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Could Saudi Arabia be next?

Could Saudi Arabia be next? thumbnail

Nobody can predict which way the ‘Arab Awakening’ will turn this year. But Robert Fisk has ventured a very tentative punt or two…

Syria

‘Yes, Assad will go. One day. He says as much. But don’t expect it to happen in the immediate future.  Or Gaddafi-style.’

Israel and the  Palestinian territories

‘Hamas and Khaled Meshaal will go on denying Israel’s right to exist – thus allowing Israel to falsely claim that it has “no one to talk to” – until the next Gaza war.’

Iran

‘Israel has no stomach for an all-out war against Iran – it would lose – and the United States, having lost two Middle East wars, has no enthusiasm for losing a third.’

Saudi Arabia

‘There are those who say that the Gulf  kingdoms will remain secure for years to come. Don’t count on it. Watch Saudi Arabia.’

Iraq

‘Its own civil war will go on grinding up the bones of  civil society while we largely ignore its agony.’

US

‘Now that Obama has entered his drone-happy second  presidency, we’re going to hear more about those wonderful  unpiloted bombers.’

Never make predictions in the Middle East. My crystal ball broke long ago. But predicting the region has an honourable pedigree. “An Arab movement, newly-risen, is looming in the distance,” a French traveller to the Gulf and Baghdad wrote in 1883, “and a race hitherto downtrodden will presently claim its due place in the destinies of Islam.” A year earlier, a British diplomat in Jeddah confided that “it is within my knowledge… that the idea of freedom does at present agitate some minds even in Mecca…”

So let’s say this for 2013: the “Arab Awakening” (the title of George Antonius’ seminal work of 1938) will continue, the demand for dignity and freedom – let us not get tramelled up here with “democracy” – will go on  ravaging the pseudo-stability of the Middle East, causing as much fear in Washington as it does in the palaces of the Arab Gulf.

On the epic scale of history, that much is certain. At the incendiary core of this discontent will be the claims of a Palestinian state that does not exist and may never exist and the actions of an Israeli state which – through its constant building of colonies for Jews and Jews only on Arab land – ensures that “Palestine” will remain only an Arab dream. If 2012 is anything to go by, the Palestinians themselves face the coming year with the knowledge that: 1) neither the Americans nor the Europeans have the guts to help them, because 2) Israel will continue to act with impunity, and 3) neither the Obamas nor the Camerons nor the Hollandes have the slightest interest in taking on the Likudist lobby, which will scream “anti-semitism” the moment the minutest criticism is made against Israel.

Add to this the fact that Mahmoud Abbas and his utterly discredited regime in Ramallah will go on making concessions to the Israelis – if you do not believe me, read Clayton Swisher’s The Palestine Papers – even when there are no more concessions to make. Hamas and Khaled Meshaal will go on denying Israel’s right to exist – thus allowing Israel to falsely claim that it has “no one to talk to” – until the next Gaza war and the subsequent cowardly request from the West which will “urge restraint on both sides”, as if the Palestinians possess Merkava tanks, F-18s and drones. A third Intifada? Maybe. An approach to the International Court to condemn Israel for war crimes in building Jewish colonies on other people’s land? Perhaps. But so what? The Palestinians won an international court case which condemned the building of Israel’s apartheid/security wall – and absolutely nothing happened. That’s the fate of the Palestinians. They’re told by the likes of Tom Friedman to abandon violence and adopt the tactics of Gandhi; then when they do, they still lose, and Friedman remains silent. It was, after all, Gandhi who said that Western civilisation “would be a good idea”.

So bad news for Palestine in 2013. Iran? Well, the Iranians understand the West much better than we understand the Iranians – a lot of them, remember, were educated in the United States. And they’ve an intriguing way of coming out on top whatever they do. George Bush (and Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara) invaded Afghanistan and rid the Shia Iranians of their Sunni enemy, whom they always called the “Black Taliban”. Then Bush-Blair invaded Iraq and got rid of the Islamic Republic’s most loathsome enemy, Saddam Hussein. Thus did Iran win both the Afghan and the Iraqi war – without firing a shot.

There’s no doubt that Iran would fire a shot or two if Israel/America – the two are interchangeable in Iran as in many other Middle East countries – were to attack its nuclear facilities. But Israel has no stomach for an all-out war against Iran – it would lose – and the US, having lost two Middle East wars, has no enthusiasm for losing a third. Sanctions – and here is Iran’s real potential nemesis – are causing far more misery than Israel’s F-18s. And why is America threatening Iran in the first place? It didn’t threaten India when it went nuclear. And when that most unstable and extremist state called Pakistan was developing nuclear weapons, no US threat was made to bomb its facilities. True, we’ve heard that more recently – in case the nukes “fell into the wrong hands”, as in gas which might “fall into the wrong hands” in Syria; or in Gaza, for that matter, where democracy “fell into the wrong hands” the moment Hamas won elections there in 2006.

Now that Obama has entered his drone-happy second presidency, we’re going to hear more about those wonderful unpiloted bombers which have been ripping up bad guys and civilians for more than four years. One day, one of these machines – though they fly in packs of seven or eight – will hit too many civilians or, even worse, will contrive to kill westerners or NGOs. Then Obama will be apologising – though without the tears he expended over Newtown, Connecticut. And here’s a thought for this year. The gun lobby in the States tells us that “it’s not guns that kill – it’s people”. But apply that to drone attacks on Pakistan or Israeli bombardments of Gaza and the rubric changes. It’s the guns/bombs/rockets that kill because the Americans don’t mean to kill civilians and the Israelis don’t wish to kill civilians. It’s just “collateral damage” again, though that’s not an excuse you can provide for Hamas rockets.

So what’s left for 2013? Assad, of course. He’s already trying to win back some rebel forces to his own ruthless side – an intelligent though dangerous tactic – and the West is getting up to its knees in rebel cruelty. Yes, Assad will go. One day. He says as much. But don’t expect it to happen in the immediate future. Or Gaddafi-style. The old mantra still applies. Egypt was not Tunisia and Yemen was not Egypt and Libya was not Yemen and Syria is not Libya.

Iraq? Its own latent civil war will go on grinding up the bones of civil society while we largely ignore its agony; there are days now when more Iraqis are killed than Syrians, though you wouldn’t know it from the nightly news.

And the Gulf? Arabia, where the first Arab awakening began? Where, indeed, the first Arab revolution – the advent of Islam – burst forth upon the world. There are those who say that the Gulf kingdoms will remain secure for years to come. Don’t count on it. Watch Saudi Arabia. Remember what that British diplomat wrote 130 years ago. “Even in Mecca…”

UK Independent



5 Comments on "Could Saudi Arabia be next?"

  1. Gale Whitaker on Tue, 1st Jan 2013 4:25 pm 

    The princes in SA are rapidly wasting the income from the oil profits. SA has no other source of income. Eventually the folks who live there will realize that the princes are stealing what belongs to them in the same way that big oil is stealing the oil that belongs to Americans. Then they will revolt and lay waste to the “royal family”. This will cause a major hiccup in the world economy.

  2. DC on Tue, 1st Jan 2013 5:53 pm 

    What a foolish article. They seem to operate under the assumption that the US is waging war in the ME in order to ‘win’….something. It wants nothing of the sort. Ceaseless instability and warfare keeps the amerikan Mil-industrial complex smileing, but more importantly, the real goal, is to create an atmosphere of constant warfare. This prevents other countries , namely Russia and China, and some others, from engaging in meaningful investments in that region.

    Arab awakening lol! The so-called ‘Arab Spring’ was just another US -engineered ‘Color Revolution’.

    The UK Ind should remove those blinkers, they are really blocking the view…

  3. Arthur on Tue, 1st Jan 2013 6:04 pm 

    SA will remain stable as long as a) they have plenty of oil to sell and b) US/Israel do not attack Iran. The latter could destabilize SA because it would polarize the Sunni/Shi’ite divide within SA.

    “Then Bush-Blair invaded Iraq and got rid of the Islamic Republic’s most loathsome enemy, Saddam Hussein. Thus did Iran win both the Afghan and the Iraqi war – without firing a shot.”

    As the ‘warnerd’ remarked, Dick Cheney must be of Iranian extraction; there is no other possibility.

    http://exiledonline.com/the-war-nerd-who-won-iraq-answer-anyone-who-stayed-out/

    But potentially the most important country in the region is not mentioned in the article: Turkey. When SA will be torn apart by a Sunni-Shia struggle and land-grab (read: oilgrab), expect Turkey to intervene, provided of course that Assad is gone and the muslim brotherhood runs Syria. Turkey’s grand strategy for decades was to become a member of the EU. Europe’s population however is fed up with mass immigration and in great majority rejects Turkey and Europe’s governments are starting to fear it’s own populations and nationalist parties (Greece! but also France, Flanders, Scandinavia, Italy, Holland, Hungary) and the EU is therefor frustrating the accession talks. Turkey knows this and is reconsidering it’s options and arrives at neo-Ottoman grand-strategy: dominating Arabia and become the Germany of the muslim world. That’s why they support regime change in Syria, not because they support the Americans but rather let the Americans (via Qatar and SA proxies) do the dirty work. They have more than enough weight and military power, only the Kurds could frustrate ambitions somewhat.

  4. Ham on Tue, 1st Jan 2013 7:57 pm 

    It is easy to be critical, but Mr Fisk lives in Lebanon and has done so for 20+ years. There is no way all the upheaval in Tunisia and Egypt was engineered, this is a conspiracy too far, it is more likely that ordinary citizens are protesting over constant dictatorship, cost of food and restrictive labor laws.

  5. Yah Speaks on Wed, 2nd Jan 2013 2:29 am 

    Thus says The Lord: Did you think My wrath would tarry forever?! Did you think My judgment sleeps?! Are My eyes closed to all these atrocities committed upon the earth, day and night, without ceasing?! Are My ears also stopped from hearing?!… Lo, I have seen and I have heard!

    My face draws near to this earth!…

    My eyes are filled with fire and fury!…

    My forehead wrinkles, and is set hard against you,
    O inhabitants of the earth!…

    For it is time!

    It is time to shake the cities of men by measure, and to bring up wrath from beneath! City by city shall be punished… One here and another there. Behold, it shall come upon them suddenly, and men shall fear, and with great perplexity shall their hearts fail!… A great trembling shall now come upon all people!…

    THE TERROR OF THE LORD IS AT HAND!…

    It shall come in swiftly, and you shall not know from where it shall come!
    It shall come upon city after city, without warning!

    For I have caused the earth to become angry. Lo, the depths of the earth tremble at My nearness, and soon this planet shall rage!… It shall rage against you, O deceitful generation! It shall devour and consume this generation!… Scouring from the earth all man has made!
    The Scriptures do not lie! And My prophets speak, yet the people refuse to hear!… They will not listen. Even My own people will not believe, yet their belief is not at all required… For My will is set, and can in no wise be turned back! The truth of My Word stands! It speaks throughout the generations and echoes throughout eternity!…

    For I AM THE LORD!… YaHuWaH!…I am EL Shaddai!…And I shall surely perform all I have spoken.

    I shall not cease, nor relent, nor shall I be turned back from My purpose!… The kingdoms of men must die! And the evil of men must be destroyed!… All must be wiped away!

    Peoples of the earth, you have hated life!

    You have polluted MY garden!

    DISEASED AND AWFUL GENERATION,
    YOU HAVE DESTROYED THE GARDEN!…

    And so I am come to cleanse! And to wipe away!…

    I am come down!…

    MY FACE IS VERY NEAR!

    Do you feel the heat of My wrath, O ignorant and vain peoples?!… You retain no knowledge at all! Only greed and wickedness, wickedness upon wickedness, passes before your eyes without ceasing… And oh how you love to have it so!
    DEAD GENERATION! Your hearts are stone!… Day after day you build up wrath, the vessels overflow! Day by day, the bodies are stacked up in heaps! Day by day, the unborn are slaughtered!… Whole generations of people murdered without cause! Multitudes of innocent cast off as refuse!… Yet you think Me too harsh, and My punishments too severe, My judgments unfair?!

    I AM THE LORD, AND THIS IS MY EARTH!
    THESE ARE MY CHILDREN!…

    All you see, from the ground beneath your feet
    To the farthest reaches of the universe, is MINE!…

    And I shall do as I please!

    I shall do according to the counsel of My own will…

    For I am God!

    Therefore, O peoples of the earth, because you have slaughtered the innocent and murdered your neighbor… Lo, you have even made for yourselves laws, that all may do their pleasure in unrighteousness and perform evil at their leisure… So then shall I also declare MY Law, and it shall fall hard upon the backs of all nations!
    Yea, I have put forth the decree, and hasten to carry out your sentences, O peoples of the earth! And what is the sentence, you ask?… Look upon the slaughtered innocent, look upon their torn and broken bodies… Behold how they are torn in pieces! See how their blood pours down and their limbs are strewn about!… LOOK!!! Look how they are scraped out of their mother’s womb!… Look upon the works of your hands, you evil and most wicked generation!… LOOK UPON YOUR WICKEDNESS!!! LOOK UPON ALL YOU HAVE DONE!

    THE TIME HAS COME!

    Hear the WORD of the LORD spoken to THIS modern generation!
    free at:
    TrumpetCallofGodonline . com

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