• Despite religious differences, two Mideast states work hand-in-glove
By Richard Walker
To the rest of the world they are strange bedfellows, but Saudi Arabia and Israel have a shared agenda to shape the Middle East to their liking even if it means using violence and terrorism to bring the region to the brink of war.
Prominent among those who have forged a strong military and intelligence partnership are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who never met an Arab dictator he could not do business with if it suited his policies, and Saudi King Abdullah, whose name in Arabic means “Servant of the House of God.”
Abdullah has used the title to manipulate the Arab world, suggesting to Sunni Muslims he has a direct line to the Prophet Mohammed because he is the anointed guardian of Islam’s holiest sites, Mecca and Medina. Abdullah’s right-hand man in his dealings with the Israel has been Prince Bandar, sometimes known as “Bandar Bush” because of his close links to the Bush family during his days as Saudi Ambassador in Washington. Some commentators have referred to him as “Prince of Terrorists.” He is a flamboyant, cigar- smoking figure, with a fondness for lavish parties.
Like Netanyahu, Abdullah has denounced the Obama administration for failing to bomb Syria and for negotiating with Iran. Netanyahu and the King would like Iran bombed into oblivion. Abdullah said as much in conversation reported by Wikileaks. His advice to Obama was to “cut off the head of the snake.”
The intense anger toward Iran reflects how both nations see the Middle East. They want it dominated by Arab dictators, who can control the Sunni faithful through petrol dollars and the Saudi royal’s role as “Servants of the House of God.” with their promotion and financing of Wahabism, an extreme form of Islam. Abdullah and his royal hangers-on are prepared to eliminate their enemies by whatever means necessary, beginning with Syria.
Netanyahu, too, wants Iran bombed back to the Stone Age. He has backed the neocon principle that removing Assad will break a Shiite Muslim arc stretching from Iran, across Iraq into Syria and Lebanon. One of his dreams is to give the Israeli military another crack at Hezbollah. He and Abdullah have pressed Washington to abandon diplomatic talks with Iran and to provide the Syrian rebels with air cover and heavy weapons. Those rebels have a very large contingent of terrorists in their ranks, many of them al-Qaeda members of Saudi origin.
When the Arab Spring began, Netanyahu and Abdullah feared they saw the writing on the wall when Obama refused to lift a hand to prevent the overthrow of the Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, an Israeli-Saudi favorite. Ironically, the mainstream media has been always been happy to call Assad a dictator but has never referred to Arab leaders as dictators even though they all are.
Since Bandar became head of the Saudi’s intelligence network in July 2012, he has forged closer links with Israel’s Mossad and has advocated using “cut-outs,” namely former and retired Mossad operatives, who would have deniability even if they were caught red-handed conducting terror operations inside Iran, Syria or Lebanon.
Israel has had no qualms about assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists and some commentators have suggested Bandar supplied Syrian rebels with Sarin gas. Either way, both partners in this alliance will use any measures, including deception, to achieve their goals, hoping it will lead to the United States to change its Syria policy and go to war with Iran.
One of the curious aspects of the new axis is Saudi Arabia’s military capabilities. Israel is acutely aware of the threat it would face should the Saudi leaders become victims of the Arab Spring. The Saudis have also weighed that risk and placed their future in the hands of Israel. The pro-Israel U.S. website, “Jewish Virtual Library,” put it best when it warned Israel could not ignore the risk of an anti-Western regime replacing the Saudi dictatorship.
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.
Saudi Arabia Funds Violence; Seeks to Destroy Iran, Syria
• Russia’s Putin stands by allies; rejects Saudi deals—and intrigues
By Pete Papaherakles
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar bin Sultan is still sulking about the United States not attacking Syria. He and Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are threatening that the kingdom will make a “major shift” in relations with the United States. He has complained to European diplomats that the U.S. had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has been growing closer to Tehran.
Bandar is very influential in world politics. The Washington Post’s David Ottaway, who knew him well and interviewed him often, says that no Arab ambassador—perhaps no ambassador—has come close to matching Bandar’s influence in the American capital. As the Saudi king’s personal envoy and then for more than 20 years his nation’s ambassador to Washington, D.C., Bandar, by Ottaway’s estimation, dealt with “five U.S. presidents, 10 secretaries of state, 11 national security advisers, 16 sessions of Congress, an obstreperous American media and hundreds of greedy politicians.”
After becoming secretary general of the National Security Council in 2005, he was appointed director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency by King Abdullah in July of 2012.
Since then, Bandar’s main objective has been to take down Assad’s government in Syria by any means necessary. He has been the ringleader in the campaign to escalate that war and the main conduit for guns and mercenaries into Syria.
Bandar was allegedly pressuring Russia to give up its support for Assad by secretly offering Russia a sweeping deal to control the global oil market and safeguard Russia’s gas contracts, while at the same time making veiled threats.
According to the reputable “Al Monitor” news website, Bandar told Putin during a four-hour meeting in Putin’s dacha in early August: “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. . . . The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us.”
Unmoved by the Saudi offer, Mr. Putin reportedly replied that: “Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters,” Putin added, referring to footage showing a terrorist rebel eating the heart and liver of a Syrian soldier. Bandar in turn warned that there can be “no escape from the military option” if Russia declines the olive branch.
It was shortly after that, on August 23, that the chemical weapon attacks on Ghouta took place. Only Putin’s negotiated peace deal prevented the incident from escalating into a full-blown war.
There have been claims that Bandar was behind providing the sarin gas to the terrorist-rebels for that attack in his desperation to drag the U.S. into the civil war and topple Assad.
Although the U.S. had to finally accept that a diplomatic approach needs to be taken in terms of Syria and Iran, Bandar wants to remain on the war path and refuses to attend the upcoming Geneva II conference. He said he “plans to scale back on cooperating with the U.S. in arming Syrian rebels.”
The U.S. and the House of Saud have had close relations since the kingdom was established in 1932. The deal was predicated on Saudi Arabia guaranteeing Washington its oil supplies in return for military protection. This arrangement has become even more entrenched since then as Saudi petrodollars shore up the U.S. Treasury and the supremacy of the American dollar as the world’s trading currency. This allows the U.S. Federal Reserve to keep printing more and more money backed by nothing.
Pete Papaherakles is a writer and political cartoonist for AFP and is also AFP’s outreach director. Pete is interested in getting AFP writers and editors on the podium at patriotic events. Call him at 202-544-5977 if you know of an event you think AFP should attend.
Reset in U.S.-Saudi Relations Welcomed by Many
• Maybe Saudi Arabia can afford global perpetual war, but it’s bankrupting the United States
By former Rep. Ron Paul
Last week it was reported that Saudi Arabia decided to make a “major shift” away from its 80 years of close cooperation with the United States. The Saudi leadership is angry that the Obama administration did not attack Syria last month, and that it has not delivered heavy weapons to the Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad government. Saudi Arabia is heavily invested in the overthrow of the Assad government in Syria, sending money and weapons to the rebels.
However, it was the recent diplomatic opening between the U.S. and Iran that most infuriated the Saudis. Saudi Arabia is strongly opposed to the Iranian government and has vigorously lobbied the U.S. Congress to maintain sanctions and other pressure on Iran. Like Israel, the Saudis are fearful of any U.S. diplomacy with Iran.
This additional strain in U.S./Saudi relations came at the 40-year anniversary of the Arab oil embargo of the U.S. over its support of Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. At the time, the embargo caused quite a bit of trouble for Americans, including gas shortages and long lines at the filling stations. A repeat of this move, however, would not have the same effect on the U.S. economy. Though it would not be desired, these are not the 1970s and oil is now a more fungible commodity no longer solely in Arab hands.
Why does Saudi Arabia insist that the U.S. fight its battles? The Saudis are strongly opposed to the governments in Syria and Iran so they expect the U.S. to attack. It is their neighborhood; why don’t they fight their own wars? Israel shares the same position in the region as Saudi Arabia: It has been fighting to overthrow Assad in Syria for years, and Israeli leadership constantly pushes the U.S. toward war on Iran. They are both working on the same side of these issues but why do they keep trying to draw us in?
We have unwritten agreements to defend Saudi Arabia and Israel, which keeps us heavily involved militarily in the Middle East. But when the U.S. becomes so involved, we are the real losers—especially the American taxpayers, who are forced to finance this global military empire. Plus, our security guarantee to Saudi Arabia and Israel creates a kind of moral hazard: There is little incentive for these two countries to push for more peaceful solutions in the region because the U.S. military underwrites their reckless behavior. It is an unhealthy relationship that should come to an end.
If Saudi Arabia and Israel are so determined to extend their influence in the region and share such similar goals, why don’t they work together to stabilize the region without calling on the U.S. for backup? It might be healthy for them to go it alone.
One of Osama bin Laden’s stated goals was to bankrupt the U.S. by drawing it into endless battles in the Middle East and south Asia. Unfortunately, even from beyond the grave he continues to successfully implement his policy. But should we really be helping him do so? If Saudi Arabia wants to pull back from its deep and unhealthy relationship with the U.S. we should welcome such a move. Then we might return to peace and commerce rather than sink under entangling alliances.
Ron Paul, a former U.S. representative from Texas and medical doctor, continues to write his column “Texas Straight Talk” for the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education.