Jeddah, Mecca, Taif, and Medina. The Saudi opposition has a vibrant information technology component that could ensure rapid communication of dissent within the kingdom and to the outside world.
The critical defender of the regime would be the National Guard. Abdullah has spent his life building this Praetorian elite force. The United States has trained and equipped it with tens of billions in helicopters and armored vehicles. But the key unknown is whether the Guard will shoot on its brothers and sisters in the street. It may fragment or it may simply refuse to suppress dissent if it is largely peaceful, especially at the start.
The succession issue adds another layer of complication. Every succession in the kingdom since its founder, Abdel Aziz bin Saud, died in 1953 has been to his brothers. King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman are the end of the brood; only a couple of possible remaining half brothers are suitable. Both the king and crown prince are ill, and both are often unfit for duty. If Abdullah and/or Salman die as unrest begins—a real possibility—and a succession crisis ensues, then the kingdom could be even more vulnerable to revolution.
As in other Arab revolutions, the opposition revolutionaries will not be united on anything except ousting the monarchy. There will be secular democrats but also al Qaeda elements in the opposition. Trying to pick and choose will be very difficult. The unity of the kingdom could collapse as the Hejaz separates from the rest, the east falls to Shia, and the center becomes a jihadist stronghold.
For the United States, revolution in Saudi Arabia would be a game changer. While the U.S. can live without Saudi oil, China, India, Japan, and Europe cannot. Any disruption in Saudi oil exports—whether due to unrest, cyberattacks, or a new regime's decision to reduce exports substantially—will have a major impact on the global economy. In addition, the CIA war against al Qaeda is heavily dependent on the kingdom: Saudi intelligence operations foiled the last two attacks by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula on the American homeland. The U.S. military training mission in the kingdom, founded in 1953, is the largest of its kind in the world. The Saudis also have been a key player in containing Iran for decades.
The other monarchs of Arabia, meanwhile, would be in jeopardy if revolution comes to Saudi Arabia. The Sunni minority in Bahrain could not last without Saudi money and tanks. Despite all their money, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are city states that would be unable to defend themselves against a revolutionary regime in what had been the kingdom. The Hashemite dynasty in Jordan would be at risk as well without Saudi and Gulf money and oil. Only Oman is probably isolated and strong enough to endure.
America has no serious options for effecting gradual reform in the kingdom. The Saudis fear, probably rightly, that real power sharing is impossible in an absolutist state. But we should plan very quietly for the worst. The intelligence community should be directed to make internal developments, not just counterterrorism, its top priority in the kingdom now. We cannot afford a surprise like Iran in 1978, and we need to know the players in the opposition, especially the Wahhabi clerics, in depth. This will be a formidable challenge, but it is essential to preparing for a very dark swan.
Brookings' Bruce Riedel Urges Intensified US Support for Saudi Despots

Every now and then, leading mavens of the Foreign Policy Community have an uncharacteristic outburst of candor
By Glenn Greenwald
January 29, 2013 "The Guardian" --  When it comes to the US "foreign policy community", few if any people are more representative of it than Bruce Riedel. A 30-year CIA officer and adviser to the last four US presidents, he is now a senior fellow at the wing of the Brookings Institution funded by entertainment mogul Haim Saban (whom the New York Times described as "a tireless cheerleader for Israel" and who described himself this way: "I'm a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel"). In 2012, Riedel contributed to a book on Iran by Brookings "scholars" which argued that the US could launch a war against Iran by covertly provoking its government into responses that could then falsely be depicted by the US to the world "as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression" - exactly what Brookings' Ken Pollack proposed be done in 2002 to deceitfully justify the attack on Iraq. According to Brookings, "in January 2009, President Barack Obama asked Riedel to chair a review of American policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan, the results of which the president announced in a speech on March 27, 2009."
When they speak publicly, the mavens of the Foreign Policy Community - whose primary function is to justify US militarism and aggression - typically disguise their real beliefs and objectives with specialized obfuscating jargon. But every now and then, they have an outburst of uncharacteristic candor that clarifies their actual worldview. Such is the case with a remarkably clear memorandum to President Obama that Riedel just authored and Brooking published regarding the extremely close US alliance with the regime in Saudi Arabia.
Riedel begins by noting that "Saudi Arabia is the world's last absolute monarchy" and "like Louis XIV, King Abdallah has complete authority." Moreover, "the Saudi royal family has shown no interest in sharing power or in an elected legislature." The Saudi regime not only imposes total repression on its own people but is also vital, he argues, in maintaining tyranny in multiple neighboring states: "they have helped ensure that revolution has not unseated any Arab monarch" and "the other monarchs of Arabia would inevitably be in jeopardy if revolution comes to Saudi Arabia." Specifically:
"The Sunni minority in Bahrain could not last without Saudi money and tanks. Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are city-states that would be unable to defend themselves against a Saudi revolutionary regime, despite all their money."
So given this extreme human suffering and repression imposed by the Saudi monarchy in multiple countries, what should the US - the Leader of the Free World and the self-proclaimed Deliverer of Freedom and Democracy - do? To Riedel, the answer is obvious: work even harder, do even more, to strengthen the Saudi regime as well as the neighboring tyrannies in order to crush the "Arab Awakenings" and ensure that democratic revolution cannot succeed in those nations.
Riedel stridently argues that the US must remain steadfastly opposed to any democratic revolutions in the region. That's because Saudi Arabia is "America's oldest ally in the Middle East, a partnership that dates back to 1945." Thus, "since American interests are so intimately tied to the House of Saud, the US does not have the choice of distancing the United States from it in an effort to get on the right side of history."
Instead, he insists, while Obama should "encourage" the Saudi King to accelerate the modest reforms he has abstractly embraced, the overarching principle driving US actions should be that "the overthrow of the monarchy would represent a severe setback to America's position in the region and provide a dramatic strategic windfall for Iran." And the US should not only prop up the Saudi dictatorship, but also must "be ready to shore up the neighboring kingdoms and sheikhdoms." As a Bahraini correspondent wrote about this Riedel memo: "Brookings is basically telling Obama to make sure we remain ruled by dictatorial regimes."

The only thing unclear about Riedel's memo is why he perceives any urgency to write it. As he notes, US policy long has been and still is exactly what he advocates: to ensure that the people of Saudi Arabia remain tyrannized by this monarchy:
"The critical defender of the regime would be the National Guard. King Abdallah has spent his life building this Praetorian elite force. The United States has trained and equipped it with tens of billions of dollars' worth of helicopters and armored vehicles."
Just last week, President Obama emphasized how critical his alliance with the House of Saud is by doing something a US president rarely does: hosting not a fellow head of state but a mere minister (Saudi Minister of Interior, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud) in the Oval Office. Afterward, the White House proclaimed that Obama and the Saudi Prince "affirmed the strong partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia".
Indeed, the Obama administration has continuously lavished the Saudi Kingdom with a record amount of arms and other weapons, and has done the same for the Bahraini tyranny. He has done all this while maintaining close-as-ever alliances with the Gulf State despots as they crush their own democratic movements.
As always, the rationale for this steadfast US support for Arab tyranny is dubious at best. Riedel notes that "while the United States can live without Saudi oil, China, India, Japan and Europe cannot" - but it's absurd to think that whoever rules Saudi Arabia would refuse to sell its oil on the world market. Riedel also argues that "the CIA war against al-Qaida is heavily dependent on the Kingdom" - that gets closer to the truth, but it just shows how this endless "war" is the author of most of America's bad acts in the region, and it's ironic indeed that the only government with valid links to the 9/11 perpetrators has become the closest US ally in the "war on terror", while governments with no such links - starting with Iran - have become perpetual US enemies.
Riedel also says that "the Saudis have also been a key player in containing Iran for decades." But when it comes to repression and tyranny, Iran - as atrocious as its regime is capable of being - is no match for the Saudis. There is zero reason to view Iran as an implacable enemy of the US, and it is certainly no justification for imposing absolute tyranny on millions of people in the Arab world merely because those regimes are similarly hostile to Iran.
But as I emphasized last week, the point here is not to object to US support for the world's worst dictators; it is, instead, to urge that this reality be acknowledged. Despite this obvious truth - that the US has no objection whatsoever to tyranny but rather loves and supports it when tyrants are faithful to its interests - hordes of foreign policy "experts" shamelessly pretend that the US and its Nato allies are committed to spreading freedom and democracy and fighting despotism in order to justify every new US and Nato intervention.
Just listen to the patently deceitful rhetoric that spews forth from US political leaders and their servants in the Foreign Policy Community when it comes time to rail against anti-US regimes in Libya, Syria and Iran. That the US and its Nato allies - eager benefactors of the world's worst tyrants - are opposed to those regimes out of concern for democracy and human rights is a pretense, a conceit, so glaring and obvious that it really defies belief that people are willing to advocate it in public with a straight face. Even Riedel notes the real reason for those interventions: the Saudis, he writes, are "pragmatists and have backed revolutions in Libya and Syria that undermine longstanding enemies of the Kingdom, especially Iran."
The same inane rhetoric is pouring forth in the debate over the Mali intervention. The same countriesthat are arming the worst human rights abusers on the African continent are simultaneously flattering themselves as crusaders for human rights by bombing Mali. Meanwhile, those who point out that bombing Muslims in yet another country will be used by al-Qaida to strengthen itself further - as theNYT put it: "the backlash might end up being worse than the original threat" - are predictably smeared as Terrorist sympathizers by the self-proclaimed experts of the Foreign Policy Community who exist to justify US and Nato militarism (see here and here as examples).
It's the same warped, flagrantly propagandistic debate that has been taking place over and over for decades. It's how the Saudi-loving George Bush and Tony Blair were able to tell their citizens that their former ally, Saddam Hussein, had to be attacked and removed from power in part because of how tyrannical he was (citing past human rights abuses that took place when he was supported by the US and Nato allies). And it's how those who pointed out all of the contradictions and hypocrisies in these pro-freedom claims were systematically smeared as being pro-Saddam.
Critically, this propaganda about the commitment to human rights and democracy of the US and its Nato allies is aimed at, and only works on, the domestic populations of those countries. People in the region where these pro-tyranny policies are imposed by Nato members are fully aware of this reality, aspublic opinion polls unambiguously prove. But when there exists a massive apparatus of self-proclaimed experts calling itself the Foreign Policy Community that exists to propagate these myths, and a US media that similarly views the world through the prism of the US government, it is easy to see why these myths, despite how patently absurd they are, work so effectively. The fact that one can have a memo like Riedel's so clearly explaining US policy to support the worst tyrannies that serve its interests, sitting right next to endless US pro-war rhetoric about the urgency of fighting for freedom and democracy, is an outstanding testament to that myth-making.
© 2013 Guardian News and Media

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