Megatrend: Middle East war drums are beating
They lied us into war before; now they’re doing it again
While the media keep the public focused on escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea, our focus is on the Middle East.
And our eye is on 32-year-old Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, installed as the nation’s de facto leader.
In early November, the crown prince staged a palace purge, arresting and seizing the assets of princes, ministers, office holders, businessmen and prominent public figures.
Most major media parroted the official Saudi line: The purge was to moderate Islam and fight corruption. Missing from the reporting was that many arrested opposed the prince’s aggressive domestic and foreign policies. Also unreported was that the moves were a political power play to secure his leadership and eliminate potential opposition.
While it appears the prince has full control, a revolt is rumbling beneath the surface.
All is not quiet on the Middle Eastern front. We do not anticipate compromise and power-sharing. There will be violent resistance from other entrenched special interests, business forces and political rivals who fear being victims of the ruling-family oligarchy.
In fact, while this major event with global implications has been significantly minimized in the news cycle, the dust has not settled at all. The House of Saud is a House of Cards. This is the beginning of a Saudi civil war, a megatrend for 2018. And the war will spread throughout the Middle East.
Shortly following the palace purge, Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for a missile it intercepted near its capital, Riyadh. It was launched by Houthi rebels Saudi Arabia is fighting in Yemen.
In March 2015, it was the prince who launched the war against Yemen. He claimed Iran was supporting Houthi rebels, who had overthrown the leader the Saudis and US supported.
What is being reported in the media is that the Houthis are Shiite rebels supported by Iran. Iran denies that, and no hard evidence has been provided to substantiate the Saudi claim.
The presstitutes never report who the Houthis are. And Saudi Arabia is rarely denounced for attacking and killing thousands of innocent people, creating a humanitarian crisis and turning into rubble the poorest nation in the Middle East — a nation that had neither posed a threat or took any aggressive action against the Saudi kingdom.
In fact, the Houthis were ruling large sections of Yemen for over 1,000 years. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in its current form, was founded 23 September 1932.
Kingdom? Did a princess kiss a frog and the frog become a king?
How about an oppressive, backward, authoritarian dictatorship that prohibits political parties, national elections and where women have virtually no rights?
MORE THAN A WAR OF WORDS
Following the missile launch from Yemen into Saudi Arabia, the Saudi government called the strike “a terrorist act… we see this as an act of war. Iran cannot lob missiles at the kingdom and get away with it.”
In response, Iran Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said the kingdom was blaming Iran for the consequences of its “own wars of aggression,” rejecting the claim that it supplied and fired the missiles as “destructive and provocative.”
Tracking trends is an understanding of where we are and how we got here to see where we’re going. To see where the current state of the kingdom’s anti-Iranian movement resides, look back to the crown prince’s warning this past May: “We won’t wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia. Instead, we will work so that the battle is for them in Iran, not in Saudi Arabia.”
Concurrent with the more recent palace purge, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri unexpectedly resigned during a trip to Saudi Arabia. He said his life was in danger and accused Iran of causing “devastation and chaos” in the region, but ignored the kingdom’s destabilizing role throughout the Middle East.
The Saudis have long been accused, along with the United States, of funding and supporting Al Qaeda and other Islamic fundamentalist groups that overthrew Moammar Gadhafi in Libya and then launched the failed attempt to replace president Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
In response to Hariri’s resignation, Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah in Lebanon, said, “It is clear that the resignation was a Saudi decision that was imposed on Prime Minister Hariri.”
WAR DRUMS BEATING
Joining the Saudi war chorus a week after the palace purge and the missile strike, and without providing evidence, Bahrain blamed an explosion of its main oil pipeline on a terrorist attack by Iran.
“Terrorist acts witnessed by the country in the recent period are carried out through direct contacts and instructions from Iran,” said Bahrain’s interior minister, Lt. Gen. Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa.
Absent from media coverage is the longstanding Sunni-Shiite conflict engulfing Bahrain. Since the Arab Spring protest in 2011, the Sunni Muslim-ruled Bahrain minority has clamped down heavily on the majority Shiite population, for which it also blames Iran for the unrest.
WAR HAWKS DRAW BATTLE LINES
During the heat of the Mideast war rhetoric, President Donald Trump threw his unequivocal support behind the kingdom’s actions. “I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” he said. “They know exactly what they are doing.”
Long a critic of Iran, Trump has labeled it “a terrorist nation like few others” as he steadfastly supports the Saudi regime and its invasion of Yemen.
It should be noted that the United States provides Saudi Arabia intelligence support, air-refueling for bombing runs and weapon sales. Since the Saudi ambassador announced war against Yemen from Washington, D.C., in March 2015, those sales top a reported $400 billion. In late November, the Saudis purchased an additional $7 in munitions from the US.
Taking the conflict in a new direction, Israel officials have reported that Prince Salman made a secret trip to Israel to meet with senior officials prior to the palace purge.
And, on cue, Israel cheered the prince’s tough line on Iran. Israeli media reported that the government instructed its ambassadors around the world to launch a propaganda campaign against Iran and Lebanon:
“At the request of the director-general, you are asked to urgently contact foreign ministries and additional relevant entities at the government level and to stress that Hariri’s resignation and his comments on the reasons that led him to resign illustrate yet again the destructive character of Iran and Hezbollah and their danger to Lebanon’s stability and the countries in the region.”
Weeks later, Israel admitted it was working with Saudi Arabia on military matters, and that both countries agreed Iran was the “largest threat to the region.”
And the Saudis have teamed up with Israel in their fight against Hezbollah in Lebanon, which Iran supports and the US considers a terrorist organization.
Hezbollah was formed in the early 1980s following the invasion of Lebanon by Israel, which has invaded Lebanon five times. In its last attempt in 2006, Israel’s defeat by Hezbollah was proclaimed in the major media, including the Washington Post, a “failure.”
Now that Israel has teamed up with Saudi Arabia and other Arab League allies, and with Bahrain and the Saudis ordering their citizens to leave Lebanon immediately, concerns grow that war is imminent.
At the end of November, even after Hariri unexpectedly returned to Lebanon and suspended his resignation, tensions nonetheless continued to escalate.
Lebanese Armed Forces Commander Joseph Aoun put the military on “full readiness” when the “Israeli enemy” was observed conducting maneuvers on its southern border.
“Israeli targeting still continues and it is the right of the Lebanese to resist it and foil its plans by all available means,” Aoun warned. TJ