MBS: Despot in The Desert

July 31, 2022 

Nicolas Pelham- The Economist

No one wanted to play football with Muhammad bin Salman. Sure, the boy was a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, but so were 15,000 other people. His classmates preferred the company of his cousins, who were higher up the assumed order of succession, a childhood acquaintance recalls. As for the isolated child who would one day become crown prince, a family friend recounts hearing him called “little Saddam”.

Home life was tricky for bin Salman, too (he is now more commonly known by his initials, [MBS]. His father, Salman, already had five sons with his first wife, an educated woman from an elite urban family. MBS’s mother, Salman’s third wife, was a tribeswoman. When MBS visited the palace where his father lived with his first wife, his older half-brothers mocked him as the “son of a Bedouin”. Later, his elder brothers and cousins were sent to universities in America and Britain. The Bedouin offspring of Prince Salman stayed in Riyadh to attend King Saud University.

As young adults, the royals sometimes cruised on superyachts together; MBS was reportedly treated like an errand boy, sent onshore to buy cigarettes. A photo from one of these holidays shows a group of 16 royals posing on a yacht-deck in shorts and sunglasses, the hills of the French Riviera behind them. In the middle is MBS’s cousin, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire investor dubbed “the Arabian Warren Buffett”. MBS, tall and broad-shouldered in a white t-shirt, is pushed to the farthest edge.

Fast forward to today, and MB has moved to the center of the frame, the most important decision-maker in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy but MBS’s 86-year-old father, though nominally head of state, is rarely seen in public anymore. It has been clear for several years that MBS is in charge. “In effect,” a former Saudi intelligence agent told me, “King Salman is no longer king.”

At first glance the 36-year-old prince looks like the ruler many young Saudis had been waiting for, closer in age to his people than any previous king – 70% of the Saudi population is under 30. The millennial autocrat is said to be fanatical about the video game “Call of Duty”: he blasts through the inertia and privileges of the mosque and royal court as though he were fighting virtual opponents on screen.

His restless impatience and disdain for convention have helped him push through reforms that many thoughts wouldn’t happen for generations. The most visible transformation of Saudi Arabia is the presence of women in public where once they were either absent or closely guarded by their husband or father. There are other changes, too. Previously, the kingdom offered few diversions besides praying at the mosque; today you can watch Justin Bieber in concert, sing karaoke or go to a Formula 1 race. A few months ago, I even went to a rave in a hotel….

But embracing Western consumer culture doesn’t mean embracing Western democratic values: it can as easily support a distinctively modern, surveillance state. On my recent trips to Saudi Arabia, people from all levels of society seemed terrified about being overheard voicing disrespect or criticism, something I’d never seen there before. “I’ve survived four kings,” said a veteran analyst who refused to speculate about why much of Jeddah, the country’s second-largest city, is being bulldozed: “Let me survive a fifth.”

The West, beguiled by promises of change and dependent on Saudi oil, at first seemed prepared to ignore MBS’s excesses. Then, in late 2018, Saudi officials in Istanbul murdered a Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, and dismembered his body with a bone saw. Even the most pro-Saudi leaders turned away.

…. After Putin invaded Ukraine in February, the price of crude shot up. Boris Johnson was on a plane within weeks. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, previously a sworn enemy of the crown prince, embraced MBS in Riyadh in April. War even forced America’s president into a humiliating climbdown. On the campaign trail in 2020 Joe Biden had vowed to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah”. But on July 15th he went to make his peace with MBS– trying to avoid shaking MBS’s hand, he instead opted for a fist bump that left the two looking all the chummier. Even critics at home acknowledged MBs’s victory. “He made Biden look weak,” said a Saudi columnist in Jeddah. “He stood up to a superpower and won before the world.”

For MBS, this is a moment of triumph. His journey from the fringe of a photograph to the heart of power is almost complete. He will probably be king for decades. During that time, his country’s oil will be needed to sate the world’s enduring demand for energy.

A kingdom where the word of one man counts for so much depends utterly on his character. The hope is that, with his position secure, MBS will forswear the vengefulness and intolerance that produced Khashoggi’s murder. But some, among them his childhood classmates, fear something darker. They are reminded of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, a one-time modernizer who became so addicted to accumulating power that he turned reckless and dangerous. “At first power bestows grandeur,” a former Western intelligence officer told me, of MBS. “But then comes the loneliness, suspicion and fear that others will try to grab what you grabbed.”

During the early years of MBS’s ascent, I was vaguely aware of him as one prince among many. I probably wouldn’t have paid him much attention if an old contact of mine hadn’t joined his staff. His new boss, my contact said, was serious about shaking things up. He arranged the meeting at a faux-ancient mud-brick village on the outskirts of Riyadh in 2016. As my Economist colleagues and I approached, the gates of MBS’s compound suddenly slid open, like a Bond-villain’s lair. In the inner chamber sat MBS.

Reform has often been promised in Saudi Arabia – usually in response to American hectoring – but successive kings lacked the mettle to push change through. When the Al-Saud conquered Arabia in the 1920s, they made an alliance with an ultra-conservative religious group called the Wahhabis. In 1979, after a group of religious extremists staged a brief armed takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Al-Saud decided to make the kingdom more devout to fend off a possible Islamic revolution, as had just happened in Iran. Wahhabi clerics were empowered to run society as they saw fit.

The Wahhabis exercised control through the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, otherwise known as the religious police. They whacked the ankles of women whose hair poked through their veil and lashed the legs of men who wore shorts. The arrangement suited the House of Saud. Wahhabism provided social control and gave legitimacy to the Saudi state, leaving the royals free to enjoy their oil wealth in the more permissive environments of London and Paris, or behind the gates of their palaces.

I’m loth to admit it now, but as the prince talked in Riyadh about his plans to modernize society and the economy, I was impressed by his enthusiasm, vision and command of the details. He gave what turned out to be accurate answers about how and when his reforms would happen. Though he was not yet crown prince, he frequently referred to Saudi Arabia as “my” country. We arrived at around 9pm. At 2am, MBS was still in full flow.

MBS was affable, self-assured, smiling. His advisers were more subdued. If they spoke at all, it was to robotically repeat their master’s lines. Yet when MBS left the room to take a call, they started chatting animatedly. As the prince re-entered, silence fell.

Like many in those early years, I was excited about what MBS might do for the kingdom. When I returned to the capital a few months later I saw a number of men wearing shorts. I kept looking over my shoulder for the religious police, but none came – they had been stripped of their powers of arrest.

As crown prince, MBS introduced a code of law so that judicial sentencing accords with state guidelines, not a judge’s own interpretation of the Koran. He criminalized stoning to death and forced marriage. The most overt change involved the role of women. MBS attacked guardianship laws that prevented women from working, travelling, owning a passport, opening a business, having hospital treatment or divorcing without approval from a male relative. In practice, many Saudi women have found these new rights hard to claim in a patriarchal society, and men can still file claims of disobedience against female relatives. But MBS’s reforms were more than cosmetic. Some clerics were jailed; the rest soon fell into line.

For foreigners, Riyadh is less forbidding these days. “I’m afraid I’ll be caught for not drinking,” a teetotal businessman told me. “There’s cocaine, alcohol and hookers like I haven’t seen in southern California,” says another party-goer. “It’s really heavy-duty stuff”.

When MBS first entered public life, he had a reputation for being as strait-laced as his father, rare among royals. That quickly changed. Many of the people interviewed for this article said that they believe MBS frequently uses drugs, which he denies. A court insider says that in 2015 his friends decided that he needed some r&r on an island in the Maldives. According to investigative journalists Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck in their book “Blood and Oil”, 150 models were recruited to join the gathering and were then shuttled “by golf cart to a medical center to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases”. Several international music stars were flown in, including Afrojack, a Dutch dj. Then the press blew MBS cover.

Thereafter, the prince preferred to unwind off the Red Sea coast. At weekends his entourage formed a flotilla by mooring their yachts around his, Serene, which has a driving range and a cinema. According to a former official, “dj MBS”, as his friends called him, would spin the discs wearing his trademark cowboy hat. The yacht is only one of the luxuries MBS has splurged on. He also bought a £230m ersatz French chateau near Versailles, built in 2008 (the meditation room doubles as an aquarium). He is said to have boasted that he wanted to be the first trillionaire.

We put these and other allegations in this article to MBS’s representatives. Through the Saudi embassy in London, they issued a broad denial, saying “the allegations are denied and are without foundation.”

MBS’s loosening of social mores reflects the values of many of his youthful peers, in Saudi and beyond – as does his taste for the flashier side of life. Yet despite the social revolution, the prince is no keener than Wahhabi clerics on letting people think for themselves. Shortly before lifting a ban on women driving in 2018, MBS’s officials imprisoned Loujain al-Hathloul, one of the leaders of the campaign for women’s rights. Her family say jailers waterboarded and electrocuted her, and that Saud al-Qahtani, one of MBS’s closest advisers, was present during her torment and threatened to rape her. [A un investigation found reasonable grounds to believe that Qahtani was involved in the torture of female activists. Qahtani allegedly told one of these women: “I’ll do whatever I like to you, and then I’ll dissolve you and flush you down the toilet.”] Hathloul was charged with inciting change to the ruling system. The message was clear: only one person was allowed to do that.

MBS is ruthlessly ambitious – he reportedly loved reading about Alexander the Great as a teenager – but he also owes his rise to some extraordinary twists of fortune. Succession can be an unpredictable affair in Saudi Arabia. The monarchy is only two generations old, founded in 1932, and the crown has so far moved from brother to brother among the founding ruler’s sons. That has become harder as the prospective heirs age. MBS’s father wasn’t tipped to be king, but after his two older brothers died unexpectedly in 2011 and 2012, he was catapulted up the line of succession.

When Salman became the heir-designate aged 76, he needed a chief of staff. Most courtiers expected him to choose one of the suave, English-speaking children of his first wife. Instead he appointed a son who spoke Arabic with a guttural Bedouin accent. [MBS has learned English fast since then: when we met in 2016 he sometimes corrected his translator.]

The choice to elevate MBS was less surprising to those who knew his father well. Salman had dedicated himself to his job as governor of Riyadh rather than chasing more lucrative commissions, and was a stickler for 8am starts, even in his 70s. He was known as the family disciplinarian, not averse to giving wayward royals a thwack with his walking stick or even a spell in his private prison. He clearly saw something of himself in his sixth son. MBS might love video games, but he was also a hard worker and keen to advance.

MBS put few limits on what he was prepared to do to achieve control. He earned the nickname Abu Rasasa – father of the bullet – after widespread rumors that he sent a bullet in the post to an official who ruled against him in a land dispute [Saudi officials have previously denied this rumor]. He was fearsome in private, too. “There are these terrible tempers, smashing up offices, trashing the palace,” says a source with palace connections. “He’s extremely violent.” Several associates describe him as having wild mood swings. Two former palace insiders say that, during an argument with his mother, he once sprayed her ceiling with bullets. According to multiple sources and news reports, he has locked his mother away.

It’s hard to say how many wives he has; officially, there’s just one, a glamorous princess called Sara bint Mashour, but courtiers say he has at least one more. MBS presents his family life as normal and happy: earlier this year he told the Atlantic magazine that he eats breakfast with his children each morning [he has three boys and two girls, according to Gulf News – the eldest is said to be 11]. One diplomat spoke of MBS’s kindness to his wife. But other sources inside the royal circle say that, on at least one occasion, Princess Sara was so badly beaten by her husband that she had to seek medical treatment.

We put this and other allegations in this piece to MBS’s representatives, who described them as “plain fabrication”, adding that “the kingdom is unfortunately used to false allegations made against its leadership, usually based on politically [or other] motivated malicious sources, particularly discredited individuals who have a long record of fabrications and baseless claims.”

MBS finally got a taste of political power in 2015 when Salman became king. Salman appointed his son deputy crown prince and minister of defense. One of MBS’s first moves was to launch a war in neighboring Yemen. Even America, the kingdom’s closest military ally, was told only at the last minute.

There was an obvious obstacle in MBS’s path to the throne: his cousin, the 57-year-old heir-designate, Muhammad bin Nayef. Bin Nayef was the intelligence chief and the kingdom’s main interlocutor with the CIA. He was widely credited with stamping out al-Qaeda in Saudi after 9/11. In June 2017 bin Nayef was summoned to meet the elderly king at his palace in Mecca.

The story of what happened next has emerged from press reports and my interviews. It seems that bin Nayef arrived by helicopter and took the lift to the fourth floor. Instead of the monarch, MBS’sagents were waiting. Bin Nayef was stripped of his weapons and phone, and told that a royal council had dismissed him. He was left alone to consider his options. Seven hours later, a court videographer filmed the charade of MBS kissing his cousin, then accepting his abdication as crown prince. King Salman kept a back seat throughout. Bin Nayef is now in detention [his uncle, who also had a claim to the throne, apparently intervened to try and protect bin Nayef, but was himself later detained]. The staged resignation – an old trick of Saddam Hussein’s – would become MBS’s signature move.

That was just the warm-up act. In October 2017 MBS hosted an international investment conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. At “Davos in the desert”, the likes of Christine Lagarde, Son Masayoshi and other business glitterati listened to MBS’s pitch for Saudi Arabia’s post-oil future, including the construction of Neom, a new $500bn “smart city”. The event was a hit. Diplomatic grumblings about the war in Yemen or the fate of America’s security partner, Muhammad bin Nayef, faded.

The gathering was also an opportunity to invite back royals who were often abroad. Once the foreigners had left, MBS pounced. Hundreds of princes and businessmen were swept up. According to a biography of MBS by Ben Hubbard, a New York Times journalist, one of them realized something was amiss only when they got to their hotel room: there were no pens, razors or glasses – nothing that could be used as a weapon.

MBS held the detainees in the Ritz-Carlton for several weeks [the Marriott and other hotels were also commandeered to house the overflow]. Prisoners’ phones were confiscated. Some were said to have been hooded, deprived of sleep and beaten until they agreed to transfer money and hand over an inventory of their assets. All told, MBS’s guests at the Ritz-Carlton coughed up about $100bn.

Even royals previously thought untouchable, such as the powerful prince who ran the national guard, got similar treatment. Princess Basma, the youngest child of the second king of Saudi Arabia, was jailed for three years without charge or access to a lawyer; after being released she still had to wear an electronic ankle bracelet, according to a close associate of hers.

The crushing of the royals and business elite was billed as a crackdown on corruption – and undoubtedly it netted many corruptly acquired assets, which MBS said would be returned to the Saudi treasury. The methods, however, looked more like something from a gangster film than a judicial procedure.

Interrogations were overseen by Saud al-Qahtani, who reported directly to MBS whenever a detainee broke and gave out their bank details. [All the allegations in this piece concerning Qahtani were put to him via his lawyer. No response was given.] Qahtani had installed himself as one of MBS’s favored henchmen, though earlier in his career, he’d plotted against Salman and his son, trying to sideline them with rumors that Salman had dementia. Qahtani was so loyal to the former faction that he’d named his son after his then boss. According to a former courtier, on the day of the old king’s funeral the two men had it out: MBS slapped Qahtani in the face. Later, MBS let Qahtani prove his worth and brought him on to his staff. Qahtani duly named his younger son Muhammad.

On paper, Qahtani was a communications adviser, a former journalist who understood Twitter and used an army of bots and loyal followers to intimidate critics on social media [his office included giant screens and holograms that staff used for target-practice with laser guns]. In practice he was entrusted with MBS’s most important and violent missions – the ones that established his grip on power.

His remit extended far beyond Saudi’s borders. In 2016 he kidnapped Prince Sultan, a minor royal who had been bad-mouthing MBS. MBS offered his jet to fly Sultan from Paris to Cairo – instead, the plane was diverted to Saudi Arabia. According to Hope’s and Scheck’s book, Qahtani posed as Captain Saud, an airline pilot, though surprisingly one who had an expensive Hublot watch.

Even people who have nothing to do with politics have become afraid to speak near a functioning mobile phone

With rendition strategies like this, and the cash tap shut off, even royals who weren’t inside the Ritz-Carlton felt the pressure to divest themselves of ostentatious assets. The father of the Saudi ambassador to Britain put Glympton Park, his beloved 2,000-acre estate in the Cotswolds, up for sale. Riyadh’s jewellers did a roaring trade pawning the diamonds of lesser royals. “It’s like the Romanovs selling their Fabergé eggs,” said an adviser to an auction house.

Many commoners rejoiced at the downfall of their entitled elite. Princes and princesses who once lived off huge handouts began looking for jobs. Their titles became irrelevant. Unable to afford the cost of irrigation, their green ranches became desert again. Banks turned them away. One financial adviser recalled his response to princes trying to get credit on the strength of their royal status: “You call yourselves princes, but they say there’s only one prince now.”

The Ritz-Carlton episode was just one element of an extraordinary project of centralization. MBS yanked control of various security services back from the princes. He took charge of Aramco, the semi-autonomous state oil company. He installed himself as boss of the sovereign-wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund. “He destroyed all the powerful families,” says a retired diplomat. By late 2017, law, money and security in Saudi all flowed directly from him.

Among those who lost out were the fellow princes who had pushed a young MBS to the edge of the family photo on the yacht all those years ago. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, in the center of that shot, surrendered part of his $17bn wealth. As the shakedown widened, MBS’s elder half-siblings put up their yacht for sale. Many of his cousins were locked up. “Payback time,” one victim said.

While MBS was squeezing the elite at home, he was forging some important friendships abroad.

MBS and Donald Trump, who was elected president in 2016, had a lot in common. Both had the hunger of the underdog and loathed the snooty policymaking establishments in their countries; they reveled in provocation. The historic compact, by which Saudi Arabia provided oil to American consumers and America guaranteed the country’s security, had frayed in recent years. Barack Obama’s hurried exit from Iraq in 2011 and his nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 had left Saudi Arabia worried that it could no longer rely on American protection. America’s development of its own shale-oil reserves had also reduced its dependence on Saudi oil. Then Trump and MBS got cozy.

With the Trump administration’s tacit [and sometimes explicit] support, MBS set about treating the entire Middle East much as he did Saudi Arabia, trying to push aside rulers whom he found to be inconvenient. He announced a blockade of Qatar, a tiny gas-rich state to the east of Saudi Arabia. In 2017, angered by Lebanon’s dealings with Iran, MBS invited the prime minister, Saad Hariri, a long-time beneficiary of Saudi patronage, on a starlit camping trip. Hariri turned up, had his phone confiscated and soon found himself reading out a resignation speech on tv.

Both moves ultimately backfired. But Trump’s Middle East adviser, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, did little to discourage such antics. Together, he and MBS dreamt up a new regional order over WhatsApp, calling each other “Jared” and “Muhammad”. Their rapport was so great that, at Kushner’s prompting, MBS started the process of recognizing “Israel”. His father, still officially king, put a stop to that.

MBS visited America in March 2018, hanging out in Silicon Valley with Peter Thiel and Tim Cook, and meeting celebrities, including Rupert Murdoch, James Cameron and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. Many people were keen to meet the man who controlled a $230bn sovereign-wealth fund. To his frustration, they were less willing to reciprocate by investing in the kingdom.

That October the intercontinental bonhomie came to an abrupt halt. I was due to go to a conference in Turkey that month. A Saudi journalist I knew, Jamal Khashoggi, got in touch to suggest meeting up: he was also going to be in Istanbul, for an appointment at the consulate. Khashoggi was a court insider whose criticisms of MBS in the Washington Post and elsewhere had attracted much attention. He seemed to be making more effort than usual to stay in touch. While I was at the conference a friend of his phoned me: Jamal still hadn’t emerged from the consulate, he said. By the time I got there, Turkish police were cordoning off the building.

The full story soon came out in leaked intelligence reports and, later, a un inquiry. A Saudi hit squad, which reportedly coordinated with Saud al-Qahtani, had flown to Istanbul. As they waited for Khashoggi to enter the consulate, they discussed plans for dismembering his body. According to tapes recorded inside the consulate by Turkish intelligence, Khashoggi was told, “We’re coming to get you.” There was a struggle, followed by the sound of plastic sheets being wrapped. A CIA report said that MBS approved the operation.

MBS has said he takes responsibility for the murder, but denies ordering it. He sacked Qahtani and another official implicated in the intelligence reports. The fallout was immediate. Companies and speakers pulled out of that year’s Davos in the desert; the Gates Foundation ended its partnership with Misk, an artistic and educational charity set up by the prince. Ari Emanuel, a Hollywood agent, cancelled a $400m deal with the kingdom.

The crown prince seems to have been genuinely surprised at the animus – “disappointed”, says an associate. Hadn’t he committed to all the reforms the West had been asking for? Perhaps he had underestimated the outcry provoked by going after a well-connected international figure, as opposed to a royal unknown outside Saudi Arabia. Or perhaps he understood Western governments’ priorities better than they did themselves. They had done little when Muhammad bin Nayef, their partner in battling terrorism, had disappeared; they had shrugged at reports of torture in the Ritz-Carlton, and at MBS’s reckless bombardment of Yemen. Why did they have so much to say about the killing of a single journalist?

Three years after the Khashoggi killing, Davos in the desert opened with the singer Gloria Gaynor. As images of smiling children flashed up on a giant screen behind her, she broke into her disco anthem, “I Will Survive”, asking the audience: “Did you think I’d crumble? Did you think I’d lay down and die?”

The chief executives of private-equity giants BlackRock and Blackstone were back, as were the heads of Goldman Sachs, SocGen and Standard Chartered. Even Amazon sent a representative despite the fact that its boss, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post, the paper that employed Khashoggi. Meanwhile, Qahtani was creeping back into favor at the royal court – although he had been implicated by the un for Khashoggi’s murder, a Saudi court took the decision not to charge him.

MBS revitalized the near-dormant sovereign-wealth fund, pumping tens of billions of dollars into tech, entertainment and sports, to create a softer, more appealing image of Saudi and co-opt new partners. In April 2020, the fund led a consortium to buy Newcastle United, a premier-league football team [the deal took 18 months]. The following year it launched an audacious bid to create Saudi’s own golf tour, the LIV series, hoping to lure players with a prize pot of $255m, far larger than that of American tournaments. At the first LIV tour this year, some top players boycotted the event, others went for the cash.

Joe Biden has proved tougher to woo. Soon after becoming president, Biden withdrew American military support for the war in Yemen. He wouldn’t talk to MBS, insisting that communications go through King Salman instead. He didn’t even nominate an ambassador to Riyadh for 15 months. The chat everywhere was that Saudi-American relations were in a deep freeze. Then, in February 2022, MBS had a stroke of luck: Russia invaded Ukraine.

In the days after war broke out, Biden himself tried to call MBS. The crown prince declined to speak to the president. He did take Putin’s call, however. The two men were already close. MBS had personally brought Russia into an expanded version of the OPEC cartel in order for Saudi Arabia to keep control of global oil production. Putin cemented the friendship in 2018 at the g20 summit in Buenos Aires, which took place weeks after the Khashoggi killing. While Western leaders shunned MBS, Putin gave the Saudi ruler a high-five before sitting down next to him.

MBS’s defiance of America seems to have paid off. After months of evasion, Biden reluctantly agreed to meet MBS in Jeddah in July, on the prince’s own turf and his own terms. The visit gave MBS recognition but did little to rebuild relations. There wasn’t even a concrete assurance of increasing oil production.

Some in the American foreign-policy establishment remain hopeful that MBS could become a helpful partner in the region, pointing to his recent retreat from confrontation with Qatar and his eagerness to find a diplomatic exit from Yemen. Perhaps, they say, he is maturing as a leader.

This seems optimistic. MBS’s disastrous campaign in Yemen was ostensibly in support of the country’s president but in April, hours after being summoned to a meeting and offered Arabic coffee and dates, Yemen’s president was reading out a resignation speech on tv. MBS took it upon himself to get rid of him personally – suggesting that his mode of international diplomacy remains as high-handed as ever. “What they’ve learned”, says one foreign analyst, “is don’t murder journalists who dine regularly with congressmen in the United States.”

The West has taught MBS something else, too – something that autocrats the world over may draw comfort from. No matter the sin, they would argue, if you sit tight through the odium and fury, eventually the financiers, the celebrities, even the Western leaders, will come running back. At 36, MBS has time on his side. Some observers fear that he may become only more dangerous as oil reserves start to decline and the treasure trove shrinks. “What happens when he’s a middle-aged man ruling a middle-income country and starts to get bored?” asks a diplomat who knows MBS personally. “Will he go on more adventures?”

Earlier this year, I visited an old friend in his office in Saudi Arabia. Before we started talking, he put his phone in a pouch that blocks the signal, to prevent government spies from listening in. Dissidents do that kind of thing in police states like China, but I’d never seen it before in Saudi Arabia. It isn’t just people involved with politics who are taking such precautions: most Saudis have become afraid to speak near a functioning mobile phone. People used to talk fairly openly in their offices, homes and cafés. Now, they are picked up for almost nothing.

As we chatted over the whir of his office air conditioning, my friend reeled off a list of people he knew who had been detained in the past month: a retired air-force chief who died in prison, a hospital administrator hauled away from his desk, a mother taken in front of her seven children, a lawyer who died seven days after his release from prison. “These people aren’t rabble rousers,” my friend said. “No one understands why.”

Officially, the government says it has no political prisoners. Rights groups reckon that thousands have been swept up in MBS’s dragnet. I’ve covered the Middle East since the 1990s and can’t think of anywhere where so many of my own contacts are behind bars.

Few ordinary Saudis predicted that when MBS was done trampling on the elites and the clerics, he would come for them next. Bringing Saudis into the modern, networked, online world has made it easier for the state to monitor what they are saying. A Red Crescent employee called Abdulrahman al-Sadhan used to run a satirical Twitter account under a pseudonym. In 2018 MBS’s agents arrested him and held him incommunicado for two years. American prosecutors later charged two former Twitter employees with allegedly handing over the real names behind various accounts to a Saudi official – al-Sadhan’s family believes that his name was among them. [The trial of one employee is ongoing; he denies passing on information to Saudi officials.]

On the face of it, MBS has nothing to worry about. Public opinion polls – if they can be trusted – suggest he is popular, particularly with younger Saudis. But there is a growing sense that discontent is brewing beneath the surface. MBS has broken crucial social contracts with the Saudi populace, by reducing handouts while, at the same time, dispensing with the tradition of hearing the feedback of ordinary people after Friday prayers.

It isn’t hard to imagine some of the issues they’d raise if they had the chance. Many people are struggling as the cost of living rises. When other governments were cushioning their citizens during the pandemic, MBS slashed fuel subsidies and tripled vat. Unable to afford the cost of pumping water, some farmers left crops to wither in the field. Fees for permits and fines have spiraled, too. Though MBS speaks eloquently about the country’s youth, he is struggling to find them jobs. Unemployment remains stubbornly stuck in double digits. Half of the jobless have a university degree, but most white-collar workers I met on MBS’s mega-projects were foreign.

Saudi Arabia’s attempts to diversify its economy – and so compensate for the long-term decline of oil reserves – isn’t going well either. The pandemic delayed plans for a rapid increase in international tourism. Extorting billions of dollars from your relatives may not be the best way to convince investors that the kingdom is a liberal haven.

The young prince has reversed even the baby steps towards democracy taken by previous kings. Municipal elections have been suspended – as a cost-cutting exercise, explains the supine press. The Shura Council, a consultative body of 150 people, has only met online since the pandemic [other institutions have gathered in person for months]. “I wish I had more of a voice,” said one member. Whenever I mentioned the prince, his leg twitched.

A frequent visitor to the royal court says MBS now gives the impression of someone who’s always thinking that people are plotting against him. He seems to be preoccupied with loyalty. He fills key posts either with young royals, foreigners with no local base to threaten him or people he has already broken. A government minister, Ibrahim Assaf, was one of those locked up in the Ritz-Carlton – two months later MBS sent him to the World Economic Forum as his representative. A senior executive on one of his construction projects is someone who says he was tortured in one of his prisons. “He went from being strung naked from his ankles, beaten and stripped of all his assets to a high-level project manager,” says a close acquaintance of the man.

All remain vulnerable to MBS’s tantrums. Saudi sources say he once locked a minister in a toilet for ten hours. [The minister later appeared on tv blabbering platitudes about the prince’s wisdom.] A senior official I’ve spoken to says he wants out. “Everyone in his circle is terrified of him,” says an insider. And that could make it hard for him to govern a country of 35m people effectively. Former courtiers say no one close to MBS is prepared to offer a truthful assessment of whether his increasingly grandiose schemes are viable. “Saying no”, says one, “is not something they will ever do.”

If MBS has a mission beyond extending his power, you might expect to find it in Neom, the city he promised to build in the desert. Neom would be nothing less than “a civilizational leap for humanity”, he said in 2017. Head-spinning details followed. The city’s food would be grown on hydroponic walls on a floating structure. It would be powered by the world’s largest green-hydrogen plant. Thousands of snow-blowers would create a ski resort on a nearby mountain. One day it would have driverless cars and passenger drones.

According to the official timetable, the main city would be completed by 2020. Further districts would be added by 2025. The prince’s tourism minister, Ahmed al-Khateeb, dismissed rumors that the timetable was proving over-ambitious. “Come see with your eyes and not with your ears,” he urged. So, I went.

Finding Neom was the first problem. There were no road signs to it. After three hours’ drive we came to the spot indicated by the map. It was bare, but for the odd fig tree. Camels strolled across the empty highway. Piles of rubble lined the road, remnants of the town bulldozed to make way for the mighty metropolis.

The designated area is nearly the size of Belgium. As far as I could tell, only two projects had been completed, MBS’s palace, and something Google Earth calls “The Neom Experience Centre” [when I drove to see it, it was obscured by a prefabricated hut]. The only other solid building I could see was a hotel constructed before Neom was conceived: The Royal Tulip. A poster in the lobby urged me to “Discover Neom”. But when I asked for a guide the hotel manager cursed my sister with Arabic vulgarities and tried to shoo me away. There was no sign of the media hub with “frictionless facilitation”, “advanced infrastructure” and “collaborative ecosystems” promised by the Neom website. Neom’s head of communications and media, Wayne Borg, said he was “out of Kingdom at present”.

The hotel restaurant was teeming with consultants – all the ones I met were foreign. I later found a Saudi project manager. “We think we’re about to start working, but every two months the consultants coin a new plan,” he told me. “They’re still doing plans of plans.” There was a kind of manic short-termism among these foreigners. Many were paid $40,000 a month, plus handsome bonuses. “It’s like riding a bull,” one of the Neom consultants told me. “You know you’re gonna fall, that no one can last on a bull longer than a minute and a half, two minutes, so you make the most of it.”

Despite the high salaries, there are reports that foreigners are leaving the Neom project because they find the gap between expectations and reality so stressful. The head of Neom is said by his friends to be “terrified” at the lack of progress.

Eventually, I found a retired Saudi air-force technician who offered to drive me around the city for $600. He took me to a sculpture standing in the desert with the words, “I love Neom”. A short way farther on we found a new stretch of tarmac, said to mark the edge of the dream city. Beyond it, the lone and level sands stretched far away.

Andrei Martyanov: SAS and BRICS

July 14, 2022

Please visit Andrei’s website: https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/
and support him here: https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=60459185

Imran Khan’s Multipolar Legacy Can’t Ever Be Fully Dismantled

SUNDAY 10 APR 22

By Andrew Korybko

Source

It’s difficult to predict what’ll happen next in Pakistan, a country that’s always been characterized by political intrigue and sudden radical changes that oftentimes catch many off guard, but it’s clear that Imran Khan’s multipolar legacy can’t ever be fully dismantled. For however imperfect his premiership was, there’s no denying that it was immensely impactful in terms of reshaping perceptions at home and abroad, including through its multipolar National Security Policy.

The success of the US-orchestrated regime change operation in Pakistan has prompted concern that the pro-US school of thought within that country’s Establishment will attempt to dismantle some of the achievements of their multipolar peers under the government of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. While it remains to be seen whether any attempts are undertaken in that direction, there’s no doubt that it’s impossible to ever fully dismantle his multipolar legacy. That’s because the formerly ruling PTI has since become a genuinely multipolar movement that clearly articulates this promising worldview to the masses unlike its competitors which lack any coherent worldview (if even one at all apart from being pro-US). This development will have far-reaching consequences for Pakistan’s domestic political future.

Although the country’s relations with Russia began to improve under different governments, it was only under PTI that they became strategic after obtaining meaningful substance through close cooperation on Afghanistan, the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline (PSGP), and PAKAFUZ. In fact, it was precisely because of the former Prime Minister’s trip to Moscow in late February against the reported wishes of the US that the declining unipolar hegemon set into motion its de facto “lawfare” coup against him by exploiting preexisting political differences within the country as well as its constitutional process to overthrow him as punishment. This means that his government’s foreign policy achievements with that Eurasian Great Power will always be inextricably connected with former Prime Minister Khan’s legacy.

While that might forever remain the most dramatic foreign policy aspect of his tenure for obvious reasons related to the scandalous way in which his premiership ended, it wasn’t the only multipolar achievement under his belt. Of similar importance was his brave refusal to host US bases following America’s chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan last August and thus sacrifice what he sincerely regarded as his country’s objective national interests. Former Prime Minister Khan also defied US-led Western pressure by unforgettably asking those nearly two dozen European Ambassadors in Islamabad who broke diplomatic protocol by demanding that he publicly condemn Russia “Are we your slaves?” This easily understandable message represented the pro-sovereignty vision that defined his time in office.

Not only that, but he also did more than any Pakistani leader before him to draw global attention to his country’s position towards the unresolved Kashmir Conflict, with his 2019 speech at the UN General Assembly a little over one month after New Delhi’s unilateral abrogation of Article 370 being regarded as one of the hallmarks of his premiership. There’s no doubt that global perceptions about India began to gradually change for the worse as a result of him placing Kashmir front and center in terms of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Seeing as how patriotic that issue is for average Pakistanis, he can be said to have galvanized the masses under his leadership, which helps explain his immense popularity and that of his party.

The same can be said about the passion with which he pursued his anti-Islamophobia campaign too. Former Prime Minister Khan didn’t tolerate any disrespect being displayed towards the Prophet Muhammad or his believers anywhere in the world. This became just as globally associated with his premiership as his support for Kashmir. Even though neither achieved much in terms of tangible substance, they were highly symbolic and pursued with indisputable sincerity due to the strength of his personal convictions. They rallied the masses and generated a lot of positive attention across the world for Pakistan. These campaigns also served to inspire average Pakistanis to feel very proud of their country.

It also deserves mentioning that it was under former Prime Minister Khan that Pakistan finally promulgated its first-ever National Security Policy in January. This document can objectively be described as articulating a genuinely multipolar vision through its prohibition of bloc politics and its focus on geo-economics instead of geopolitics. This double break with the past was brought about by the multipolar school of his country’s Establishment supporting these policies in contrast to the presumably different vision supported by their pro-US peers. Despite this multipolar leader’s departure from office, it’s expected that those within The Establishment who share his worldview and helped implement it into policy will do their utmost to retain this multipolar vision.

These observations explain why rallies were held in his support nationwide on Sunday, the day after he was ousted from office and just before the new government will be announced on Monday. Unlike PMLN and PPP, the country’s two other largest parties that united to depose him, PTI isn’t regarded as a regional party. It also has a reputation for anti-corruption, which sets it apart from those two who’ve been plagued by perceptions of being corrupt to the core. They’re also considered by many to represent the past system of governance that many blame for Pakistan’s enduring problems that not even former Prime Minister Khan was able to fix despite trying his best over the past few years in office. Another important observation is that large segments of the youth and intelligentsia support the former premier.

This is because he convincingly articulated his vision for “Naya (New) Pakistan” and took some tangible steps to implement it into practice, both in terms of the powerful messaging associated with his pro-Kashmir and anti-Islamophobia campaigns as well as the achievements connected with the rapid rapprochement with Russia that he oversaw. The National Security Policy’s geo-economic vision and prohibition of bloc politics filled Pakistanis with hope that their country was finally changing for the better with the times. Many people despise how their formal American ally took advantage of them throughout the course of the “Global War On Terror” so they saw former Prime Minister Khan’s policies as a pro-Pakistani alternative to the pro-US policies of his predecessors that caused so much suffering.

Standing up to the US wasn’t considered “anti-American” but pro-Pakistani, or put more simply, as a long-overdue expression of self-respect and sovereignty that these proud people yearned for decades to see their leaders publicly display. Their former premier’s famous declaration of “absolutely not” in response to a question about hosting US bases filled them with pride since he did that which no prior leader was ever able to do even though it ultimately contributed to costing him his position. Try as the pro-US school of The Establishment might, it cannot remove the impression from many Pakistanis’ hearts that Imran Khan truly represented the “Naya Pakistan” that they felt that they finally deserved to experience in their lifetime while the US-backed opposition represents a return to the shameful past.

Perceptions are reality, as some have provocatively claimed, and they’re also a powerful mobilizing force as proven by the nationwide rallies in the former Prime Minister’s support on Sunday. His PTI began as an anti-corruption movement that morphed into a genuinely multipolar one that impressively raised the population’s political and class consciousness, including their awareness of foreign affairs and the importance of a balanced approach to the ongoing global systemic transition towards multipolarity. For these reasons, one can somewhat describe his premiership as “revolutionary” because of the socio-political changes that it unleashed among the masses. It’s also quite an achievement that he united large segments of the intelligentsia behind him too as well as many overseas Pakistanis.

It’s difficult to predict what’ll happen next in Pakistan, a country that’s always been characterized by political intrigue and sudden radical changes that oftentimes catch many off guard, but it’s clear that Imran Khan’s multipolar legacy can’t ever be fully dismantled. He left his mark on his people, who are now inspired by the example that he made during his time in office, especially with respect to restoring their pride and the world’s respect for their country. For however imperfect his premiership was, there’s no denying that it was immensely impactful in terms of reshaping perceptions at home and abroad, including through its multipolar National Security Policy. This is a reality that The Establishment’s pro-US school and the US-backed opposition can’t erase from the public’s consciousness and are thus forced to accept.

Pakistan PM Accuses US of Funding “Conspiracy” to Topple His Gov’t

April 11, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan accused an unnamed “foreign power” – in a clear reference to the United States – of funding a “conspiracy” to topple his democratically elected government.

Addressing a large rally in the capital Islamabad on Sunday, Khan said the “foreign power” sent millions of dollars to opposition parties to launch a no-confidence vote against him in the parliament.

Khan, who had formed a coalition government after winning the election in 2018, said he was the subject of a “foreign conspiracy” aimed at dislodging his government and that “funding was being channeled into Pakistan from abroad.” 

A no-confidence motion has been tabled in Pakistan’s National Assembly, with days of debates expected to start next week before the vote. The opposition needs a simple majority to oust Khan, after which a new prime minister would be chosen by the parliament.

“We have been threatened in writing but we will not compromise on national interests,” said Khan, who met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow on February 24, the same day the Russian leader ordered a military operation in neighboring Ukraine. 

Before that, Khan visited Beijing in January, defying US President Joe Biden’s call for a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics.

“The money is from abroad and the people that are being used are ours [Pakistan’s]. Some of them unknowingly, and some knowingly, are using this money against us,” the prime minister said.

“Attempts are being made to influence our foreign policy from abroad. We have been aware of this conspiracy for months. We also know about those who have assembled these people [the opposition parties] but the time has changed. This is not the era of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,” he said, referring to the former prime minister of Pakistan who was allegedly threatened by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger over the country’s nuclear program.

Bhutto’s government was toppled and he was hanged by the military in 1979.

“This is the era of social media. Nothing can be hidden. We will not accept anyone’s dictation. We will have friendships with everyone but we will not submit ourselves to anyone,” Khan said.

“Attempts are being made through foreign money to change the government in Pakistan. Our people are being used. Mostly inadvertently, but some people are using money against us. We know from what places attempts are being to pressure us. We have been threatened in writing but we will not compromise on national interest,” the Dawn newspaper reported.

Khan then splashed a letter and said it would prove his point. “I am placing the case of Pakistan’s independence before you. The letter I have is proof and I want to dare anyone who doubts this letter. I will invite them off the record. We have to decide for how long we will have to live like this. We are getting threats. There are many things about the foreign conspiracy which will be shared very soon.”

“The nation wants to know who the man sitting in London is meeting with and whose directions the characters based in Pakistan are following? I am revealing the proofs we have. I cannot talk more in detail because I have to protect the interest of my country. I cannot talk about anything that harms my country. I could have told you about it. I do not fear anyone but I care about Pakistan’s interest,” he stated.

«مصدّق» باكستان وتأميم القنبلة «الإسلاميّة»!

الإثنين 11 نيسان 2022

محمد صادق الحسيني

مثلما انبثقت معادلة الحكم في كلّ من تركيا وإيران بشكلها الحداثي من خاصرة الحرب العالمية الأولى، على قاعدة حكم العسكر باعتباره عمود الدولة كما جسّدها كمال أتاتورك في الأولى، ورضا خان في الثانية، فإنّ باكستان الدولة الجديدة الولادة كما نعرفها الآن هي الأخرى انبثقت معادلة الحكم فيها، من خاصرة الحرب العالمية الثانية على قاعدة انّ العسكر هم عمود الخيمة في الدولة، وانْ كان سياق الولادة في باكستان قد نشأ في سياق مختلف، إلا انّ القاسم المشترك بين أنظمة الحكم الحداثوية الشرقية الآنفة الذكر، هو ظهور العسكر بمثابة عمود الخيمة في النظام السياسي، لا يستقيم أمر استقراره إلا به، ولن يتغيّر الا بتغيّره.

وبعيداً عن الدخول في إشكالية استقلال باكستان «الإسلامية» بقيادة مؤسسها محمد علي جناح وهو أمر مقدّر ومحترم في وجدان الرأي العام الباكستاني والإسلامي، إلا انّ ما يهمّنا التوقف عنده هنا هو أمر آخر تماماً…

ألا وهو نشوء نخبة باكستانية «مدنية» متعلمة، واكبت حقبة الاستقلال وحكم العسكر محمّلة بنسبة عالية من مفاهيم التعايش السلمي مع ثقافة الغرب ونوع من الودّ والعطف تجاه نياته المعلنة بخصوص حقّ تقرير المصير للشعوب وما شابه من مقولات سُمّيت باختصار بالديمقراطية…!

عمران خان هو واحد من هذا الجنس الإصلاحي الهادئ واللطيف الذي نشأ في حضن هذه التركيبة.

قبله كان محمد مصدق إيران، الذي صدّق هو الآخر ثقافة الغرب الديمقراطية ووثق بها، وأراد بدافع حب الوطن، التخلص بمحبة ووداد، من هيمنة بريطانيا العظمى ومن سلطة شركة النفط البريطانية وتأميم النفط الإيراني متجرّئاً على حكم الشاه ومعادلة العسكر، مستعيناً بصدق نيات واشنطن «الإصلاحية»، التي سرعان ما كذبت عفويّته السياسية هذه وعاجلته بانقلاب عسكري أعاد تلميذها النجيب الى الحكم أيّ الشاه محمد رضا بهلوي وهيمنة الاستعمار الغربي على كلّ مقدرات إيران بقوة أكبر وقسوة أشدّ.

هذا هو ما حصل بالضبط لعمران خان المثقف الإصلاحي في اليومين الماضيين، عندما ظنّ أنّ بإمكانه التخلص «بمحبة» وبديمقراطية «عذرية» من عصابة المتشدّدين الوهابيين المرتبطين بسفارات البترودولار وأميركا الشيطان الأكبر، مستعيناً بأميركا «الديمقراطية» و«الودودة»، التي سرعان ما كذبته وتركته طريداً شريداً يئنّ من خذلان من سمّاهم بمؤسسات الدولة له، الذين هم ليسوا سوى المعادلة نفسها التي أتت به إلى السلطة.

نعم فقد ظن عمران خان في لحظة وعي ويقظة استثنائية وظروف إقليمية ودولية تحوّلية متسارعة انّ بإمكانه تغيير شكل وبنية النظام السياسي الحاكم في الباكستان منذ نشوء الدولة ـ بكلّ هدوء ولطف و«مودة» المثقف الإصلاحي لتحقيق حلمه الورديّ!

 هو لم ينتبه في الواقع أنّ عمله هذا يعني في ما يعني تأميم القنبلة «الإسلامية»، كما قام مصدق بتأميم النفط في خمسينيات القرن الماضي..!

 وهذا أمر مستحيل دون الصدام مع عمود خيمة النظام أيّ الجيش، ودون ممارسة أيّ عنف ثوري ودون إراقة دماء..!

ايّ إجراء عملية ولادة قيصرية لباكستان، لا هو يملك أدواتها الليزرية ولا يريد استخدام أدوات جراحية فيها..!

مستنداً الى مواكبة اللحظة الإقليمية والدولية المتحوّلة غير المكتملة وغير الناضجة داخل مجتمعه أصلاً…!

 وكما أحبط مصدق إيران من قبله، أحبط عمران خان أيضاً لفقدانهما أدوات التغيير وكذلك منهجيته…!

فالعالم المتحكم بموقع ودور باكستان اليوم الخارجي، ورغم كلّ التحوّلات العالمية الإيجابية المحيطة، لا يزال عالم الذئاب وفي باكستان نفسها أيضاً يبدو انّ معدل موازين القوى الداخلية لا تسمح بعد بأحلام أمثال عمران خان من دون ثورة حقيقية وجذرية!

فالذين وقفوا ويقفون بوجه حلم عمران خان هم الجيش وصنيعته «طالبان باكستان» والأوليغارشية السياسية المرتبطة بالسفارات الوهابية والغربية وفي مقدّمها السفارة الأميركية والمخابرات الأميركية «سي أي آي»، والتي لا تزال هي من تمتلك مفتاح او «كود» أو «زر» القنبلة الباكستانية «الإسلامية» التي سمح لها أصلاً لتكون صنواً للقنبلة الهندية وليس أكثر!

ألا يتذكّر عمران خان كيف تمّ وأد طموحات ذو الفقار علي بوتو في سبعينيات القرن الماضي أيضاً، وكيف تمّت محاكمته وإعدامه..!؟

نعم ما حصل في اليومين الماضيين يمكن اعتباره محطة نوعيّة مهمة في سياق مسار التحوّل والتغيير في باكستان، ونحن نشاهد لأول مرة غضب الشارع الباكستاني المسلم، ونزعته الاستقلالية والتحررية، بل وحتى الثورية المطالبة بطرد النفوذ الغربي، وقد انتقلت من الشارع الى صالونات الطبقة الحاكمة متمثلة بتململ عمران خان وغضبه…!

لكن منسوب التحوّل والتغيير المجتمعيّ العام لم يصبح بعد كافياً على ما يبدو بعد لتأميم القنبلة «الإسلامية»…!

القضية بحاجة ربما الى «شمرة عصا» إضافيّة، كما يقول المثل، بل خطوة احتجاجية جذرية «خمينيّة» من جنس الباكستان تطيح بالعفن والتأكسد المتراكم فوق صدور شعب محمد علي جناح منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية…!

خصوم عمران خان في المقابل لن يتمكنوا بعد اليوم من إقفال الباب على التغيير المقبل بقوة على باكستان…!

لعله لا بدّ لعمران خان الانتظار قليلاً ليرى ونرى سوياً مخاض أوكرانيا، وحرب بوتين المفتوحة على إمبراطورية الكذب..!

أخيراً وليس آخراً فإنّ طريق الحرير الجديد الذي يريد الباكستانيون ان ينعموا به من بوابة الصين، صار حديدياً، وبالتالي صار لا بدّ لكلّ من يريد أن يساهم فيه، ان يكون صاحب قبضة فولاذيّة..!

«لسنا عبيداً عندكم»

خطوة في الاتجاه الصحيح.

لكنها ليست كافية.

حتى تمسك زر التغيير وتصبح *قائداً أعظم* جديداً لا بدّ ان تغزوهم قبل أن يغزوك، لأنهم يعدّون لك الأسوأ.

خذ العبرة ممن سبقوك، لا مكان للموقف الرمادي في القضايا الكبرى.

اللحظة «خمينيّة « يا عمران خان بكلّ امتياز! وإلا ذهبت تحت أقدام الفيلة.

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

The Dollar Devours the Euro

April 08, 2022

By Michael Hudson and posted with the author’s permission

It is now clear that today’s escalation of the New Cold War was planned over a year ago, with serious strategy associated with America’s plan to block Nord Stream 2 as part of its aim of blocking Western Europe (“NATO”) from seeking prosperity by mutual trade and investment with China and Russia.

As President Biden and U.S. national-security reports announced, China was seen as the major enemy. Despite China’s helpful role in enabling corporate America to drive down labor’s wage rates by de-industrializing the U.S. economy in favor of Chinese industrialization, China’s growth was recognized as posing the Ultimate Terror: prosperity through socialism. Socialist industrialization always has been perceived to be the great enemy of the rentier economy that has taken over most nations in the century since World War I ended, and especially since the 1980s. The result today is a clash of economic systems – socialist industrialization vs. neoliberal finance capitalism.

That makes the New Cold War against China an implicit opening act of what threatens to be a long-drawn-out World War III. The U.S. strategy is to pry away China’s most likely economic allies, especially Russia, Central Asia, South Asia and East Asia. The question was, where to start the carve-up and isolation.

Russia was seen as presenting the greatest opportunity to begin isolating, both from China and from the NATO Eurozone. A sequence of increasingly severe – and hopefully fatal – sanctions against Russia was drawn up to block NATO from trading with it. All that was needed to ignite the geopolitical earthquake was a casus belli.

That was arranged easily enough. The escalating New Cold War could have been launched in the Near East – over resistance to America’s grabbing of Iraqi oil fields, or against Iran and countries helping it survive economically, or in East Africa. Plans for coups, color revolutions and regime change have been drawn up for all these areas, and America’s African army has been built up especially fast over the past year or two. But Ukraine has been subjected to a U.S.-backed civil war for eight years, since the 2014 Maidan coup, and offered the chance for the greatest first victory in this confrontation against China, Russia and their allies.

So the Russian-speaking Donetsk and Luhansk regions were shelled with increasing intensity, and when Russia still refrained from responding, plans reportedly were drawn up for a great showdown to commence in late February – beginning with a blitzkrieg Western Ukrainian attack organized by U.S. advisors and armed by NATO.

Russia’s preemptive defense of the two Eastern Ukrainian provinces and its subsequent military destruction of the Ukrainian army, navy and air force over the past two months has been used as the excuse to start imposing the U.S.-designed sanctions program that we are seeing unfolding today. Western Europe has dutifully gone along whole-hog. Instead of buying Russian gas, oil and food grains, it will buy these from the United States, along with sharply increased arms imports.

The prospective fall in the Euro/Dollar exchange rate

It therefore is appropriate to look at how this is likely to affect Western Europe’s balance of payments and hence the euro’s exchange rate against the dollar.

European trade and investment prior to the War to Impose Sanctions had promised a rising mutual prosperity between Germany, France and other NATO countries vis-à-vis Russia and China. Russia was providing abundant energy at a competitive price, and this energy was to make a quantum leap with Nord Stream 2. Europe was to earn the foreign exchange to pay for this rising import trade by a combination of exporting more industrial manufactures to Russia and capital investment in developing the Russian economy, e.g. by German auto companies and financial investment. This bilateral trade and investment is now stopped – and will remain stopped for many, many years, given NATO’s confiscation of Russia’s foreign reserves kept in euros and British sterling, and the European Russophobia being fanned by U.S. propaganda media.

In its place, NATO countries will purchase U.S. LNG – but they will need to spend billions of dollars building sufficient port capacity, which may take until perhaps 2024. (Good luck until then.) The energy shortage will sharply raise the world price of gas and oil. NATO countries also will step up their purchases of arms from the U.S. military-industrial complex. The near-panic buying will also raise the price for arms. And food prices also will rise as a result of the desperate grain shortfalls resulting from a cessation of imports from Russia and Ukraine on the one hand, and the shortage of ammonia fertilizer made from gas.

All three of these trade dynamics will strengthen the dollar vis-à-vis the euro. The question is, how will Europe balance its international payments with the United States? What does it have to export that the U.S. economy will accept as its own protectionist interests gain influence, now that global free trade is dying quickly?

The answer is, not much. So what will Europe do?

I could make a modest proposal. Now that Europe has pretty much ceased to be a politically independent state, it is beginning to look more like Panama and Liberia – “flag of convenience” offshore banking centers that are not real “states” because they don’t issue their own currency, but use the U.S. dollar. Since the eurozone has been created with monetary handcuffs limiting its ability to create money to spend into the economy beyond the limit of 3 percent of GDP, why not simply throw in the financial towel and adopt the U.S. dollar, like Ecuador, Somalia and the Turks and Caicos Islands? That would give foreign investors security against currency depreciation in their rising trade with Europe and its export financing.

For Europe, the alternative is that the dollar-cost of its foreign debt taken on to finance its widening trade deficit with the United States for oil, arms and food will explode. The cost in euros will be even greater as the currency falls against the dollar. Interest rates will rise, slowing investment and making Europe even more dependent on imports. The eurozone will turn into an economic dead zone.

For the United States, this is Dollar Hegemony on steroids – at least vis-à-vis Europe. The continent would become a somewhat larger version of Puerto Rico.

The dollar vis-à-vis Global South currencies

The full-blown version of the New Cold War triggered by the “Ukraine War” risks turning into the opening salvo of World War III, and is likely to last at least a decade, perhaps two, as the U.S. extends the fight between neoliberalism and socialism to encompass a worldwide conflict. Apart from the U.S. economic conquest of Europe, its strategists are seeking to lock in African, South American and Asian countries along similar lines to what has been planned for Europe.

The sharp rise in energy and food prices will hit food-deficit and oil-deficit economies hard – at the same time that their foreign dollar-denominated debts to bondholders and banks are falling due and the dollar’s exchange rate is rising against their own currency. Many African and Latin American countries – especially North Africa – face a choice between going hungry, cutting back their gasoline and electricity use, or borrowing the dollars to cover their dependency on U.S.-shaped trade.

There has been talk of IMF issues of new SDRs to finance the rising trade and payments deficits. But such credit always comes with strings attached. The IMF has its own policy of sanctioning countries that do not obey U.S. policy. The first U.S. demand will be that these countries boycott Russia, China and their emerging trade and currency self-help alliance. “Why should we give you SDRs or extend new dollar loans to you, if you are simply going to spend these in Russia, China and other countries that we have declared to be enemies,” the U.S. officials will ask.

At least, this is the plan. I would not be surprised to see some African country become the “next Ukraine,” with U.S. proxy troops (there are still plenty of Wahabi advocates and mercenaries) fighting against the armies and populations of countries seeking to feed themselves with grain from Russian farms, and power their economies with oil or gas from Russian wells – not to speak of participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative that was, after all, the trigger to America’s launching of its new war for global neoliberal hegemony.

The world economy is being enflamed, and the United States has prepared for a military response and weaponization of its own oil and agricultural export trade, arms trade and demands for countries to choose which side of the New Iron Curtain they wish to join.

But what is in this for Europe? Greek labor unions already are demonstrating against the sanctions being imposed. And in Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has just won an election on what is basically an anti-EU and anti-U.S. worldview, starting with paying for Russian gas in roubles. How many other countries will break ranks – and how long will it take?

What is in this for the Global South countries being squeezed – not merely as “collateral damage” to the deep shortages and soaring prices for energy and food, but as the very objective of U.S. strategy as it inaugurates the great splitting of the world economy in two? India has already told U.S. diplomats that its economy is naturally connected with those of Russia and China. Pakistan finds the same calculus at work.

From the U.S. vantage point, all that needs to be answered is, “What’s in it for the local politicians and client oligarchies that we reward for delivering their countries?”

From its planning stages, U.S. diplomatic strategists viewed the looming World War III as a war of economic systems. What side will countries choose: their own economic interest and social cohesion, or submission to local political leaders installed by U.S. meddling like the $5 billion that Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland bragged of having invested in Ukraine’s neo-Nazi parties eight years ago to initiate the fighting that has erupted into today’s war?

In the face of all this political meddling and media propaganda, how long will it take the rest of the world to realize that there’s a global war underway, with World War III on the horizon? The real problem is that by the time the world understands what is going on, the global fracture will already have enabled Russia, China and Eurasia to create a real non-neoliberal New World Order that does not need NATO countries and which has lost trust and hope for mutual economic gains with them. The military battlefield will be littered with economic corpses.

Selective humanity; who stood with Yemen?

March 26 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Lea Akil 

The camera frame and social platforms have become the most important political tools in our modern age. How did the international community keep Yemen out of the camera focus?

Selective humanity; who stood with Yemen?

Seven years ago…

At 1 am, the first Saudi airstrike shook Yemen and plunged the country into what has been designated as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Seven years of aggression led to 46,262 casualties, martyrs and wounded.

Seven years later…

The world continues to maintain silence on Yemen, Western powers didn’t halt any arms sales to the bloody coalition, and millions of Yemenis are still at the brink of starvation. Today, the people of Yemen learned the truth in the hardest way: Humanity is selective and the war on Yemen is not a choice.  

After Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine, which just turned one month old, the international community was quick to launch funding campaigns, Western powers imposed all-out draconian sanctions and banned Russia from all international events, all with the aim of completely isolating the country. Doing so, the international community aimed to halt the military operation.

Read more: US Arms in Saudi’s Pool of Blood: The Yemeni Massacre

Now ask yourself, why didn’t the international community put the same effort into Yemen? Instead of sanctioning Saudi Arabia, the international community heavily armed it. Instead of securing humanitarian corridors and humanitarian aid, the international community preached empty statements in false solidarity with the children of Yemen. 

Despite all the atrocities in Yemen, Western media remained silent on the aggression. Reports indicate that mainstream US media have aired an approximate cumulative of 92 minutes of coverage since the beginning of the war; that is, a war of seven years so far. If this major humanitarian crisis fails to make the news, what do US news outlets deem newsworthy and headline material?

How does media shape the war?

The modern age relies desperately on the media and social platforms to keep up with global events. As a weapon, the camera can be used in favor of or against the oppressed and oppressor. Media bias is inevitable in a world of so many opinions, but the question here is – is humanity a matter of opinion?

The power of the media relies on what content is broadcasted and what is not. 

The extremely limited international attention directed toward Yemen can mean two things; the war on Yemen is not important or the international audience is not be informed of what is happening in the other part of the world. That said, the narrative on Yemen cannot be easily criticized by Americans without implicating themselves. Considering that the United States backs the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, how would it justify its intervention there, noting that Saudi Arabia is responsible for high civilian death tolls and a list of war crimes?

Political US coverage

Structurally, the media carefully broadcast content to avoid touching on the United States’ longstanding relationship with a country like Saudi Arabia, which would expose the US’ bloody intervention. That is why it would rather ignore the Yemen situation altogether.

Did you know that since Saudi Arabia declared war on Yemen in 2015, it was listed as the World’s largest arms importer from 2015 through 2019? According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, its imports of arms increased by 130% compared to the previous five-year period. In numbers, the US exported a total of 73% and the UK a total of 13% of these arms to Saudi Arabia. 

Moreover, US arms sales amounted to $3 billion in five years from 2015 till 2020, also agreeing to sell over $64.1 billion worth of weapons to Riyadh, which is around $10.7 billion annually. 

Read more: Yemen, graveyard of US-Saudi bloody alliance

On the other hand, during Trump’s administration, the collaboration between Fox News and the Republican Party could explain a thread of the network’s negligence to highlight the current administration’s foreign policy failings, however, other opposing networks were equally silent because of Obama’s involvement in the war. 

Media outlets can’t use the US support of Saudi’s atrocities in Yemen because of the consequences that would be bestowed upon the administration.

Yemen 

Seven years of raging war on Yemen exhausted the population’s capacity to cope, and the global attention shifted toward Ukraine following Russia’s military operation. The darkest forms of irony have been heard by officials concerning Ukraine with complete disregard for Yemen. Simply, the core players fuelling the Saudi war on Yemen have taken a stand in solidarity with Ukraine. 

In numbers, so far, there are 17,734 martyrs, including 4,017 children, 2,434 women, and 11,283 men, while the number of the wounded reached 28,528, including 4,586 children, 2,911 women, and 10,032 men. 

In the latest international campaign, #EndTheSiegeOnYemen was trending in solidarity with Yemen. Activists, human rights advocates, and media professionals around the world launched a wide international campaign on social media demanding ending the siege on Yemen which caused the country to plunge into the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

The campaign was launched under the title “End the Siege on Yemen” to shed light on the forgotten suffering of the Yemeni people as a result of the blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition on the country and to mobilize efforts to end it right now.

Many activists interacted with the campaign on Twitter under the hashtag #EndTheSiegeOnYemen. Some highlighted the world’s selective humanity when it came to the hype for Ukraine and negligence for Yemen. 

Media’s “less global” shift

It is as simple as that, the United States and its Western allies have rediscovered the importance of international law when it comes to Ukraine but continue to turn a blind eye to Yemen. 

Russia’s special operation in Ukraine, unlike similar incidents in times past, has taken the social media platforms by storm, with memes, misinformation campaigns, and scams all adding to the growing maelstrom of information, which can confuse and cloud what’s actually happening. 

Meta’s Facebook is censoring all state news, accusing any Russian outlet of spreading misinformation. In return, the social platform is actively working in solidarity with Ukraine. But one can’t help but ask, did platforms like Facebook ever closely monitor misinformation or any information about war-torn states in the world? 

It also announced that it will restrict access to content from Russian state-affiliated media outlets RT and Sputnik in response to requests from EU officials, suppressing all claimed notions of freedom of expression. 

Palestinian Ahed Tamimi is depicted as a Ukrainian girl. 

Moreover, social media platforms chose to selectively censor fake news, keeping misinformation that hail Ukraine on the internet. Ahed Tamimi was a Palestinian girl, depicted as a Ukrainian girl, for global sympathy. 

Double standards in censorship were highlighted when the all-Yemeni Ansar Allah resistance movement in Yemen was censored, but all mercenaries in Ukraine were being promoted. That made the reach on Yemen minimal, while news on Ukraine witnessed overwhelming worldwide traffic. 

Moreover, the internet was widely active in promoting an anti-Russian campaign, which triggered Russophobia, to feed the Western agenda in Eastern Europe. 

Ukraine is a “top priority”, but what about Yemen?

Social platforms have become powerful tools to recruit international “volunteers” to fight in Ukraine in the face of Russia. In a first of its kind, the White House held a special briefing on the Ukraine war with TikTok stars such as 18-year-old Ellie Zeiler, who has more than 10 million followers. The US has adopted a new approach to grab the younger generation and recruit them against Russia. 

Earlier this month, up to 20,000 “international volunteers” have traveled to fight Russia in Ukraine, mostly coming from European countries, according to a Ukrainian top official on Sunday. 

“This number is around 20,000 now. They come from many European countries mostly,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNN. “Many people in the world hated Russia and what it was doing in recent years, but no one dared to openly oppose and fight them.”

This comes alongside the 16,000 foreign mercenaries whom Zelensky announced will be fighting in Ukraine. 

The conflict in Ukraine shed major light on social media’s political role as a tool. Its part in broadcasting the conflict highlighted the importance of media in shaping the internet forever. 

It is worth noting that Russia had launched a special military operation for several reasons, such as NATO’s eastward expansion, the Ukrainian shelling of Donbass, and the aggression of Ukrainian forces against the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic, which has been ongoing since 2014, as well as de-nazifying and demilitarizing Ukraine.

United Nations

The UNSC is expected to prevent war, but it has instead backed the US-Saudi-led military coalition against the country. 

At the end of last year, the UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg filed an empty and useless report that read “frustration” regarding the war on Yemen. 

However, his statement isn’t the first or last of empty promises to fight for Yemen and against the humanitarian crisis. Nevertheless, Washington’s disguised backing of the coalition remains behind the curtains.

The UNSC remains in favor of the government under “conflict resolution”, but what the UNSC is doing is betray the Yemenis day by day. It is no longer a “conflict” with the government, it is a full-scale war by the Saudi-led coalition against the people of Yemen. 

Yemen in the shadows 

Recently, the UN said the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen risks being forgotten as the world focuses on the war in Ukraine. And according to experts, that conflict is also likely to directly impact Yemen’s already stricken food supply.

Apart from drawing attention away from the war on Yemen, the war in Ukraine threatens to worsen the humanitarian situation in the Arab nation, with 22% of the country’s wheat coming from Ukraine and Russia.

In 2020, the UN Security-General released his annual “list of shame,” which included several violations against children committed in 2018, in which at least 729 children were killed or maimed.

However, the Security-General chose to list the Saudi-led coalition as a party that is improving the situation in Yemen, despite the overwhelming evidence that proves otherwise.  

In addition, Security Council members call for a ceasefire in Yemen and go ahead with providing arms to prolong the war, instead of suspending all arms sales. In other words, the Council has offered nothing but empty statements regarding the war. 

Who is looking behind the curtains? 

Media outlets are dedicated to broadcasting global events and issues around the world. US media coverage is also dedicated to covering global issues, especially ones that help spread its agenda across the map. However, the tragedy of the people of Yemen, in the meantime, is completely shadowed, as the international community continues to turn a blind eye to the ongoing atrocities. 

The lack of mainstream coverage for Yemen raises many questions on where the media’s priorities stand: Is the US hiding the atrocious crimes in Yemen to protect its relations with the Kingdom? Are the billions in arms sales fuelling the US economy more important than thousands of human lives? Keeping Yemen in the shadows will spare the US the need to justify its interference and its intimate relations with the Gulf.

With all eyes focused on Ukraine, who is willing to take one look farther to behold the sufferings the Yemeni people have been undergoing for full seven years? 

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مملكة حزّ الرؤوس لا تتغيّر: ابن سلمان يرث الوهابية بأمّها وأبيها

الإثنين 14 آذار 2022

فؤاد إبراهيم 

في عدّاد القتل الجماعي في عهد سلمان وحده، نفّذت السلطات السعودية ثلاث مجازر وحشية، الأولى في الثاني من كانون الثاني 2016، قطعت فيها رؤوس 47 شاباً بينهم 4 قاصرين على الأقلّ، وكان من بينهم الشيخ المجاهد نمر باقر النمر، بينما ليس فيهم من أدين بتهمة قتل واحدة، وأكثرهم من شباب الحراك السلمي لعام 2011.

والمجزرة الثانية نُفّذت في 23 نيسان 2019، وقُطعت فيها رؤوس 37 شاباً من بينهم 6 قاصرين على الأقلّ، ووصفتها “المفوضية العليا لحقوق الإنسان” بـ”الصادمة”، معتبرة إعدام قاصرين “مشيناً جداً”، فيما عدّه الاتحاد الأوروبي “خرقاً خطيراً” لحقوق الإنسان. وكانت التهمة الرئيسة ضدّ مَن أعدمتهم السلطات السعودية، وأغلبهم من الطائفة الشيعية: “تبنّيهم الفكر الإرهابي المتطرف وتشكيل خلايا إرهابية للإفساد والإخلال بالأمن وإشاعة الفوضى”.

وهذه من الاتهامات المعلّبة التي يجري استخدامها بصورة دائمة في محاضر الاتهام. وأحدث المجازر، وليس آخرها، كانت “مجزرة السبت”، وهي الأعلى عددياً، حيث قُطعت رؤوس 81 شخصاً، جمع فيها ابن سلمان بين متّهمين في قضايا تتعلّق بالحراك الشعبي في القطيف في عام 2011، وآخرين على علاقة بتنظيمَي “القاعدة” و”داعش” ، والهدف واضح. وفي التفاصيل، أدين سبعة يمنيون واردة أسماؤهم في القائمة في قضايا الانتماء إلى “داعش” (شخص واحد)، والانتماء إلى حركة “أنصار الله” (3 أشخاص)، وتهريب أسلحة (3 أشخاص). واتُّهم سوري واحد بالانتماء إلى “داعش”، وهي التهمة ذاتها التي طاولت 28 سعودياً، إضافة إلى سعودي بتهمة الانتماء إلى “القاعدة”، وآخر بتهمة “تشكيل خلية إرهابية”، وقسم ثالث بتهمة “اعتناق منهج التكفير”.

تبقى الوجبة الأكبر من قطع الرؤوس من نصيب الشيعة في الأحساء والقطيف، حيث فصل سيّاف سلمان وابنه، وبدم بارد، رؤوس واحد وأربعين شاباً عن أجسادهم في “حفلة جنون” غير مسبوقة، وكانت بلدة العوامية وحدها على موعد مع استقبال خبر فاجعة إعدام 27 شاباً من أبنائها، لا ذنب لهم سوى أنهم خرجوا في تظاهرات سلمية ورفعوا شعارات مطلبية مشروعة موثّقة بالصوت والصورة. لم يتبدّل الحال إذاً. هي المحاكمات الصورة ذاتها الفاقدة إلى أدنى شروط المحاكمة العادلة، والآلية نفسها المعمول بها في إصدار الأحكام، بما يجعل أيّ حديث عن قضاء بلا طائل، فأحكام الإعدام تَصدر من الديوان الملكي. ما يلفت في الأحكام أنها لم تخرق مبادئ حقوق الإنسان فحسب، بل هي انتهكت على نحو صريح القانون الجنائي السعودي نفسه، إذ إن التهمة الموجّهة إلى 37 شاباً هي “نيّة شروع بالقتل”، أو “التخابر مع جهات أجنبية” وخلافه، فيما لم يَرِد في صكّ الاتهام أيّ تهمة صريحة بالقتل سوى ضدّ ثلاثة من المتّهمين، في بيئة تفتقر إلى كلّ مقوّمات المحاكمة العادلة. أمّا تهمة الشروع في الجريمة، أو ما يسمّى بالجريمة غير المكتملة، فقد حُدّدت بـ “الحبس لمدّة لا تزيد على عشر سنوات”، بحسب نص القانون الجنائي السعودي.

على أيّ حال، فإن الاحتجاج القانوني لا مكان له هنا، لأن “المنطق” و”المعقول” غائبان في مكوّنات تفكير ابن سلمان. وبالتالي، فأيّ حسابات سياسية ومنطقية لتفسير ما تسالم الناشطون على مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي على تسميته بـ “مجزرة السبت”، سوف تنتهي إلى لا نتيجة. فنحن أمام شخص – لا نهج سياسي – يمارس هوايته المفضلة في مصادمة الجمهور، بينما “اللامتوقع” و”اللامنطقي” و”اللامعقول” سمات جوهرية في لعبة السياسة التي يزاولها على طريقة المغامرة، ولكن في شكلها الطفولي. لماذا تكون مجزرة السبت خارج الحسابات السياسية؟ تعالوا نقرأها وفق منطق التحليل السياسي: أولاً، إن العزلة المفروضة على ابن سلمان منذ سنوات على خلفية جريمة قتل جمال خاشقجي، تتطلّب عملاً استثنائياً وخارقاً لكسرها والعودة الطبيعية للاندماج في دورة المحافل والعلاقات الدولية. ثانياً، إن هوس ابن سلمان بالعرش وهاجسه الأكبر بصنع رمزيته السياسية يفرضان تهدئة مع الداخل واسترضاء لكلّ المكوّنات. ثالثاً، السعودية وإيران كانتا على موعد قريب (الأربعاء المقبل) مع جولة حوارية في بغداد (أعلنت طهران تجميدها أمس)، ومن الطبيعي أن يحافظ الطرفان على أجواء وديّة وهادئة لإنجاح الحوار. وحين نتأمّل في هذه العوامل، نجدها منطقية لأيّ سياسي حصيف، ولكن هذا التحليل يصلح في حال واحدة، أي حين يجري التعامل مع شخصية تعمل، في الأصل، وفق منطق السياسة وقوانينها.

ما تَحرّر منه ابن سلمان هو القسمة والغُنم المشترك مع سلالة محمد بن عبد الوهاب وأتباعه، فيما ألقى عليهم تبعات الحرائق التي أشعلها آل سعود في الداخل والخارج


يكون السؤال عن شخصية ابن سلمان لغواً حين يتعلّق بـ”ثبات الصورة” وثوابت السياسة، فهو اليوم غير الغد، وهو في الغد غير ما يأتي من أيام لاحقة، لا على سبيل التغيّر الخلّاق، بل هي مفاعيل الشخصية المأزومة، والمسكونة بغرام “اللافت” و”العظيم” “والكبير” و”الجديد” و”الأول عالمياً” كما يحلو له ترديد هذه المفردة، فيما يأتي أحد أقلام البلاط ليبشّر بعودة شخصية “القائد الملهم” بعد أفوله في أدبيات التطبيل الغابرة، وهي نعوت يطرب لها ابن سلمان. خيّب ابن سلمان توقّعات شركات العلاقات العامة الأجنبية، الأميركية والأوروبية، والتي أغرقها بملايين الدولارات من المال العام لترميم صورته المهشّمة منذ اغتيال خاشقجي وتقطيع أوصاله في قنصلية السعودية في إسطنبول في تشرين الثاني 2018، فقرّرت أكثر من واحدة من كبريات شركات العلاقات العامة، وفي لحظة إنقاذية لسمعتها، الانسحاب من صفقة تجني منها المال وتخسر فيها مستقبلها. بين رسوخ صورة القاتل والمتغطرس والمتعطّش للدم، ومحاولات دؤوبة من فريق ابن سلمان لمحوها، كان الأمل معقوداً على إحداث تغيير جوهري في “الذاكرة القريبة” للرأي العام المحلي والعالمي. فكانت مقابلته الاستعراضية مع مجلة “ذي أتلانتيك” الأميركية بمنزلة رهان أخير لمحو شخصية القاتل السادي والمحشوّ رعونة وبلاهة، وإحلال شخصية المصلح، والمنقذ، والمنطقي، والمنفتح. جعل ابن سلمان من المجلة الأميركية منصّة لإطلاق “مانيفستو” الدولة الأفلاطونية بنسخة سعودية معدّلة جينياً، وهي التي سوف يعتلي عرشها ذات يوم، أو هكذا يحلم. وابتهج المراهنون، حقاً أم نفاقاً، على وعدَين فارقَين:

وقف عقوبة الإعدام إلى الأبد.


ـ الاعتراف بالتنوع المذهبي ومستوجباته في التمثيل البيروقراطي، في شقّه الديني على الأقل.
في الأول، وفي المعلومات، زار مسؤول في مفوضية الأمم المتحدة السامية لحقوق الإنسان، الرياض أخيراً، ونقل عن بندر بن محمد العيبان، رئيس “هيئة حقوق الإنسان” في السعودية، أن بلاده أوقفت العمل بصورة نهائية بعقوبة الإعدام. وقرأنا ذلك التأكيد في مقابلة ابن سلمان مع المجلة الأميركية بما نصّه: “في ما يتعلق بعقوبة الإعدام، لقد تخلّصنا منها جميعاً، ما عدا فئة واحدة…”، قاصداً بذلك الحق الخاص، أي من ارتكب جريمة قتل ضدّ شخص آخر، تُطبّق عليه عقوبة الإعدام في حال رفض أهله التنازل أو قبول الدية. أطنب فريق من الكتّاب ورجال الدين والثقافة والشعراء في التطبيل لـ”خطة الإنقاذ” التي بشّر بها ابن سلمان عبر المجلة المذكورة، وأوهموا أنفسهم ومَن حولهم والأبعدين بأن زمن “الواحدية” كما سمّاه ذات يوم، أحدُ سدنة البلاط الحاليين، قد أدبر، وكان هذا ناقداً للنظام قبل أن ينضمّ إلى حلقة البروباغندا لوليّ العهد، وبات هذه الأيام مهووساً بالخصومة مع الآخر. الرواية الجديدة التي أراد ابن سلمان إيصالها عبر المجلة الأميركية، والقائمة على فكرة طلاق، بائن أو رجعي، بين السعودية والوهابية، والتبشير بسعودية جديدة خالية من الوهابية، في لعبة إيحاء ماكرة، تفتقر إلى الأدنى من الذكاء المطلوب لتمريرها في عالم يكتظّ بمصادر المعرفة بالتاريخ وبالحاضر أيضاً. وكما هي العادة في مجمل صور الأداء السياسي لابن سلمان، فقد أراح ناقديه من عناء البحث عن “النقيض” في مواقفه، إذ تكفّل شخصياً بتقديم كلّ ما هو “عكس الصورة” التي يريد الترويج لها، وهذه سمة راسخة في شخصية ابن سلمان المضطربة وغير المتوازنة. كانت “مجزرة السبت” صدمة وحجراً في أفواه الذين دخلوا للتوّ في “هلوسة” تطبيل غير مكتملة. هي صدمة لأولئك الذين اعتقدوا بأن ثمّة “قبل وبعد” في عهد ابن سلمان، واكتشفوا، أو هكذا يُفترض أن يكون الحال، أن الأمر ليس كذلك إطلاقاً، وبالخصوص على مستوى العواقب، وإن اختلفت المقدّمات.

ما هو جديد في “مجزرة السبت”، أن ابن سلمان ينفرد هذه المرّة بالمسؤولية القانونية والجنائية وحتى الأيديولوجية. في كلّ السنوات السابقة، كان يتمّ التلطّي وراء الوهابية الحنبلية بصفتها مرجع “القضاء الشرعي” وما يصدر عنه من أحكام جزائية، ضمن التنظيم التشريعي الصادر في المملكة منذ قرار عبد العزيز بعد احتلاله الحجاز سنة 1926، والقاضي بإلغاء كلّ الأحكام الصادرة عن المذاهب الإسلامية الأخرى وإقرار الفقه الحنبلي كمرجعية وحيدة في التقاضي وإصدار الأحكام. وبناءً على التحوّل الخطابي لدى ابن سلمان بتخفيض الوهابية إلى سويّة دنيا، وإدماج بقيّة المذاهب كجزء من التنوّع المذهبي الذي يعيد رسم المشهد الديني في المملكة السعودية، ملحقاً بالسردية الجديدة حول “يوم التأسيس” بمضمونها التاريخي والعقدي والسياسي، وتمهيداً لتدابر قريب ونهائي بين الشريكَين التاريخيَّين: آل سعود وآل الشيخ، يكون الحاصل النهائي أن التشدّد والعنف بأشكاله السادية وقطع الرؤوس كلّ ذلك ليس امتيازاً وهابياً حصرياً ولا حتى “داعشياً” بالاقتداء، وأن الراعي الرسمي لكلّ ذلك هو آل سعود، وأن الوهابية ما هي إلا الأداة المشرعنة للعنف، بدليل بسيط أن فصل الوهابية عن آل سعود لم يخفّف من مستوى التوحش المتأصّل في العائلة المالكة. ما يجدر إلفات الانتباه إليه أن مضمون بيان وزارة الداخلية يشي بحقيقة أن ابن سلمان تخلّى عن محمد بن عبد الوهاب وتمسّك بالوهابية.

في الشكل، نعم هناك عملية تصفية حساب طويل ومؤلم مع الوهابية، ولكن في المضمون، لا تزال “الذخيرة” الأيديولوجية والتشريعية للوهابية صالحة للاستعمال، كلّما دعت المصلحة السياسية إلى ذلك. في مقارنة بيان وزارة الداخلية السعودية حول الإعدامات الأخيرة مع بياناتها في عهود سابقة منذ فيصل (1964 ــ 1975)، ومروراً بعهود كلّ من خالد (1975 ــ 1982)، فهد (1982 ــ 2005) وعبدالله (2005 ـ2015)، يظهر أن مفردات الخطاب الديني هي ذاتها لم تتبدّل، وتقع ضمن ثنائية تنزيه الذات (الوهابية) ووصم الآخر (كلّ ما عداها) بأفعال من قبيل مخالفة “طريق الحق”، واتباع “الأهواء” “وخطوات الشيطان”، وانتهاج “الفكر الضال” و”المناهج والمعتقدات المنحرفة”. ويتأكد ثبات سلمان على النهج التنزيهي والإقصائي في آن في ختام بيان الداخلية، بالتأكيد “أن هذه البلاد… اتخذت من كتاب الله تعالى، وسنة رسوله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – منذ قيامها دستوراً ومنهاجاً…”. وهنا لفتة ذات دلالة إلى أن لا تغيير بتاتاً في النظام التشريعي، وأن تحقيق العدالة وفق المفهوم السعودي يكمن، في نهاية المطاف، في “تنفيذ أحكام الشرع المطهّر”، ومن يُجرَّم بأعمال إرهابية فإن “العقاب الشرعي سيكون مصيره”، مشفوعاً بآية قرآنية لزوم المشروعية الدينية للعقوبة.

في التحليل، فإن ما تَحرّر منه ابن سلمان هو القسمة والغُنم المشترك مع سلالة محمد بن عبد الوهاب وأتباعه، فيما ألقى عليهم تبعات الحرائق التي أشعلها آل سعود في الداخل والخارج، تلك الحرائق المتّصلة بالإرهاب والتطرف – والوهابية هي، من دون ريب، شريك كامل في تلك الحرائق -، وفي الوقت نفسه احتفظ لنفسه بحق الاستعمال الحصري للإرث الوهابي، خطاباً وفقهاً جنائياً. في النتائج، تعيد “مجزرة السبت” ابن سلمان إلى مربعه الذي وضع نفسه فيه، بفعل حماقاته، فيما “تثبيت” صورته قاتلاً مهووساً بالمختلف، والاستثنائي، والصادم، هو فعل كارثي، ويُلحق ضرراً معنوياً وأخلاقياً بالمراهنين عليه، لأنه يُظهرهم في هيئة بلهاء وحقراء لاستنزاف أذهانهم في جولات تمجيد فارغة وخاوية.

من ملف : الجزّار

Masses Hold Funeral for Executed Saudi Men in Qatif Eastern Province

 March 14, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Social media users circulated videos showing a massive funeral ceremony held for a number of scores of Saudi dissidents, who were recently executed by the Al Saud clan.

Thousands of people were seen massing for the event in the Shia-populated Qatif region of the kingdom’s Eastern Province on Sunday.

The regime executed as many as 81 prisoners in a single day on Saturday over what it called “terror-related offenses,” in the largest mass execution carried out in the kingdom in recent memory. As many as 41 of the victims hailed from Qatif.

The executions have been followed by waves of popular protests, especially in the kingdom’s east. Domestic and regional groupings have been issuing condemnatory statements against the country.

Social media users reported that the kingdom has started summoning some of the families of the victims and threatened them to declare that they were content with the executions or face consequences.

This has, however, not prevented the Eastern Province’s people from seeking to commemorate the victims. Owners of religious centers are reportedly planning various events to mark the memory of those executed.

Local activists have also been publicizing the names and features of the victims amid the kingdom’s reported refusal to hand over the bodies of some of the victims.

Leading Saudi analyst Ali Abbas al-Ahmed has shared a list of protesters and activists executed by the Saudi regime on his twitter page, with the post going viral.  

During the last 48 hours, Saudi security forces in plain clothes have reportedly been deployed across Qatif, preventing the formation of more than two people.

However, the people of Qatif have vowed to take to the streets as soon as they can to protest the brutal execution of innocent people.

In a statement, the Arabian Peninsula Opposition bloc, which is an umbrella for Saudi dissidents, said the 41 executed prisoners, belonged to the peaceful al-Hirak al-Janoubi movement. The bloc of Saudi dissidents called the kingdom’s de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman “nothing more than a murderer, who enjoys shedding the blood of the innocent,” saying the mass execution was carried out against young people, who had exercised their right to express their opinion and had been imprisoned as a result.

Rights groups condemned the executions, saying “they flew in the face of” claims by bin Salman “that the country was overhauling its justice system and limiting its use of the death penalty.”

“These executions are the opposite of justice,” said Ali Adubusi, the director of the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, a watchdog group. He said that in many of the cases, the charges against the accused involved “not a drop of blood.”

Mass Executions Show True Face of Saudi Regime: Hezbollah

March, 14, 2022

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement denounced the execution of over 80 prisoners in a single day in Saudi Arabia, saying it brings to the fore the true face of the Saudi regime.

“This regime wears the dress of Islam, but is actually at the service of the Zionist project. All the treason which was committed by the Persian Gulf Arab states would not have been possible without the endorsement of Saudi Arabia,” Hezbollah said in a statement on Sunday, a day after the Saudi regime executed as many as 81 prisoners over “terror-related offenses.”

The largest mass execution carried out by the highly-conservative Arab kingdom in recent memory unleashed a strong wave of condemnation from an array of Islamic and Saudi opposition groups, which said most of those executed had been jailed only for exercising their right to free expression of opinion.

Hezbollah said the ruling Al Saud regime has committed a heinous crime against the oppressed people of the Arab Peninsula.

“This is an additional crime in the criminal record of the Saudi regime, which has always committed killings and bloodshed.” This criminal record extends from Yemen to Iraq, to Syria, to Lebanon, and all Arab and Muslim countries, Hezbollah said.

The resistance movement called on all religious figures, clerics and international organizations to denounce the “terrorist regime.”

The 2022 executions exceeded the total number of Saudi Arabia’s punishments by death throughout last year.

The kingdom’s last mass execution occurred in early January 2016, when Saudi authorities executed 47 people, including prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who had vociferously called for democracy in the kingdom and advocated anti-regime protests. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif, Eastern Province, in 2012.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has reportedly executed more than 900 prisoners in an increasing rate. In 2019 alone, Saudi Arabia set a record number of executions after authorities executed 184 people, despite a general decrease in the number of executions around the world.

In April 2020, Reprieve, a UK-based non-profit organization, said Saudi Arabia had carried out its 800th execution. The report added that executions had almost doubled in only five years in comparison with the 423 executions conducted in Saudi Arabia from 2009 through 2014.

Eastern Province, which is largely populated by the Shiite minority, has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region. The protests have met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

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You are terrorism, we are Resistance: Hezbollah Deputy SG to Saudi Arabia

Net 6 Jan 2022

Net Source: Al Mayadeen

By Al Mayadeen

Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem weighs in on a number of topics, including Riyadh’s accusations and the Lebanese elections.

Sheikh Naim Qassem delivered a speech, addressing Saudi Arabia and the coming Lebanon elections. 

Today, Thursday, Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah Sheikh Naim Qassem said, “Recently, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz announced an unjust stance against Hezbollah, deeming the organization terrorist, as Saudi Arabia has been classifying it for years.”

Sheikh Qassem, in his speech in South Lebanon, during the second anniversary marking the martyrdom of the two leaders, Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, said that “this description at this particular time and from the King of Saudi Arabia bears bad connotations, especially since the description is directed toward heroic fighters who sacrificed their blood, as both men and women sacrificed themselves for the liberation of the land, for Palestine, and for the dignity of the ummah.” 

Qassem contended that “this accusation against a wide segment of Lebanese society, against an effective and influential resistance group in the region, a deterrent of suspicious plots, is to incite the Lebanese against each other to stir up tension between them and to incite the people against the resistance that has a major role in the renaissance of Lebanon and its liberation.”

“They say that Lebanon must be Arab, and we tell them that we believe in the Arabness of Lebanon.” He asked: “Yemen is Arab and Saudi Arabia is Arab, and if we support Yemen, that means we support an Arab country, and if we are ever to support Saudi Arabia, how can we do so when it is attacking the other Arab country?”

He stressed that “Hezbollah must support those who are attacked, those who bear the right, those who offer martyrs, and those whose country is being destroyed by the hand of an Arab and an international tool that is trying to change the balance of power in the region.”

Qassem stressed that “a terrorist is the one who kills dissenting opinions in his country, attacks his neighbors in Yemen, and normalizes with Israel using various deceptive methods.”

Sheikh Qassem clarified that “freedom of opinion and expression is clear in the constitution under Article 13, and it is guaranteed as per the law.”

He stressed that “our response to Saudi Arabia will be decisive.”

He addressed Saudi Arabia, saying, “You, yourselves, are terrorism, and we are the resistance, and we will not take your harm without responding to you armed with facts and logic.”

Last Monday, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said in a speech on the anniversary of Soleimani’s martyrdom, “We did not assault Saudi Arabia, nor did we attack it. Rather, it was an actor in the global war on the region, and we had the honor of fighting the organizations that Saudi Arabia brought,” saying that “the terrorist is the one who sent thousands of Saudi takfiris to Syria and Iraq.”

Election alliance with the FPM

Sheikh Qassem revealed that there is an understanding with the Free Patriotic Movement,  headed by the Gebran Bassil, saying, “We have allies in Lebanon, and we reached an understanding with the Free Patriotic Movement, and the reason for this understanding is that there are strategic and domestic issues and we found that there is an overlap of convictions and opinions.”

He stressed, “We will be with the Free Patriotic Movement in the parliamentary elections… and we have started holding meetings at all levels in order to prepare for the parliamentary elections.”

He also pointed out that “the future electoral scene will be similar to the previous ones with regard to the alliances we made with everyone. Hezbollah will naturally cooperate with its allies in the parliamentary elections.”

The Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah also stressed that “Hezbollah’s relationship with the Amal movement is a stable and solid strategic relationship, stressing, “We are working together to preserve Lebanon as a sovereign, independent nation away from foreigners and to prevent naturalization and deter normalization with Israel.”

السعودية: تكفير وإرهاب من

الخميس 6 يناير 2022

 شوقي عواضة

لم يكن نشوء الكيان السّعودي أقلّ دمويّةً وإرهابيّةً من قيام أميركا التي قامت على أنقاض الهنود الحمر ولا أقلّ إجراماً من نشوء الكيان الصّهيوني الذي قام على أجساد الفلسطينيين، بل كان أكثر إرهاباً وإجراماً وقتلاً وتمثيلاً وتنكيلاً بالبشر. وما يميّزه عن الكيانين الأميركي «والإسرائيلي» يجعله أكثر خطورةً على الأمّة حيث أنّ آل سعود المنحدرين من أصلٍ يهوديٍّ يعود لجدّهم مردخاي بن ابراهام بن موشي الدونمي من يهود الدونمة وفق ما أثبته الكاتب الشّهيد ناصر السعيد في كتابه «تاريخ آل سعود». وعليه فإنّ هؤلاء اليهود الذين أسّسوا الكيان السّعودي بدعمٍ بريطاني تكمن خطورته في الحقائق التّاريخية الآتية:

أولا ـ تبنّيهم للهوية العربيّة وهم يهود في الأصل واتخاذ الإسلام ستاراً للحكم وقيام كيانهم الوظيفي والحليف للكيان الصّهيوني.

ُثانياـ اغتصابهم لشبه الجزيرة العربيّة بدعم بريطانيا التي دعمت قيام الكيان الصّهيوني الذي اغتصب فلسطين.

ثالثا ـ قيام الكيان السّعودي على الغزوات وارتكاب المذابح والمجازر بحقّ القبائل العربيّة كما حصل في فلسطين من غزواتٍ ومذابحَ على يد عصابات الهاغاناه وشتيرن وغيرها.

رابعا ـ ضرب واستهداف كلّ عناصر القوّة في الأمّة لا سيما تيّارات المقاومة وتشتيتها وتحويل مسار الصّراع مع الكيان الصّهيوني إلى صراعاتٍ وحروبٍ داخل الأمة.

عبر التاريخ أثبت الكيان السعودي بكلّ ملوكه وحكّامه الذين توالوا على الحكم هذه الحقائق. فالسعوديّة التي استدرجت الرئيس جمال عبد النّاصر للحرب في اليمن لم تكن مهمّتها سوى إشغال الرئيس المصري عن استكمال المواجهة مع العدو الصّهيوني

وثائق الدور السعودي في حرب يونيو

فقد كشفت وثائق للمخابرات الأميركيّة والبريطانيّة و»الإسرائيليّة» نشرت مؤخّراً عن حقائق هامّة تتعلّق بدورٍ خطيرٍ قام به الملك فيصل بالتنسيق مع أميركا قبل حرب 1967 للتآمر على عبد النّاصر وهزيمته، وكشفت عن اتصالاتٍ سرّيةٍ أجراها السعوديون بالإسرائيليين بهدف دعمهم مباشرة أو من خلال واشنطن لضرب عبد الناصر وتحجيم دوره القومي، وفرض الهزيمة المعنويّة عليه بعد الهزيمة العسكريّة عام 1967 وهو ما جرى فعلياً…

كذلك الأمر اليوم أعادت السّعودية نفس السيناريو من خلال ما يسمّى بالرّبيع العربي لاستنزاف سورية قلعة المقاومة وحصنها وإشغال المقاومة بعد انتصاري 2000 و2006 ومحاولة تفتيت قدراتها لكنّها فشلت وأسقط مشروعها، ومحاولة استعادة العراق من محور المقاومة، والسّيطرة على اليمن الذي أذلّ طواغيت آل سعود وحلفائهم. لم تتغيّر مسلكية آل سعود منذ نشوء كيانهم الوظيفي حتى اليوم وهذا ليس تحليلاً ولا توقعاً بل وقائع تاريخيّة موثّقة عبّر عنها الزّعيم الراحل :جمال عبد النّاصر في محطاتٍ كثيرةٍ. فمن خطاب له في الثالث والعشرين من كانون الأول/ ديسمبر عام 1962 قال

سقط لنا 136 ضابطاً وعسكريّاً جزمة كلّ واحد منهم أشرف من تاج الملك سعود والملك حسين

وفي الثّاني والعشرين من تموز/ يوليو من العام نفسه كشف عبد الناصر عن التّعاون بين الاستعمار والنظام السّعودي قائلاً «لاحظنا في السنة الأخيرة تعاوناً مطلقاً بين الرجعية العربيّة وقوى الاستعمار ويوجد تعاونٌ وتضامنٌ بينهم في العمل ضدّ القومية العربيّة وقوى الثّورة والتّحرر العربي. صفقات السّلاح التي تستهدف العرب ولا تستهدف عدو العرب».

أمّا عن قضية فلسطين وآل سعود فكان للزعيم عبد الناصر رأي يقول

«أنا لا أتصوّر بأيّ حال من الأحوال أن المملكة السعودية تستطيع أن تحارب في فلسطين وفيها قاعدة أميركية وفيها قاعدة بريطانيّة.

لم تكن مواقف الرئيس جمال عبد الناصر حينها طائفيّةً ولا مذهبيةً ولا عشائريةً أو عنصريّةً وهو العربي الذي عمّد عروبته بالدّم، وهو المسلم الذي تقدّم لمقاومة المحتلّ الصهيوني لأرض فلسطين، وهو السني الذي ثار في وجه الظالمين والمستبدّين وفي مقدمتهم آل سعود.

تلك المواقف لم تكن إلا تعبيراً عن واقعٍ وحقيقة دامغة كشفت دور آل سعود ومؤامراتهم على الأمّة. وما قاله الأمين العام لحزب الله السيّد حسن نصر الله في خطابه الأخير في ذكرى الشّهيدين قاسم سليماني وأبي مهدي المهندس هو نفس الحقيقة التي عبّر عنها الرئيس عبد الناصر منذ أكثر من خمسين عاماً، ولا يزال نفس الكيان يتآمر على الأمة ولكي لا يعطي البعض صبغةً طائفيةً أو مذهبيّة لكلام السّيد نصر الله نقول لهم راجعوا مواقف الرّئيس عبد الناصر التي ردّ عليها آل سعود بتكفيره في الثالث والعشرين من كانون الأول/ ديسمبر من عام 1962 حيث نشرت صحيفة «عكاظ» السّعودية على صفحتها الأولى وبالخط العريض فتوى لفقهاء البلاط الملكي تقول (جمال عبد الناصر كافر بالإجماع) عنوان يختصر عقليّة الكيان السّعودي وحكّامه المستعربين الذين لم ولن يتغيّروا. اليوم يكفّرون الشّرفاء ويتهمونهم بالإرهاب وكلّ ذلك لن يغيّر من حقيقة تقول بأنّ الكيان السعودي الذي قام على المذابح والقتل هو أصل الإرهاب وليس أقلّ خطورة من إرهاب العدو الصّهيوني، وأنّ الوهابيّة التي غزت بدواعشها دمشق وبغداد لا تقلّ عدوانية عن عصابات الهاغاناه وشتيرن، وان شيوخ الوهابيّة هم كفقهاء التلمود، وأنّ كيانكم السرطاني سيزول كما سيزول الكيان الصّهيوني والآتي من الأيام سيُنبّئ بذلك.

Sayyed Nasrallah to Saudi King: Hezbollah Resistance Is Not Terrorist, You Are So!

Jan 3 2022

Marwa Haidar

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah stressed that the US is the source of tyranny and aggression in the region.

Talking on the second martyrdom anniversary of former head of IRGC’s Quds Force General Qassem Suleimani and deputy head of Iraq’s Hashd Shaabi paramilitary force Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized on the difference between the martyrs and the “criminal” US.

His eminence pointed to US crimes in the region starting from Afghanistan, to Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Palestine and Lebanon.

Sayyed Nasrallah said that the US has created ISIL in a bid to stay in the region.

He noted that Saudi Arabia has backed the Takfiri group, through spreading its Wahhabi ideology.

In this context, Sayyed Nasrallah hit back at the Saudi King who described Hezbollah as terrorist. He stressed that the terrorist is the one who sent thousands of Saudi Takfiris to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Sayyed Nasrallah affirmed that Hezbollah is a Resistance movement and not a terrorist one, accusing the regime in Riyadh of being terrorist.

Ties between Hezbollah, FPM

Sayyed Nasrallah started his speech by offering condolences over the martyrdom anniversary of Sayyeda Fatima Zahraa a.s., as well as the demise of Iranian envoy to Yemen Hassan Irloo.

His eminence also congratulated Christians and Muslims on the Christmas and the New Year.

Before getting into the topic of the occasion, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed Hezbollah’s keenness to preserve ties with the party’s local allies, responding to allegations circulated by some media outlets that the relation between Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) has worsened over latest developments in Lebanon.

“We stress on the importance of dialogue between Lebanese people. We are keen on our allies and friends and open to developing ties,” Sayyed Nasrallah addressed attendees of the ceremony held in Beirut’s southern suburb, Dahiyeh.

The Killer-Martyr Formula

Talking about the occasion, Sayyed Nasrallah noted that the repercussions of assassinating Gen. Suleimani and Al-Muhandis are still standing, stressing that marking their martyrdom anniversary shows some gratitude to their souls.

“These two martyrs have given much to their countries, region, religions, but some want to deny their good. Opposition to raising their posters on the road to Beirut Airport is a form of this ingratitude.”

Throughout the last two years, some major battles took place. Such battles proved that the Axis of Resistance is abiding by the path of these two great leaders, Sayyed Nasrallah said, citing the latest Israeli war on Gaza (Sword of Al-Quds), as well as what he called “Battle of Steadfastness in Yemen.”

Hezbollah S.G. then talked about the killer-martyr formula, as he deplored putting Iran and the US on the same level.

“There is a real problem in our region. This problem is represented by disagreements on designating the ally and the enemy of this region’s peoples.”

“Our countries must take a firm stance towards the killer and the martyr. Iraq must take a clear position. The US is the one who occupied Iraq, oppressed its people and committed crimes even before the emergence of Gen. Suleimani.”

“The US created ISIL in order to redeploy its forces in Iraq. It bears responsibility for the crimes committed by ISIL. The US is the killer and the unprecedented hypocrite who committed crimes in Iraq, while Suleimani is the martyr who stood by the Iraqi people. Iran was the first sides who stood by the Iraqi people against ISIL which was created by the US.”

“Is it fair to equate between the criminal US and Iran which stood beside Iraq? It’s catastrophic to do so.”

US Source of Tyranny, Oppression

Sayyed Nasralah then stressed that the US is the source of tyranny and oppression in the region.

“The US is fully responsible for all Israelis crimes in Palestine and Lebanon. The US is behind all raids, massacres committed by the Zionist entity in Lebanon. How can we look to the US as a friend?!”

“As for the war on Yemen, it is an American war carried out by the US,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, as he elaborated on the US policy in the region, which is based on suing discord between its countries.

In this context, Sayyed Nasrallah cited the Gulf siege on Qatar, noting that Gulf Arab countries were like puppets in the hand of the US.

Meanwhile, Sayyed Nasrallah also affirmed the US role in the war on Syria, pointing to what he called continued aggression on the Arab country through the economic blockade, especially the so-called Caesar Act.

“In every place where the US was causing destruction, martyr Suleimani was present. He achieved victories, changed the equations and finally he sacrificed his soul on this path.”

Hezbollah S.G. stressed here that the perpetrators who committed the assassination crimes of Suleimani and Al-Muhandis will be punished.

“This is a promise by free people, not only by Iranians.”

Sayyed Nasrallah then affirmed that allowing US forces to stay in Iraq “means a new assassination of martyrs Suleimani and Al-Muhandis,” stressing that the only fate awaiting US forces in the region is the pullout.

“The blood of martyrs Suleimani and Al-Muhandis delivers a message to all free people of this region. This message says: Know your enemy, the US is the head of aggression and the source of tyranny and oppression, don’t surrender.”

“Terrorist” Saudi

Sayyed Nasrallah talked about the Saudi regime’s role in backing ISIL, citing acknowledgements by Saudi officials in this regard.

“Saudi Arabia backed ISIL. It sent suicide bombers and explosive-laden cars to Iraq.”

“Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman said that the US had called on Riyadh to spread the Wahhabi ideology. Saudi Arabia sent its suicide bombers to kill Iraqi men and children, while Iran sent its fighters to defend Iraqi people.”

Sayyed Nasrallah then hit back at those who accuse Hezbollah of “harming” Lebanon’s diplomatic ties.

“Lebanon’s ties with whom? With the US which is a clear enemy? As for Saudi, we did not attack it, but rather, it was a partner in the universal war in this region.”

“Who backed ISIL in Syria? The vast majority of Lebanese people know that Lebanon’s existence was in risk because of ISIL which was created by the US and backed by Saudi.”

In this context, Sayyed Nasrallah commented on remarks made by Saudi King Salman, who described Hezbollah as a “terrorist organization.”

“The terrorist is the one who sent thousands of Takfiri Saudis to Syria and Iraq. On the other hand, Hezbollah proudly defended the region against those conspirators.”

“The terrorist is the one who takes thousands of Lebanese nationals in Gulf states hostages and threatens to expel them on daily basis.”

“The resignation of a Lebanese minister won’t change the Saudi stance towards Lebanon since its problem is with the sides who foiled its scheme,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, referring to pressures exerted on former Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi to resign over remarks he made on the Saudi war on Yemen.

“Hezbollah is a Resistance movement. It is not a terrorist, but you are so!”

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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String of pearls: Yemen could be the Arab hub of the Maritime Silk Road

November 22, 2021

With an Ansarallah takeover of Yemen, Asia’s trade and connectivity projects could expand into some of the world’s most strategic waterways

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and cross-posted with TheCradle

https://media.thecradle.co/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/a.jpg

The usual suspects tried everything against Yemen.

First, coercing it into ‘structural reform.’ When that didn’t work, they instrumentalized takfiri mercenaries. They infiltrated and manipulated the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ISIS. They used US drones and occasional marines.

And then, in 2015, they went Total Warfare: a UN-backed rogue coalition started bombing and starving Yemenis into submission – with barely a peep from the denizens of the ‘rules-based international order.’

The coalition – House of Saud, Qatar, UAE, US, UK – for all practical purposes, embarked on a final solution for Yemen.

Sovereignty and unity were never part of the deal. Yet soon the project stalled. Saudis and Emiratis were fighting each other for primacy in southern and eastern Yemen using mercenaries. In April 2017, Qatar clashed with both Saudis and Emiratis. The coalition started to unravel.

Now we reach a crucial inflexion point. Yemeni Armed Forces and allied fighters from Popular Committees, backed by a coalition of tribes, including the very powerful Murad, are on the verge of liberating strategic, oil and natural gas-rich Marib – the last stronghold of the House of Saud-backed mercenary army.

Tribal leaders are in the capital Sanaa talking to the quite popular Ansarallah movement to organize a peaceful takeover of Marib. So this process is in effect the result of a wide-ranging national interest deal between the Houthis and the Murad tribe.

The House of Saud, for its part, is allied with the collapsing forces behind former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, as well as political parties such as Al-Islah, Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood. They have been incapable of resisting Ansarallah.

A repeat scenario is now playing in the western coastal port of Hodeidah, where takfiri mercenaries have vanished from the province’s southern and eastern districts.

Yemen’s Defense Minister Mohammad al-Atefi, talking to Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper, stressed that, “according to strategic and military implications…we declare to the whole world that the international aggression against Yemen has already been defeated.”

It’s not a done deal yet – but we’re getting there.

Hezbollah, via its Executive Council Chairman Hashim Safieddine, adds to the context, stressing how the current diplomatic crisis between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia is directly linked to Mohammad bin Salman’s (MbS) fear and impotence when confronted with the liberation of strategic Marib and Hezbollah’s unwavering support for Yemen throughout the war.

A fabricated ‘civil war’

So how did we get here?

Venturing beyond the excellent analysis by Karim Shami here on The Cradle, some geoeconomic background is essential to understanding what’s really going on in Yemen.

For at least half a millennium before the Europeans started to show up, the ruling classes in southern Arabia built the area into a prime hub of intellectual and commercial exchange. Yemen became the prized destination of Prophet Muhammad’s descendants; by the 11th century they had woven solid spiritual and intellectual links with the wider world.

By the end of the 19th century, as noted in Isa Blumi’s outstanding Destroying Yemen (University of California Press, 2018), a “remarkable infrastructure that harnessed seasonal rains to produce a seemingly endless amount of wealth attracted no longer just disciples and descendants of prophets, but aggressive agents of capital seeking profits.”

Soon we had Dutch traders venturing on terraced hills covered in coffee beans clashing with Ottoman Janissaries from Crimea, claiming them for the Sultan in Istanbul.

By the post-modern era, those “aggressive agents of capital seeking profits” had reduced Yemen to one of the advanced battlegrounds of the toxic mix between neoliberalism and Wahhabism.

The Anglo-American axis, since the Afghan jihad in the 1980s, promoted, financed and instrumentalized an essentialist, ahistorical version of ‘Islam’ that was simplistically reduced to Wahhabism: a deeply reactionary social engineering movement led by an antisocial front based in Arabia.

That operation shaped a shallow version of Islam sold to western public opinion as antithetical to universal – as in ‘rules-based international order’ – values. Hence, essentially anti-progressive. Yemen was at the frontline of this cultural and historical perversion.

Yet the promoters of the war unleashed in 2015 – a gloomy celebration of humanitarian imperialism, complete with carpet bombing, embargoes, and widespread forced starvation – did not factor in the role of the Yemeni Resistance. Much as it happened with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The war was a perverse manipulation by US, UK, French, Israeli and minions Saudi, Emirati and Qatari intel agencies. It was never a ‘civil war’ – as the hegemonic narrative goes – but an engineered project to reverse the gains of Yemen’s own ‘Arab Spring.’

The target was to return Yemen back to a mere satellite in Saudi Arabia’s backyard. And to ensure that Yemenis never dare to even dream of regaining their historic role as the economic, spiritual, cultural and political reference for a great deal of the Indian Ocean universe.

Add to the narrative the simplistic trope of blaming Shia Iran for supporting the Houthis. When it was clear that coalition mercenaries would fail to stop the Yemeni Resistance, a new narrative was birthed: the war was important to provide ‘security’ for the Saudi hacienda facing an ‘Iran-backed’ enemy.

That’s how Ansarallah became cast as Shia Houthis fighting Saudis and local ‘Sunni’ proxies. Context was thrown to the dogs, as in the vast, complex differences between Muslims in Yemen – Sufis of various orders, Zaydis (Houthis, the backbone of the Ansarallah movement, are Zaydis), Ismailis, and Shafii Sunnis – and the wider Islamic world.

Yemen goes BRI

So the whole Yemen story, once again, is essentially a tragic chapter of Empire attempting to plunder Third World/Global South wealth.

The House of Saud played the role of vassals seeking rewards. They do need it, as the House of Saud is in desperate financial straits that include subsidizing the US economy via mega-contracts and purchasing US debt.

The bottom line: the House of Saud won’t survive unless it dominates Yemen. The future of MBS is totally leveraged on winning his war, not least to pay his bills for western weapons and technical assistance already used. There are no definitive figures, but according to a western intel source close to the House of Saud, that bill amounted to at least $500 billion by 2017.

The stark reality made plain by the alliance between Ansarallah and major tribes is that Yemen refuses to surrender its national wealth to subsidize the Empire’s desperate need of liquidity, collateral for new infusions of cash, and thirst for commodities. Stark reality has absolutely nothing to do with the imperial narrative of Yemen as ‘pre-modern tribal traditions’ averse to change, thus susceptible to violence and mired in endless ‘civil war.’

And that brings us to the enticing ‘another world is possible’ angle when the Yemeni Resistance finally extricates the nation from the grip of the hawkish, crumbling neoliberal/Wahhabi coalition.

As the Chinese very well know, Yemen is rich not only in the so far unexplored oil and gas reserves, but also in gold, silver, zinc, copper and nickel.

Beijing also knows all there is to know about the ultra-strategic Bab al Mandab between Yemen’s southwestern coast and the Horn of Africa. Moreover, Yemen boasts a series of strategically located Indian Ocean ports and Red Sea ports on the way to the Mediterranean, such as Hodeidah.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

These waterways practically scream Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and especially the Maritime Silk Road – with Yemeni ports complementing China’s only overseas naval base in Djibouti, where roads and railways connect to Ethiopia.

The Ansarallah–tribal alliance may even, in the medium to long term, exercise full control for access to the Suez Canal.

One very possible scenario is Yemen joining the ‘string of pearls’ – ports linked by the BRI across the Indian Ocean. There will, of course, be major pushback by proponents of the ‘Indo-Pacific’ agenda. That’s where the Iranian connection enters the picture.

BRI in the near future will feature the progressive interconnection between the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – with a special role for the port of Gwadar – and the emerging China–Iran corridor that will traverse Afghanistan. The port of Chabahar in Iran, only 80 km away from Gwadar, will also bloom, whether by definitive commitments by India or a possible future takeover by China.

Warm links between Iran and Yemen will translate into renewed Indian Ocean trade, without Sanaa depending on Tehran, as it is essentially self-sufficient in energy and already manufactures its own weapons. Unlike the Saudi vassals of Empire, Iran will certainly invest in the Yemeni economy.

The Empire will not take any of this lightly. There are plenty of similarities with the Afghan scenario. Afghanistan is now set to be integrated into the New Silk Roads – a commitment shared by the SCO. Now it’s not so far-fetched to picture Yemen as a SCO observer, integrated to BRI and profiting from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) packages. Stranger things have happened in the ongoing Eurasia saga.

Breaking: US-sponsored ISIS Terrorists Massacre 60 People in Diyala, Iraq

 ARABI SOURI 

Iraq: US-sponsored ISIS Terrorists Massacre 60 People in Diyala Province

ISIS terrorists stormed a town in the Miqdadiyah region of Diyala province and slaughtered dozens of people in it, initial report speak of 60 civilians slaughtered.

News coming out from the Al Hawasha village said ISIS terrorists have set up ambushes and targeted the villagers of the Shia sect killing dozens, many are still being unaccounted for, the Al Housha village is in the Miqdadiyah region of the province of Diyala northeast of Baghdad.

ISIS commits a sectarian massacre against the Shia in the Al Huwasha village of Miqdadiya, the terrorists set an ambush and targeted civilians, now there are a number of unaccounted martyrs and injured.’

Iraq is in political, economic, sectarian, and social turmoil ever since the United States decided to topple one more country with a national army that doesn’t recognize Israel and coincidently is rich with oil and gold reserves, the country after 18 years of direct invasion suffered and continue to suffer over 1.5 million of its people killed and double of those maimed, and triple of those displaced, and more than 70% of the population impoverished.

The rise of terrorist organizations like ISIS and previously Al Qaeda in the Rafiden (Iraq) mostly from tribes with connections to the Al Saud and the NATO-version of Islam they follow called Wahhabism has only come as an alternative to the ‘US boots on the ground’ after the Iraqi resistance was inflicting a heavy toll on the invaders and looters of their country.

Obama’s role in creating ISIS – Interview with the founder of ‘Jihad’ in Egypt and former friend of chief of Al Qaeda Zawahiri – July 2014

Iraq has concluded very controversial parliamentary elections earlier this month which despite the long preparations and settings developed saw hundreds of proven violations in the ballot boxes as confirmed by the special higher commission for elections which itself is accused of failing all its promises in conducting transparent elections. Protesters took to the streets from the majority of parties and independent candidates with calls to annul the results of the whole election. The USA and its Saudi allies are trying to shore up parties that want to dissolve the Iraqi PMU forces who defeated ISIS in Iraq, no coincidences in politics.

ISIS terrorist organization continues to prove it works for the Pentagon in every single crime it committed since it emerged after the USA and its British partners invaded Iraq in March 2003 based on lies of the country’s possession of weapons of mass destruction proven a completely fabricated information by the USA itself.

From Afghanistan to Iraq to Syria to Libya and the rest of Africa, wherever these ISIS terrorists spring up from nowhere obvious unmistakable NATO interests arise in the targeted countries and the creator and sponsors of ISIS come to ‘fight terrorism’ in those targeted countries. The terrorists commit their massacres against everybody and focus mainly on Muslims who do not follow Wahhabi Islam which is only followed in Saudi Arabia and the ‘democratic empire of the gas station Qatar’ in the Arabian Peninsula.

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Sayyed Nasrallah: Arrogance Is Still Trying to Destroy Muslim Unity

20.10,2021

Sayyed Nasrallah: Arrogance Is Still Trying to Destroy Muslim Unity

Translated by Staff, Hezbollah Media Relations

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah confirmed that efforts to bring Muslims together throughout the Islamic world, since the victory of the Islamic Revolution, contributed to enabling a level of cohesion for overcoming the current stage. He further noted that the coherent and solid base at the Islamic level, especially between Sunnis and Shiites, maintains a measure of balance, cooperation, unity, and the ability to stand up to the winds to which our world and our region are exposed.

In his speech during the 35th International Conference on Islamic Unity held in Tehran, Sayyed Nasrallah underscored that the accomplishments stemming from years of conferences and meetings helped to overcome the harsh phase that we endured, which was threatening the Islamic world with sectarian wars.

“With God’s help and awareness, insight, the presence of honest people and the blood of the martyrs, this stage has been overcome,” Sayyed Nasrallah explained.

In parallel, he stressed that the arrogant American and “Israeli” campaign to disrupt the efforts of Muslims still exists. This requires us to have hope and sit down again, think, program, plan and make effort to reach the desired goal, which is rapprochement and unity among Muslims and not to give the enemies of the nation any opportunity to exploit differences or variations in their favor.

He also underlined that we have to benefit from previous experiences, from strengths and weaknesses, feasible and beneficial actions in order to develop. Meanwhile, we must abandon useless ones so that we do not waste time, energy, money, and capabilities. We must also try to look for frameworks and good ideas, and this must be given an opportunity.

“We are always being targeted, and the most significant aspects being targeted are rapprochement, harmony, and cooperation. When we were united, we created victories,” Hezbollah’s Secretary-General explained.

His Eminence underscored the necessity to build on the past and consider this matter as one of the major national priorities to thwart the enemy’s plots.

Sayyed Nasrallah suggested that the formation of a committee in which all the countries of the Islamic world would be represented should emerge from this conference and prepare for a direct meeting. They must represent their countries in order to evaluate the experience of previous decades and build on them and set goals for the next stage.

Who Really Runs the Middle East?

September 25, 2021

Who Really Runs the Middle East?

By Cynthia Chung for the Saker Blog

Afghanistan is on many people’s minds lately, though the sentiment is rather mixed. Some think of it as a cause for celebration, others for deep concern, and then there are those who think it an utter disaster that justifies foreign re-entry.

Most of the western concern arises out of 9/11 and the Taliban’s supposed connection to this through Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, however, as Scott Ritter (who was the lead analyst for the 7th Marine Amphibious Brigade on the Soviet war in Afghanistan) wrote:

The entire Afghan conflict must be examined considering this reality – everything is a lie. Every battle, every campaign, every contract written and implemented – everything was founded in a lie…

Admiral McRaven, when speaking of the operation to kill Bin Laden, noted that there wasn’t anything fundamentally special about that mission in terms of the tactics. ‘I think that night we ran 11 or 12 [other] missions in Afghanistan,’ McRaven noted. Clearly there was a military focus beyond simply killing Bin Laden. It was secretive work, reportedly involving the assassination of Taliban members, that often resulted in innocent civilians beings killed.

It should be noted that, as of 2019, McRaven believed that this kind of special operations activity should be continued in Afghanistan for years to come. So much for the US mission in Afghanistan being defined by the death of Bin Laden. The mission had become death, and the careers that were defined by those deaths.

The fact is the war in Afghanistan did not need to be fought. We could have ended the threat posed by Bin Laden simply by negotiating with the Taliban in the aftermath of 9/11, providing the evidence we claimed to have linking Bin Laden to the terrorist attacks on the United States. Any student of Afghanistan worth their salt knows the fundamental importance of honor that is enshrined in the concepts of Pashtunwali, the unwritten ethical code that defines the traditional lifestyle of the Pashtun people. If, as we claimed, Bin Laden carried out an attack on women and children while he was living under the protection of Pashtunwali, then his dishonor is that of the Pashtun tribes. To clear their honor, they would seek justice – in this case, evicting Bin Laden and his followers from Afghanistan.

In fact, the Taliban made precisely this offer.

For America, however, this would have been an unsatisfying result. We needed blood, not justice, and we sent our troops to Afghanistan to stack bodies, which they did, in prodigious numbers. Most of these bodies were Taliban. We excused this by claiming the Taliban were providing safe haven to Bin Laden, and as such were complicit in the 9/11 attacks.

Which was a lie.

Scott Ritter (who was a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq from ’91-98) had also played a leading role in bringing to the public’s attention the lies told to justify the illegal war in Iraq, which was based off of cooked British intelligence.

It was not just based on the illusion of “justice,” there was a deeper and much more disturbing agenda under the patriotic trumpet blaring.

In this light, Afghanistan is indeed an incredible American “failure,” not only in failing to install their puppet government; it has also failed the American people, however, not in the way most are talking about.

The 20 year, some say occupancy others say terrorizing, of Afghanistan, is estimated at $1-2 trillion. This is only for the case of Afghanistan, it does not account for the total cost thus far of the War on Terror. Such extravagant spending with really nothing to show for it but destruction, the slaughter of innocents, instability and chaos; you would think the United States must be a very rich country to afford such a budget with no clear goal or objective. Instead, what we find is that the American economy is tanking and the living standard is plummeting, while drug use and overdose rates are sky-rocketing and suicide is among the top causes of death in the United States, especially among their youth.

What is going on here? Have the Americans gone mad? Or is there something much much more sinister afoot?

This situation cannot just be explained away as incompetence or the money-making business of war, or even the crazed end-of-world ideologies of neo-conservatives or Zionists, although these are all major factors.

The reason for this is because there has been something operating within the Middle East for much longer, it is even the reason why we call the Middle East and the Far East by such a name, it is the reason for why many countries in this region have the boundaries they do, and was the originator of the Palestine/Israel conflict.

It is also found at the center of the origin and funding of Islamic terrorism as we see in its modern form today.

Whose “Arab Awakening”?

The renunciation will not be easy. Jewish hopes have been raised to such a pitch that the non-fulfilment of the Zionist dream of a Jewish state in Palestine will cause intense disillusionment and bitterness. The manifold proofs of public spirit and of capacity to endure hardships and face danger in the building up of the national home are there to testify to the devotion with which a large section of the Jewish people cherish the Zionist ideal. And it would be an act of further cruelty to the Jews to disappoint those hopes if there existed some way of satisfying them, that did not involve cruelty to another people. But the logic of facts is inexorable. It shows that no room can be made in Palestine for a second nation except by dislodging or exterminating the nation in possession.” [emphasis added]

– the concluding paragraph of George Antonius’ “The Arab Awakening” (1938), graduate from Cambridge University, civil servant in the British Mandate of Palestine

Much of what is responsible for the war and havoc in the Middle East today has the British orchestrated so-called “Arab Awakening” to thank, led by characters such as E.G. Browne, St. John Philby, T.E. Lawrence of Arabia, and Gertrude Bell. Although its origins go as far back as the 19th century, it was only until the early 20th century, that the British were able to reap significant results from its long harvest.

The Arab Revolt of 1916-1918, had been, to the detriment of the Arab people, a British led rebellion. The British claimed that their sole interest in the affair was the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire and had given their word that these Arab territories would be freed and allowed independence if they agreed to rebel, in large part led and directed by the British.

It is a rather predictable feature of the British to lie and double cross and thus it should be of no surprise to anyone that their intentions were quite the opposite of what they had promised and thanks to the Sykes-Picot Russian leak, were revealed in their entire shameful glory.

Once the Arab Revolt was “won” against the Ottoman Empire, instead of the promised Arab independence, the Middle East was carved up into zones of influence under British and French colonial rule. Puppet monarchies were created in regions that were considered not under direct colonial subjugation in order to continue the illusion that Arabs remained in charge of sacred regions such as Mecca and Medina.

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In central Arabia, Hussein ibn Ali, Sharif of Mecca, the puppet leader of the Arab Revolt laid claim to the title Caliph in 1924, which his rival Wahhabite Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud rejected and declared war, defeating the Hashemites. Hussein (British Cairo Office favourite) abdicated and Ibn Saud (British India Office favourite), was proclaimed King of Hejaz and Najd in 1926, which led to the founding of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Al Saud (House of Saud) warriors of Wahhabism were a formidable strike force that the British believed would help London gain control of the western shores of the Persian Gulf.

Hussein ibn Ali’s son Faisal (under the heavy tutelage of T.E. Lawrence, Cairo Office) was bestowed as King of Iraq and Hussein’s other son, Abdullah I was established as the Emir of Transjordan until a negotiated legal separation of Transjordan from Britain’s Palestine mandate occurred in 1946, whereupon he was crowned King of Jordan.

While the British were promising Arab independence they simultaneously were promising a homeland in Palestine to the Jews. The Balfour Declaration of November 2nd, 1917 states:

“His majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object…”

Palestine had been seized by the British during the so-called “Arab Revolt” on December 11th, 1917 when General Allenby marched into Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate and declared martial law over the city. Palestine has remained occupied ever since.

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Britain would receive the mandate over Palestine from the League of Nations in July 1922.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s violent confrontations between Jews and Arabs took place in Palestine costing thousands of lives. In 1936 a major Arab revolt occurred over 7 months, until diplomatic efforts involving other Arab countries led to a ceasefire. In 1937, a British Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by William Peel concluded that Palestine had two distinct societies with irreconcilable political demands, thus making it necessary to partition the land.

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The Arab Higher Committee refused Peel’s “prescription” and the revolt broke out again. This time, Britain responded with a devastatingly heavy hand. Roughly 5,000 Arabs were killed by the British armed forces and police.

Following the riots, the British mandate government dissolved the Arab Higher Committee and declared it an illegal body.

In response to the revolt, the British government issued the White Paper of 1939, which stated that Palestine should be a bi-national state, inhabited by both Arabs and Jews. Due to the international unpopularity of the mandate including within Britain itself, it was organised such that the United Nations would take responsibility for the British initiative and adopted the resolution to partition Palestine on November 29th, 1947. Britain would announce its termination of its Mandate for Palestine on May 15th, 1948 after the State of Israel declared its independence on May 14th, 1948.

The Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood

“We do not cut the head of religion except by sword of religion.”

– Jamal al-Din al-Afghani

In 1869, a man named Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, the intellectual founder of the Salafiyya movement, went to India where British led colonial authorities welcomed him with honors and graciously escorted him aboard a government owned vessel on an all-expenses paid voyage to the Suez. [1]

In Cairo he was adopted by the Egyptian prime minister Riad Pasha, a notorious enemy of the emerging nationalist movement in Egypt. Pasha persuaded Afghani to stay in Egypt and allowed him to take up residence in Cairo’s 900 year old Al Azhar mosque considered the center of Islamic learning worldwide, where he received lodging and a monthly government stipend (paid for by the British).[2]

While Egypt was fighting its nationalist fight from 1879-1882, Afghani and his chief disciple Muhammad Abduh travelled together first to Paris and then to Britain, it was in Britain that they would make a proposal for a pan-Islamic alliance among Egypt, Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan against Czarist Russia.[3]

What Afghani was proposing to the British was that they provide aid and resources to support his formation of a militant Islam sect that would favour Britain’s interest in the Middle East, in other words, Afghani was offering to fight Islam with Islam to service British interests, having stated in one of his works “We do not cut the head of religion except by sword of religion.[4]

Although it is said that the British refused this offer, this is not likely considering the support Afghani would receive in creating the intellectual foundation for a pan-Islamic movement with British patronage and the support of England’s leading orientalist E.G. Browne, the godfather of twentieth century Orientalism and teacher of St John Philby and T.E. Lawrence.

E.G. Browne would make sure the work of Afghani would continue long beyond his death by lionising him in his 1910 “The Persian Revolution,” considered an authoritative history of the time.

In 1888, Abduh, the chief disciple of Afghani, would return to Egypt in triumph with the full support of the representatives of her Majesty’s imperial force and took the first of several positions in Cairo, openly casting his lot with Lord Cromer, who was the symbol of British imperialism in Egypt.

Abduh would found, with the hold of London’s Egyptian proconsul Evelyn Baring (aka Lord Cromer) who was the scion of the enormously powerful banking clan (Barings Bank) under the city of London, the Salafiyya movement.[5]

Abduh had attached himself to the British rulers of Egypt and created the cornerstone of the Muslim Brotherhood which dominated the militant Islamic right throughout the twentieth century.

In 1899, Abduh reached the pinnacle of his power and influence, and was named mufti of Egypt.

***

In 1902, Riyadh fell to Ibn Saud and it was during this period that Ibn Saud established the fearsome Ikhwan (translated as “brotherhood”). From the 1920s onward, the new Saudi state merged its Wahhabi orthodoxy with the Salafiyya movement (which would be organised into the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928).

William Shakespear, a famed British agent, forged the first formal treaty between England and Saudi Arabia which was signed in 1915, which bound London and Arabia for years before Saudi Arabia became a country. “It formally recognized Ibn Saud as the independent ruler of the Nejd and its Dependencies under British protection. In return, Ibn Saud undertook to follow British advice.[6]

Harry St. John Bridger Philby, a British operative schooled by E.G. Browne and father to the legendary triple agent Kim Philby, would succeed Shakespear as Great Britain’s liaison to Ibn Saud under the British India Office, the friendly rival of the Cairo Arab Bureau office which was sponsoring T.E. Lawrence of Arabia.

In Egypt 1928, Hassan al-Banna (a follower of Afghani and Abduh) founded the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimeen), the organization that would change the course of history in the twentieth century Middle East.

Banna’s Muslim Brotherhood was established with a grant from England’s Suez Canal Company[7] and from that point on, British diplomats and intelligence service, along with the British puppet King Farouq would use the Muslim Brotherhood as a truncheon against Egypt’s nationalists and later against Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. (For more on this refer to my paper.)

To get the Muslim Brotherhood off the ground, the Suez Canal Company helped Banna build the mosque in Ismailia that would serve as its headquarters and base of operation.[8] The fact that Banna created the organization in Ismailia is itself worthy of note. For England, the Suez Canal was the indispensable route to its prize possession, India, and in 1928 the town Ismailia happened to house not only the company’s offices but a major British military base built during WWI. It was also, in the 1920s a center of pro-British sentiment in Egypt.

In the post-WWI world, England reigned supreme, the flag of the British Empire was everywhere from the Mediterranean to India. A new generation of kings and potentates ruled over British dominated colonies, mandates, vassal states, and semi-independent fiefdoms in Egypt, Arabia, Iraq, Transjordan and Persia. To varying degrees those monarchies were beholden to London.

In the half century between 1875 and 1925 the building blocks of the militant Islamic right were cemented in place by the British Empire.

Islamic Banking Made in Geneva/London

Islamic banking [that is the banking system dominated presently by Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States] was born in Egypt and financed by Saudi Arabia and then spread to the far corners of the Muslim world. Eventually the Islamic banking movement became a vehicle not only for exporting political Islam but for sponsoring violence. However, Islamic banking did not get off the ground on its own, as Ibrahim Warde (a renowned scholar of international finance) explains in his book “Islamic Finance in the Global Economy,” Islamic banking:

operates more out of London, Geneva, or the Bahamas than it does out of Jeddah, Karachi or Cairo…Ideologically, both liberalism and economic Islam were driven by their common opposition to socialism and economic dirigisme…Even Islamic Republics have on occasion openly embraced neo-liberalism…In Sudan, between 1992 and the end of 1993, Economics Minister Abdul Rahim Hamdi – a disciple of Milton Friedman and incidentally a former Islamic banker in London – did not hesitate to implement the harshest free-market remedies dictated by the International Monetary Fund. He said he was committed to transforming the heretofore statist economy ‘according to free-market rules, because this is how an Islamic economy should function.’ ” [emphasis added]

Perhaps the best case study to this phenomenon is the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

BCCI was an international bank founded in 1972 by Agha Hasan Abedi, a Pakistani financier. The bank was registered in Luxembourg with head offices in Karachi and London. A decade after opening, BCCI had over 400 branches in 78 countries in excess of $20 billion USD, making it the seventh largest private bank in the world.

In the 1980s investigations into BCCI led to the discovery of its involvement in massive money laundering and other financial crimes, and that the BCCI had illegally and secretly gained the control of a major American bank, First American, according to Robert Morgenthau (Manhattan DA) who had been investigating the bank for over two years.

BCCI was also to be found guilty for illegally buying another American bank, the Independence Bank of Los Angeles, using a Saudi businessman Ghaith Paraon as the puppet owner. The American depositors lost most of their money when BCCI was forced to foreclose since it was essentially operating a Ponzi scheme to fund illegal activity of all sorts.

According to Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald’s book “The Valediction”:

Afghanistan offered the opportunity for BCCI to migrate the lucrative heroin business from Southeast Asia [Laos/Cambodia/Vietnam] to the Pakistani/Afghan border under the cover of destabilization. President Carter supported Brzezinski’s provocations into Soviet territory from the minute they got into the White House. He then sanctioned Brzezinski’s plan to use Afghanistan to lure the Soviet Union into its own Vietnam and lied to the public about it when they fell into the trap on December 27, 1979.

…The destabilization kills three birds with one stone. It weakens the Soviets…It acts as a cover for moving the heroin business out of Vietnam/Laos and Cambodia to a safe haven on the Pakistan frontier with Afghanistan – a trade that propped up the British Empire financially for over a hundred years.

…Afghan drug dealer and CIA asset Gulbuddin Hekmatyar…[then organizes] a deal with the renegade gangster, Afghan prime minister, and possible CIA asset Hafizullah Amin…to make Kabul the center of the world heroin trade…pays for the off-the-books operation with drug money brought in by Hekmatyar and laundered through a Pakistani bank…known as BCCI. Everything goes smoothly until the new US Ambassador Adolph Dubs launches a campaign against the destabilization…

US Ambassador Adolph Dubs was assassinated, just seven months after taking his post, under an extremely suspect situation, on February 14, 1979, to which Gould and Fitzgerald do a superb investigation of, as well as what really happened in Afghanistan in 1979, in their book “The Valediction.

Investigators in the United States and the UK determined that BCCI had been “set up deliberately to avoid centralized regulatory review, and operated extensively in bank secrecy jurisdictions. Its affairs were extraordinarily complex. Its officers were sophisticated international bankers whose apparent objective was to keep their affairs secret, to commit fraud on a massive scale, and to avoid detection.[9]

This is an incredibly sophisticated operation, and interestingly, uses the very same methods that the City of London has been using for centuries and presently operates to a diabolical perfection today. There is no way that a solo Pakistani financier, even if he was financed by the Sheik of Abu Dhabi, could rise in less than a decade, operating on the turf of ancient banking channels that go back several centuries, to rise to become the seventh largest bank in the netherworld of finance without a little help from the big boys.

On July 29th, 1991, a Manhattan grand jury indicted BCCI on twelve accounts of fraud, money laundering and larceny. Robert Morgenthau (Manhattan DA), who was in charge of the investigation, has described BCCI as “the largest bank fraud in world financial history.”

Through the Rabbit Hole and Out Again

Today, the actions of the United States can best be understood in the context of the Anglo-American Empire, with Wall Street operating as an extension of the ancient banking channels of the City of London and Geneva.

The disastrous foreign policy of namely Britain and the United States in the War on Terror Crusade has been exposed multiple times. That is, that the very governments who have been shouting the loudest against Islamic extremism and for stability in the Middle East, are the very ones who have been weaponising, training and funding such terrorist groupings. The Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, ISIS (and all its viral variants) would not exist today if it were not for namely Britain’s age old strategy.

So what is the goal?

Well, what does any empire seek? Global domination.

In this light, the War on Terror is exposed for what it truly is. It is meant to impoverish and destroy the national sovereignty of the people, not only of the Middle East (or more accurately Southwest Asia), but as we are seeing clearly today, it has also acted as a slow blood-letting of the western people, whose economies are much weaker today than they were 20 years ago.

While western countries are increasingly unable to provide a proper standard of living, with mass unemployment, lack of healthcare, increased crime and suicide rates, and increased overdoses and homelessness, and pretty much everything you would expect to rise during a Dark Age straight out of a Goya painting, these “first-world” governments are applying further austerity measures on the people, even after prolonged lockdowns, while openly pumping trillions of dollars into wars that not only fund the destruction of entire nations, but funds the global drug, arms and sex-trafficking trade. All of this dirty money then circles back into the London-Geneva fondi, benefitting a select class that has existed and thrived for centuries on this sort of backdrop.

Nobody has benefitted from this War on Terror except the global elite.

So stop getting sucked into the same old same old lies; stop being a slave to the system and let us finally unite and stand up against the true common enemy of the people of the world.

The author can be reached at https://cynthiachung.substack.com/

  1. Elie Kedourie, “Afghani and Abduh: An Essay on Religious Unbelief and Political Activism in Modern Islam” 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. The proposal to London from Jamal al-Din al-Afghani was reported by a British Orientalist and author W.S. Blunt, a friend of Afghani’s. It is cited in C.C. Adams, “Islam and Modernism in Egypt.” 
  4. Elie Kedourie, “Afghani and Abduh: An Essay on Religious Unbelief and Political Activism in Modern Islam.” 
  5. Ibid. 
  6. David Holden and Richard Johns, “The House of Saud.” 
  7. Richard P. Mitchell, “The Society of the Muslim Brothers.” 
  8. Ibid. 
  9. John Kerry “The BCCI Affair: A Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations.” 

الفشل الذريع للإسلام الأطلسي


الجمعة 10 أيلول 2021

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موفق محادين

ما من تجربة أصابها الفشل الذريع كلما اقتربت من فكرة الدولة والاقتصاد والحداثة والمجتمع المدني، مثل تجربة الإسلام الأطلسي، والأدق التوظيف السياسي لهذا الإسلام.

اعتقد البعض أن الإسلام الأطلسي، البريطاني- الأميركي، في طريقه للسيطرة على الوطن العربي، محمولاً بقرارات أميركية وبـ”حنفيات” مالية وإعلامية من الغاز المسال، حيث يتحول هذا الإسلام إلى حصان طروادة بحقبة جديدة من الاحتلال العثماني. 

وبنى البعض أوهامه على أحلام مريضة بسقوط سوريا واستمرار الحدث العابر في تاريخ مصر ثم عبر تونس والمغرب وقبلهما السودان والعشرية السوداء في الجزائر. 

تأسيس هذا النمط من الإسلام السياسي لم يكن بعيداً منذ لحظته الأولى عن أصابع الاستخبارات البريطانية ثم الأميركية.

بيد أن هذه الأوهام سرعان ما تبخرت وراحت أحجار الدومينو الإسلاموية الأطلسية تتداعى الواحد تلو الآخر: سوريا، ثم مصر، ثم السودان، فتونس، وأخيراً السقوط المدوّي لهذا التيار في الانتخابات البرلمانية والبلدية المغربية. وقريباً من الوطن العربي؛ تتجه مؤشرات الانتخابات البلدية في تركيا وسقوط حزب إردوغان في المدن الكبرى إلى أن تركيا العثمانية قاب قوسين أو أدنى من غروبها وغروب مشروع اليهودي الأميركي برنارد لويس الذي نظّر مبكراً للانبعاث العثماني في تركيا. 

والأدعى إلى السخرية هنا أن تبدو طالبان التي تجسد ثلاثية المفكر المغربي، الجابري، القبيلة- العقيدة- الغنيمة كرمق أخير لإسلام أطلسي أنفقت عليه مئات المليارات. 

ولنا أن نقول، ما من تجربة أصابها الفشل الذريع كلما اقتربت من فكرة الدولة والاقتصاد والحداثة والمجتمع المدني، مثل تجربة الإسلام الأطلسي، والأدق التوظيف السياسي لهذا الإسلام. 

والأخطر هنا هو أن تأسيس هذا النمط من الإسلام السياسي لم يكن بعيداً منذ لحظته الأولى، حتى اليوم، عن أصابع الاستخبارات البريطانية ثم الأميركية، بل إن أول من دافع عن الدولة العثمانية في بداية انحطاطها ومنع سقوطها على أيدي الجيوش المصرية في القرن التاسع عشر، الثنائي اليهودي الذي كان يتحكم في بريطانيا: رئيس الوزراء دزرائيلي، ورجل المال روتشيلد. 

وقد تم توظيف هذا النمط من هذا الإسلام بحسب كل مرحلة، فمن الوهابية النجدية والقطرية وعلاقتها بقلم الاستخبارات البريطانية كما يعترف بيركهارت، إلى توظيف هذا الإسلام ضد حركات التحرر الوطني العربية وغير العربية، إلى استراتيجية تطويق روسيا السوفياتية ثم البوتينية والصين كحزام أخضر إسلاموي تحت سيطرة مطابخ الاستخبارات الأطلسية وأقلامها. 

ومن الوثائق والمراجع حول ذلك: 

–  مذكرات بيركهارت.

–  مارك كورتيس، التاريخ السري لتحالف بريطانيا مع الأصوليين. 

–  ستيفن هات، لعبة بعمر الإمبراطورية. 

–  روبرت درايفوس، لعبة الشيطان. 

–  مذكرات جيمس وولي، مدير الاستخبارات الأميركية الأسبق. 

–  ثروت الخرباوي، سر المعبد. 

–  ايان جونسون، مسجد في ميونخ

–  شاريل بينارد، الإسلام الديموقراطي. 

–  نوح فيلدمان، تدهور الدولة الإسلامية ونهوضها. 

–  بيرنارد لويس، لغة السياسة في الإسلام. 

–  عبد العظيم حماد، الوحي الأميركي. 

–  لوي شتراوس، أعلام الفلسفة السياسية. 

أما في التطبيق، فمن ذلك: 

1- في تونس والمغرب، فضلاً عن الفشل الاقتصادي الاجتماعي، فإن الأخطر هو التغطية على التطبيع مع العدو الصهيوني؛ ففي عهد الحكومة الإسلامية في المغرب، تم التوقيع على العديد من الاتفاقات مع العدو الصهيوني، وفي تونس رفض نواب حركة النهضة التصويت على تجريم التطبيع. 

2- في مصر، فضلاً عن محاولة الإسلاميين المذكورين وضع اليد على مصر وخصخصة ما تبقى من مؤسسات الدولة لنهبها بـ”تراب المصاري”، كما حدث في السودان، واصل حكم مرسي السابق سياسات التطبيع مع العدو وتبادل معه البرقيات بمناسبات مختلفة، وقمعت شرطته أكبر تظاهرة حاولت اقتحام سفارة العدو في القاهرة. 

3- في السودان، وبعد الانقلاب العسكري الدموي للإخوان (تصفية عشرات الضباط)، دخل الإسلام السياسي أسوأ أيامه، من كل النواحي الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والسياسية، وصار من أكثر الدول فساداً ومديونية، رغم خيرات السودان الكثيرة، وذلك فضلاً عن الصراعات الداخلية بين الأجنحة الإسلامية نفسها (الترابي- البشير) وأخيراً المجموعة الحالية التي دشّنت عهدها بالتطبيع مع العدو الصهيوني. 

ولعل الوجه الأخطر في تجربة السودان الإسلاموية تمزق الدولة نفسها بين ولايات انفصالية، مثل دارفور، والموافقة على سلخ الجنوب كمحمية إسرائيلية. 

4- في سوريا والعراق، وإضافة إلى استراتيجية تدمير الدول باسم مواجهة الأنظمة، قدم الإسلامويون للعدو الصهيوني والامبريالية واليهودية العالمية أخطر ذريعة لاتهام العرب والمسلمين بالتخلف والإرهاب الدموي المسلح، وإعادة إنتاج المعزوفة الاستشراقية العنصرية الصهيونية (إعادة الاستعمار لـ تمدين المتوحشين). 

5- ويشار كذلك إلى دور الميليشيات الإسلاموية في دعم عميل الاستخبارات الأميركية في إندونيسيا، سوهارتو، الذي يصنّف من أكثر الرؤساء فساداً ودموية في العالم، والذي نظّم مع الميليشيات الإجرامية المذكورة مذابح تقشعر لها الأبدان بحق الأرياف والطبقة العاملة والمثقفين، راح ضحيتها مليون شخص، كثالثة كبريات المذابح في القرن العشرين، بعد المذبحة التركية ضد الأرمن، والمذابح الأميركية النووية ضد المدن اليابانية. 

6- أما تركيا التي يسوّقها الإسلاميون كنموذج للتنمية، فهي ليست دولة إسلامية بل توظف الإسلام خارجها وفي المحيط العربي والآسيوي لغايات طورانية وأجندة أطلسية. فإضافة إلى وجود أكبر سفارة للعدو الصهيوني فيها، ومستوى واسع من التنسيق العسكري والأمني معه، ووجود كبرى القواعد العسكرية الأميركية مثل إنجرليك، وعضويتها في حلف الأطلسي، الذراع العسكرية الأمنية للإمبريالية العالمية، فإن اقتصادها اقتصاد رأسمالي في كل تفاصيله وليس اقتصاداً إسلامياً، ويقوم على ما يعرف بالتقسيم العالمي للبلدان المتوسطة التطور التي تحل بعد الدول الصناعية الكبرى في سياق استيعاب خطوط الإنتاج والصناعات التي تتخلى عنها البلدان الكبرى تحت تأثير الثورة المتواصلة للتكنولوجيا، مثلها في ذلك مثل البرازيل والمكسيك والهند وجنوب أفريقيا والنمور الآسيوية. 

وليس بعيداً عن ذلك، “الموديل” الاجتماعي لهذه الدول، وعلى رأسها تركيا، وهو “موديل” غير إسلامي إطلاقاً، بالنظر إلى ترخيص البغاء والمشروبات الكحولية، بل إن تركيا تعد مع كولومبيا وآذربيجان وجنوب أفريقيا من بلدان المافيا العالمية، وكذلك من أكبر مستوردي الويسكي في العالم، ومن أكبر مستهلكي المخدرات وطرقها (ممراً ومقراً). 

7- ويشار هنا إلى أن البيئة الاقتصادية عموماً لرجال الأعمال المسلمين ليست بعيدة عن بيئة (يوسف ندا) خصم جمال عبد الناصر والمتورّط في محاولة اغتياله وصاحب الاستثمارات الكبيرة في جزر غسل العملة والتهرب من الضرائب، مثل جزر المارشال، العذراء البريطانية، ومناطق مثل بنما، وفي وسع المهتمين أكثر العودة إلى كتاب ستيفن هات (لعبة بعمر الإمبراطورية) حول بنك BCCI وعلاقته بغاسلي العملة الإسلاميين، وكتاب كورتيس السابق الذكر، وخاصة حول بنك الائتمان وعلاقته بغسل العملة، وكذلك العودة إلى فيلم “التسلل” حول بنك الاعتماد ودور إسكوبار وناشطين إسلاميين. 

Today’s Taliban May Be Truly ‘New’, and the Shift Could Transform the Middle East

Today 20/07/2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

Most significantly, rather than having a tunnel vision limited to the narrow territory of Kandahar, the new young Taliban leaders want to play the strategic ‘Great Game’.

There is a subtle breeze blowing; it is too soon to call it ‘a wind’.  But a striking change has – and is – occurring.  Is it enough?  We should be rightly cautious; yet the Taliban that I knew, as it first coalesced – the brainchild of General Hamid Gul of Pakistan’s Intelligence service – is not the Taliban of today.  Perhaps we need, too, to avoid being locked into stale narratives. Suhail Shaheen, their spokesman, made this point when he lamented the “propaganda launched against us”, and by which he implied that the world should admit that the Taliban has indeed changed.

Several of these shifts are breathtaking: The Taliban were a narrow Pashtun revanchist movement, wholly Gulliverised by rigid tribal law, and influenced by intolerant Saudi Salafism and Pakistani Islamism.

What do we see today? The Taliban is engaging in extensive diplomacy with Iran. Tehran, it seems, is no longer apostate, no longer an ideological and theological foe.  The Taliban now seek to mesh Iran into their wider strategic interests. And more extraordinary, the Afghan Shi’i Hazaras – originally slaughtered and fearfully repressed by the Taliban – are now a component of the Taliban!  Then there is now also a ‘Tajik Taliban’, whereas before, the Taliban were a sworn enemy to the northern (mostly Tajik) forces of Ahmad Shah Massoud. Today’s Taliban is no longer a simple instrument of Pashtun hegemony – maybe up to 30% are Tajik, Uzbek, or Hazara. In other words, the kernel of inclusion is already in the soil.

Most significantly, rather than having a tunnel vision limited to the narrow territory of Kandahar, the new young Taliban leaders want to play the strategic ‘Great Game’. Their vision has broadened. They are saying as such, very forcibly to Moscow and Tehran: They will be inclusive; they will try to avoid major bloodshed, and they look to Moscow and Tehran as mediators for a new Afghan dispensation.  And there is something more: Saudi and Pakistan formerly controlled the money spigot. Now it is China.  For several years now, the Taliban has cultivated China – and China has cultivated the Taliban.

But we must keep our feet on the ground.  The Taliban is not autonomous. Both India and Pakistan wield weight in it, and the narco-gangs (the legacy of the CIA’s ill-considered earlier attempts to buy prominent Afghan warlords) may act as spoilers.

But the point here – aside from the caveats above – is, is this enough?  Enough for what? Enough to see the US out of the region, that is. There is here, a marked and unusual, constellation of interests.  All the principal actors want the US gone from the region.

It is not geo-strategic high science to understand that America’s withdrawal from Iraq and Syria will be contingent on what now happens in Afghanistan. If there is an unholy mess after August 31st, further US withdrawals from the region will become hugely more problematic in terms of domestic US opposition.  It is in the interest of the Taliban – as much as of Russia, Iran, and China – that Afghanistan does not now humiliate Biden through a descent into (very possible) bloody civil war.

A tough ‘ask’, but as Pepe Escobar points out, the SCO heavyweights, China and Russia, will be joined on July 14 in Dushanbe, by four Central Asian ‘stans’, plus India and Pakistan (Afghanistan and Iran attend as observers).

Wang Yi and Lavrov likely will tell Ghani’s FM, “in no uncertain terms, that there’s got to be a national reconciliation deal, with no American interference, and that the deal must include the end of the opium-heroin ratline”.  (Russia already has pocketed a firm promise from the Taliban that jihadism won’t be allowed to fester.  The endgame: loads of productive investment, Afghanistan is incorporated to Belt and Road and – later on – to the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

Why should the Taliban agree?  Well, they can be the facilitators of an American wider withdrawal (or, its’ spoiler). But, if they are patient – and agree to wait until US attention has moved on – they can allow Ghani to fall some months later – all in good time.  The Taliban might claim then to be the vanguard to a new more sophisticated, more inclusive Sunni Islamism that is aligned with a major Belt and Road infrastructure project.

How did this happen?  Professor Rabbani just might be smiling from his grave.  It seems the ‘new’ Taliban may have taken the Tajik leader’s political clothing.The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

On Nasser’s Fight for Arabic Independence and a Free Palestine

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Cynthia Chung

June 15, 2021

Nasser became the catalyst for an Arab Revolution for independence, a revolution that remains yet to be finished, Cynthia Chung writes.

In the 1950s the so-called enemy of the West was not only Moscow but the Third World’s emerging nationalists, from Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt to Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran. The United States and Britain staged a coup d’état against Mossadegh, and used the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist movement and the grandfather organization of the militant Islamic right, in an attempt to remove Nasser, the leader of the Arab nationalists.

In the 1960s, left wing nationalism and Arab socialism spread from Egypt to Algeria to Syria, Iraq and Palestine. This emergence presented a threat to the old imperialist game of Great Britain, to which the United States was a recent recruit of, and thus they decided to forge a working alliance with Saudi Arabia intent on using Wahhabi fundamentalism as their foreign policy arm in the Middle East, along with the Muslim Brotherhood.

This paper will go through the carving up of the Middle East under Sykes-Picot, the British creation of Saudi Arabia and Israel and the British occupation of Palestine, the origin of the Muslim Brotherhood and Nasser’s fight for Arab independence. In a follow-up paper, I will discuss the role of the City of London in facilitating the bankroll of the first Islamic fundamentalist state Saudi Arabia, along with the Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist apparatus.

An “Arab Awakening” Made in Britain

The renunciation will not be easy. Jewish hopes have been raised to such a pitch that the non-fulfilment of the Zionist dream of a Jewish state in Palestine will cause intense disillusionment and bitterness. The manifold proofs of public spirit and of capacity to endure hardships and face danger in the building up of the national home are there to testify to the devotion with which a large section of the Jewish people cherish the Zionist ideal. And it would be an act of further cruelty to the Jews to disappoint those hopes if there existed some way of satisfying them, that did not involve cruelty to another people. But the logic of facts is inexorable. It shows that no room can be made in Palestine for a second nation except by dislodging or exterminating the nation in possession.”

– the concluding paragraph of George Antonius’ “The Arab Awakening” (1938)

Much of what is responsible for the war and havoc in the Middle East today has the British orchestrated so-called “Arab Awakening” to thank, led by characters such as E.G. Browne, St. John Philby, T.E. Lawrence of Arabia, and Gertrude Bell. Although its origins go as far back as the 19th century, it was only until the early 20th century, that the British were able to reap significant results from its long harvest.

The Arab Revolt of 1916-1918, had been, to the detriment of the Arab people, a British led rebellion. The British claimed that their sole interest in the affair was the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire and had given their word that these Arab territories would be freed and allowed independence if they agreed to rebel, in large part led and directed by the British.

It is a rather predictable feature of the British to lie and double cross and thus it should be of no surprise to anyone that their intentions were quite the opposite of what they had promised and thanks to the Sykes-Picot Russian leak, were revealed in their entire shameful glory.

If the Sultan of Turkey were to disappear, then the Caliphate by common consent of Islam would fall to the family of the prophet, Hussein ibn Ali the Sharif of Mecca, a candidate which was approved by the British Cairo office as suitable for British strings. T.E. Lawrence, who worked at the Cairo bureau is quoted as saying:

If the Sultan of Turkey were to disappear, then the Caliphate by common consent of Islam would fall to the family of the prophet, the present representative of which is Hussein, the Sharif of Mecca….If properly handled the Arab States would remain in a state of political mosaic, a tissue of jealous principalities incapable of cohesion…” (1)

Once the Arab Revolt was “won” against the Ottoman Empire, instead of the promised Arab independence, the Middle East was carved up into zones of influence under British and French colonial rule. Puppet monarchies were created in regions that were considered not under direct colonial subjugation in order to continue the illusion that Arabs remained in charge of sacred regions such as Mecca and Medina.

In central Arabia, Hussein, Sharif of Mecca, the puppet leader of the Arab Revolt laid claim to the title Caliph in 1924, which his rival Wahhabite Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud rejected and declared war, defeating the Hashemites. Hussein abdicated and ibn Saud, the favourite of the British India Office, was proclaimed King of Hejaz and Najd in 1926, which led to the founding of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Al Saud warriors of Wahhabism were a formidable strike force that the British believed would help London gain control of the western shores of the Persian Gulf.

Hussein ibn Ali’s son Faisal (under the heavy tutelage of T.E. Lawrence) was bestowed as King of Iraq and Hussein’s other son, Abdullah I was established as the Emir of Transjordan until a negotiated legal separation of Transjordan from Britain’s Palestine mandate occurred in 1946, whereupon he was crowned King of Jordan. (For more on this history refer to my paper.)

While the British were promising Arab independence they simultaneously were promising a homeland in Palestine to the Jews. The Balfour Declaration of November 2nd, 1917 states:

His majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object…

Palestine had been seized by the British during the so-called Arab Revolt on December 11th, 1917 when General Allenby marched into Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate and declared martial law over the city. Palestine has remained occupied ever since.

Britain would receive the mandate over Palestine from the League of Nations in July 1922.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s violent confrontations between Jews and Arabs took place in Palestine costing hundreds of lives. In 1936 a major Arab revolt occurred over 7 months, until diplomatic efforts involving other Arab countries led to a ceasefire. In 1937, a British Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by William Peel concluded that Palestine had two distinct societies with irreconcilable political demands, thus making it necessary to partition the land.

The Arab Higher Committee refused Peel’s “prescription” and the revolt broke out again. This time, Britain responded with a devastatingly heavy hand. Roughly 5,000 Arabs were killed by the British armed forces and police.

Following the riots, the British mandate government dissolved the Arab Higher Committee and declared it an illegal body.

In response to the revolt, the British government issued the White Paper of 1939, which stated that Palestine should be a bi-national state, inhabited by both Arabs and Jews. Due to the international unpopularity of the mandate including within Britain itself, it was organised such that the United Nations would take responsibility for the British initiative and adopted the resolution to partition Palestine on November 29th, 1947. Britain would announce its termination of its Mandate for Palestine on May 15th, 1948 after the State of Israel declared its independence on May 14th, 1948.

The Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood

In 1869, a man named Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, the intellectual founder of the Salafiyya movement, went to India where British led colonial authorities welcomed him with honors and graciously escorted him aboard a government owned vessel on an all expenses paid voyage to the Suez. (2)

In Cairo he was adopted by the Egyptian prime minister Riad Pasha, a notorious enemy of the emerging nationalist movement in Egypt. Pasha persuaded Afghani to stay in Egypt and allowed him to take up residence in Cairo’s 900 year old Al Azhar mosque considered the center of Islamic learning worldwide, where he received lodging and a monthly government stipend (paid for by the British). (3)

In 1879, Cairo nationalists in the Egyptian Army, led by the famous Egyptian hero Ahmed ‘Urabi, organised an uprising against the British role in Egypt. Afghani was expelled from Egypt by the Egyptian nationalists that same year.

Ahmed ‘Urabi served as prime minister of Egypt briefly, from July 1882 to Sept 1882, however, his movement for Egyptian independence was eventually crushed by the British with the shelling of Alexandria in July 1882 followed by an invasion which resulted in a direct British occupation of Egypt that would last until 1956. It would be Gamal Abdel Nasser who would finally end British colonial rule of Egypt during the Suez Crisis, whereupon the Suez canal was nationalised and the British military bases expelled.

While Egypt was fighting its nationalist fight from 1879-1882, Afghani and his chief disciple Muhammad Abduh travelled together first to Paris and then to Britain, it was in Britain that they would make a proposal for a pan-Islamic alliance among Egypt, Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan against Czarist Russia (4).

In addition, the crisis in Sudan, was in the middle of a tribal religious rebellion against the British led by a man named Mohammed Ahmad a Sudanese sheikh who proclaimed himself the Mahdi, or savior, and was leading a puritanical Islamic revolt. (5)

What Afghani was proposing to the British was that they provide aid and resources to support his formation of a militant Islam sect that would favour Britain’s interest in the Middle East, in other words, Afghani wished to fight Islam with Islam, having stated in one of his works “We do not cut the head of religion except by sword of religion.”(6)

Although it is said that the British refused this offer, this is not likely considering the support Afghani would receive in creating the intellectual foundation for a pan-Islamic movement with British patronage and the support of England’s leading orientalist E.G. Browne, the godfather of twentieth century Orientalism and teacher of St John Philby and T.E. Lawrence.

E.G. Browne would make sure the work of Afghani would continue long beyond his death by immortalising him in his 1910 “The Persian Revolution,” considered an authoritative history of the time.

In 1888, Abduh, the chief disciple of Afghani, would return to Egypt in triumph with the full support of the representatives of her Majesty’s imperial force and took the first of several positions in Cairo, openly casting his lot with Lord Cromer, who was the symbol of British imperialism in Egypt.

Abduh would found, with the hold of London’s Egyptian proconsul Evelyn Baring (aka Lord Cromer) who was the scion of the enormously powerful banking clan (Barings Bank) under the city of London, the Salafiyya movement. (7)

Abduh had attached himself to the British rulers of Egypt and created the cornerstone of the Muslim Brotherhood which dominated the militant Islamic right throughout the twentieth century.

In 1899, Abduh reached the pinnacle of his power and influence, and was named mufti of Egypt.

***

In 1902, Riyadh fell to Ibn Saud and it was during this period that Ibn Saud established the fearsome Ikhwan (translated as “brotherhood”). He collected fighters from Bedouin tribes firing them up with fanatical religious zeal and threw them into battle. By 1912 the Ikhwan numbered 11,000 and Ibn Saud had both central Arabia’s Nejd and Al-Ahsa in the east under his control.

From the 1920s onward, the new Saudi state merged its Wahhabi orthodoxy with the Salafiyya movement (which would be organised into the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928).

William Shakespear, a famed British agent, forged the first formal treaty between England and Saudi Arabia which was signed in 1915, which bound London and Arabia for years before Saudi Arabia became a country. “It formally recognized Ibn Saud as the independent ruler of the Nejd and its Dependencies under British protection. In return, Ibn Saud undertook to follow British advice.” (8)

Harry St. John Bridger Philby, a British operative schooled by E.G. Browne and father to the legendary triple agent Kim Philby, would succeed Shakespear as Great Britain’s liaison to Ibn Saud under the British India Office, the friendly rival of the Cairo Arab Bureau office which was sponsoring T.E. Lawrence of Arabia.

In Egypt 1928, Hassan al-Banna (a follower of Afghani and Abduh) founded the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimeen), the organization that would change the course of history in the twentieth century Middle East.

Banna’s Muslim Brotherhood was established with a grant from England’s Suez Canal Company (9) and from that point on, British diplomats and intelligence service, along with the British puppet King Farouq would use the Muslim Brotherhood as a truncheon against Egypt’s nationalists and later against Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.

To get the Muslim Brotherhood off the ground, the Suez Canal Company helped Banna build the mosque in Ismailia that would serve as its headquarters and base of operation. (10) The fact that Banna created the organization in Ismailia is itself worthy of note. For England, the Suez Canal was the indispensable route to its prize possession, India and in 1928 the town Ismailia happened to house not only the company’s offices but a major British military base built during WWI. It was also, in the 1920s a center of pro-British sentiment in Egypt.

In the post-WWI world, England reigned supreme, the flag of the British empire was everywhere from the Mediterranean to India. A new generation of kings and potentates ruled over British dominated colonies, mandates, vassal states, and semi-independent fiefdoms in Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, Arabia and Persia. To varying degrees those monarchies were beholden to London.

In the half century between 1875 and 1925 the building blocks of the militant Islamic right were cemented in place by the British Empire.

Nasser Leads the Fight for Arab Independence

In 1942, the Muslim Brotherhood would earn their well-deserved reputation for extremism and violence by establishing the “Secret Apparatus,” an intelligence service and secret terrorist unit. This clandestine unit functioned for over twelve years almost entirely unchecked, assassinating judges, police officers, government officials and engaging in goon squad attacks on labor unions and communists.

Throughout this period the Muslim Brotherhood worked for the most part in an alliance with King Farouq (and thus the British), using their clandestine forces on behalf of British interests. And throughout its entire existence it would receive political support and money from the Saudi royal family and the Wahhabi establishment (more on this in part 2 of this series).

The Secret Apparatus would be smashed into pieces by Nasser in 1954.

After WWII, the faltering Farouq regime lashed out against the left in an intense campaign of repression aimed at the communists. The Cold War was beginning. In 1946, prime minister Isma’il Sidqi of Egypt who was installed as head of the government with the support of Banna, openly funded the Muslim Brotherhood and provided training camps for its shock troops used in a sweeping anti-left campaign. Sidqi resigned in Dec 1946 after less than one year as PM due to massive unpopularity.

As King Farouq began to lose his grip on the Egyptian people, the Brotherhood distanced itself while maintaining shadowy ties to the army and to foreign intelligence agencies and always opposed to the left.

The Palestine War (1947-1949) resulted in the establishment of the State of Israel at the cost of 700,000 displaced Palestinian Arabs and the destruction of most of their urban areas.

The territory that was under British administration before the war was divided between the State of Israel (officially formed May 14th, 1948), which captured about 78% of it. In opposition to Israel, the Kingdom of Jordan captured and later annexed the West Bank, and Egypt captured the Gaza Strip, with the Arab League establishing the All-Palestine Government, which came to an end in June 1967 when the Gaza Strip, along with the West Bank, were captured by Israel in the Six-Day War.

The Egyptian people were furious over these developments, and the reign of British puppet King Farouq who had done nothing to prevent the dismantling of Palestine was on extremely shaky ground. In response to this, Farouq’s accord with the Muslim Brotherhood broke down, and in December 1948, the Egyptian government outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood. Weeks later a Brotherhood assassin murdered prime minister Mahmoud El Nokrashy.

Two months later, in Feb. 1949, Banna was assassinated in Cairo by the Egyptian secret police.

For Arab nationalists, Israel was a symbol of Arab weakness and semi-colonial subjugation, overseen by proxy kings in Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.

On the night of July 23, 1952, the Free Officers, led by Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser, staged a military coup that launched the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, overthrowing the British puppet monarch. The Free Officers, knowing that warrants had been issued for their arrest, launched the coup that night, storming the staff headquarters in Cairo.

Cairo was now, for the first time, under the control of the Arab people after over 70 years of British occupation.

The seizure of power by the Free Officers in Egypt came during an era when the entire Arab world from Morocco to Iraq was locked in the grip of imperialism. Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia were French colonies; Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE, Oman and Yemen were British colonies. Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia were kingdoms ruled by monarchies installed by London. And Egypt under King Farouq was the political and economic center of the Arab world.

A growing surge of Arab nationalism arose in response to the Free Officers’ actions in Egypt. The powerful Voice of the Arabs radio in Cairo was reporting to the entire Arab world that they had found their independence movement, and that Nasser was at its helm.

From 1956 to 1958 Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon underwent rebellions, Iraq’s king was toppled, and Syria united with Egypt in Nasser’s United Arab Republic, part of Nasser’s strategy to unify the Arab world.

In Algeria, moral and material support was given from Cairo towards the Algerian revolution that finally won them independence from French colonial rule in 1962.

That same year, Yemen underwent a Nasser-inspired revolt, triggering a proxy war pitting Saudi Arabia against Egypt, with Nasser stating in a 1962 speech, “Yemen’s fight is my fight. Yemen’s Revolution is our Revolution.”

Nasser’s leadership and the inspiration he stirred were so strong that even as late as 1969 the year before Nasser’s death, Libya’s king was overthrown and Sudan’s right-wing regime was eliminated by military leaders loyal to Nasser.

Nasser had managed to threaten the very heart of Anglo-America’s post-WWII strategy in the Middle East. Nasser understood, that if the vast oil fields in Saudi Arabia were under Arab control, the potential for an economic boom would be enormous for all Arab states, such that the old game of imperialism by Britain and France could no longer retain its chokehold on Arab independence.

Not only was Egypt a military rival to Saudi Arabia, not only did Cairo clash with Riyadh in a shooting war in Yemen, not only did Nasser inspire Arabs in Saudi Arabia with republican ideals but the Egyptian leader even won over some of Saudi Arabia’s royal family. This group was led by Prince Talal to form the ‘Free Princes’, which defected to Egypt demanding the establishment of a republic in Saudi Arabia!

What was really going on during the period of 1954 to 1970, under Nasser’s leadership, was a war between two competing visions for the future of the Middle East; an Arab world of independent but cooperative Arab republics utilising their natural resources to facilitate an economic boom in industrialisation vs a semi-feudal scattering of monarchies with their natural resources largely at the West’s disposal.

The real reason why the British and Anglo Americans wanted Nasser removed, was not because he was a communist or because he was susceptible to communist influence; it was because he refused to obey his would-be foreign controllers and was rather successful in this endeavour, bringing their shadowy actions uncomfortably close to the light and inspiring loyalty amongst Arabs outside of Egypt including those sitting on top of the oil.

What especially worried London and Washington was the idea that Nasser might succeed in his plan to unify Egypt and Saudi Arabia thus creating a major Arab power. Nasser believed that these oil wells were not only for the government of those territories to do with as they wished but belonged to all Arab people and thus should be used for the advancement of the Arab world. Afterall, most Arabs are aware that both the monarchies themselves and the artificial borders that demarcate their states, were designed by imperialists seeking to build fences around oil wells in the 1920s.

Nasser understood that if Cairo and Riyadh were to unite in a common cause for the uplifting of the Arab people, it would create a vastly important new Arab center of gravity with worldwide influence.

In 1954 Egypt and the United Kingdom had signed an agreement over the Suez Canal and British military basing rights. It was a short lived. By 1956 Great Britain, France and Israel concocted a plot against Egypt aimed at toppling Nasser and seizing control of the Suez Canal, a conspiracy that enlisted the Muslim Brotherhood.

In fact, the British went so far as to hold secret meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood in Geneva. According to author Stephen Dorrill, two British intelligence agents Col. Neil McLean and Julian Amery, helped MI6 organize a clandestine anti-Nasser opposition in the south of France and in Switzerland, (11) in his book he writes “They also went so far as to make contact in Geneva…with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, informing only MI6 of this demarche which they kept secret from the rest of the Suez Group [which was planning the military operation via its British bases by the Suez Canal]. Amery forwarded various names to [Selwyn] Lloyd, [the British foreign secretary].”

British prime minister Anthony Eden, Churchill’s handpicked successor, was violently anti-Nasser all along and considered a British coup d’état in Cairo as early as 1953. Other than such brash actions, the only political force that could mount a challenge to Nasser was the Muslim Brotherhood which had hundreds of thousands of followers.

Nasser’s long postponed showdown with the Muslim Brotherhood occurred in 1954, this was timed to add pressure during the rising frustration concerning the British-Egyptian negotiations over the transfer of the Suez Canal and its military bases to Egypt. The British, after over 70 years of direct occupation in Egypt, were not going to give up on one of their most prized jewels, their gateway to the Orient, so easily.

From 1954 on, Anthony Eden, the British prime minister was demanding Nasser’s head. According to Stephen Dorrill’s “MI6: Fifty Years of Special Operations”, Eden had ranted “What’s all this nonsense about isolating Nasser or ‘neutralising’ him, as you call it? I want him destroyed, can’t you understand? I want him murdered…And I don’t give a damn if there’s anarchy and chaos in Egypt.”

Nasser would not back down, and in the first few months of 1954 the Muslim Brotherhood and Nasser went to war, culminating in Nasser outlawing them as a terrorist group and a pawn of the British.

On Oct. 1954, a Muslim Brotherhood member Mahmoud Abdel-Latif attempted to assassinate Nasser while he was delivering a speech in Alexandria, which was live broadcasting to the Arab world by radio, to celebrate the British military withdrawal.

Panic broke out in the mass audience, but Nasser maintained his posture and raised his voice to appeal for calm, and with great emotion he exclaimed the following:

My countrymen, my blood spills for you and for Egypt. I will live for your sake and die for the sake of your freedom and honor. Let them kill me; it does not concern me so long as I have instilled pride, honor, and freedom in you.”

The crowd roared in approval and Arab audiences were electrified. The assassination attempt backfired, and quickly played back into Nasser’s hands. Upon returning to Cairo, he ordered one of the largest political crackdowns in the modern history of Egypt, with the arrests of thousands of dissenters, mostly members of the Brotherhood.

The decree banning the Muslim Brotherhood organization said “The revolution will never allow reactionary corruption to recur in the name of religion.” (12)

In 1967, there was a Six-Day War between Israel and the Arab states Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq, which was started by Israel in a coordinated aerial attack on Egypt, eliminating roughly 90% of Egyptian air forces that were still on the ground, followed by an aerial attack on Jordan, Syria and Iraq. Israel then went on to conduct a ground attack with tanks and infantry, devastating whole Arab regions.

Despite the disastrous loss to Israel, the people of Egypt refused to accept Nasser’s resignation and took to the streets in a mass demonstration calling for Nasser’s return. Nasser accepted the call of the people and returned to his position as president where he remained as until his death in Sept 1970.

Five million people turned out on the streets of Egypt for Nasser’s funeral, and hundreds of millions more mourned his death throughout the world.

Although Nasser had devastatingly lost a battle, the Egyptian people along with their Arab compatriots understood that the fight for Arab independence was not lost. The dream of dignity and freedom, in forever opposition to the shackles of tyranny could not be buried now that it had been stirred to its very core. Nasser would be the catalyst for an Arab Revolution for independence, a revolution that remains yet to be finished.

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Also by this author

Cynthia CHUNG

Cynthia Chung is a lecturer, writer and co-founder and editor of the Rising Tide Foundation (Montreal, Canada).

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