Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Assad will remain, so what about Saudi Arabia?
And now Washington has agreed that President Bashar al-Assad remains [in power] until March 2017. This is what was said in a leaked document, which was most probably leaked on purpose. When the foreign ministry sought to minimise the concern of Assad’s opponents towards the leak, it only added further concern by saying: “The timing of the departure of President Bashar al-Assad has not been specified according to the American view”. Washington forgot its past statements in which it used to affirm since 5 years ago that Assad must leave prior to any solution. The solution then will be with Assad, but as for its ending, we will have to wait and see. The name of Assad was completely absent from the document of the international solution in Vienna. As for postponing the elections for 18 months, the aim behind it is to see through the term of President Barack Obama. Is there anything clearer than this that indicates that Obama has left the Syrian file for his arch counterpart Vladimir Putin? There definitely is not a clearer indication.
In this way, with the global acknowledgment that Assad remains for a timeframe that is officially outlined and not from behind the scenes, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would have lost, even if temporarily, the main arenas of competition with Iran. Added to its losses aswell, is the killing of its military man in Syria, the leader of “Jaish al-Islam” Zahran Alloush. Huge assassinations of this type usually occur when the elites begin reaching understandings.
There are two possibilities here: either America agrees to the weakening of Saudi Arabia [from Syria to Yemen, and hence in Iraq and Lebanon] in order to put the new generation of rulers in Saudi Arabia in their place, and to produce a new throne more suitable for it [this is possible], or it has become overpowered [this is unlikely]. Yet in both cases, it will not allow Saudi Arabia to collapse.
We open two brackets here so that we recall that when leader of the “Democratic Meeting”, Walid Jumblatt, visited the White House in 2007 during the term of the “great preacher” of good and evil, George Bush junior – who killed in Iraq along with Tony Blair one million and a half Iraqis – Bush walked into a meeting between Jumblatt and the National Security advisor Steven Hadley, and his two main assistants in charge of Middle East affairs, Michael Doran, and Elliot Abrams [who has a hand in every Arab calamity]. At the time, and amidst hope by a Lebanese side for the inevitable fall of the Syrian regime, Bush said that he does not seek the overthrow of the regime, but rather “to improve its behaviour”, just as what Obama sought after him in “improving the behaviour” of Iran.
Perhaps this is what Washington wants today from Saudi Arabia, which has reached a point in which it poses as a burden, especially because of its objections to the Iranian-Western agreement and its attempts to obstruct it, and opening its markets to French military productions. The burden has increased much now, after the military, political, and economic attempts, which are particularly led by Prince Mohammad bin Salman, aimed at reviving a Sunni Arab project against “the Persian, Iranian, Shia expansion”, according to leaked descriptions.
These attempts, which are led by Prince Mohammad bin Salman, as he is the Defence Minister, puts the Western allies in an awkward situation. They believe that every further weakness to Saudi Arabia is more influence for Iran. What is required then is setting things aright, because what is needed is a dual-containment that makes Iran an acceptable and effective partner in the context of fighting terrorism and guaranteeing Western interests, and keeping Saudi Arabia as an active player.
Let us remember that America forsook its Egyptian ally Hosni Mubarak when he lost his role in ensuring its interests and securing internal stability, and it forsook its Tunisian ally due to similar reasons. Yet it never thought about letting go of Egypt or Tunisia, let alone a state with the weight of Saudi Arabia, and the role it plays according to Washington, the NATO states, and regional states.
So what does the American administration want from Saudi Arabia?
– It is well known that American decision-makers use to, and perhaps still, prefer the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Nayef over Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the deputy crown prince. The man is well known in America. He studied in the United States. He worked in combating terrorism. He established the idea of “Counselling” to convince terrorists to forsake their crazy ideas. He obtained deep Western trust, especially when he became deputy interior minister, and especially considering the long time he spent working alongside his late father Prince Nayef. He was the target of an assassination attempt by terrorists.
As for Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the deputy crown prince, he did not study in America, and he was not fit to assume an influential post due to his young age, and the first American articles and studies on him did not conduce assurances, due to his tendency to solve problems in a more vocal and adventurous way. He was the one that said that he will be the first to bring about an economic, security, and political revolution in the Kingdom. Perhaps the age of revolutions over there is not acceptable yet from the point of view of the West and the Gulf.
– If the information of the American “Washington Post” writer, David Ignatius, in his article “A political storm sweeping Saudi Arabia” is correct, then America has expressed its concern recently towards the dismissal of Saad al-Jabri, a prominent adviser to Prince Nayef. He was dismissed after the return of Salman and his son, Prince Mohammad, from Washington. According to the Americans, it may be linked to his objections to the Yemen war plan, and his concern regarding the rise of “Al-Qaeda”. In addition, Khalid Humaidan has been pushed away from the circle of Prince Nayef, and there has been a reorganisation of the Royal Court in order to confine decision-making between the king and his son.
– A while ago, the British newspaper “The Guardian” published two strongly-worded letters which were attributed to a Saudi prince, in which he calls for the overthrow of the current crown. He has been contacted by Ignatius himself and it was understood that he wants to get Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, 73, to power. That is, the return of the rule of the sons of Abdul Aziz. [Remember the story of Sudairiyeen and others].
– The Yemen war, which costs Saudi Arabia one billion dollars every month, has become a burden on both the Kingdom and the West. After each passing day criticism by human rights organizations grows over the death of innocent people. The spread of “al-Qaeda” has increased, and attempts by the Houthis to penetrate the Saudi border have also increased. In addition, pressure on the West to stop the war has grown, a war which has not prevented the Houthis, according to the Saudi spokesman, from penetrating or attempting to penetrate the border with Saudi Arabia more than 1000 times [see “Al-Safir”].
– The Obama administration has strengthened its relations with Iraq and Iran, in order to accelerate the pace of the taking control of Ramadi and other areas. This cooperation granted the Iraqi army high morale, and the defense minister began to talk of “unparalleled” battles. Nothing remained for Saudi Arabia in Iraq except for relying on the former Baathists [i.e whom they themselves contributed to their overthrow in the past], or extremists and Takfiris, to face the “Iranian expansion”. This is most likely no longer acceptable to the Americans.
– America was quick to contact Iran after the execution of Sheikh al-Nimr, and called on the two parties to ease tensions, yet a White House spokesman literally said: “America repeatedly expressed its concern regarding the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, and warned Riyadh recently of its executions”.
– Prince Mohammad bin Salman tried to allay fears. He held an interview in which he entirely ruled out war with Iran. The interview seemed to be an attempt to reassure the capitals of the West, which were unanimous in saying that the execution of al-Nimr may increase tension and deterioration. It is said that the interview was based on a US request to ease fears. This is possible but not certain. It is also said that it seemed to be an attempt to hold Prince Mohammad bin Nayef the responsibility of carrying out the execution as he is the Interior Minister.
– Now the international trend is in favour of managing the Syrian war, in parallel with some of the political breakthroughs that would no doubt be hampered dozens of times before they are settled. The thing that will stabilize it, is, at best, expanding the government to include some of the opposition, and the introduction of armed factions in the Syrian army, and parliamentary elections that lead to the entry of opposition faces. The powers of the President, and his remaining in or departing office, is no longer on the table. At least it will not be raised with slogans and statements until the departure of Obama. All things can be talked about with the arrival of the next administration.
There is no doubt, that all the fires in the region have occurred due to the desire or anger of one side, or the floundering of the West, added to the internal Arab disintegration and the stupidity that brought us to the stage of sedition. Yet after the Western-Iranian agreement, there is a serious inclination to engage the new Iran – that is to monitor it on the nuclear level, and with the positive of the presence of its Reform movement – in political solutions.
There is no doubt also, that the Saudi attempts to assume a leadership role through the mobilization of the Sunni Arabs, did not receive a large, real resonance within the main states, not even within some Gulf neighbors. It is true that Egypt is close and Turkey is getting closer, yet Saudi Arabia well knows that these compliments will not survive for long, and it also knows that other states such as Sudan, Djibouti, the Comoros Islands, and Somalia, are driven by their economic needs more than anything else. They are the same needs that made them closer to Iran and Turkey at certain times.
The Economy is a Concern Factor
Then comes the economy to add further anxiety. Prince Mohammad bin Salman himself announced the first decisive, global shift in the “Aramco” oil company. Some of its shares will be sold. This is one of the world’s largest oil companies. It is said to be the largest. It has reserves of up to 261 billion barrels. Its stocks exceed $ 323 billion, more than twice the reserves of giant American company “Exxon Mobil”. This is an indication to the change of the internal economic behavior on the one hand, and on the existence of a real economic crisis.
This caused Saudi newspapers themselves to speak about the weakening of the economy. Dr Fahd Mohammad bin Jumuah says in the “Riyadh” newspaper on the previous 7th of July: “The unemployment rate reached 11.75 % for two consecutive years, affecting 651,305 Saudis”. Global institutions, namely the International Monetary Fund, warns of a significant risk that oil prices will no longer rise. Here, too, there are real questions about the feasibility of Saudi Arabia pumping large quantities of oil in the past two years. If the matter is as Russia and Iran said, directed against them, yet it has also had a negative impact on US oil and the Saudi budget.
Now, and after the cooperation of America and Iran in the terrorism file, and involving [Iran] in finding a political solution for Syria, and their cooperation in Iraq, and the readiness to lift the sanctions off [Iran], and its abdication from seeking to acquire any nuclear weapons [according to the Energy Agency report], and after the removal of the Syrian chemical weapons [which reassures Israel, just like with regards to the Iranian nuclear program], does America feel that Iran is now more capable of securing the common interests, and striking terrorism, and perhaps later accepting a long military ceasefire at the Israel-Arab borders?
If it did in fact feel this way, will it work to reduce the Saudi explosive factor, by working to move Prince Mohammad bin Salman away from power, just like what happened before him with the distancing of Prince Bandar bin Sultan? Or will it suffice itself with usual taming tactics?
All the Israeli studies [the lecture of Avi Dikhtar, or the strategy of Israel for the 80s, which was published by the “Kivonim” magazine, which is published by the International Zionist Organisation], or American studies, speak about plans to divide Saudi Arabia. For example, this is a document published in 2006 by the US retired Colonel Ralph Peters in the US Armed Forces newspaper with the headline “Borders of Blood”, in which he says: “Saudi Arabia will suffer the biggest type of division, whereby it will be divided into two states: the holy Islamic state, like the Vatican, whereby it covers all the important religious sites for world Muslims, and a political state, and other parts of it will be cut out for other states [like Yemen and Jordan]”. The “New York Times” published a complete map outlining the process of division.
These Israeli dreams find in the Iranian-Saudi conflict the most fertile ground for it. Perhaps this flood of announcements by war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu and his gang, by expressing such love in order to get closer to the Gulf, is aimed at moving things towards a confrontation with Iran and division thereafter.
I do not believe it is in the interests of Saudi Arabia, nor America, nor even Iran, in reaching such a situation. The terrorism that strongly knocks on the doors of Saudi Arabia will be the alternative. There must then be a restructuring of the makeup of the rule in Saudi Arabia. This is what the Americans say, one voice of which was the latest article in the “Foreign Affairs” magazine, written by Richard Sokolski.
Source: As-Safir Newspaper, Translated and Edited by website teamRiver to Sea Uprooted Palestinian