May 182017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

The Project for the New Middle East

For the past 20 years Washington has aggressively pursued the age-old imperial strategy of ‘divide and conquer’ throughout the Middle East, Southwest Asia and East Africa. Frustrated at its inability to control national policy of various independent nation-states, Washington used direct and indirect military force to destroy the central governments in the targeted nations and create patchworks of tribal-ethno-mini-states amenable to imperial rule. Tens of millions of people have been uprooted and millions have died because of this imperial policy.

Washington’s strategy of fragmentation and secession follows closely the “Greater Israel Plan” set forth by Israeli politico-military writer Oded Yinon in February 1982 and published by the World Zionist Organization. Yinon maintained that the key to Israel’s domination of the Middle East rested on fostering ethno-religious and regional divisions. Following the Yinon Plan, in the first instance, Tel Aviv signed accords with Jordan and Egypt to break-up Arab regional support for the Palestinians. It then proceeded to fragment what remained of Arab-Palestine into small warring enclaves between the West Bank and Gaza. Israel then sub-divided and settled wide swatches of the West Bank with the collaboration of the corrupt ‘Palestinian Authority’ under Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel’s ‘divide and conquer’ strategy toward the Greater Middle East depended on its placement of ‘Israel First’ officials in top policymaking positions of the US Defense, State and Treasury Departments and the power of the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) — the so-called “Israel Lobby” – to control the US Congress and Presidency in matters related to Israel.

The Israeli Mid-East strategy of fragmenting and weakening pro-Palestinian governments thus become the official US policy toward Arab countries.

This policy has not been limited to the Arab Middle East: Israel and US policymakers intervened to undermine the ‘pro-Palestinian’ government of Sudan by supporting a secessionist war to create a huge resource-rich ‘Southern Sudan’ conglomeration of tribal warlords, leaving a devastated region of mass murder and famine.

Somalia, Libya and Ethiopia were also riven by regional wars financed and armed by the US with overt and covert Israeli operatives and advisers.

Israel’s policy to weaken, fragment and destroy viable developing countries, differed from the traditional policies of colonial regimes, which sought to conquer and exploit unified nation-states. Washington has blindly followed Israel’s imperial ‘model’ without assessing its impact on US interests and thus undermining its past practice of economic exploitation of viable nation states.

‘Israel First’ officials within the US federal administrative policy-making bodies played a decisive role in fabricating the pretexts for the 2003 US invasion and destruction of Iraq. They pushed fake ‘documents’ alleging Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and they promoted a plan to sub-divide the country in three ethnically ‘cleansed’ regions: Kurds (as Israel’s allies) in the North, impoverished Sunnis in the center and easily controlled Shia tribal leaders in the South.

The policy of dismantling a central government and promoting regional fragmentation backfired on the US authorities in Iraq: Sunni insurgents, often trained by experienced Baathist (former Iraqi Army) officers, formed the ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS), which took over major cities, slaughtering all non-Arab, non-Sunni residents, and threatened to established an independent state. The Shia-led government in Baghdad turned to Iran for support, forcing the US, Israel and the Kurds to declare war against ISIS, while trying to retain the weakened Sunni tribal clients. No viable central government remains in the once powerful multiethnic republic of Iraq.

The US joined Saudi Arabia in invading and bombing Yemen to destroy the Houthi rebels and favor the Sunni Salafist groups allied to al Qaeda. The goal was to weaken Yemen and prevent popular Yemini revolts from spreading to Saudi Arabia as well as undermining any Houthi alliances with Iran and expression of support for Palestine.

The US directly invaded Afghanistan expecting to easily conquer and ‘neatly’ subdivide that enormous region and ‘skillfully’ pit the various regional ethno-tribal groups against each other – while setting up a lucrative and militarily strategic site for launching future wars against US (and Israeli) rivals in Iran, Central Asia and China.

The battle-hardened Afghan Islamist Pashtun guerrilla-fighters, led by the Taliban, and unified by ethno-religious, national, tribal and extended family ties and customs, have successfully resisted this divide and conquer strategy. They now control most of the countryside, infiltrating and influencing the armed forces and police and have driven the US forces into garrison airbases, reliant on dropping mega bombs from the stratosphere.

Meanwhile, blinded by the media propaganda reports of their ‘successes’, Washington and the NATO powers launched a bloody surrogate war against the secular nationalist government of Syria, seeking to divide, conquer and obliterate an independent, pro-Palestine, pro-Iran, ally of Russia.

NATO’s invading armies and mercenary groups, however, are sub-divided into strange factions with shifting allegiances and patrons. At one level, there are the EU/US-supported ‘moderate’ head-chopping rebels. Then there are the Turkey and Saudi Arabia-supported ‘serious’ head-chopping al Qaeda Salafists. Finally there is the ‘champion’ head-chopping ISIS conglomeration based in Iraq and Syria, as well as a variety of Kurdish armed groups serving as Israeli mercenaries.

The US-EU efforts to conquer and control Syria, via surrogates, mercenaries and terrorists, was defeated largely because of Syria’s alliance with Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Syria has effectively been ‘chopped up’ by competing imperial and regional powers leading to a possible confrontation among major powers. The US-Kurdish-Turkey conflict provides the most immediate danger of serious open warfare among major nations.

Among the myriad surrogate groups that Washington supported in its seemingly contradictory policy of violently overthrowing the Syrian government in Damascus while seizing territory from ISIS, Pentagon strategists have relied most heavily on the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (YPG). The US escalated its military support for the YPG, promising heavy arms and increased US ground and air support. Meanwhile, the YPG expanded its control of the Kurdish regions in Syria especially along the Turkish border, creating a powerful territorial tie of Syrian-Kurds with Turkish-Kurds and Iraqi-Kurds. The US generous supply of heavy weapons to the YPG has increased the Kurds capacity to fight Turkey for the establishment of a contiguous ‘Greater Kurdistan’. Moreover, the US government has publicly informed Turkey that its armed forces will provide a ‘shield’ to protect the YPG – and indirectly the PKK – from Turkish attack.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is acutely aware that the YPG’s goal is to partition Southeastern Turkey and Northern Syria and form a Kurdish state with Iraqi Kurdistan. US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ pledge that ‘Washington is committed to protecting its NATO ally (Turkey)’ is ambiguous at best and most likely a hollow promise. Washington is counting on the Kurds as a strategic ally against both Damascus and ISIS. Only after accomplishing their twin goals in Syria might the Pentagon turn against the Kurds and support the Turkish government.

Complicating this scenario, the Israelis have long-standing ties with the Iraqi Kurds as part of their own divide and conquer strategy. Meanwhile, Tel Aviv has been bombing Damascus, aiding ISIS fighters in southern Syria (with material and ‘humanitarian’ medical treatment) while supporting YPG against the Syrian and Turkish militaries.

The Erdoğan regime is in a quandary: A victory for the Kurdish YPG and their occupation of territory along its border will materially threaten the ‘unity of the Turkish state’. An armed, unified Kurdish presence in this region will result in enormous pressure on Erdoğan from the nationalist political parties and supporters and the Turkish Armed Forces. On the other hand, if Erdoğan launches cross border attacks on the Pentagon-supported YPG it will directly face US ground and air power.

President Erdoğan is clearly aware that the US was involved with the silent ‘Gulanist’ permeation of the Turkish state leading up to the 2016 abortive Gulanist coup. Erdoğan’s scheduled meeting with US President Donald Trump in mid-May may not resolve the impending Turkish-Kurdish confrontation in Syria where the US is committed to protecting the YPG.

Washington hopes to convince President Erdoğan that the YPG will hand this strategic territory over to an amorphous, minuscule puppet Arab-led militia, presumably made up of non-Kurdish collaborates of the US-NATO-Saudi war against Damascus. It is hard to imagine the veteran politician Erdoğan believing a Pentagon plan for the YPG to just hand over its territorial patrimony after having fought and died to secure the region. The US is in no position to force the YPG to surrender its gains because the YPG is crucial to the Washington-Israeli-Saudi plan to destroy the central government in Damascus and fragment Syria into weak tribal mini-states.

Erdoğan’s imminent failure to get Washington support for his war with the Kurds will force him to play his ‘nationalist’ card: There will be more pro-Palestine rhetoric, more opposition to a Cyprus accord, more pro-Russia posturing and the ‘discovery’ of more and greater ‘internal threats’ to the great Turkish State.

Will Erdoğan be able defuse the hostility among his own and independent nationalist supporters?

One point is clear: A territorially-based powerful Kurdish militia, armed by the US, will be far more formidable threat to the unity of the Turkish state than the previous ill-armed rag-tag guerrillas in the mountains of northern Iraq.

It will be a humiliating defeat if Erdoğan surrenders to Pentagon demands and tolerates a US-YPG alliance on Turkey’s border. Erdoğan has some powerful options of his own: Turkey might deny the US Armed Forces access to its huge airbases in Turkey thus weakening NATO’s ‘southern flank’. A Turkish threat to withdraw from NATO altogether would have greater repercussions. Even the slightest hint of exercising these options would set off a ‘second coup’ against Erdoğan. This would involve a more serious US-NATO-backed uprising by senior Turkish officers, ‘nationalists’, democratic secularists and Kurds in major urban centers with ‘Gulanist’ politicians and bureaucrats waiting in the wings.

President Trump and the Pentagon may gain a foothold against Damascus with Kurdish surrogates in Northern Syria, but the loss of Turkey will be a strategic setback. Behind all of this confusion and devastation the partition of Syria and, eventually of Turkey, fits in very well with Greater Israel’s ‘Oded Yinon Plan’ for subdividing Muslim countries.

James Petras is author of The End of the Republic and the Delusion of Empire, Extractive Imperialism in the Americas: Capitalism’s New Frontier (with Henry Veltmeyer), and The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle East. Read other articles by James, or visit James’s website.

Sep 282014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

isistroops-400x225

Introduction

In order to overcome massive US and world public opposition to new wars in the Middle East, Obama relied on the horrific internet broadcasts of ISIS slaughtering two American hostages, the journalists James Foley and Steve Sotloff, by decapitation.  These brutal murders were Obama’s main propaganda tool to set a new Middle East war agenda – his own casus belli bonanza!  This explains the US Administration’s threats of criminal prosecution against the families of Foley and Stoloff when they sought to ransom their captive sons from ISIS.

With the American mass media repeatedly showing the severed heads of these two helpless men, public indignation and disgust were aroused with calls for US military involvement to stop the terror.  US and EU political leaders presented the decapitations of Western hostages by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) as a direct and mortal threat to the safety of civilians in the US and Europe.  The imagery evoked was of black-clad faceless terrorists, armed to the teeth, invading Europe and the US and executing innocent families as they begged for rescue and mercy.

The problem with this propaganda ploy is not the villainy and brutal crimes celebrated by ISIS, but the fact that Obama’s closest ally in his seventh war in six years is Saudi Arabia, a repugnant kingdom which routinely decapitates its prisoners in public without any judicial process recognizable as fair by civilized standards – unless tortured ‘confessions’ are now a Western norm.  During August 2014, when ISIS decapitated two American captives, Riyadh beheaded fourteen prisoners. Since the beginning of the year the Saudi monarchy has decapitated more than 46 prisoners and chopped off the arms and limbs of many more.  During Obama and Kerry’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, horrendous decapitations were displayed in public.  These atrocities did not dim the bright smile on Barak Obama’s face as he strolled with his genial royal Saudi executioners, in stark contrast to the US President’s stern and angry countenance as he presented the ISIS killing of two Americans as his pretext for bombing Syria.

The Western mass media are silent in the face of the Saudi Kingdom’s common practice of public decapitation.  Not one among the major news corporations, the BBC, the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC, CBS and NPR, have questioned the moral authority of a US President who engages in selective condemnation of ISIS while ignoring the official Saudi state beheadings and the amputations.

Decapitation and Dismemberment:  By Dagger and Drones

The ISIS internet videos showing gaunt, orange-suited Western prisoners and their lopped-off heads have evoked widespread dismay and fear.  We are repeatedly told: ‘ISIS is coming to get us!’  But ISIS is open and public about their criminal acts against helpless hostages.  We cannot say the same about the decapitations and dismemberments of the hundreds of victims of US drone attacks.  When a drone fires its missiles on a home, a school, wedding party or vehicle, the bodies of living people are dismembered, macerated, decapitated and burned beyond recognition – all by remote control.  The carnage is not videoed or displayed for mass consumption by Obama’s high commend.  Indeed, civilian deaths, if even acknowledged, are brushed off as ‘collateral damage’ while the vaporized remnants of men, women and children have been described by US troops as ‘pink foam’.

If the brutal decapitation and dismemberment of innocent civilians is a capital crime that should be punished, as I believe it is, then both ISIS and the Obama regime with his allied leaders should face a people’s war crimes tribunal in the countries where the crimes occurred.

There are good reasons to view Washington’s close relation with the Saudi royal beheaders as part of a much broader alliance with terror-evoking brutality.  For decades, the US drug agencies and banks have worked closely with criminal drug cartels in Mexico while glossing over their notorious practice of decapitating, dismembering and displaying their victims, be they local civilians, courageous journalists, captured police or migrants fleeing the terror of Central America.  The notorious Zetas and the Knights Templar have penetrated the highest reaches of the Mexican federal and local governments, turning state officials and institutions into submissive and obedient clients. Over 100,000 Mexicans have lost their lives because of this ‘state within a state’, an ‘ISIS’ in Mexico – just ‘South of the Border’.  And just like ISIS in the Middle East, the cartels get their weapons from the US imported right across the Texas and Arizona borders.  Despite this gruesome terror on the US southern flank, the nation’s principle banks, including Bank of America, CitiBank, Wells Fargo and many others have laundered billions of dollars of drug profits for the cartels.  For example, the discovery of 49 decapitated bodies in one mass in May 2014 did not prompt Washington to form a world-wide coalition to bomb Mexico, nor was it moved to arrest the Wall Street bankers laundering the ‘beheaders bloody booty’.

Conclusion

Obama’s hysterical and very selective presentation of ISIS crimes forms the pretext for launching another war against a predominantly Muslim country, Syria, while shielding his close ally, the royal Saudi decapitator from US public outrage.  ISIS crimes have become another excuse to launch a campaign of ‘mass decapitation by drones and bombers’.  The mass propaganda campaign over one crime against humanity becomes the basis for perpetrating even worse crimes against humanity.  Many hundreds of innocent civilians in Syria and Iraq will be dismembered by ‘anti-terrorist’ bombs and drones unleashed by another of Obama’s ‘coalition’.

The localized savagery of ISIS will be multiplied, amplified and spread by the US-directed ‘coalition of the willing decapitators’. The terror of hooded beheaders on the ground will be answered and expanded by their faceless counterparts in the air, while delicately hiding the heads rolling through the public squares of Riyadh or the headless bodies displayed along the highways of Mexico …  and especially ignoring the hidden victims of US-Saudi aggression in the towns and villages of Syria.

Jan 122014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

George H. W. Bush and Bandar "Bush"

George H. W. Bush and Bandar “Bush”

Introduction

Saudi Arabia has all the vices and none of the virtues of an oil rich state like Venezuela.  The country is governed by a family dictatorship which tolerates no opposition and severely punishes human rights advocates and political dissidents.  Hundreds of billions in oil revenues are controlled by the royal despotism and fuel speculative investments the world over.  The ruling elite relies on the purchase of Western arms and US military bases for protection.  The wealth of productive nations is syphoned to enrich the conspicuous consumption of the Saudi ruling family.  The ruling elite finances the most fanatical, retrograde, misogynist version of Islam, “Wahhabi” a sect of Sunni Islam.

Faced with internal dissent from repressed subjects and religious minorities, the Saudi dictatorship perceives threats and dangers from all sides:  overseas, secular, nationalists and Shia ruling governments; internally, moderate Sunni nationalists, democrats and feminists; within the royalist cliques, traditionalists and modernizers.  In response it has turned toward financing, training and arming an international network of Islamic terrorists who are directed toward attacking, invading and destroying regimes opposed to the Saudi clerical-dictatorial regime.

The mastermind of the Saudi terror network is Bandar bin Sultan, who has longstanding and deep ties to high level US political, military and intelligence officials.  Bandar was trained and indoctrinated at Maxwell Air Force Base and Johns Hopkins University and served as Saudi Ambassador to the US for over two decades (1983 – 2005).  Between 2005 – 2011 he was Secretary of the National Security Council and in 2012 he was appointed as Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency.  Early on Bandar became deeply immersed in clandestine terror operations working in liaison with the CIA.  Among his numerous “dirty operations” with the CIA during the 1980s, Bandar channeled $32 million dollars to the Nicaragua Contra’s engaged in a terror campaign to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government in Nicaragua.  During his tenure as ambassador he was actively engaged in protecting Saudi royalty with ties to the 9/11/01 bombing of the Triple Towers and the Pentagon.  Suspicion that Bandar and his allies in the Royal family had prior knowledge of the bombings by Saudi terrorists (11 of the 19), is suggested by the sudden flight of Saudi Royalty following the terrorist act.  US intelligence documents regarding the Saudi-Bandar connection are under Congressional review.

With a wealth of experience and training in running clandestine terrorist operations, derived from his two decades of collaboration with the US intelligence agencies, Bandar was in a position to organize his own global terror network in defense of the isolated retrograde and vulnerable Saudi despotic monarchy.

Bandar’s Terror Network

Bandar bin Sultan has transformed Saudi Arabia from an inward-looking, tribal based regime totally dependent on US military power for its survival, to a major regional center of a vast terror network, an active financial backer of rightwing military dictatorships (Egypt) and client regimes (Yemen) and military interventor in the Gulf region (Bahrain).  Bandar has financed and armed a vast array of clandestine terror operations, utilizing Islamic affiliates of Al Qaeda, the Saudi controlled Wahhabi sect as well as numerous other Sunni armed groups.  Bandar is a “pragmatic” terrorist operator:  repressing Al Qaeda adversaries in Saudi Arabia and financing Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.,  While Bandar was a long-term asset of the US intelligence services, he has, more recently, taken an ‘independent course’ where the regional interests of the despotic state diverge  from those of the US.  In the same vein, while Saudi Arabia has a longstanding enmity toward Israel, Bandar has developed a “covert understanding” and working relation with the Netanyahu regime, around their common enmity toward Iran and more specifically in opposition to the interim agreement between the Obama-Rohani regime.

Bandar has intervened directly or via proxies in reshaping political alignments, destabilizing adversaries and bolstering and expanding the political reach of the Saudi dictatorship from North Africa to South Asia, from the Russian Caucuses to the Horn of Africa, sometimes in concert with Western imperialism, other times projecting Saudi hegemonic aspirations.

North Africa:  Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Egypt

Bandar has poured billions of dollars to bolster the rightwing pro-Islamic regimes in Tunisia and Morocco, ensuring that the mass pro-democracy movements would be repressed, marginalized and demobilized.. Islamic extremists receiving Saudi financial support are encouraged to back the “moderate” Islamists in government by assassinating secular democratic leaders and socialist trade union leaders in opposition.  Bandar’s policies largely coincide with those of the US and France in Tunisia and Morocco; but not in Libya and Egypt.

Saudi financial backing for Islamist terrorists and Al Qaeda affiliates against Libyan President Gadhafi were in-line with the NATO air war.  However divergences emerged in the aftermath:  the NATO backed client regime made up of neo-liberal ex-pat’s faced off against Saudi backed Al Qaeda and Islamist terror gangs and assorted tribal gunmen and marauders.  Bandar funded Islamic extremists in Libya were bankrolled  to extend their military operations to Syria, where the Saudi regime was organizing a vast military operation to overthrow the Assad regime.  The internecine conflict between NATO and Saudi armed groups in Libya, spilled over and led to the Islamist murder of the US Ambassador and CIA operatives in Benghazi.  Having overthrown Gadhafi, Bandar virtually abandoned interest in the ensuing blood bath and chaos provoked by his armed assets.  They in turn, became self-financing – robbing banks, pilfering oil and emptying local treasuries – relatively “independent” of Bandar’s control.

In Egypt, Bandar developed, in coordination with Israel (but for different reasons), a strategy of undermining the relatively independent, democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood regime of Mohammed Morsi.  Bandar and the Saudi dictatorship financially backed the military coup and dictatorship of General Sisi.  The US strategy of a power-sharing agreement between the Moslem Brotherhood and the military regime, combining popular electoral legitimacy and the pro-Israel-pro NATO military was sabotaged.  With a $15 billion aid package and promises of more to come, Bandar provided the Egyptian military a financial lifeline and economic immunity from any international financial reprisals.  None were taken of any consequences.  The military crushed the Brotherhood, jailed and threatened to execute its elected leaders.  It outlawed sectors of the liberal-left opposition which it had used as cannon fodder to justify its seizure of power.  In backing the military coup, Bandar eliminated a rival, democratically elected Islamic regime which stood in contrast to the Saudi despotism.  He secured a like-minded dictatorial regime in a key Arab country, even though the military rulers are more secular, pro-Western, pro-Israel and less anti-Assad than the Brotherhood regime.  Bandar’s success in greasing the wheels for the Egyptian coup secured a political ally but faces an uncertain future.

The revival of a new anti-dictatorial mass movement would also target the Saudi connection.  Moreover Bandar undercut and weakened Gulf State unity:  Qatar had financed the Morsi regime and was out $5 billion dollars it had extended to the previous regime.

Bandar’s terror network is most evident in his long-term large scale financing, arming, training and transport of tens of thousands of Islamic terrorist “volunteers” from the US, Europe, the Middle East, the Caucuses, North Africa and elsewhere.. Al Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia became “martyrs of Islam” in Syria.  Dozens of Islamic armed gangs in Syria competed for Saudi arms and funds.  Training bases with US and European instructors and Saudi financing were established in Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey.  Bandar financed the major ‘rebel’ Islamic terrorist armed group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, for cross border operations.

With Hezbollah supporting Assad, Bandar directed money and arms to the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Lebanon to bomb South Beirut, the Iranian embassy and Tripoli.  Bandar directed $3 billion to the Lebanese military with the idea of fomenting a new civil war between it and Hezbollah.  In co-ordination with France and the US, but with far greater funding and greater latitude to recruit Islamic terrorist, Bandar assumed the leading role and became the principle director of a three front military and diplomatic offensive against Syria, Hezbollah and Iran.  For Bandar, an Islamic takeover in Syria would lead to an Islamic Syrian invasion in support of Al Qaeda in Lebanon to defeat Hezbollah in hopes of isolating Iran.  Teheran would then become the target of a Saudi-Israeli-US offensive.  Bandar’s strategy is more fantasy then reality.

Bandar Diverges from Washington:  the Offensive in Iraq and Iran

Saudi Arabia has been an extremely useful but sometimes out of control client of Washington.  This is especially the case since Bandar has taken over as Intelligence chief:  a long-time asset of the CIA he has also, at times, taken the liberty to extract “favors” for his services, especially when those “favors” enhance his upward advance within the Saudi power structure.  Hence, for example, his ability to secure AWACs despite AIPAC opposition earned him merit points.  As did Bandar’s ability to secure the departure of several hundred Saudi ‘royalty’ with ties to the 9/11 bombers, despite a high level national security lockdown in the aftermath of the bombing.

While there were episodic transgressions in the past, Bandar moved on to more serious divergences from US policy.  He went ahead, building his own terror network, directed toward maximizing Saudi hegemony – even where it conflicted with US proxies, clients and clandestine operatives.

While the US is committed to backing the rightwing Malicki regime in Iraq, Bandar is providing political, military and financial backing to the Sunni terrorist “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. When the US negotiated the “interim agreement” with Iran Bandar voiced his opposition and “bought” support.  Saudi signed off on a billion dollar arms agreement during French President Hollande’s visit, in exchange for greater sanctions on Iran.  Bandar also expressed support for Israel’s use of the Zionist power configuration to influence the Congress, to sabotage US negotiations with Iran.

Bandar has moved beyond his original submission to US intelligence handlers.  His close ties with past and present US and EU presidents and political influentials have encouraged him to engage in “Big Power adventures”.  He met with Russian President Putin to convince him to drop his support for Syria, offering a carrot or a stick: a multi-billion dollar arms sale for compliance and a threat to unleash Chechnyian terrorists to undermine the Sochi Olympics.  He has turned Erdogan from a NATO ally supporting ‘moderate’ armed opponents to Bashar Assad, into embracing the Saudi backed ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”, a terrorist Al Qaeda affiliate.  Bandar has “overlooked” Erdogan’s “opportunist” efforts to sign off oil deals with Iran and Iraq, his continuing military arrangements with NATO and his past backing of the defunct Morsi regime in Egypt, in order to secure Erdogan’s support for the easy transit of large numbers of Saudi trained terrorists to Syria and probably Lebanon.

Bandar has strengthened ties with the armed Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, arming and financing their armed resistance against the US, as well as offering the US a site for a ‘negotiated departure’.

Bandar is probably supporting and arming Uighur Muslim terrorists in western China, and Chechens and Caucasian Islamic terrorists in Russia, even as the Saudi’s expand their oil agreements with China and cooperate with Russia’s Gazprom.

The only region where the Saudi’s have exercised direct military intervention is in the Gulf min-state of Bahrain, where Saudi troops crushed the pro-democracy movement challenging the local despot.

Bandar:  Global Terror on Dubious Domestic Foundations

Bandar has embarked on an extraordinary transformation of Saudi foreign policy and enhanced its global influence.  All to the worst.  Like Israel, when a reactionary ruler comes to power and overturns the democratic order, Saudi arrives on the scene with bags of dollars to buttress the regime.  Whenever an Islamic terror network emerges to subvert a nationalist, secular or Shia regime, it can count on Saudi funds and arms.  What some Western scribes euphemistically describe as “tenuous effort to liberalize and modernize” the retrograde Saudi regime, is really a military upgrade of its overseas terrorist activity.  Bandar uses modern techniques of terror to impose the Saudi model of reactionary rule on neighboring and distant regimes with Muslim populations.

The problem is that Bandar’s “adventurous” large scale overseas operations conflict with some of the ruling Royal family’s “introspective” style of rulership.  They want to be left alone to accrue hundreds of billions collecting petrol rents, to invest in high-end properties around the world, and to quietly patronize high end call girls in Washington, London and Beirut –while posing as pious guardians of Medina, Mecca and the Holy sites.  So far Bandar has not been challenged, because he has been careful to pay his respects to the ruling monarch and his inner circle.  He has bought and brought Western and Eastern prime ministers, presidents and other respectable notable to Riyadh to sign deals and pay compliments to the delight of the reigning despot.  Yet his solicitous behavior to overseas Al Qaeda operations, his encouraging Saudi extremists to go overseas and engage in terrorist wars, disturbs monarchical circles.   They worry that Saudis trained, armed and knowledgeable terrorists – dubbed as “holy warriors” – may return from Syria, Russia and Iraq and bomb the Kings palaces.  Moreover, oversea regimes targeted by Bandar’s terror network may retaliate:  Russia or Iran, Syrians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Iraqis may just sponsor their own instruments of retaliation.  Despite the hundreds of billions spent on arms purchases, the Saudi regime is very vulnerable on all levels.  Apart from tribal legions, the billionaire elite have little popular support and even less legitimacy.  It depends on overseas migrant labor, foreign “experts” and US military forces.  The Saudi elite is also despised by the most religious of the Wahhabi clergy for allowing “infidels” on sacred terrain.  While Bandar extends Saudi power abroad, the domestic foundations of rule are narrowing.  While he defies US policymakers in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, the regime depends on the US Air Force and Seventh Fleet to protect it from a growing array of adversarial regimes.

Bandar, with his inflated ego, may believe that he is a “Saladin” building a new Islamic empire, but in reality, by waving one finger his patron monarch can lead to his rapid dismissal.  One too many provocative civilian bombings by his Islamic terrorist beneficiaries can lead to an international crises leading to Saudi Arabia becoming the target of world opprobrium.

In reality, Bandar bin Sultan is the protégé and successor of Bin Laden; he has deepened and systematized global terrorism.  Bandar’s terror network has murdered far more innocent victims than Bin Laden.  That, of course, is to be expected; after all he has billions of dollars from the Saudi treasury, training from the CIA and the handshake of Netanyahu!

Nov 122013
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

israel-gaza-war-2012

Introduction

Israel has committed repeated acts of war against countries that opposed its Zionist policies of colonization and annexation of Palestinian territory in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.  Israeli leaders have secured arms and diplomatic support for their attacks through their Zionist proxies in the United States Congress and the Executive Branch.

The current series of Israeli bombing raids and missile strikes against Syria are designed to strengthen the armed Syrian opposition and Islamist mercenaries seeking to destroy the government in Damascus.  Israel intends to sabotage the upcoming round of peace negotiations. The Zionist state does not want a peaceful resolution to the current regional conflict.  Its foreign policy depends on perpetual regional wars and political instability.   Toward this end, Tel Aviv has the unconditional support of the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organization and all other Zionist organizations in the US.

Armed Conflict and Intervention in Syria

For almost three years, Syria has increasingly transformed into a battleground and humanitarian disaster.  At first, there were domestic Syrian political and social organizations staging protests against the Baathist government.  The early protestors included secular liberals, Muslims, democrats and socialists.  They had engaged in mostly peaceful protest against the authoritarian, but multi-cultural, secular regime of Bashar Assad.  The government clamped down heavily and arrested many protestors.  This heavy-handed response help to split the Syrian opposition: Peaceful, civil-society protestors remained in the country, although diminished in numbers, while many others went underground or fled to bordering countries and formed the early core of the armed opposition. They received military and financial support from NATO countries and Turkey, as well as from the corrupt Gulf Monarchies, especially Saudi Arabia.  A cross-border war was launched in which US and European special military forces played a leading role in organizing, training and directing a makeshift collection of armed Syrian groups. Turkey provided arms, training camps and logistical support. The funding came from the rich kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Monarchies, which have spent hundreds of millions of dollars. The Saudis recruited radical Islamist and Al Qaeda mercenaries and Wahhabi terrorists to fight the Damascus regime – targeting secular Syrians, Shiites, Alawites, Syrian Christians and Kurds.  In just a few years, the conflict underwent a radical change in character and in intensity from internal broad-based civil strife to an armed foreign-backed invasion with vicious sectarian overtones.  Hundreds of thousands of Syrians fled from their home when thousands of mostly foreign, Islamist fighters attacked and occupied their cities, towns and villages – conducting campaigns of ethnic cleansing against non-Sunni and non-Arab Syrians.  The government in Damascus responded by mobilizing ground troops and its air force to recover its vital highways and cities and drive out this increasingly foreign occupation.  This became especially critical toward the end of 2012, when Al Qaeda-linked extremists, funded by the Saudi and Gulf monarchies, gained ascendancy at a number of key fronts.  These violent extremists overran and displaced the Western-backed ‘internal’ armed opposition who made up the so-called ‘moderates’.  The Saudi proxies attacked Kurdish militia in the semi-autonomous Syrian northeast in order to secure cross border supply routes to Iraq thus regionalizing the war.  This heralded the tremendous increase in terrorism and bombing against the Shiite government in Baghdad and majority Shia population.

As the Western-backed opposition retreated, the mercenaries, linked to Al Qaeda, fully expected their sponsors among the despotic Saudi oil billionaires to call on NATO and the US to launch missile strikes against the Syrian government.  Without US and NATO air support, the jihadis would never take Damascus.

Meanwhile, the Islamist Turkish government had been playing a duplicitous role by allowing its border area to be used for terrorist camps, supply routes and a launch site for cross-border attacks against its neighbor.  This has been very unpopular with the Turkish public.  When it became evident that the Saudi-backed Al Qaeda terrorists were gaining the upper hand over Ankara’s more ‘moderate’ Islamist Syrian clients, the Turks may have developed concerns that their border would become a regional center for Al Qaeda with thousands of well-armed, battle-tested Islamist mercenaries.  This may explain Ankara’s recent approach to Teheran hoping to undercut the jihadi clients of the Gulf Monarchies.

With the Syrian opposition badly split and the US domestic opposition to a new war increasing, the US-NATO regimes withdrew their commitment to the Saudis to act as ‘Al Qaeda’s Air Force’.  In this context, US President Obama eagerly accepted the Russian President Putin’s offer to jointly oversee the dismantlement of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and to set up a peace conference between Syrian opposition  factions, not-linked to Al Qaeda, and the Syrian government.

Chemical Weapons, Disarmament and Peace:  Who’s in and Who’s Out?

The Putin-Obama agreement was a significant advance for the US and Russia.  President Obama did not have to face massive domestic and Congressional opposition to a new war with Syria and he was ‘credited’ with accepting a diplomatic solution.  Russian President Vladimir Putin assumed the role of a world statesman in initiating the process, ensuring Syrian compliance and moving the parties toward a peace conference in Geneva to be held in late November.  The European Union and the NATO powers were able to temporarily disentangle from their military commitments to the Syrian ‘rebels’ and their Saudi backers and express their own indignation over US cyber-spying of their citizens and leaders. Furthermore, this gave the Obama Administration the opportunity to open nuclear negotiations with Iran.  Turkey, which had been flooded by desperate Syrian refugees, was facing rising nationalist pressures against its own military role in the Syrian ‘civil war’.  The Russian initiative allowed the Turks to further explore re-opening relations with Syria’s ally, Iran.

This advance toward peace and disarmament weakened the military ambitions of the despotic Saudi regime and threatened the hegemonic position of the Israeli junta.  The Saudi-Gulf States strategy had been to destroy the secular Syrian state via a mercenary Al Qaeda ground war supported by massive NATO-US air strikes against Damascus.  The Saudis envisioned a replay of the Libyan invasion that saw the overthrow of the secular Gadhafi.   A bloody jihadist victory in Damascus would strike a blow at Iran, the Saudi’s (and the Israeli’s) ultimate target.

The US-Russian rapprochement and Obama’s withdrawal of his threat to bomb Damascus had deprived the Saudi’s Al Qaeda mercenaries of their long-awaited Western missile support.  Across the Atlantic, in a fit of pique and high-pitched hysteria at NATO’s refusal to serve as ‘Al Qaeda’s air force’ for their pet mercenaries, the Saudis refused to sit take their appointed seat ‘with the infidels’ on the UN Security Council!

However, Israel was quick to step in with its own bombs and missiles to bolster the Islamist terrorists in Syria!

Israel viewed itself as a casualty of the Obama-Putin agreement; it had been clamoring for more overt Western involvement in the war against Syria.  Israel’s strategy was to encourage the armed conflict, decimate the Syrian government, society and economy, and create a new client configuration composed of ‘Egypt-Jordan-Syria’ under joint Saudi-Israeli- US auspices (and financing).

The Israelis had expected US President Obama to unleash a massive NATO air strike against Syrian military installations, arms depots and vital civilian infrastructure.  This would tip the military balance in favor of the armed Syrian opposition and foreign jihadist mercenaries and precipitate the collapse of Damascus.  Indeed the entire US Jewish-Zionist power structure, including the pro-Israel media troika (the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal), called for the US to bomb Syria despite the fact that the majority of America citizens were increasingly vocal in their opposition to US involvement!

When Obama finally took note of US public opinion and embraced Vladimir Putin’s proposal for Syrian peace and the dismantling of its chemical weapons arsenal, the media troika and the ZPC unleashed hysterical attacks, accusing President Obama of vacillation (for disobeying Netanyahu?), sacrificing Syrian lives (what about the Syrian victims of Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights?) and of betraying the ‘rebels’ (also known as Al Qaeda terrorists).

Israel and Saudi Arabia make logical ‘allies’: Both are sworn enemies of secular Arab nationalism and anti-colonialism; both have sponsored overseas terrorist groups against their opponents; both seek to destroy Iran and both are completely dependent on Western arms relying on imperialist wars to achieve their own regional aims.  At the moment their plans for ‘re-drawing the map’ of the Middle East has met a speed-bump in the form of Obama’s reluctance to launch US missiles and bombs against Damascus.

The Israeli Air Force at the Service of Al Qaeda

In recent years Israel has committed numerous acts of war throughout the Middle East, including crimes against humanity in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon.  It is no surprise that Israel, a colonial state and would-be regional hegemon, would bomb Syrian military bases and weapon depots on six occasions this year, despite the fact that Damascus was struggling for its survival against thousands of Saudi-financed Al Qaeda-linked mercenaries.

Israel’s deliberate and unprovoked attacks against the beleaguered Syrian state are motivated by dangerous, sinister and cynical considerations on the part of Tel Aviv.

First, the Israel wants a strong Wahhabi-Al Qaeda presence in the region to counter the secular Baathists as well as their Shiite allies in Lebanon and Iran. Their attacks against the Syrian military show their desire for the terrorists to continue ravaging Syrian cities and towns.  This is essentially a tactical alliance between extremist Zionist-Jews and Radical Sunni Muslims.

Second, Israel is calculating that its missile attacks against Syrian bases will provoke an armed response from Damascus which Tel Aviv could use as a pretext to declare war and unite the ‘hawk and dove’ Zionists in Israel, and especially in the US, and mobilize against another ‘existential threat’ to the ‘Jewish State’.  In other words, Israel intends to prod the US Congress and White House to launch an ‘allied’ bombing campaign against Damascus.

Thirdly, Tel Aviv views its missile strikes and bombing raids against Syria as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for its planned attack on Iran.  In the context of Iranian President Rouhani’s recent peace overtures toward the US, bombing Syria and provoking Damascus would scuttle any peaceful accord between the Washington and Teheran.  Israeli pilots are using Syria as a laboratory to test radar and communications, flight patterns, its bombing accuracy, interception technology and assets to further their readiness for a pre-emptive attack on Iran. The purpose for attacking the Syrian government and destroying defensive weapons destined for its Lebanese Shiite ally, Hezbollah, is to destroy any Lebanese capacity to resist Israeli aggression in a regional conflagration.

However, Israel’s military-driven ‘diplomacy’ has failed. And yet the Jewish state cannot reverse its brutal, colonial policies in the West Bank, re-think its working alliance with Al Qaeda in the Levant or formulate a realistic political settlement with Syria and Iran.  Instead, the characteristic failure and mediocrity of Israeli policymakers have condemned them to rely exclusively on their first, last and only resort – greater brutality and aggression.

Netanyahu showed his disappointment with Obama by announcing the construction of 1500 new ‘Jews-only’ apartments in Occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem.  Meanwhile, the Israeli Foreign Office denounced the Obama Administration for having revealed that Israeli planes and missiles had struck the major Syrian port of Latakia – implying that Washington’s revelation of Israel’s attempted sabotage of the peace talks amounted to a  ‘betrayal’ or ‘crime’ against the Jewish state!

The entire Zionist power configuration in Washington has lined up to support the Jewish state. When Israel commits an act of war against its neighbor, no matter how unjust and brutal the act, Zionists from the most religious to the most secular, the ‘peaceniks’ and neo-cons, all form a united chorus in praise of the righteous and moral ‘Jewish Bombs’ even as they fall on the besieged people of Syria today and Iran tomorrow.  While the pro-Israel media troika in the US doesn’t hesitate to denounce civilian suffering from Pentagon and CIA drones strikes in Pakistan, when Israeli missiles rain on Syria … acts of pre-emptive war by the heirs of the Holocaust … they are described as necessary for the defense of a peace-loving nation…because Bibi Netanyahu said so!!!  That garrulous Harvard Law Professor will argue on the US television ‘talk shows’ that Israel had to pulverize the concrete bunkers of the Syrian military otherwise some anti-Semite might someday find some pebble to toss at some member of the moral Israeli ‘peace force’.  ‘Existential threat’ indeed!

Rank cant and mendacious special pleadings aside, the Saudis and their Israeli allies intend to finance, arm and serve as Al Qaeda’s air force against the Assad regime in Syria.  They mean to undermine any Syrian or Iranian peace process, that is, unless the US and Russia prevent them from provoking a major regional conflagration – threatening the welfare of hundreds of millions of people.

Conclusion

The Middle East has always been a mosaic of complex and changing alliances, marking shifts in the balance of imperial power.  During the past decade, the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and their satraps in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon have ruled the roosts.  Iraq, as an independent modern secular nation and multicultural society, was shattered and under the US military boot; the Taliban were in retreat … Iran was isolated … Syria was surrounded by invading foreign armed and trained terrorists and mercenaries.

Time passed and circumstances changed.  The US was forced to retreat from the horrific sectarian conflict it created in Iraq, while Iran gained political influence and stature in the region. Turkey captured lucrative regional markets.  In Afghanistan, the Taliban have recovered, advanced and are preparing to take power as soon as the US withdraws support from its lackey in Kabul.  The White House temporarily lost a dictator in Egypt, only to gain a new dictatorial client, but the junta in Cairo faces an uncertain future with massive popular unrest.  The King of Jordan may still be on the CIA/Mossad payroll but that country is a backward satrapy forced to rely on police state tactics.  The corrupt Gulf Monarchies repress their dissident majorities at home while using their countries’ incredible oil wealth to subsidize jihadi terrorists abroad.  Their legitimacy and support is fragile:  Petro-billions, bombs and US military bases do not constitute a state!

Tactical relations are in flux.  The Saudi monarch rejects the UN, repudiates the US for its rapprochement with Iran and embraces —its own hot air.  Surely the Saudis understand that siding with Israel’s air force against an Arab nation is a dangerous and desperate ploy that could backfire.

The Syrian and Iranian governments will continue with their peace agendas, democratic openings and calls for social co-existence, such as Hezbollah has successfully secured in Lebanon.  The Russians support their overtures.  If they are successful, even the US and Europe would reap immense economic benefits from a demilitarized and sanctions-free Middle East and Persian Gulf.  The world economy would see lower energy prices and greater security, while the flow of rentier capital to the speculators in the City of London and Wall Street flood would reverse and benefit their own countries.  We stand at the crossroads between turning toward peace or reverting to regional war, crisis and chaos.