by John Stanton
According to Dave Ottoway, writing for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, “There is practically no civil society in Saudi Arabia. The country is run by the al-Saud royal family in partnership with a highly conservative religious establishment espousing a fundamentalist theology known as Wahhabism. The alliance goes back to the mid-eighteenth century. Both the House of al-Saud and the Wahhabi religious leadership are against freedom of religion, democracy, a free press, and the public mixing of unmarried men and women. Wahhabi clerics are also against movie houses; public dancing; drinking, women’s sports centers; girls exercising in schools, and women driving. We could not have a conference like this in Saudi Arabia. The women would be in another room listening on a TV monitor or, if it was an international meeting, there might be a barrier down the center. Neither the royal family nor the Wahhabi religious establishment is interested in elections. Only the chambers of commerce are allowed to have elections-businessmen who are absolutely no threat to the establishment.”
In short, Saudi Arabia’s rulers are more ruthless than those in North Korea or anywhere else on the planet. Why aren’t members of the US Congress championing sanctions against Saudi Arabia instead of Russia, Cuba and Iran? Why does the world’s most powerful nation bow down before the House of Saud even as it becomes less dependent on Persian Gulf and Saudi oil? Where and when did the special relationship with Saudi Arabia begin?
The Saudi Kingdom’s leaders were not concerned with communism but reprisals by other tribes in the region. According to Ottoway “the primary concern…was an imminent attack by the forces of the Hashemite royal families ruling in Jordan and, at the time, also in Iraq. They had a grudge to settle after being driven out of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina by the al-Sauds in the 1920s. To deal with the Hashemite threat, the king wanted to enter a formal military alliance with the U.S. and obtain arms urgently on a grant basis… Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Navy, William Knox, told Congress in March 1944 that the war had made the U.S. government extremely anxious about oil. He pronounced what was to become America’s postwar oil policy, namely ‘to provide for acquisition of oil resources outside the limits of the United States for the safety and security of the country.’ That was the rationale for our becoming more and more involved with Saudi Arabia….
In February 1945, Roosevelt met Abdulaziz [the Saudi King] in person aboard the USS Quincy in Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake. The two countries date their special relationship to this meeting. As far as anybody knows, they did not talk about oil, but about Palestine. The king was concerned about what the U.S. was going to do regarding the establishment of a Jewish state and whether the Palestinians would have a state. This issue goes right back to the beginning of our relationship, and it continues right up until today.”
So nearly 70 years later, American leadership feels the need to maintain what should be called a “monstrous relationship” with the world’s preeminent totalitarian regime. Then again, the US intelligence community knows exactly what the Saudi’s are up to, even supporting their funding of cannibals fighting in Syria.
Saudi’s Fund Hannibal Lector Insurgent Group: USA Thrilled
Saudi Arabia is the primary sponsor of the cannibalistic insurgent groups in Syria led by Abdul Samad Issa and Abu Sakkar. These groups are linked to Al Qaida groups that the US supports: Nusra Front and Islamic State in Iraq/Syria. Issa and Sakkar were seen in video footage executing Syrian soldiers, beheading a Catholic priest, and eating a human liver after hacking it out of a dead Syrian soldier. According to the Telegraph UK during a meeting between Prince Bandar and Russian President Vladimir Putin-in which Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi intelligence chief, said he spoke for the USA–the Bandar tried to bribe the Russian President into letting go of his support for the President of Syria, Bashir Assad (or what remains of Syria) in exchange for Saudi manipulation of regional oil and gas markets to bolster Russian prices for energy resources. In the meeting the Saudi’s claimed that they control the Chechen insurgents whether they are fighting against Russia or Syrian troops. The Saudi’s told Putin that they would make sure the Winter Olympic Games at Sochi in 2014 would not be attacked by the Saudi-backed Chechens if he accepted the Saudi offer.
The Telegraph UK reported that Putin was quite blunt in his response. American leaders should take note: “‘Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters,'” he said, referring to footage showing a Jihadist rebel eating the heart and liver of a Syrian soldier.”
Over at the Economist (owned, in part by Pearson PLC), there is news of great rejoicing over the results of Saudi Arabia’s anti-Arab Spring/Democracy projects. To wit: “Yet things may be tilting nicely back in the Saudis’ favour. Post-uprising messes in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen have all served to dampen the general enthusiasm for revolution. The toppling of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi as Egypt’s president in July was especially gratifying. Egypt’s generals, many with close ties to the Saudis, are back at the helm. Qatar, the small but punchy Gulf emirate that had annoyingly backed the Brothers, has been put back in its box. And for now at least, Mr Mubarak is out of prison. Small wonder the kingdom is showering Egypt with aid, and loudly voices diplomatic support in the face of criticism for the new regime’s ruthless suppression of its opponents…The turnaround has been particularly satisfying for Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who served for two decades as ambassador to America but now runs Saudi intelligence. Back in the old days, he played a quiet but crucial role in America’s covert cold-war forays, providing funds, when the CIA could not, to Afghan mujahideen, Nicaraguan Contras and the Iraqi army then fighting Iran.”
Saudi and US Intelligence: Making the World Safe for Dictatorships
The pattern is mercenary and capitalist. Those base values allow the two countries to find common ground. Since 1945 US and Saudi Arabian government/intelligence organizations have worked together to skirt oversight in the USA and subsequently engage in bloodthirsty operations to maintain the status quo.
The status quo, in this instance, means the purchase of enormous amount of armaments from US defense contractors that are not needed for the internal defense of the Kingdom. At one point in the late 1990’s the Saudi’s did not have enough qualified pilots to operate all the aircraft they were sold. It is a jobs agreement between the US and Saudi’s to keep US weapons manufacturing lines open. Such an arrangement was likely reached long ago. With the US providing a security umbrella for Saudi Arabia since 1945, such large weapons purchases are hardly necessary.
It means the USA keeping its mouth shut and not commenting too loudly on the wicked internal matters of Saudi Arabian life and the lives of foreign laborers there. It is turning a blind eye to suppression in Bahrain, the millions displaced in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria (thanks to US policies/interventions), and the destruction of Christian communities. This makes a mockery of the USA as a beacon of human rights.
It means the Cold War has not ended and the long term goal remains: weaken and destabilize Russia, Iran and China.
The status quo also means that democracy/socialist movements of today are viewed as the communism of yesteryear.
Iran is looking pretty good these days.
John Stanton is a Virginia based writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org