Friends like these


There’s an effort underway to force the US to attack Iran. The pressure is coming from the putative allies of the US in the Middle-East: Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Of course this crazy idea is also supported by the neoconservatives, who never met a war they didn’t love. The neocons are seething because Iran has emerged as the clear winner from the invasion of Iraq and subsequent attempt to overthrow Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

But, how to justify an attack on Iran?

I know, blame the Iranians for 9/11.

It sounds crazy, but the neocons are nothing if not inventive. Remember how the Bush Administration, in its haste to invade Iraq, came up with all kinds of justifications–yellowcake uranium, mushroom clouds, biological-weapon-crop-dusters, and most significantly, Saddam’s supposed ties to Al-Qaeda?

Hell, it might work. American citizens are largely clueless about foreign affairs, and most of them couldn’t be bothered to find Iran on the map, or even look up from their device. More importantly, even with their record of failure, the neocons are still fully plugged into the elite foreign affairs network–a sort of echo chamber between the Council on Foreign Relations, the Hudson Institute, tthe Washington Post and New York Times.

Right now, the most immediate pressure to attack Iran is coming from key Middle-East ally, Saudi Arabia, a Wahhabist-Sunni state that views Shia-Iran as the existential enemy.

However, Saudi Arabia is undergoing a severe crisis.

The always reliable, Asian Times journalist, Pepe Escobar, claims that–“War has broken out within the House of Saud, as Asia Times had anticipated back in July. Rumors have been swirling for months about a coup against Mohammed bin Salman in the making. Instead, what just happened is yet another MBS pre-emptive coup.”

It gets crazier.

Right before this preemptive coup, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, flew to Saudi Arabia, and resigned. In his resignation speech, Hariri lashed out against Hezbollah, the Shia militia that is supported by Iran, saying its arms were targeting the “chests of Lebanese and Syrians.” He repeated a long-held demand that all arms should be in the hands of the Lebanese State, and not with non-state players, be they Shiite or Sunni. Hariri also lashed out at the Iranians who back Hezbollah, saying: “The evil that Iran spreads in the region will backfire on it.” 

If that wasn’t enough drama, Yemen, a country that Saudi Arabia is ravaging, retaliated by firing a surface-to-surface missile that hit the airport in Riyadh.

Predictably, Saudi Arabia blamed Iran. “Saudi Arabia charged Monday that a missile fired at its capital from Yemen over the weekend was an “act of war” by Iran, in the sharpest escalation in nearly three decades of mounting hostility between the two regional rivals.”

In the US, President Trump tweeted his support of MBS, and there is considerable evidence that the preemptive coup was planned by Trump’s son-in-law and foreign policy advisor–Jared Kushner. Trump also tweeted that the Saudi’s needed to do their I.P.O. of Aramco, the priceless Saudi state oil company, on the New York Stock exchange.

Even with all the distraction, the Saudis, the Israelis and the neocons all remained focused on their bete-noire: Iran.

Unfortunately, there is a serious problem with their claim that Iran is the main sponsor of terrorism, or somehow responsible for 9/11.

In my opinion, Iran’s influence in the region has grown over the past decade precisely because aggressive policies by the United States and its allies have been spectacular failures, creating chaos and suffering that Iran has exploited as a matter of self-defense and self-interest.

Furthermore, the truth of the matter is that Saudi Arabia is the leading sponsor of terrorism, hands down.

Going further, the US has used Saudi jihadism as a way to maintain empire, as this explosive article by Daniel Lazare makes abundantly clear.

“The arrangement worked for the United States, which acquired a useful diplomatic partner and an auxiliary military force that was cheap, effective, and deniable. It worked for gung-ho journalists traipsing through the wilds of Afghanistan, who assured the folks back home that the “muj” were nothing more than “ornery mountain folk who have not cottoned to a foreign power that has seized their land, killed their people, and attacked their faith,” to quote William McGurn, who went on to prominence as a speechwriter for George W. Bush.

It worked for nearly everyone until 19 hijackers, 15 of them Saudis, flew a pair of fuel-laden jetliners into the World Trade Center and a third into the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people in all. The 9/11 attacks should have been a wake-up call that something had gone seriously amiss. But instead of pressing the pause button, the United States opted to double down on the same old strategy. From its perspective, it had little choice. It needed Saudi oil; it needed security in the Persian Gulf, global commerce’s most important chokepoint; and it needed a reliable ally in the Muslim world in general.

Consequently, Washington opted to work on the marriage rather than splitting up. This entailed three things. First, there was a need to cover up Riyadh’s considerable role in the destruction of the Twin Towers by, among other things, suppressing a crucial 29-page chapter in a joint congressional report dealing with Saudi links to the hijackers. Second, the Bush administration redoubled efforts to pin the blame on Saddam Hussein, Washington’s latest villain du jour. Need “best info fast,” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered while the towers were still burning, according to notes taken by his aide Stephen Cambone. “…Judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. at same time—not only UBL [i.e. Usama bin Laden]. Hard to get a good case. Need to move swiftly—Near term target needs—Go massive—sweep it all up, need to do so to get anything useful. Things related or not.” Washington needed a fall guy to get the Saudis off the hook.

Third was the need to prosecute the so-called “War on Terror,” which was never about terrorism per se but about terrorism unsanctioned by the United States. The goal was to arrange for jihadis only to strike at targets jointly approved by Washington and Riyadh. This meant, first and foremost, Iran, the Saudis’ bête noire, whose power, ironically, had grown after the U.S. invasion of Iraq had tipped the formerly Sunni-controlled country into the pro-Shi‘ite column. But it also meant Syria, whose president, Bashar al-Assad, is an Alawite, a form of Shi‘ism, and Russia, whose friendliness to both countries left it doubly marked in U.S. and Saudi eyes. Ideologically, it meant taking Wahhabist anger at Western powers such as America, Britain, and France and directing it at Shi‘ism instead. The doors to sectarianism were thus opened.

The war on terror turned out to be the longest route possible between Sunni terrorism and Sunni terrorism. Once again, the United States had tried to use Wahhabism to its own advantage, but with consequences that proved nothing less than disastrous.”

The corporate media and opportunistic legislators have been obsessed with Russian influence over our policies, when it’s our so-called allies–Saudi Arabia, and Israel–who are the far greater danger.

As the old saying goes–with friends like these, who needs enemies?

Update: The plot thickens“Explosive” Leaked Secret Israeli Cable Confirms Israeli-Saudi Coordination To Provoke War.

“The classified embassy cable, written in Hebrew, constitutes the first formal evidence proving that the Saudis and Israelis are deliberately coordinating to escalate the situation in the Middle East.”

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