Bibi in Banderastan, or the importance of words

Bibi in Banderastan, or the importance of words

[this column was written for the Unz Review]

Israeli Prime Minister made it to Kiev today, where he was greeted by the (pseudo) “traditional” Ukronazi slogan “Glory to the Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!”. For somebody like me who dislikes Zionism and Nazism just about the same, it was a sweet irony to see an Israeli Prime Minister officially traveling to the Nazi-occupied Ukraine to commemorate the massacre of Jews at Babii Iar greeted by the very same slogan which the Jews murdered at Babii Iar heard from their Banderite executioners while they were being shot.

STOP!

Do you already hear the choir of voices protesting: how can anyone expecting to be taken seriously write a paragraph about the civil war in the Ukraine with all the following words: Ukronazi, Zionism, Nazism, Nazi-occupied, Jews and Banderite?

That is a very good question.

But I have a better one!

How can anyone expecting to be taken seriously write a paragraph about the civil war in the Ukraine WITHOUT all the following words: Ukronazi, Zionism, Nazism, Nazi-occupied, Jews and Banderite?

Let’s begin with the first question. The obvious implied criticism behind the first question, is very simple and it assumes that there is a profound and inherent contradiction between everything Nazi and Jews/Zionism. Speaking about a “Nazi Jew” or a “Nazi Zionist” is just as nonsensical as speaking about dry water or and diamonds raining from the sky!

Except that both dry water and diamonds raining from the sky do exist in real nature, so let’s not jump to conclusions too fast and see which contradictions are real, and which ones are only apparent.

I won’t even go into the (deliciously controversial) topic of the historical fact of the collaboration of the German National Socialists with various Zionist organizations which, rather naively, thought that a nationalist like Hitler would understand their own nationalism and help them to emigrate to Palestine. But this goes even further than that as Hannah Arendt said, in her superb book “Eichmann in Jerusalem” (see excerpt here or, even better, read the full book (for free!): various Jewish organizations continued to work with/(for?) the Nazis well into the so-called “Holocaust”.

[Sidebar: to be honest, I don’t think that we, safely sitting in the comfort of our homes, should be too quick to condemn these Jewish organizations. Yes, of course, many of them were “naive” (and I am being polite here), but others must have realized that European Jews are in a great deal of danger and must be evacuated at any cost and if the only way to achieve such an evacuation was to deal with the Nazis, then so be it! This is no different than offering a bribe to a jail guard to obtain some kind of favor. Thus I think that Jewish organizations which today categorically deny having collaborated with the Nazis are mistaken on not one, but two grounds: first, the truth is coming out and it is impossible to suppress it and, second, there is nothing shameful in swallowing your disgust to save a person. Except that for the racially deluded minds of modern Zionists, such an admission would take the air out of their silly notion of racial superiority. Hence the categorically crimethink nature of speaking about this]

No, what I want to suggest here is very different: in our 21st century, most of the 20th century terminology has lost its meaning. What is a liberal (no, not Hillary!)? What is a Communist (no, not Obama!)? What is a Christian (no, not the Pope!)? What is a democrat (no, not Kamala Harris!)? What is a patriot (no, most definitely not Trump!)? What is a tyrannical dictator (nope, not Putin!)?

You think that I am being facetious here?

Then explain to me how a rabidly Takfiri regime like the one in Saudi Arabia can get help from Zionist Israel? Or how the “democratic West” gave its full support to Takfiris in Chechnia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya and Syria? How is it that during the so-called “Global War on Terror”, (which was supposed to be officially waged against al-Qaeda and its various local subsidiaries, in retaliation for 9/11) the various Takfiri groups only got stronger? Yet what we really see is that the US provides training, financing, coordination and even close air support for pretty much every al-Qaeda type out there?

There are two phenomena which explain this gradual dissolution of meanings into meaningless and insipid categories: first, the correct meaning of many terms has been covered by a thick layer of ideological imperatives and, second, most 21st century politicians couldn’t care less what any word really means. All they care about is framing the discussion in a way which makes it easy for them to obfuscate their numerous crimes.

The truth about the Ukraine is very simple: yes, there are bona-fide Nazis in the Ukraine and, yes, they have a lot of influence due to their quasi monopoly on violence and total collapse of the state. True, these hardcore Ukronazi freaks are a rather small minority, but one which is well organized, well funded and fully prepared to use violence.

Jewbanderite

There are also a lot of Zionists in the Ukraine. And while these folks silently hate each other, they hate (and fear!) Russia much, much more; just like mobsters can fight each other, but can unite against any common threat (such as, say, an honest police chief).

Oh, and yes, there are also plenty of very influential Jews in the Ukraine (Kolomoiskii and Zelenskii being the two best known ones right now) and they have the full backing of the AngloZionist Empire and all of the Zionists interests in the West. And I think that most folks fully understand that. The real reason behind all the protests about me using terms such as “Ukronazi” stems from a very different cause.

The problem is that you get a lot of ruffled feathers when you suggest that the USA, which is supposed to be some kind of “land of the free and the home of the brave” aka “the indispensable nation” is found in bed with the self same folks who the US propaganda machine paints as arch-villains: Nazis, of course, but also Takfiris. As for the Zionists, it would be wrong to say that the US of A is “in bed” with them. No, it’s even worse: the much-maligned and ridiculed term of ZOG (as in “Zionist Occupation Government”) is much more accurate, but it offends those who rather think of themselves as “rulers of the world” than the voiceless serfs of a regime of foreign occupation!

US Americans love to thump their chests while mantrically chanting some nonsense along the lines of “USA is number 1!” and they get really mad when they are told that “the party is over” which I did in this article in which I wrote:

Both US Americans and Europeans will, for the very first time in their history, have to behave like civilized people, which means that their traditional “model of development” (ransacking the entire planet and robbing everybody blind) will have to be replaced by one in which these US Americans and Europeans will have to work like everybody else to accumulate riches

And, just by coincidence, Paul Craig Roberts recently wrote an article entitled “American Capitalism Is Based On Plunder” in which he explained that US foreign policy is basically driven by a plunder imperative and that if that imperative cannot be realized abroad, it will be implemented at home (I wonder if he will be accused of being anti-American or even of “Communism”? It is quite striking to see a paleo-conservative like Paul Craig Roberts basically paraphrasing Lenin and his statement that “imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism” (a historical truism which the western propaganda system is doing its best to bury, obfuscate, ridicule and the like).

Writing things like these typically result in a barrage of ad hominems which, by itself, is quite telling (usually the same 2-3 folks, some probably remunerated for their efforts) There is a Russian saying that “the hat of the head of the thief is burning” (see here for an explanation of this rather weird expression) and this is exactly what is happening here: the folks protesting the loudest are always the ones who are most unwilling to stop the planetary plunder, messianic arrogance and imperial hubris in which they were raised. It is not only their livelihoods which are threatened by such talk, but even their very identity. Hence the very real and very high level of rage they feel.

Finally, there are all the Nazi sympathizers who absolutely hate Jews and for whom any notion of Nazi and Zionist collaboration are just as much a case of crimethink as it is for Zionist Jews to admit that they have collaborated with bona fide Nazis many times in the past.

However, if we set aside silly ideological shackles, we can immediately observe that the kind of ideology of racial superiority which the Nazis are known for can also be found in the Judaic (religious) and Zionist (secular) ideologies. In fact, both National-Socialism and Zionism are just two amongst many more types of European nationalisms which have their root in 19th century ideological categories.

Let’s try a different approach: what do Ukie “dobrobats”, al-Qaeda forces in Syria, KLA units in Kosovo and Israeli settlers in Palestine have in common? Correct! They are all first and foremost *thugs* who all prey on the weak and defenseless. In other words, they are the perfect tool to force civilians to surrender and accept some kind of foreign rule. That foreign rule is, in each case, the one of the AngloZionist Empire, of course. This, in turn, means that their official ideologies are almost irrelevant, because in reality they are all servants of the Empire (whether they understand it or not).

Conclusion one: it’s all a big lie!

Yes, it is a big lie. All of it. And this is how we end up with an Israeli Prime Minister who, by any criteria, is not only a Fascist, but also a Nazi as long as we make it clear that his brand of Nazism is a Jewish one, not a Germanic one. And it’s not just Bibi Netanyahu who does not mind dealing with Ukronazis, so the the the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine (see here for details). As for the said Ukronazis, they are now trying hard to deny that Bandara and his gang massacred Jews during WWII. As for Zelenskii, he is most definitely not a Nazi, but he has already caved in to the Ukronazi ideology (i.e. a form of Nazism which substitutes myths about “ancient Ukrs” to the more traditional Germanic myths about the Aryan-Germanic “race”). Then there is Kolomoiskii who is simply a typical Jewish mobster who has no personal ideology whatsoever and who has no love for the bona fide Ukronazis, but who is being very careful about how to purge them from power lest they beat him yet again. And above them all, we have the leaders of the Empire who use ideological categories as slurs but who don’t give a damn who they back as long as it is against Russia.

Against this background it is worth asking a simple question: do these words even matter? Do they still have any kind of meaning?

Conclusion two: yes, words do still matter!

I believe that they do, very much so! This is precisely why the legacy corporate ziomedia and those brainwashed by it freak out when they see expressions such as “AngloZionist”,“Ukronazi” or even the rather demure “Israel Lobby”. When somebody comes up with a powerful and correct descriptor, say like “ZOG” – the propaganda machine immediately kicks into high gear to shoot down in flames whatever author and article dared to use it. In fact, there are at least two types of wannabe word censors which typically show up:

TYPE ONE: the real McCoy. These are the sincere folks (whether of the Nazi or Zionist persuasion) who are truly outraged and offended that such “hallowed” words as Nazi/Zionist (pick one) can be combined with “abominations” such as Nazi/Zionist (pick the other one). These are all the Third Reich nostalgics, the defenders of a “White Christian West” and all the rest of them neo-Nazis.

TYPE TWO: the paid trolls. These are the folks whose task it is to obfuscate the real issues, to bury them under tons of vapid ideological nonsense; the best way to do that is to misdirect any discussion away from the original topic and sidetrack it into either a barrage of ad hominems or ideological clichés.

Seriously, what we are witnessing today is a new age of censorship in which government and corporations work hand in hand to crush (ban, censor, demonetize, algorithmically purge and otherwise silence) all those who challenge the official ideology and its many narratives. It would be naïve to the extreme to assume that the so-called “alternative media” and blogosphere have been spared such an effort at silencing ideological heresies.

Next time these self-appointed enforcers of the politically correct doxa come out, try this experiment: when you read their comments, don’t just look at what they write, but also try to guess why they write what they write and then mentally place a T1 or T2 sign next to their comments and you will soon see that they follow a careful pattern 🙂

The Saker

Syria News Briefs: SDF Child Soldiers, Landmines, and Economy

Source

 

Syria SDF YPG Asayish Recruiting Child Soldiers Kurds
US-run ‘SDF’ continues to kidnap Syrian children to make them ‘soldiers.’

In Syria news briefs today, two children were injured in another landmine blast; a child fleeing from US ‘SDF’ criminal militia was shot to death; Reconciliation continues; an increase in olive production is expected.

Two children were injured by shrapnel from another exploding landmine left behind by terrorists in al Swaiaa, Deir Ezzor. They are expected to recover. Despite the UN Mine Action Service has signed an MoU to assist the Syrian government more than a year ago, terrorists’ buried landmines continue to kill and maim.

Also on 21 August, Syria continued with its Reconciliation program. In Homs, 115 men had their legal statuses settled, upon turning themselves in, and handing over their weapons, so they could “return to their normal lives.”

Syria’s Ministry of Agriculture announced the expectation of olive and olive oil production to be increased this year. Since last year, when crops were decreased because farmlands were injured by terrorists, the Ministry has engaged in rehabilitation and ongoing maintenance to return to normal production. The expected output is 830,000 tons of olives, and 150 tons of olive oil.

olive economy sanctions syria

The vilest of news from Syria, on 21 August, will never be reported in NATO media. The US-run ‘SDF‘ murdered a Syrian child who attempted to escape kidnapping. Three of his family members were also shot by these separatist-terrorists, trying to protect him.

The murdered child was 13 years old Osama Obeid, who lived in the village of al-Gharb in Hasaka. The ‘SDF‘ stormtroopers have been raiding homes in Hasaka countryside, to kidnap young men and children to incarcerate them in “coercive recruitment camps” — brainwash centers to force Syrian children to become armed terrorists.

Syria SDF YPG Asayish Recruiting Child Soldiers Kurds
Syria SDF YPG Asayish Recruiting Child Soldiers Kurds
child-soldier
kidnapped-girls-soldiers

The YPG precursor to the ‘SDF’ criminals promised to end their war criminal activity of creating ‘child soldiers,’ back in 2014. NATO media swooned, then, and swooned again late June, when an ‘SDF commander’ was invited to the UN to sign an agreement to end the destruction of children’s psyches.

How utterly shameless that that which should be considered normal among civilized human beings should be lauded, instead.

NATO media supporting the US-sponsored ‘SDF’ against Syria has a two-pronged effect: The ability to subsequently ignore more war crimes, and to feed into the wretched western colonial mindset, attracting the Lilliputian serfs to support the attempted destruction of the sovereignty of Syria.

This insidious propaganda permits western media to ignore the murder of Osama Obeid, 13, who tried to escape kidnapping, as they have ignored the ‘SDF’ torching thousands of hectares of wheat and barley farmland in Syria, and as they have ignored the attempt of ‘ethnic cleansing‘ of Syrians in Qamishli.

Syriac Qamishli Church Explosion - Syria

Do an internet search, “Syria news,” and you will not find a single western medium to report on Tuesday’s murder of the Syrian child, nor anything except ongoing, anti-Syria war propaganda.

The time is past overdue for westerners to stop being colonial serfs, to stand upright, on hind legs, and to acknowledge that Syria continues to fight terrorism on behalf of humanity.

— Miri Wood

NB: Today is the anniversary of the Ghouta massacre, committed by the FSA moderate terrorists who admitted having received their chemical weapons from “Prince Bandar [who should have instructed the killers in their proper usage so as not to have slaughtered some of their own, also].”

US Imperialism in Syria: Daesh, ‘SDF,’ White Phosphorus, Hostages

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Syria

The one and only flag of the Syrian Arab Republic

US and allies have been busy accelerating their war crimes against Syria over the last two days. White phosphorus and “regular” bombings, ambushes and beheading, Syrian IDPs held hostage are not considered newsworthy by NATO media. More shameless, though, are ‘independent’ media increasingly normalizing geopolitical Newspeak.

On 2 March, the US – led fascist coalition, created by Obama and continued by Trump, again bombed al Baghouz — this time a farming village — in Deir Ezzor, with white phosphorus. Un-shockingly, AFP was (safely) on hand to take photos, while omitting the phosphorus bombs, and waxing poetic on the devastation.

Despite ”sanctions”-related telecommunications problems in Syria, AFP reporter claimed that family members in France had spoken with their French terrorist relatives in al Baghouz.
US Coalition doubles down on war crimes, again bombing al Baghouz with white phosphorus. Photo courtesy SANA.

On 3 March, US’s multi-billion dollar subsidized ally, Israel, bombed Quneitra, Syria.

Israeli media are under the fist of IDF censors, who prefer to first report on their military war crimes via reporting on reports of others.

Also on 3 March, rabid Erdogan continued to show his commitment to the [unilateral] ‘Idlib de-escalation zone’ agreement when his sponsored takfiri attacked Syrian Arab Army outposts.

Massive funeral services were held today, 4 March, for the martyred SAA soldiers slaughtered while defending their country from US-backed terrorists.

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The martyrs helped to repel al Qaeda killers from planned attacks against civilians in Hama and Lattakia.

The swine in the UN somehow are oblivious to the worth of Erdogan’s guarantees for the “Idlib de-escalation zone.”

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‘Erdoğan thinks he’s a Muslim Caliph’ President Assad

On 30 January, US acting ambassador to the UN, Jonathan Cook, threatened Syria that the US was ready to hold Syrian IDPs hostage, in Rukban camp, near al Tanf. This imperialist threat has been activated: Though Syria has opened two humanitarian corridors — Jalib and Jabal al Ghurab — illicit American troops refuse to allow convoys to transport out of the open-air jail. There are approximately 40,000 Syrian hostages in this camp.

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Photo & caption 13 January 2019. “EPA” is a photo agency founded by AFP and 6 other European news agencies.

Such heinous crimes against humanity against Syria, and there is no MSM reporting on any of them. Instead, a Google search has three smarmy propaganda pieces:

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Filthy anti-Syria propaganda offered by sewage media.

The ever-feculent BBC writes of British and Dutch human garbage in Syria as though reporting on a romantic honeymoon. Dutch takfiri Yago Riedijik is interviewed showing excellent telecommunications, despite US economic terrorism and US sponsored terrorists blowing up power plants, both of which make electricity and internet sporadic and undependable for ‘ordinary’ Syrians.

Dutch terrorist Yago Riedijik interviewed by rancid BBC, without a hiccough. This rabid dog is a captive in an American jail…in Syria.

Al Jazeera – owned by the Gulfie gas station toilet, Qatar, which has spent billions toward the final solution against Syria — spent most of its report pretending that the “SDF” is not a US-created international wetworkers militia, and normalizing an American colonel in Syria.

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al Khanzeera quoted American illegal/ military terrorist in Syria

ABC News won the Scum Award, for its description of foreign human garbage Mark Taylor, as “serving with the Islamic State group,” as though he were volunteering as diaper-changer for seniors in nursing homes. Every faction of al Qaeda in Syria — FSA, Nusra, ISIS — has been whitewashed by warmongering media whose countries have armed these savages.

New Zealand human garbage whined to ABC that he was “only” a guard for ISIS. Poor baby..

There is no such thing as a “Kurdish jail” in Syria. There are Syrian jails, or there are makeshift jails created by illegal American troops in Syria. This rabid New Zealander dog was freely interviewed in Qamishli, where, on 8 September 2018, “the traitorous and treacherous faction of Kurds” owned by the US, ambushed and slaughtered 13 members of the SAA military security.

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Imagine American soldiers slaughtered in the US, their bodies dumped & the world writing about “moderate American opposition.”
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Liters of blood of the Syrian martyrs….

Most appalling of vicious, separatist propaganda came from the too many ‘independent’ news sites that have been consistently pro-Syria, and consistently anti-NATO “regime change” obliteration. It is inexcusable for any of them to ever cite “SOHR” as credible. “SOHR” is one man, Abdul Rahman, funded by British intelligence.

While he freely admits he has not been in Syria since 2000, he leaves out the part about “fleeing” another trial involving fraud. Syria, after all, remains that paradoxical Utopia in which there is no crime, yet the jails runneth over.

Syria

Worse, still, is the legitimization of the faux “Syrian Defense Forces.” This geopolitical scam was created under the Obama regime, which had planned to turn Syria into Libya, Part II, after FSA terroristsaccidentally bombed themselves with chemical weapons, in Ghouta, 2013, because

They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them.  When Saud Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people he must give them to those who know how to use them.”

The Syrian Arab Republic immediately joined the OPCW, forcing the US to switch gears: Several wetworkers — American, British, Japanese — masquerading as “humanitarians” and/or “journalists” were killed off by other foreign wetworkers as cover for the United States to launch a coalition of war criminals to bomb Syria, as the US never keeps its bargains (see “Cue the Illegal Orangettes,” here).

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President Obama, 10 September 2014, addressed the world, live, to announce the creation of international war criminals. Trump has continued the Nobel Laureate’s work.

The US created al Qaeda. The US created ISIS.

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US created “ISIS

The US created the “SDF,” because wetworkers cannot be killed as photo ops, indefinitely, lest the pool dry up. The above hyperlinked report includes multiple pictures of “SDF” members: Swedes, Brits, Irish, American (included in Americans was a former juvenile delinquent, alcoholic, druggie who bragged that he had “literally done nothing” “but jack off” before joining the US-SDF).

Consider that NATO forces have occupied Syria’s al Tabqa Dam, since February 2013. First it was occupied by NATO created and armed “FSA,” then came the utterly absurd story that US-ISIS chieftains had sought ‘sanctuary’ there, magically wresting control from FSA. In March 2017 came the psyop that the US-SDF had taken control from the US-ISIS which had taken control from the US-FSA.

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al Tabqa Dam.

That Syria has invited the world to take back its particles of human garbage dumped there, does not change the fact that only Syria has the legal authority to arrest criminals in its country. When the “SDF” announces that it has released 283 ISIS prisoners — because ‘they had no blood on their hands’ — this is actually the US admitting it abducts people in Syria, and that it still runs ISIS terrorists against the SAR.

It is an extension of its ongoing imperialist aggression in the Republic, no different than in 2017, when the US signed an agreement with the US for US troops in Syria.

Lest these facts intrude upon the impolite self-soothing of western serfs whose superiority complexes have them always supporting balkanization — under cover of ”rights” of various ethnic groups in othercountries — we chastise their silence when Sheikh al Bouti, of Kurdish origins, was martyred by US sponsored terrorists.

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Sheikh Muhammed Saeed Ramadan al Bouti.
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Sheikh al Bouti with President al Assad and Syria’s Grand Mufti.

We also paraphrase Hillel: That which is military aggression and terrorism in western countries, is also military aggression and terrorism in Syria.

 Miri Wood

NB: It has been noted that a certain social medium’s algorithms take umbrage at headlines with “US” and “ISIS,” censoring such reports and/or suspended accounts that have the temerity to share them.

 

How Syria Won The Revolution; The Jihadi Factor

 

February 06, 2019

By Ghassan and Intibah Kadi

How Syria Won The Revolution; The Jihadi Factor

The “War on Syria” has had many unintended twists and turns that were unforeseeable at the time it began. The plotters had no reason to believe they were going to lose, and the defenders had no option other than doing all they could and risk and sacrifice all that was dear and precious.

However, as frontlines are now being redrawn in Syria in preparation for the final showdown, a recapitulation of the events of the last eight years reveals that Syria did in fact end up having a revolution, but the group that embarked on the initial alleged revolution, the Free Syria Army (FSA) is nowhere to be seen.

This brings us back to the initial “Anti-Syrian Cocktail” that I wrote an article about back in early 2011; http://intibahwakeup.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-anti-syrian-cocktail-by-ghassan-kadi.html. The ring leader was Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, son of then Crown Prince Sultan, and the man who hoped he would be the first grandson of founding King Abdul-Aziz to become king. In two subsequent articles, “The Anti-Syrian Politics” (http://intibahwakeup.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-anti-syrian-politics-by-ghassan.html) and “The Anti Syrian Vendetta”, http://intibahwakeup.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-anti-syrian-vendetta-by-ghassan.html the articles focused on how Bandar tried to raise the largest army he could conjure, and with virtually bottomless funds, he put together a very loosely-united cocktail of groups who had nothing in common other than their hatred towards Syria.

In more ways than one, pre-King Faisal Saudi Arabia kept to itself. Founder, King Abdul-Aziz who died in 1953, had the doctrinal substance that would have exported Wahhabism to neighbouring Muslim countries, but his main concern was to bolster his domain over his new kingdom and give it a strong foundation that would secure its longevity. His successor son Saud was infamous for his orgies and debauchery. He capitalized on the spoils of the new-found wealth and did not have any agenda other than indulging in earthly pleasures. It wasn’t until he was deposed and replaced by his brother Faisal in 1964 that Saudi Arabia had a king who was a fundamentalist and also desirous of spreading Wahhabism to the outside Muslim World.

And when the “War on Syria” began, and long before the identity of the would be willing fighter was well defined, I predicted in the same above-mentioned articles that a widely diverse coalition of enemies of Syria were banding together, using Muslim fundamentalism as a recruitment drive, and as the fundamentalist factor became clear for all to see, it eventually transpired that Qatar became a new kid on the block in providing bigtime funding to a number of terror organizations operating in Syria.

They were all not only united by their hatred for Syria, but also specifically to the Assad legacy; particularly due the fact that the Assads are Alawites, and in their eyes, infidels. Their main objective was to topple President Assad and ensure that Syria was ruled by an anti-Iranian Sunni fundamentalist government.

Bandar had no qualms at all about uniting the ununitable. To Bandar however, it was not about a war of ideologies, and he was no strict Muslim. To Bandar, the “War on Syria” was about power and curbing Iran’s influence in the region. That said, he found in the already-existing numerous Jihadi armies excellent tools and pawns to use. In doing so, he did not foresee the many fault lines emerging in his fragmented army, let alone seeing any reason to worry about such cracks because, in the beginning he seemed to be going from strength to strength, with a seemingly huge chance of success. When he presented his plan to his American masters, he received the thumbs up.

Like all other early indigenous writers who supported Syria from day one of the onslaught, we all took the optimistic view and kept reiterating that victory was certain, but only a question of time. We were mindful of the importance of keeping spirits up and boosting morale, and being optimistic about turns in events and alliances that were to Syria’s advantage. In retrospect however, up until the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) first substantial win of the battle of Qusayr in mid 2013, more than two years into the war, the Jihadis, combined, were winning the war and closing in on key government positions right across the Syrian terrain; including the main cities.

So how did events turn around and how did the “War on Syria” turn against the plotters?

To be able to predict what was to happen was unthinkable in hindsight. It is only now that we can sit and make sense by harking back at the events of the last few years.

It would be virtually impossible to work out which came first, the chicken or the egg, but there is no doubt at all that the resilience of Syrian people and the SAA played the most significant role. But that role could have been reversed had the plotters been better able to play their game to their advantage.

Fortunately the plotters didn’t, but had they played down the role of Jihad and tried to capitalize on political reform, they would have perhaps been better able to achieve their insidious objectives.

Before the war, Syria was fraught with corruption and there were many reasons to call for reform. Agitators aside, was why the initial demonstrations in Daraa were conducted under this banner. It was under this guise also that the infamous FSA was formed as a splinter group of the regular SAA. Virtually all of the FSA officers and soldiers were SAA defectors.

For a while, a fair while, and long before ISIS and Al-Nusra came to prominence, the FSA was the major fighting force against the regular army (SAA).

During those initial months, it was very difficult to convince sympathizers of the so-called Syrian opposition that this was not a civil war, that it was not about reform, and that it was simply a conspiracy against Syria, planned and orchestrated by her regional and international adversaries, using and employing Islamist Jihadists and their supporting nations. The reason behind this difficulty was because those fundamentalist fighters were nowhere to be seen.

This was why many activists, including some prominent pro-Palestine Western activists, were adamant in their support of the “revolution” and genuinely believed that it was a popular revolt seeking reform and political plurality among other things.

In hindsight now, looking back at it all, had the mastermind plotters seen the benefit in the reform/freedom guise, had they had the wisdom and foresight in weighing out their benefits of overtly importing and arming fundamentalist fighters as against focusing their efforts on duping the public and generating real and genuine dissent amongst Syrians to their government, they might have succeeded in creating a revolution that served their agendas.

After all, it would have been conceivable for the plotters to promote misinformation and make it look plausible and endorsable. There is another chicken and egg scenario here. Did the plotters import Jihadi fighters because they weren’t able to mobilize enough Syrians against their government, or did Syrians support their government because the plotters brought in foreign Jihadi fighters?

Whichever one came first here, the chicken or the egg, neither one of them had to cross the road for the people of Syria to ask questions in order to see that what they were witnessing was not a revolution as touted by world media; especially the Western media and their Arab cohorts such as Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya.

Perhaps the plotters’ biggest failure was in being unable to hide their intentions and disguise in a manner that reflected to Syrians that there was indeed a popular and genuine reform-based revolution in their country for them to join.

 

In other words, by allowing the so-called civil war/revolution to show its brutal and ugly fundamentalist sectarian face, the plotters turned many Syrian sympathizers and many other would-be supporters against them. And this was how secular free-minded Syrians flocked together in support of their legitimate secular government; whether they believed that reform was necessary or otherwise. This was the reason why genuine supporters of reform and patriots who are in positions of political opposition to the government all banded together to fight the real enemy. This of course bolstered not only the government’s position, but also that of the SAA and this played a significant role in creating a much more resolute and united Syria.

The plotters also failed in being able to produce a charismatic figure head for the “revolution”. All the while secular Syrians looked up to President Assad and the First Lady; two figure heads charming in every way, and with the power to unite by leading by example.

Of significance also was the fact that the disunited “Anti-Syrian Cocktail” was bound to fragment sooner or later; not only on strategic and doctrinal lines, but also on matters of power sharing, loyalty, and splitting of spoils. To this effect, clashes between different fundamentalist organizations became daily events.

Later on, as the turn of events presented to the plotters and their henchmen that victory was impossible, especially after Russia entered the ground and sky, their infighting morphed into that of survival and hope for better positions on either reconciliation tables or on disengagement talks, or both. Those Jihadi versus Jihadi battles in latter times continued to rage culminating recently in a total takeover by Al-Nusra of all other terror groups in Idlib.

Whilst I have always reiterated in previous articles that there was hardly any difference at all between the numerous fundamentalist Islamic Jihadi organizations, the Wahhabi faction that is loyal to Saudi Arabia has lost abysmally to the Qatari/Turkish led Muslim Brotherhood (MB) faction which is now in full control of the last bastion left for terrorists west of the Euphrates, and specifically in Idlib and surrounds.

With this, Erdogan feels that he still has a finger in the pie before final negotiations commence about the future of the terrorist enclave. Whether those delay tactics work or not for Erdogan, whether they preclude the need for a military resolution is yet to be seen. Any such resolution however will give Erdogan a form of a consolation prize, a humble victory that he badly seeks in Syria after all of his initial gambles went terribly wrong.

At this juncture, we must pause and ask what became of the movement that allegedly represented the passion of Syrians for secular and democratic reform. Where is the FSA now?

If the news about Al-Nusra’s total control of the Idlib region is accurate, we must then assume that the FSA is no longer in existence, because prior to the recent upheaval between Al-Nusra and other brigades in the region, the presence of the FSA was restricted to this area.

Ironically, the FSA has had a late resurgence not too long ago before Al-Nusra wiped out all rival militia, but Erdogan seems to have pulled the plug on the FSA, but for some reason, there is nothing I can find in the news from the region, or anywhere for this matter, to confirm this conclusion or debunk it.

What is clear is that the FSA, the only dissenting player that had in the very early beginnings a miniscule semblance of secular Syrian dissent, perhaps the only player that could have potentially turned into a popular revolution, has been disempowered and dismantled by the same demonic forces that created it and funded it.

Either way, whether Erdogan has done the dirty on the FSA or not, the FSA lost its position and clout when its role was overtaken by the many Islamist terrorist organizations. It tried hard to maintain its presence even though many of its rank-and-file rejoined the SAA, whilst others changed uniform and joined Al-Nusra, but the short of it is that the FSA has become a spent force.

Syria had many problems before the war and continues to grapple with some of them. Wars of such devastating magnitude almost invariably leave behind not only a trail of mess and destruction, but also a countless number of corrupt officials and profiteers. Every dog has its day, and the cleanup will soon begin.

But the irony is that with the “War on Syria”, the lines have been drawn and Syrians now know well who is with them and who is against them, domestically, regionally and internationally. They know what alliances they need to nurture and which others to seek. They know what political system they want and which they totally refute. They have chosen and fought for a government they were told decades ago that it came to power by a popular revolution back in March 1963, and later on reformed by Hafez Assad’s “corrective movement” of November 1970, but the choice Syrians made from 2011 onwards was their own, and they upheld it with tears and blood.

Syria has gone the full circle against her enemies and against archaic and brutal dogmas. It seems that Syria has truly ended up having a revolution after all, a real revolution, and that real revolution has won. There is a great opportunity now to rebuild the nation, to rebuild it on wholesome, principled, virtuous and sound foundations.

The Price Of Bin Salman’s Head

Will MBS in this instance become the West’s new Saddam?

Image result for MBS,trump

October 25, 2018

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

With the ever-changing and escalating aftermath of the Khashoggi disappearance episode, there remain many fixed marks that are interesting to identify.

But before we do, we must stop and briefly look at the official American, Turkish and Saudi stands on this issue.

The Americans are best seen to be playing yoyo with their Saudi “friends”. One moment they seem to be totally abandoning them and sending them spiraling down in a free-fall, and the next moment they lift them up, clutch them, and give them a sense of safety. Notwithstanding that on the 3rd of October, and just before the Khashoggi story hit the media frenzy, Trump reiterated that Saudi Arabia would not last two weeks without America’s support, and what followed was a series of fluctuations and backflips on the American side. At the time of promising severe measures against the Saudis, Trump said that this will not mean canceling the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. And when Pompeo visited Al Saud to talk to the royals, leaving the Kingdom of Sand with an understanding that his boss Trump articulated by hinting at vindicating the royals and putting the blame on some rogue elements, America turned again supporting Turkish investigations and awaiting their outcome, but just before Erdogan’s speech of the 23rd of October, Trump reiterated that he was prepared to accept the Saudi Government denial of involvement.

And speaking of Turkish investigations, the highly awaited Erdogan speech ended in a pop and a fizzle, and was nothing short of a domestic propaganda speech that had no conclusions and did not provide any evidence as to the details of Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder. And “alleged” it remains until a body is found and identified by an independent reliable coroner.

The speech was not endorsed by America, and America was for a few hours or so once again looking sympathetic towards the Saudi royals, but less than 24 hours later, Trump was talking about the “worst cover-up in history”.

There is no need to flood this article with easy-to-find references to substantiate the above.

Back to Erdogan later.

These swings that are extremely bizarre and hypocritical even by American standards make one wonders what kind of relationship do Saudis and Americans have.

To understand the underlying nature of this relationship, having a look at the events of the last ten years or so are revealing enough without having to dig deeper into history.

To this effect, I am not talking about the strategic alliances, defense agreements, the importance of oil to both countries, the world and the Israeli role in all of this. I am not talking about the Saudi obsession with Iran either. What I am talking about is the personal human relationships between the Americans and Saudis as human beings and how they view each other as men; this is about the personal love-hate-respect-loath relationship between American policymakers and their Saudi counterparts.

This “relationship” is not a simple one. It is embroiled by deep cultural differences and belief systems. Having lived and worked in Saudi Arabia, I can understand the Saudi mindset more than many, but anyone who has had the same “privilege” that I had living there would concur, albeit not necessarily be prepared to sit down and write about it.

In case the reader is unfamiliar with the predominant Saudi mindset, speaking generally of course, allow me to pin point certain pertinent aspects of it:

1. Contrary to the word of the Holy Quran and which clearly states that God chose the Arabic language for the religion of Islam, Saudis believe otherwise. They believe that Islam was God’s gift to them.

2. Saudis also believe that God also gave Arabia another gift; petrol, and the biggest national reserve of them all … perhaps.

3. Al-Saud believe they have been afforded the God-given mandate to rule Arabia at the time when petrol became such an important commodity for the rest of the world.

4. Finally, the above “privileges” give Saudis, especially members of the Royal Family, an illusion of being above others. And this mindset views other nations from the perspective that Saudis are the rich masters of the world and that they have the power and ability to employ members of those other nations to “serve” them.

When I lived and worked in Saudi Arabia, Saudis did not work. They had jobs, but they never really worked. Apart from the security apparatus whose job is mainly to protect the status quo of the Royal Family, the only other real working job that Saudis had was taxi driving. But that was what poor and uneducated Bedouins did.

All other jobs from garbage collectors to doctors to dockyard engineers were contracted to expats from different regions of the world. Professional jobs that needed communication and fluency in the Arabic language were given to Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians, Jordanians and Egyptians. Blue collar jobs were given to Yemenis and Arabs of the above nationalities without tertiary education. High ranking professional jobs that did not require fluency in Arabic were given to Americans and Europeans.

This mentality produced a generation or two or three of Saudis who are filthy rich, overweight, and engrossed with self-grandeur and superiority that was fed time and time again by their financial prowess.

But this is not restricted to Saudis only. Arabs of the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait all have that same superiority disease. Qatar that has a Qatari population of less than 200,000 has a population of over one and a half million expats to “serve them”. This is exactly how they see it; themselves being masters, and expats beings serving serfs.

In recent times, the Saudi and Gulf youth have increasingly been gaining tertiary education qualifications, receiving generous government scholarships and immediate employment following graduation. The Saudi Government protects its people by imposing quota rules on the percentage of Saudi employees in companies as well as the public sector of course. However, this fact has not been reflected in the work load they perform. These educated Saudis sit at the head of governmental positions and companies in tokenistic managerial supervisory roles over an entire staff of foreign professionals. They often try to assert their positions and feed their egos by yelling and barking irrelevant, and often laughable orders, at their employees and junior staff. And even if they are not in managerial roles, they will still be around the foreign professionals, leaving all the work for them to do and doing nothing themselves.

Saudi professionals I “worked with” were living examples for me to learn this mindset. They did not lift a finger, but when a report was submitted by either myself or other expats around me, a Saudi name had to appear as its senior author, and he received all the accolade.

Saudis genuinely believe that they can buy anything and anyone with money, including buying the stature of being a leading nation.

And if, hypothetically-speaking, the Saudis were to contract a Western company to build them a space ship and send a man to Mars, they will regard this as a Saudi achievement. Surprised? Well, just have a look at Dubai’s “achievement” in building Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on earth.

Once again, that Saudi mentality is not any better or worse than the general oil-rich Arabian one. They are all almost identical.

At a deep and subtle level however, the Saudis (and Gulfies in general) know well that in the eyes of the Empire and its cohorts, they are perceived as a bunch of “uncivilized camel riders” who happen to be horribly rich by sheer luck. They know that they are not really regarded as true allies of the West, but as its milking cow; and some Saudis and Gulfies are trying to change this image.

None tried harder than Prince Bandar Bin Sultan.

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Prince Bandar Bin Sultan was Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington from 1983 to 2005. He became the Saudi royal who best understood the Western mind and how the West regarded the Arab World, and especially Saudi Arabia. He had his own evil agenda he wanted to use to catapult himself into ascending to the throne as the first grandson of founding King Abdul-Aziz.

He was a close personal friend of the Bushes and many others in the previous and successive American administrations. And, if America ever had a Saudi Prince that American lawmakers could speak to and reciprocate understanding with, it was Bandar Bin Sultan.

He was banking on the fact that his father, Sultan, had been in line for the throne for decades and was Crown Prince ever since King Abdullah took the throne in 2005. But to Bandar’s disappointment, his father died in 2011, before King Abdullah who died in 2015.

As Bandar Bin Sultan was grooming himself to become king after his father, his knowledge of the Western mind and closeness to many key people in the United States led him to realize that he had to present himself as a competent and reliable partner in order to be respected.

Bandar wanted to demonstrate his personal character worth to his American allies by plotting the “War on Syria”. That war was his pet project and his license to achieve equality with his American friends. But Bandar fell on his sword when Syrian resistance proved to be much stronger than his ambitions, and not long after his failed desperate attempt to persuade America to attack Syria after he blamed the Syrian Army for a chemical attack that he staged in East Ghouta in September 2013, Bandar disappeared, vanishing into oblivion.

With the rapid and unprecedented changes in the line of Saudi throne succession that followed Prince Sultan’s death, and which eventually presented Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS) as the new Saudi strong-man Crown Prince, the young prince had big shoes to fill. Haunted by the image, ambition and failures of Bandar, MBS had a bigger “obligation” to prove his worth to his American “allies”.

The war on Yemen was MBS’s own “love-child”. He wanted to kill two birds with one stone; overcoming the Houthis, and proving to America that he is reliable in curbing Iran’s regional influence. He was hoping he could prove that his army was able to fight and win a war against Iran itself. He thus gave his war a name akin to American military operations; “Operation Decisive Storm”. Sounds a bit like “Operation Desert Storm”, does it not? In doing this, he wanted to put himself on par with great military leaders and score a quick and decisive victory in Yemen. Three years later, he cannot even hold his own borders.

In more ways than one, in as much as the Saudis and Gulfies have the afore-mentioned superiority complex, ironically they also possess a huge inferiority complex. They try to prove their own worth by bragging their “friendship” with America, and when President Trump made his first formal visit as President to Saudi Arabia, he was greeted like no other visiting foreign dignitary anywhere in the past. Only Elizabeth Taylor could claim such a reception as Hollywood’s version of Cleopatra.

Trump’s visit was Saudi Arabia’s greatest moment of “pride”.

But even on much smaller matters, Saudis and Gulfies brag their Western employees and they have a special liking for white blue-eyed Westerners. With thousands of Americans and Westerners working in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, it would be rare, if not impossible, to find a black American/Westerner; especially if the post involves being in the public view. And this is because, if you are a Saudi employer and you need a Westerner to fill the position of a public relations officer, you would want a white, blue-eyed person on that desk and not a black person. After all, a black Westerner could be mistaken for a Sudanese, a Somalese or a member of any other “inferior” African nation; as perceived in the eyes of the Saudis/Gulfies.

Back to the Khashoggi debacle and the role of Erdogan. As mentioned above, in his Tuesday the 23rd of October speech, Erdogan did not supply the goods, and it was time for America to pull the rug from underneath his feet, reclaim control of the narrative, and draw the Saudi yoyo back up again to give the Saudis a bit of a breather; until further notice. America can neither afford to keep the fate of the Khashoggi story in Erdogan’s hands any more than it can afford to lose the Saudi milking cow. But the human relationships between Americans and Saudis are now perhaps at their worst, and mostly for the Saudis. The Saudis have again failed the validity and fortitude test and they know they have taken a back step that needs many years, perhaps decades to recover from. In the eyes of the Americans, their credibility as partners and viability as capable men has suffered a big time blow.

The biggest twist perhaps in the Khashoggi debacle is that the Saudis have always felt that they were entitled to the same level of impunity the West affords to itself. After all, this was how Al-Saud got away with persecuting dissent, imposing undemocratic laws, and exporting Wahhabi ideology and the terror acts that come with it. Needless to mention the biggest human tragedy of them all; inflicting war crimes in Yemen, killing tens of thousands and inflicting starvation and disease upon millions others.

But when America lifted the blanket of impunity on the Saudis over the Khashoggi story leaving them out on their own to face the consequences of their crimes for a change, the Saudis indeed did not survive for more than two weeks.

Just imagine how would the world popular opinion could be manipulated if leading Western media outlets suddenly “decide” to start reporting the Yemeni tragedy and the role of Saudi Arabia in creating it, and specifically the role of MBS in creating this tragedy. Will MBS in this instance become the West’s new Saddam?

MBS has been named, his Foreign Minister desperately tried to isolate him from the Khashoggi story, but it is up to America and its “fake news” media to decide whether or not MBS is implicated, and the more they implicate him, the deeper America can dig into his pocket. And as this article was getting ready to be submitted for publishing, MBS himself broke his silence proclaiming that the murder of Khashoggi was a heinous crime and that those responsible will be punished.

Either way, when the Saudis return to the negotiating table with their American “partners”, MBS will not only be facing a bill for American protection of Saudi Arabia per se, but also a bill for protecting his own personal aspirations to become king as well as protecting his own head. He must prepare himself to expect a hefty price of his own head. What will that price be is yet to be seen.

israel (apartheid state) lobby wants Saudis to get away with Khashoggi murder

Israel lobby wants Saudis to get away with Khashoggi murder

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, right, chats with Jordan’s King Abdullah at the Future Investment Initiative conference, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 23 October. The economic forum is the kingdom’s first major global event since the Saudi crown prince was implicated in the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.

Amr Nabil AP Photo

With ever more gruesome details emerging about the slaying and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, fingers of blame are pointing squarely at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

This is a huge problem for Israel and its lobby who see the Saudi de facto ruler – commonly referred to in English-language media by his initials MBS – as their key regional ally.

Until the 2 October killing in Istanbul, the Saudi autocrat had been feted by European royalty, American politicians and pundits, and Silicon Valley billionaires.

But following the Khashoggi killing, many are running for cover, especially one of the Saudi crown prince’s most egregious cheerleaders, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

Friedman and company had been marketing MBS as a “reformer.”

Israel lobby stalwart and longtime US “peace process” steward Dennis Ross even dubbed the prince “a Saudi revolutionary.”

This was all in keeping with a tradition – which as Georgetown University in Qatar professor Abdullah Al-Arian documented goes back decades – of US elites greeting every new Saudi ruler as a “reformer.”

This ruse operates as cover and justification for a deep US alliance with a regime whose brutality and abuses have always gone unchecked.

But the ruse can only work if the Saudis keep their side of the bargain, by refraining from actions that fall outside the elite consensus of acceptable and marketable behavior.

Killing thousands of children in Yemen and starving millions more, beheading dozens of people each year and funding jihadist groups to sow chaos across the region can all be tolerated by the US and Europe, because such atrocities are seen as necessary to keep the Saudi regime in power, or essential to implement Western “foreign policy.”

Murdering and dismembering a Washington Post columnist inside a Saudi diplomatic mission, however, just goes too far and hits too close to home.

“Now, as Saudi Arabia struggles to rebut accusations that Crown Prince Mohammad was complicit in the grisly killing of a Saudi dissident, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the prince’s other allies across the region are starting to worry that damage to him could upend their own plans and priorities,” The New York Times acknowledged on Monday.

“Kid gloves”

But amid the howls of outrage, there are still quite a few voices cautioning against being too hard on MBS, because of his value to Israel.

As BuzzFeed noted on 18 October, Israel, Saudi Arabia’s “unofficial ally,” has remained “noticeably quiet” about Khashoggi’s killing.

The Israelis are “in a very difficult position,” Dan Shapiro, President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Israel, told the publication. “They count very much on Saudi Arabia,” which is “central to their strategic concept of the region.”

Indeed, Israel and Saudi Arabia are staunch allies, sharing an enmity towards Iran.

The Saudi crown prince’s pro-Israel leanings and attacks on the Palestinians last spring greatly boosted his stock with Israel and its lobby.

But a Saudi Arabia weakened as a result of the Khashoggi affair would “undermine Arab cover provided by the kingdom for [President Donald] Trump’s efforts to impose a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would favor Israel at the expense of the Palestinians,” James Dorsey, of Israel’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, warned in a commentary Tuesday.

Given what Israel hopes to gain from its relationship with Saudi Arabia, some are arguing that it should stand by the Saudi crown prince no matter what.

Haaretz commentator Tzvia Greenfield counseled that even if MBS ordered the murder of Khashoggi, “it’s necessary to treat the suspect with kid gloves.”

“For 50 years we’ve prayed for a key Arab leader who agrees to sign a significant pact with Israel. Such a leader has finally arrived,” Greenfield stated, adding that calls to remove MBS “are destructive.”

“Quiet diplomacy”

That view is shared by Israeli political and military elites, according to The Times of Israel, which noted that Israeli officials are likely engaged in “quiet diplomacy” in support of Saudi Arabia.

“Israel’s knowledge of the Middle East is highly respected in large parts of the world, including in Europe, and therefore Israeli warnings of the impact of moving away from Saudi Arabia are very important,” Dore Gold, former director-general of Israel’s foreign ministry, told The Times of Israel.

But Gold cautioned that such work should be done behind the scenes, according to the publication.

Martin Indyk, another long-time US “peace process” diplomat who launched his career from a think tank founded by the Israel lobby group AIPAC, has also gone into damage control mode on behalf of the Saudis.

Indyk told Bloomberg television that the Saudis should try to change the subject from Khashoggi.

Given that the US has made Saudi Arabia a “pillar” of its anti-Iran strategy, Indyk said, “we have to find a way to get the Saudi leadership, particularly Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince, to take an active role, not only in terms of saying there will be a thorough, transparent investigation – we should aim for that, we’re not going to get it – but also in terms of switching the channel, in making the focus something positive.”

Indyk suggested that MBS could announce “getting out of Yemen,” or releasing some female political prisoners as a way to change the subject.

MBS needs to “do something to double down on his positive reform agenda to make it clear that there’s a reason to be supporting him,” Indyk urged.

In other words, Indyk is hoping that the old rules can quickly be restored: where Saudi leaders pretend to be “reformers,” and US elites pretend to believe them, and that this would rescue MBS.

Josh Block, the head of another lobby group, The Israel Project, took to Twitter to call Khashoggi “a radical Islamist terrorist ally who was close to Osama bin Laden, ISIS, Hamas and wanted to overthrow the Saudi ruling royals, who oppose both the Sunni terrorists, sponsored by Turkey and Qatar, as well as Iran’s Shia terrorist armies and allies.”

Without going as far as openly defending the killing of Khashoggi, Block nonetheless minimized it by claiming that the columnist was a “bad guy prob[ably] killed by bad guys.”

In other words, there’s nothing to see here.

Block also echoed Riyadh’s crude propaganda that the press reports detailing Khashoggi’s killing were part of a plot sponsored by powers hostile to Saudi Arabia, which he characterized as one of several “Western-oriented Arab regimes.”

Changing Saudi lobby

As’ad AbuKhalil, a professor at California State University, Stanislaus, took early note of the Israel lobby’s defense of Saudi Arabia and its crown prince.

AbuKhalil told The Electronic Intifada that the aggressive mobilization reflects the elevated status of the Saudi lobby as a result of its alliance with Israel.

“Until this decade, lobbying for Saudi Arabia has been an American affair largely relying on oil companies, arms manufacturers and former politicians,” AbuKhalil explained.

But in the last 10 years, groups including SAPRAC and the Arabia Foundation “came along at a time when there was more acceptance of lobbying with a Saudi face, and this is part of the crowning of the Saudi-Israeli alliance.”

“Arab lobbying in Washington, DC, cannot occur without the blessing of the Israel lobby, and this is true of the Qatari lobby, the Lebanese lobby, the Egyptian lobby and the Saudi lobby,” AbuKhalil said.

Can all this effort save MBS from the storm over Khashoggi?

“The Israel lobby is really nervous,” AbuKhalil said. “The Israel lobby wants to save that prince so badly, but there is so much outrage in US media and in Congress.”

AbuKhalil thinks much of the advocacy for MBS is being done behind the scenes. Nonetheless, he sees the Saudi crown prince as solidly entrenched internally, with little chance of being overthrown by a royal family whose influential members the crown prince has totally sidelined.

“The only way it’s going to happen is if the US decides to get rid of him,” AbuKhalil said. “The Israelis don’t want to abandon him either, and so his best bet is to get even closer to Israel.”

“That’s why I predict [MBS] may go to the Knesset next year,” AbuKhalil said, a reference to former Egyptian ruler Anwar Sadat’s dramatic 1977 trip to the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem that cemented Egypt in the US-Israeli camp.

 

Saudi Arabia—not Iran—is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world today

The Real Largest State Sponsor of Terrorism

 by Adam Weinstein

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense of the Kingdom of Sau

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in the Oval Office at the White House, March 14, 2017.

Saudi Arabia—not Iran—is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world today and Wahhabism remains the source of most radical Islamic extremism. For years Iran has borne the unenviable title of “world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism.” However, out of the 61 groups that are designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department, the overwhelming majority are Wahhabi-inspired and Saudi-funded groups, with a focus on the West and Iran as their primary enemy. Only two are Shi’a—Hezbollah and Kataib Hezbollah, and only four have ever claimed to receive support from Iran. Nearly all of the Sunni militant groups listed receive significant support from either the Saudi government or Saudi citizens.

The Great Compromise

Wahhabism is an ideology of compromise between the ambitions of the zealot and the needs of the ruler. Wahhabism can be thought of as a religio-political subcategory of the Salafi approach to Islam. Salafis get their name from the al-salaf al-salih or “pious companions” of Muhammad whose practices they claim to imitate. What distinguishes Wahhabism from Salafism is that the former is dependent on the House of Saud for its power whereas the latter is a phenomenon that exists globally.

The 18th century partnership of tribal leader Ibn Saud and cleric Abd al-Wahhab wedded two parallel sources of legitimacy in Arabia—religion and tribal kinship. The clerics known as ulema received their authority from God and then conferred it upon the Saud clan themselves. In exchange the ulema are protected from the risks that come with governance. Wahhabis must be distinguished from jihadi Salafis because Wahhabism is inextricably linked to the Saudi state and therefore not revolutionary in nature. The Royal family walks a tightrope between the liberalization necessary for economic development and strong political ties with the West, and the more conservative demands of the Wahhabi movement. One such demand is to turn a blind eye to the sponsorship and export of terrorism and jihad in South Asia, the Middle East, and even the West.

Exporting Jihad And Buying Friends

Some contend that Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia are being used as scapegoats when in fact the real causes of Islamist terrorism are far more complex. Mohammed Alyahya made just this argument in his New York Times article “Don’t Blame ‘Wahhabism’ for Terrorism.” The crux of the argument is that “most Islamist militants have nothing to do with Saudi Wahhabism.” For example, he asserts that the Taliban are Deobandis which is “a revivalist, anti-imperialist strain of Islam that emerged as a reaction to British colonialism in South Asia” and al Qaeda “follow a radical current that emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood.” While a nuanced understanding of the causes of terrorism is important, it must not lead policymakers to ignore an obvious source.

It is certainly true that not all Sunni extremist movements find their roots in Wahhabism. Al Qaeda was inspired by the anti-state Islamist literature of Muslim Brothers like Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb. But organizations and movements evolve. The al Qaeda we know today is very much a product of the more extreme elements of the Wahhabi movement that is tolerated and promoted by Riyadh. However, it is Pakistan rather than the Arab world, which is the true ground zero of Saudi Arabia’s export of extremism. An invasive strain of Saudi-sponsored Salafism, often referred to as the Ahl-e-Hadith movement, has spread throughout Pakistan, all the while the fundamentalist Deobandi movement is increasingly supported by Gulf donors. According to a U.S. government cable, “financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from ‘missionary’ and ‘Islamic charitable’ organizations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.” This fusion of Salafism and Deobandism occurs at the expense of indigenous South Asian interpretations of Islam like the Sufi-oriented Barelvis.

The close relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan began as early as the administration of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. According to a recently available CIA report, in 1975, Bhutto “obtained assurances of generous aid from Saudi Arabia” during a state visit. In exchange for such support Pakistan “furnished military technicians and advisers to the armed forces of Saudi Arabia.” Other CIA documents reveal that during Zia ul-Haq’s military dictatorship, Pakistan viewed the Soviet presence in Afghanistan beginning in 1979 as an existential threat. So Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency was more than enthusiastic to train Pashtun mujahideen to fight the Soviets with Saudi and U.S. assistance.

Saudi officials naturally garnered greater respect from Pakistani officers than their American counterparts due to the revered status of the Kingdom as caretaker of the two holiest sites in Islam. The U.S. also underestimated the extent to which Pakistani officers would develop sympathies for the militants they spent years training. The ISI became an intermediary between Saudi Arabia and militant Islamic groups across South Asia. During the 1990s, the ISI shifted its focus towards Kashmir and the Punjab in an effort to counter perceived Indian aggression. But the deep connections fostered between the ISI and various militants resurfaced after 9/11 when their focus pivoted back to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile the ISI fought some militant groups while allowing others like the Haqqani Network to remain powerful. When Osama bin Laden was discovered in Pakistan, the U.S. ramped up drone strikes against safe havens, and the ISI retaliated by releasing the name of the CIA’s Islamabad bureau chief which resulted in numerous death threats. Since 9/11, Gulf dollars have continued to bolster extremist groups inside Pakistan even as Pakistani civilians die by the thousands from suicide operations linked to Saudi-sponsored madrasas.

In exchange for tolerating Gulf-sponsored terrorism Pakistani leaders get security. While in power they have an unofficial army of militants they can call upon to deal with anything from Baluchi separatists to keeping India on its toes. Once they leave power they have an escape hatch to protect them and their family. When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was found guilty of corruption, kidnapping, and hijacking, in the summer of 2000, Saudi Arabia accepted him to live in exile. Benazir Bhutto’s notoriously corrupt widow and ex-president, Asif Zardari, went on a “self-imposed exile” to the U.A.E. throughout 2016. And the former president and general, Pervez Musharraf, is currently hiding out in Dubai to avoid prosecution for treason charges.

But the export of extremism from Saudi Arabia is not always by design. In his history of Pakistan, Ian Talbot argued that “the exposure of the lower-class Pakistanis to the Islamic heartland further encouraged a mindset favourable to Islamization, although Zia was to find that its impact on sectarianism was to prove unpredictable and potentially destabilizing.” Saudi Arabia fears the effects of its own radicalization and recently deported 40,000 Pakistani workers over concerns of terrorism. Today South Asia is rocked by sectarian violence from the mountainous peaks of Kabul to the tropical markets of Karachi and posh hotels of Mumbai. This February, suicide attacks killed hundreds across Pakistan. The province of Sindh begged the central government to shut down Gulf-funded seminaries. Islamabad declined.

Controlling The Message

The internet age rendered in-person missionary work by Saudi clerics less relevant. The radical messages of Saudi preachers and their protégés can be viewed on mobile phones across the world. Students filter into the seminaries in Mecca and Medina and return to teach at the hundreds of madrasas spread across the world. These representatives of the Kingdom do not always preach a militant message. Sometimes, and perhaps more dangerously, they preach an apologist one.

In 2008, popular Indian televangelist Zakir Naik called 9/11 an “inside job” done by the Bush administration to defame Islam. He also commented that “If he [Osama bin Laden] is terrorizing America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, I am with him.” Despite these comments Naik went on to win the King Faisal International Prize for his “service to Islam.” The conspiracy theories he peddles are crucial to Saudi Arabia’s standing among the Muslim masses that are not necessarily prone to violence. However, conspiracy theories that brush aside the problem of extremism within the Kingdom are nothing new. Rumors about U.S. involvement in the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca led to an attack on the U.S. embassy in Islamabad in 1979 resulting in the death of two U.S. citizens.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia spends millions on public relations firms in Washington D.C. every year in order to ensure it is not viewed as a state sponsor—or even enabler—of terrorism. The Kingdom attempts to contain the effects of its own hate preachers by campaigning to distance itself from the most egregious acts of terrorism in the Muslim world while still embracing a Salafi message. All the while in D.C. the Kingdom scrambles to disassociate itself not only from terrorism but from extremism altogether.

A Complicated Relationship

Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull once asked President Obama “aren’t the Saudis your friends?” Obama famously replied “it’s complicated.” It is complicated. How can Saudi Arabia possibly serve as an effective partner against terror when its internal security is dependent on the continued export of terrorism? The answer is that for both Saudi Arabia and the U.S. the other has always been the perceived lesser of two evils.

In the early 1930s when U.S. companies first began to explore the Saudi oil market they were favored by the Royal family over the British who were viewed as imperialists disguised as businessmen. This enemy-of-my-enemy partnership grew closer during the Cold War and the goal to contain the Soviets was described as the “complementary foreign policy” of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia in a 1983 CIA memorandum. The fact that Saudi Arabia promoted a resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism in order to counter the Soviet Union did not alarm the U.S. intelligence community. Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution in Iran cemented Saudi Arabia’s position as the lesser of two perceived evils.

When the Gulf War incited harsh criticism of the Royal family for hosting non-Muslim soldiers they responded by coopting the majority of Wahhabi scholars into official government positions. Those who were too extreme for government work were encouraged to go abroad. The “28 pages”  report detailing connections between the Saudi government and 9/11 hijackers proved once and for all that it wasn’t only private Saudi citizens who provide financing and manpower to radical terrorist organizations but the government itself. But Saudi Arabia claims it too is in a fight against radical extremism. Yet the majority of terrorist attacks in the Kingdom remain directed at the Shi‘a minority in the Eastern Province and Western targets. In fact, the U.S. State Department website explicitly warns citizens in Saudi Arabia to avoid “places where members of the Shia-Muslim minority gather.”

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad recently wrote in Politico that the Saudis claim to have adopted a  new “policy of honesty” and admitted to him that in the past they had funded extremists. However, partial confessions and lukewarm commitments to fight terrorism are a pillar of Saudi diplomacy. After 9/11, the Saudi government made some effort to share intelligence and set up rehabilitation facilities for low-risk terrorists. But this was largely a show of good will that produced few long-term gains in the war on terrorism. The infamous “Podesta emails” confirm that the U.S. intelligence community believes Saudi Arabia and Qatar are now  “providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL.” The export of fanaticism and terrorism is a necessary release valve so that the fragile equilibrium of Saudi society does not implode.

One Terrorism Policy

When the late Taliban commander, Mullah Mansoor, was killed in May of last year, it was his recent trip to Iran that became the focal point of discussion. For years, however, Washington all but ignored that the vast majority of the ammonium nitrate used to construct IEDs that delimb American soldiers in Afghanistan comes from Pakistan. In 2007, at the height of the war in Iraq, the U.S. military estimated that 45% of all foreign terrorists targeting U.S. troops were Saudi. Now the debate in Washington is whether to designate Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as terrorist organizations. The Muslim Brotherhood has rarely engaged in terrorism and the IRGC’s main focus appears to be Iranian dissidents abroad and fighting ISIS in Syria. Meanwhile the metastasization of Gulf-sponsored terrorist networks continues unabated. Counterterrorism policy has been reduced to a popularity contest rather than an assessment of real threats.

The U.S. must stop treating implicit and explicit state sponsors of terrorism differently. Saudi Arabia’s compartmentalized efforts at containing rather than eradicating extremism should not be lauded as a genuine partnership. States that clandestinely sponsor terrorism, albeit sloppily, must be held to the same standards as those that openly provide support. Counterterrorism strategists must adopt a long-horizon approach and recognize that state sponsors of terrorist groups are responsible for the consequences even when those organizations inevitably go rogue and turn on their benefactor. And just as Pakistan paid a heavy price for tolerating Saudi support for Wahhabi terror, the U.S. and the West are starting to feel the brunt of their own negligence of Riyadh and Doha’s love affair with terrorists.

Indeed, the very phrase “biggest state sponsor of terrorism” is best removed from diplomatic vocabulary altogether because so long as it shines the spotlight on only one country, others will hide in its shadow.

Adam Weinstein is a veteran of the Marine Corps, where he served in Afghanistan, and a policy research intern at the National Iranian American Council. He tweets at @AdamNoahWho.

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