Don't count on a female Saudi playwright writing a 21st century remix of John Osborne's Look Back in Anger starring a bunch of non-working class Saudi royals. But anger it is - from King Abdullah downwards; not only at the UN's "double standards" but especially - hush hush - at the infidel Obama administration.
No wonder the House of Saud's unprecedented self-beheading move was praised only by the usual minion suspects; petro-monarchies of the Gulf Counter-revolution Club, aka Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as well as Egypt, who now depends on Saudi money to pay its bills and barely survive.
Kuwait shared Riyadh's pain, enough to send "a message to the world". The UAE said the UN now had the "historical responsibility" to review its role. Bahrain - invaded by the Saudis in 2001 - stressed the "clear and courageous stand". Cairo said the whole thing was "brave".
How brave, indeed, to lobby Arab and Pacific nations for two years, and to spend a fortune training a dozen diplomats in New York for months just to say "no" when you get the prize. The House of Saud would have replaced Pakistan with a Pacific seat; Morocco stays until 2015, in an African seat. As early as five months ago the Saudi seat was considered a done deal at the UN.
NSA-worthy torrents of bits have flowed speculating over the Saudi's alleged "reformist agenda" or "principled position" on R2P (the Responsibility to Protect doctrine), Palestine and turning the Middle East into a weapons-free zone.
To his credit, King Abdullah had advanced a plan for Palestine since 2002 based on a two-state solution and a return to the pre-1967 borders.
But there has been no follow-up pressure on Israel; on the contrary, Riyadh is allied with Tel Aviv on setting Syria on fire. That implies no effort to include nuclear power Israel in a weapons-free Middle East. As for the Saudi version of R2P, it only applies to a sectarian "protection" of Sunnis in Syria.
Apart from a few Middle Eastern spots, no one is seriously losing sleep over the adolescent Saudi move - which displays a curious notion of leverage, as in choosing a PR spin reinventing the corrupt petro-monarchy as the "principled" champions of a cause (UN reform) just as they might have a crack at trying to influence it from within.
That would have implied more scrutiny. For instance, this Monday the Human Rights Council, another UN institution, duly blasted Saudi Arabia on its sterling record of discrimination against women and sectarianism, following reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. As a member of the UN Security Council, the discrepancy between the medievalist reality inside Saudi Arabia and its lofty "reformist" agenda would be even more glaring.
I want my kafir fluid A bottle of that precious kafir fluid, Chateau Petrus - much prized by itinerant Saudi princes in London - may be bet that the "dump the UN" decision came straight from the leading camel's mouth. And now that the House of Saud has decided to keep displaying its "influence" from the outside, nothing makes more sense than the resurfacing of Bandar Bush - who this summer was christened by King Abdullah as the man in charge of the Syrian jihad.
The perennial Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal had lunch with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Prince's very private luxury digs in Paris this Monday. The mystery is which kafir fluid was consumed; no doubts though in the official, harmless spin; they agreed on a nuclear-free Iran, an end to the war in Syria and a "stable" Egypt. Before the Paris bash, during the weekend, Bandar Bush was already in his trademark full gear, openly announcing to European diplomats in Riyadh that he will buy his Syria-bound weapons somewhere else, will dissociate his scheme from the CIA, and will train "his" rebels with other players, mostly France and Jordan.
The Wall Street Journal has the story, which predictably has not surfaced in Arab media (90% of it controlled by different branches of the House of Saud).
Even more interesting is two other pieces of information leaked by diplomats. The House of Saud wanted the US to provide them with targets to be hit inside Syria when Obama's kinetic whatever would start. Washington adamantly refused.
Better yet; Washington allegedly told Riyadh the US would not be able to defend the Shi'ite majority, oil-rich Eastern Province if the Tomahawks started flying over Syria. Imagine the horror show in Riyadh; after all, mob protection against petrodollars recycled/invested in the US economy is the basis of this dysfunctional marriage for nearly seven decades.
So that should lead us to the now much hyped "independent Saudi foreign policy posture" to be implemented in relation to Washington. Don't hold your breath.
As much as the House of Saud is completely paranoid regarding the Obama administration's latest moves, throwing a fit will not change the way the geopolitical winds are blowing. Iran's geopolitical ascent is inevitable. A Syrian solution is on the horizon. No one wants batshit crazy jihadis roaming free from Syria to Iraq to the wider Middle East.
The Saudi spin about creating "a new security arrangement for the Arab world" is a joke - as depicted by Saudi-financed shills such as this.
The bottom line is that an angry, fearful House of Saud does not have what it takes to confront benign protector Washington. Throwing a fit - as in crying to attract attention - is for geopolitical babies. Without the US - or "the West" - who's gonna run the Saudi energy industry? PhD-deprived camels? And who's gonna sell (and maintain) those savory weapons? Who's going to defend them for smashing the true spirit of the Arab Spring, across the GCC and beyond?
Perennial Foreign Minister Prince Saud is gravely ill. He will be replaced by a recently appointed deputy prime minister.
Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the king's son. Instead of a "principled" stance against "double standards", the House of Saud move at the UN feels more like nepotism.
I always wonder which conspiracy theories are allowed and which are publicly condemned. And which are ignored.
The grandest conspiracy theory, and the one most beaten back by Officialdom, is the JFK assassination. Even fifty years later most Americans believe there was some kind of conspiracy to kill Kennedy. But the official guardians of reality in the media continue to berate any rational discussion on it. The fact is, and has been known for decades, that someone was impersonating Oswald in Mexico City six weeks before the assassination, trying to connect Oswald to both the Soviet embassy and the Cuban consulate. There's pictures of the guy, who is definitely not the Oswald arrested for JFK's murder. Common sense says that someone impersonating a nobody (and trying to implicate him as part of a conspiracy with foreign enemies) who becomes a somebody six weeks later by allegedly assassinating the President indicates a conspiracy.
There have been plenty of 9/11 conspiracy theories, and anyone who doubts the official story has been branded mentally ill and/or somehow unpatriotic. But as noted here, there is plenty to question about the backgrounds of the hijackers and no discussion erupts in the mainstream media.
The most embraced conspiracy theory in the past fifty years has been Watergate, and by conspiracy I mean the accepted story, that Nixon conspired to spy on the Democrats and then tried to cover things up. It's worth noting that almost every player in the Watergate scandal was connected with our intelligence services, from the burglars (some of whom were wandering around in Dealey Plaza a decade earlier), to those who gave testimony, and even to the official historian of the event, Bob Woodward, who had top secret clearance working at the Pentagon only a few years prior to Watergate.
I bring this up because Seymour Hersh, famed for many investigative reporting coups, has just announced that the whole story surrounding the death of bin Laden was fake. Hersh said this in an interview with Britain's Guardian, which has been the home of Glenn Greenwald and the continuing Snowden saga.
Hersh's first coup was his investigation of My Lai, where he exposed Lieutenant Calley and the slaughter in a Vietnamese hamlet. But how complete was his expose? Most people came away from that story wringing their hands about man's inhumanity to man, or demonizing the individual Americans, like Calley, who were involved in the incident. But a fuller understanding of that incident can be found in Douglas Valentine's The Phoenix Program, which details this in the context of the secret war waged by the CIA in Vietnam. So years later the question should be did Seymour Hersh make full revelations of My Lai, or was he performing what has become known in intelligence circles as a "modified limited hangout", revealing as much as necessary while helping to cover up the bigger story, that the CIA was destroying hundreds of villages this very way during the Vietnam War? If the latter, then Hersh has been less an investigative reporter than a coverup artist for the CIA.
Hersh wrote a particularly bad book on JFK called The Dark Side of Camelot, filled with lots of hearsay and innuendo smearing JFK while ignoring facts pointing to the CIA's murder of Kennedy. This is not an uncommon occurance. Many reporters and writers who seem to be doing the CIA's handiwork have come out periodically with books about "the dark side" of John Kennedy while avoiding any blame for the CIA's role in his murder and coverup. (There are two fine essays, "The Media and the Assassination" and "The Posthumous Assassination of John F. Kennedy", about CIA assets obscuring government involvement in the JFK assassination and the periodical attacks on Kennedy. Both can be found in the book The Assassinations.)
Even if one concludes that Hersh has been a CIA asset over the years while acting to the world as an investigative reporter, why would he say that the whole Osama story was a fake? As is the case in these spy vs. spy media eruptions in the press, it always helps to ask the age-old question: "Cui bono?"
So who benefits from Hersh's story? (Note that I don't even address whether or not it's true. In the greater scheme of things it's unimportant if Osama died during that raid or died five years earlier. Osama's career as a boogeyman justifying American military involvement in Afghanistan were over.) I don't know, but I think that looking at the location of the story, in The Guardian, can provide clues. It's the same source as Greenwald and Snowden.
At the height of the Cold War the world, when it was Us versus Them, the scorecard was easier to decipher. But sabotaging US interests when they diverge from CIA interests get more complicated. One example was the CIA flying a U-2 over the Soviet Union, against Presidential orders, which sabotaged peace talks between the Soviet Union and the US at the end of the Eisenhower years. Another obvious example is the murder of JFK. On reflection it's pretty clear that elements within the CIA wanted to and did sabotage Nixon. After President Carter had his CIA Director put a number of loose cannons out to pasture there was full-fledged mutiny run against the President which has become known as The October Surprise, which begat Iran-contra. It's not surprising that over the next twelve years that former CIA Director George H. W. Bush was either President or Vice President.
So who benefits? I can definitely say who doesn't benefit. Obama. And Obama seems to have been the target of the Greenwald/Snowden revelations, never mind that our government intelligence apparatus has been spying on American citizens over the last sixty years (at least). The Echelon program, for example, has been in place since the nineties. The intrusive spy programs were put in place during the post-9/11 days under George W. Bush. Nevertheless, the tone and direction of Snowden's revelations points very much to President Obama. Likewise, if Obama oversaw the raid on Osama's compound, and it were all a lie, then Obama again gets the blame.
But notice that both things laid at Obama's feet were under the control of our intelligence services. To understand the dynamics of Washington DC one must understand that the CIA has had its own agenda, and has been very much in control of events, especially international events, since the U-2 incident. When a President is consonant with CIA goals it's smooth sailing. When a President isn't in sync with our intelligence interests, things get interesting.
Sibel Edmunds has some interesting findings on the evidence that the US says proves that Syria used sarin against its own population. You can follow her links and look at the videos yourself.
Key findings are:
(1) Most the footage is of children.
(2) There is almost a total absence of adult corpses next to the bodies of the children.
(3) There is almost a total absence of parents, especially mothers, coming to claim the bodies of the dead children.
(4) There is virtually an absence of the sound of ambulances in the background of the videos.
(5) The testimonies being used against the Syrian government include those of individuals claiming to have smelled the chemical that was used whereas sarin is an odorless gas.
(6) The testimonies that most the victims were found in their homes are at odds with the claims by the same people that most the victims could not be identified.
(7) The same footage is used for videos with different scenarios.
(8) There is different footage that proves that the bodies were being arranged and moved around for display and specifically for filming; for example we see the body of a little boy in a red shirt that was filmed in Zamalka and then in filmed again among different bodies in Jobar and the inanimate bodies of at least nine of the children that filmed in Kafarbatna also oddly appear at makeshift morgue in Al-Majr a few hours later.
(9) The same couple appears as parents looking for their children in two different videos and each time they claim a different child as theirs among the corpses.
(10) The same groups that have been involved with posting and disseminating the videos that the US Intelligence Community has selected have also tried to pass pictures of Egyptian civilians killed in Cairo’s Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square as Syrian victims.
(11) Children that are still breathing in Zamalka are just filmed and left alone without medical treatment.
(12) In one video, where it is stated that all the bodies are those of the dead, it can be seen that some of the corpses are being injected by syringes with an unknown liquid.
(13) There is no knowledge or evidence that public funerals took place for the large number of victims that surpasses 1,460 people.
(14) In breach of all cultural norms and last rites, no public announcements about the dead or their funerals were made.
(15) There is no more than 500 people in all the videos, even when all the bodies that appear in different videos are added to the count.
(16) In two videos of the same location with a difference of about one hour and forty minutes the entire medical teams changes in the middle of an emergency.
(17) The identities of the dead have largely been left unknown, especially by the anti-government groups archiving and disseminating their pictures.
(18) In the footage of one burial only eight people are buried and three of them are not even covered in the “compulsory” ritual shrouds.
As a result these questions emerge:
(1) Why such a high rate of dead children?
(2) Why are the bodies of children being displayed with a virtual absence of adult corpses?
(3) When adult corpses are seen, why are the unusually segregated?
(4) Where were the parents?
(5) If the parents died with their children, why are the bodies of adults virtually absence, especially with the bodies of the children?
(6) If the parents were not killed, then where are they? Why are they not looking for their children?
(7) According to the cultural norms and gender scripts of Syrian society, children are almost always found with their mothers. So why is there a relative absence of women and specifically mothers in the US Intelligence Community’s nominated videos?
(8) How was it possible that all these children died alone?
(9) There was virtually no outdoor movement in East Ghouda after the attack. How were all the bodies transported to the burial sites without anyone noticing?
(10) What was being injected into the dead bodies? Do you need to give medication to corpses at a makeshift morgue?
Russian Premier Vladimir Putin offered an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday. About Syria.
RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.
Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.
The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.
The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.
Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy inSyria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world.
Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all.
From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.
No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.
It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”
But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.
No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.
The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen nonproliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.
We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.
A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction. Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action.
I welcome the president’s interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria. We must work together to keep this hope alive, as we agreed to at the Group of 8 meeting in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June, and steer the discussion back toward negotiations.
If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
“The Americans had three solutions for the Taliban problem. First, the Alpha solution, was to beat them into submission and retard their capacity to fight permanently. This failed. The Bravo solution was to fight them hard through a troop surge and force them to accept Afghanistan’s new realities like the present-day Afghan constitution and the leadership of President Karzai. That too did not work. The third, the Charlie solution, was more of a compulsion. Accept Taliban as a legitimate power in Afghanistan, talk to them, accommodate their main demands even it meant abandoning assets like Karzai. I think you are looking at the Charlie solution being played out.”
As I listened to the inane discussion, I wanted to shout: “It’s the policy, stupid!” The tightest security measures reinforced by squads of Marines cannot compensate for the fallout from a stupid policy of bombing and violent “regime change” in Libya and elsewhere in the Muslim world.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, one of Issa’s top lieutenants, stated his “personal belief” that “with more assets, more resources, just meeting the minimum standards,” the lives of the Americans could have been saved. Unfortunately for Chaffetz and Issa, their star witness, State Department Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom, shot a wide hole, so to speak, into Chaffetz’s professed personal belief.
While joining with others in bemoaning State’s repeated refusal to honor pleas from the field for additional security in Libya, Nordstrom admitted that, even with additional security forces, the attack would not have been prevented. Nordstrom, a 14-year veteran of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, was quite specific:
“Having an extra foot of wall, or an extra half-dozen guards or agents would not have enabled us to respond to that kind of assault,” Nordstrom said. “The ferocity and intensity of the attack was nothing that we had seen in Libya, or that I had seen in my time in the Diplomatic Security Service.”
For any but the most partisan listener this key observation punctured the festive, Issa/Chaffetz carnival balloon that had assigned most of the blame for the Benghazi murders to bureaucratic indifference of State Department functionaries in Washington.
Also falling rather flat were partisan attempts to exploit understandable inconsistencies in earlier depictions of the Benghazi attack and twist them into a soft pretzel showing that the Obama administration is soft on terrorism or conducting a “cover-up.”
There is also the reality that diplomatic service in hostile parts of the world is never safe, especially after U.S. policy has stirred up or infuriated many of “the locals.” For decades, as populations have chafed under what they regard as U.S. military and political interference, U.S. embassies and other outposts have become targets for attacks, some far more lethal than the one in Benghazi.
To recall just a few such incidents: Iranian resentment at longtime U.S. support for the Shah led to the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran under President Jimmy Carter; anger at U.S. involvement in Lebanon led to bombings of the U.S. Embassy and a U.S. Marine barracks killing more than 300 under President Ronald Reagan; U.S. embassies in Africa were bombed under President Bill Clinton; and the violence was brought to the U.S. mainland on 9/11 and also against numerous U.S. facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq under George W. Bush.