Saudi Arabia Has No Right to Drag the Region to Sectarian War

Saudi Arabia Has No Right to Drag the Region to Sectarian War
Mon Jan 11, 2016 20:10:39

Saudi Arabia these days appears to be adopting the doctrine made famous by George W. Bush while drumming up support for the invasion of Iraq: ‘Who is not for us is against us’… with all the menace that contains. Into this admix Riyadh brings a virulent sectarianism as it confronts Iran following the burning of its Embassy in Tehran during protests against the execution of a leading Shiite cleric. And now the Saudi government have announced their intention to sell off Aramco, the national oil company and the most valuable asset the nation possesses, to fund existing and future wars where success is by no means guaranteed.

Saturday’s Persian Gulf Cooperation Council conference in Riyadh and the gathering of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo have been convened at the instigation of Saudi Arabia and for the same purpose: to gain a united front and solidarity in confronting Iran.

The Saudi-backed [Persian] Gulf media – which is always a clear indication of policy emanating from the heart of the regime – is sending a consistent and powerful message to other Sunni regional governments: ‘who is not with us is against us’.

To clarify: who does not stand in the trench with the Saudis in their proxy war with Iran in Syria, with their actual war against the Shiite Houthis in Yemen and their putative war with Iran itself is an enemy and will be treated as such. Here is no middle ground and no discussion. It is all or nothing.

Former President Bush was the originator of this doctrine whose ingredients emerged after the events of 11 September 2001, and which was fully cooked by the time the US needed to convince 34 other nations to join it in war against Iraq at the instigation of the Israel Lobby and under the banner of ‘the war on terror’. Now Saudi Arabia thinks it can play the same game by forming an Islamic coalition against ‘terror’ (currently identified as Iran and the ISIS) but the Kingdom is not a superpower and does not possess America’s aircraft carriers and more than 30,000 nuclear warheads.

Even mighty America and her allies were unable to win their wars in either Afghanistan or Iraq where they were defeated by a bunch of insurgents. Their casualties were more than 7,000 dead and 40,000 wounded, it drained their economy of more than five trillion dollars and, biggest irony of all, created chaotic, lawless incubators for radical terrorist groups, led by the ISIS, which now inhabit much of the Middle East and Africa.

Is Saudi Arabia unaware of this history and its direct relevance to the path it now, apparently, wishes to pursue? We believe we should draw their attention to it, before the entire region is consumed by the flames of a major war which might last decades and burn everyone and everything in its path.

We call on all wise people, if there are any left, who participate in high-level Arab meetings to have the courage to question and challenge Saudi Arabia. What does it want to accomplish in existing and putative wars, how will it achieve this, what is plan B if things don’t go according to plan, and what is the exit strategy? The future of the entire region in terms of stability, security, politics and economics depends on you. Ask these questions in a loud voice, because your silence might be interpreted as a sign of acquiescence.

This week, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler of the Kingdom – and, in his capacity as Defense Minister, the hawkish architect of the war in Yemen – was interviewed by the Economist magazine. When asked about the ten month-old war in Yemen he was unable to answer a single question because he does not know the answers himself.

I read this interview with Prince Salman three times in the original English transcript, trying to understand the strategic perspective of the authors of this new Saudi orthodoxy. The abiding impression was that they are seeking war under any pretext and at whatever cost with their regional nemesis, Iran. The Prince stated that he was totally in favor of selling Aramco and billions of dollars’ worth of the country’s most valuable real estate – all to fund these wars.

No matter that the country is close to bankruptcy because of the plummeting price of oil, no matter that subsidies for the needy will be scrapped, and health and education services will be privatized, putting them out of reach of the poorest. The recourses of future generations of Saudis are to be squandered.

We would stand in the same trench as Saudi Arabia, as we would with any Arab or Islamic country, if its aim was simply to maintain its territorial integrity in the face of aggression and threat to its security and stability – Palestine for example. But even in these most dire circumstances, we would still expect from such a country, seeking help from others, an acceptable level of Human Rights and democracy in return.

We oppose any war predicated on sectarianism or ethnicity, however. We do not accept that the Saudi regime has the right to impose regional, sectarian war on all Moslems living in the area, and believe that they should consult with those who will be the victims of such wars. The real enemy of the Arab nation is not Iran but Israel and every man woman and child on the Arab street knows that.

We believe that it is our duty to sound the bell, to tell the truth, even if it exposes us to too great risk and, believe me, we receive the direst threats almost daily, Raialyoum reported.

S/SH

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