An Idealistic Alternative to the Saudi Arms Deal

An Idealistic Alternative to the Saudi Arms Deal

By Walid Phares

The US Government is considering a new gigantic arms sale to the Saudi Kingdom, up to 20 billion dollars’ worth of complex weaponry. The proposed package includes advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters, and new naval vessels, as part of a US strategy to contain the rising military expansion of Iran in the region. The titanic arms deal is a major Saudi investment to shield itself from the Khomeinist menace looming at the horizon:  an Iranian nuclear bomb, future Pasdaran control in Iraq, and a Hezb’allah offensive in Lebanon.

The real Iranian threat against the Saudis materializes as follows:

1. Were the US led coalition to leave Iraq abruptly, Iranian forces — via the help of their militias in Iraq — will be at the borders with the Kingdom. Throughout the Gulf, Iran’s Mullahs will be eyeing the Hijaz on the one hand and the oil rich provinces on the other hand.

2. Hezb’allah threatens the Lebanese Government, which is friendly to the Saudis. Hezb’allah, already training for subversion in Iraq, will become the main trainer of Shia radicals in the Eastern province of the Kingdom. 

3. Finally Syria and Iran can send all sorts of Jihadis, including Sunnis, across Iraq’s borders, almost in a pincer movement.

In the face of such a hydra-headed advance, the Wahhabi monarchy is hurrying to arm itself with all the military technology it can get from Uncle Sam. Riyadh believes that with improved F 16s, fast boats, electronics and smarter bombs, it can withstand the forthcoming onslaught. 

I believe the Saudi regime won’t. For, as the Iraq-Iran war has proved, the ideologically-rooted brutality of the Iranian regime knows no boundaries. If the US withdraws from the region without a strong pro-Western Iraq in the neighborhood, and absent of a war of ideas making progress against fundamentalism as a whole, the Saudis won’t stand a chance for survival. For the Iranians will apply their pressure directly, and will unleash more radical forces among the neo-Wahhabis against the Kingdom. The Shiite Mullahs will adroitly manipulate radical Sunnis, as they have demonstrated their ability to do in Iraq and Lebanon.

So what should the US advise the Saudis to do instead of spending hugely on arms?

First, if no serious political change is performed in Arabia, the 20 billion dollars’ worth of weapons would most likely end up in the hands of some kind of an al Qaeda, ruling over not only over Riyadh, but also Mecca and Medina. That package of wealth, religious prestige and modern arms, at this point of spasms in the region, is simply too risky strategically.

But there are better ways to spend these gigantic sums in the global confrontation with Iranian threat and in defense of stability. It needs a newer vision for the region.  Here are alternative plans to use the 20 billion dollars wisely but efficiently; but let’s not count on the far reaching mainstream of Western analysis at this point: 

Dedicate some significant funds to support the Iranian opposition, both inside the country and overseas. Establish powerful broadcasts in Farsi, Kurdish, Arabic, Azeri and in other ethnic languages directed at the Iranian population. That alone will open a Pandora’s box inside Iran. Realists may find it hard to believe, but supporting the Iranian opposition (which is still to be identified) will pay off much better than AWACS flying over deserts.

Slate substantial sums to be spent in southern Iraq to support the anti-Khomeinist Shiia, the real shield against the forthcoming Pasdaran offensive. Such monies distributed wisely on civil society activists and on open anti-Khomeinist groups, would build a much stronger defense against Ahmedinijad’s ambitions.

Lavish funding should be granted to the Syrian liberal opposition to pressure the Assad regime into backing off from supporting Terrorism. Without a Mukhabarat regime in Damascus, the bridge between Tehran and Hezb’allah would crumble. Hence, the Syrian opposition is much worth being backed in its own home than for Saudi Arabia to fight future networks in its own home.  

Allocate ample funding to the units of the Iraqi army that show the most efficiency in cracking down on terrorists, and which prove to be lawful and loyal to a strong central Government, pledging to defend its borders, particularly with regard to Iran.  That would include the moderate Sunnis in the center and the Kurdish and other minority forces in the North. A strong multiethnic Iraq, projecting a balance of power with Iran’s regime, is the best option for the Peninsula.

Grant abundant aid to the Lebanese Government, the Cedars Revolution NGOs and the Lebanese Army to enable them to contain Hezb’allah on Lebanese soil. Earmark some of these grants to the Shia opposition to Nasrallah inside his own areas. When Hezb’allah is isolated by Lebanon’s population, Arab moderates around the region can sleep much better at night. 

Spend real money on de-radicalization programs inside the Kingdom and across the region. With dollars spent on moderate Imams and not on the readicals, Riyadh can shake off the radical Salafi clerics, and have an impact the Jihadists’ followers. By doing so, it will prevent Jihadism from becoming (as it has already) the only other option on the inside, if the Iranian axis will put pressure on the country.

Forward meaningful sums to support the current Somali Government against the Islamic Courts and help the moderates in Eritrea and Sudan.  The best defense against radicalism coming from the horn of Africa is to support the moderates in East of the continent.

Invite the US military to abandon Qatar as a regional base and to relocate to the Eastern provinces of the Kingdom, with as many billions of dollars as required to help in reinstallation and deployment facing Iran’s threat. A military attack by the Iranian regime on Saudi Arabia would then become a direct attack on the United States.    

With the remaining billions, the Saudi Government would renew, remodel, and retrain its forces so that along with its allies, the US, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Gulf states, they would deter an Iranian regime, which will be defeated by its own people.   

That of course, presumes radical reforms take place, quickly, in the Peninsula. But isn’t such a hope just a desert mirage?

Indeed, the points I suggested in this article, although logical in terms of counter-radicalism strategy, have very little chance of being adopted or even considered in Riyadh. The Kingdom, sadly, wants to confront the Islamic Republic only with classical military deterrence, not with a war of ideas. Which perhaps is why the region’s “friendly” regimes  have preferred not to endorse “spreading democracy” as a mean to contain Terrorism. The reason is simple: Democratic culture will also open spaces in their own countries, a matter they haven’t accepted yet.  

Dr Walid Phares is senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the author of War of Ideas.

It’s time the Middle East grew up

U.S. Officials Voice Frustrations With Saudis’ Role in Iraq

U.S. Officials Voice Frustrations With Saudis’ Role in Iraq

About time. By Helene Cooper for the New York Times (thanks to Doc Washburn):

WASHINGTON, July 26 — During a high-level meeting in Riyadh in January, Saudi officials confronted a top American envoy with documents that seemed to suggest that Iraq’s prime minister could not be trusted.One purported to be an early alert from the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, to the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr warning him to lie low during the coming American troop increase, which was aimed in part at Mr. Sadr’s militia. Another document purported to offer proof that Mr. Maliki was an agent of Iran.

The American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, immediately protested to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, contending that the documents were forged. But, said administration officials who provided an account of the exchange, the Saudis remained skeptical, adding to the deep rift between America’s most powerful Sunni Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, and its Shiite-run neighbor, Iraq.

Now, Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia’s counterproductive role in the Iraq war. They say that beyond regarding Mr. Maliki as an Iranian agent, the Saudis have offered financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq. Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow.

One senior administration official says he has seen evidence that Saudi Arabia is providing financial support to opponents of Mr. Maliki. He declined to say whether that support was going to Sunni insurgents because, he said, “That would get into disagreements over who is an insurgent and who is not.”

Indeed it would.

Saudis in the Classroom

Saudis in the Classroom

Here’s a little something to get you to reach for you blood pressure meds this morning.

The Saudis have stealthily introduced their ideas of Middle Eastern history and events into American K-12 classrooms. Just how have they managed such a feat?

The United States government gives money — and a federal seal of approval — to a university Middle East Studies center. That center offers a government-approved K-12 Middle East studies curriculum to America’s teachers. But in fact, that curriculum has been bought and paid for by the Saudis, who may even have trained the personnel who operate the university’s outreach program. Meanwhile, the American government is asleep at the wheel — paying scant attention to how its federally mandated public outreach programs actually work. So without ever realizing it, America’s taxpayers end up subsidizing — and providing official federal approval for — K-12 educational materials on the Middle East that have been created under Saudi auspices. Game, set, match: Saudis.

But couldn’t all this just be an innocent attempt at promoting goodwill toward Muslims? Try again:

Harvard’s outreach training prompted K-12 teachers to design celebratory treatments of the life and teachings of Mohammad and the “revelation” and spread of Islam, with exercises calling on students to “appoint imams,” memorize Islamic principles, and act out prayer at a Mosque. According to Stotsky, if Harvard’s outreach personnel had designed similar classroom exercises based on Christian or Jewish models, “People for the American Way, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the A.C.L.U. would descend upon them like furies.”

Instead of training teachers in the history and contemporary challenges of the Muslim world, Stotsky concluded that Harvard’s outreach program was “manipulating” apolitical teachers with a “barely disguised” attempt to “shape…attitudes on specific political issues.” The lesson plans designed by K-12 teachers who participated in these Harvard-run seminars included exercises in which students were asked to watch newscasts and spot out instances in which Muslims were stereotyped as violent or barbaric. Lesson plans proposed discussion questions like, “Why have so many groups wanted to control the Middle East?” and “How might the history of repeated invasions influence the history of people in this area?”

If this information wasn’t verified by the Massachusetts Department of Education, you could dismiss the idea as simply the rantings of some conspiracy nut. Who could ever believe that a foreign country would be able to influence the curricula of American schools in such a way? And do it without any oversight by the federal government?

Maybe the feds could start a program “No Slanted View Of Middle Eastern History Left Behind.”

The Persian Abyss: America & The House of Saud: A Failed Alliance

The Persian Abyss: America & The House of Saud: A Failed Alliance

by Reza Zarabi

It has become apparent that the billions of US dollars annually spent on Saudi oil seldom reciprocate loyalty anymore.

The recent military figures made available to The Los Angeles Times by senior American officials state that roughly 45% of all foreign combatants in the Iraq war theatre come solely from Saudi Arabia. However, this should, in no way, be a revelation.

For years, many in the West have overtly expressed their outrage at Wahabbist odium towards religious plurality, the backwards indoctrination of Saudi school children through their public educational system, the apocalyptic conspiracy theories that are rife in Saudi state-run media, and the profound antipathy that the majority in their religious establishment have towards western values.

In 2002, with the images of 9/11 still fresh in the American mindset and approximately nine months before the start of the Iraq war, scholar Victor Davis Hanson wrote a most detailed analysis about America’s self-defeating “alliance” with the House of Saud.
In Our enemies the Saudis, Hanson examines the conundrum of why a western, liberalized society that bases its entire identity on pluralism can have any diplomatic relations, let alone a strong alliance, with the reactionary neo-Caliphate oligarchy of Saudi Arabia. The “anomaly raises the key question: why have close relations with the Saudis been a cornerstone of American foreign policy for decades?” Considering the complexities and sheer irrationality of Middle Eastern politics, one can imagine that this aspect of American foreign policy must certainly possess some esoteric meaning.

Yet, “the answer” could not be more salient. To Hanson, it is simply “oil, and nothing more” that the keeps the American government reluctantly married to the Saudi royal family. The US clearly lacks what they have and, as a result, practicality trumps the American motto of liberty and justice for all.

Hanson’s analysis was 5 years ago and the brunt of his argument still rings true. Yet, the dynamics in this troubled region have since shifted dramatically. In removing Sadaam, what the US has ultimately done is uncover the unintended consequences and the nonsensicality of its long-held diplomatic ties to certain nefarious parties of the Middle East. The Saudi alliance is only one of several.

Think about it.

When on any given Monday, a sharply dressed official from the US State Department conducts a one hour harangue on the evils of Iran for supplying Shia militias in Southern Iraq with roadside bombs and then, that same official, only a few hours later, attends a “working lunch” with his Saudi counterpart, the utter stupidity of American foreign policy manifests itself to the world.

How can the American government expect to be taken seriously when it applies different standards to two parties, who in essence, commit the same offence? Why is Shia radicalism viewed as somehow more pernicious than Wahabbi fundamentalism when both parties engage in similar activities? In fact, Hanson himself clearly points out that “Saudi terrorists have killed more Americans than all those murdered by Iranians, Syrians, Libyans, and Iraqis put together.”

It is time for the American government to stop splitting hairs and reconcile itself with the byproducts of decades of misdirected foreign policy.

What President Bush must understand is that the same Saudi delegate who is yearly invited to his Crawford ranch, who sits down to dinner with him as they exchange pleasantries, is just as evil and inimical to American interests as any mystic Ayatollah on the streets of Qom.

For years, successive American administrations have courted Saudi allegiance in return for American interests to be played out in the broader Middle East. Yet, they have turned a blind eye to the Saudi government’s rampant human rights abuses, support for terrorism, and mass indoctrination of Stalinist ideology upon their public.

It is now a sober reality that the American alliance with Saudi Arabia is of no further use. It is disingenuous of the Bush administration to proclaim that they “will go after the terrorists” all the while attempting to “win hearts and minds” when they are clearly married to ‘the makers of terrorists’, those who vitiate young hearts and minds. If blind American allegiance towards the House of Saud stems only from energy concerns, then certain shifts in trade with Russia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Mexico, and dare I say, Iran, can easily alleviate those concerns.

Yes…Iran, and why not? If the American government can do business with a nation like Saudi Arabia, which has a citizenry that is intoxicated with hate towards the West, teaches its children that Jews are monkeys, and actively supports “charities” that send money to the families of suicide bombers, then surely the US can do business with any other rogue regime. Follow the numbers: 80% of those who murdered 3,000 people on 9/11 were Saudis; and now 45% of foreign combatants in Iraq are Saudis.

American credibility is marred, not because of its stance towards Iran, its alliance with Israel, or Saudi subterfuge. The damage to US credibility comes from the schism between American rhetoric and action – because of its inconsistency.

For years, America ignored calls to back away from the serpent that is Saudi Arabia. Therefore, now, it cannot complain if, every so often, it is bitten by it.

Posted by Ted Belman @ 3:25 pm |

Time to find out what’s going on down at your local mosque – Read this whole article !!

Saudi jihadists now make up half the foreign fighters in Iraq

Saudi jihadists now make up half the foreign fighters in Iraq

Saudi double game update. “Saudis’ role in Iraq insurgency outlined,” by Ned Parker for the Los Angeles Times (thanks to Hot Air):

BAGHDAD — Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers.About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.

Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject’s sensitivity. It is apparently the first time a U.S. official has given such a breakdown on the role played by Saudi nationals in Iraq’s Sunni Arab insurgency.

He said 50% of all Saudi fighters in Iraq come here as suicide bombers. In the last six months, such bombings have killed or injured 4,000 Iraqis….

Askari also alleged that imams at Saudi mosques call for jihad, or holy war, against Iraq’s Shiites and that the government had funded groups causing unrest in Iraq’s largely Shiite south. Sunni extremists regard Shiites as unbelievers.

House bans aid to Saudi Arabia

Bush’s Favorite Muslim Fanatic

Bush’s Favorite Muslim Fanatic
By Robert Spencer | June 19, 2007

When is a moderate Muslim not a moderate Muslim? How about if he is an employee of a Saudi Wahhabi organization that has been identified by the Senate Finance Committee as one of a long list of Islamic charities that “finance terrorism and perpetuate violence”? Last month, the White House appointed Talal Eid, an imam from Quincy, Massachusetts, to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan panel that, according to the Boston Globe, “monitors religious freedom in countries around the world and recommends policies to the president, State Department, and Congress.” Eid is also participating in goodwill missions overseas for the State Department. Ishan Bagby, a University of Kentucky professor and member of the board of directors of the Islamic Society of North America, was pleased with the appointment: “It’s a very good sign that a mainstream, moderate Muslim leader like Imam Eid can be appointed to such a position.” Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American Islamic Relations was pleased also, saying that Eid would bring “valuable perspective” to the Commission. Eid was forced out of his position as imam of the Islamic Center of New England’s mosque in Quincy in July 2005, some said because he was too moderate. The Bush Administration has been determined since September 11, 2001 to find moderate Muslims with whom it could work and to whom it could show public support; unfortunately, however, in this quest it has sometimes been less discriminating than it should have been, and the case of Talal Eid is a prime example of this. Talal Eid, reported the Globe in January 2007, “no longer has a mosque.” However, “he still has the original appointment from the Muslim World League, a theological and cultural entity in Saudi Arabia that certifies imams, that sent him to Boston in 1982.” The scrutiny from the Senate Finance Committee is just one of many things about the Muslim World League that should have raised red flags for the Administration when considering Eid’s appointment. Alex Alexiev of the Center for Security Policy told a U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security in 2003 that “there is conclusive evidence from Saudi sources” that the League was “tightly controlled by the [Saudi] government.”  Given that the League’s stated purpose is to “to disseminate Islamic Dawah [proselytization] and expound the teachings of Islam,” this means that it is a vehicle for the propagation of the House of Saud’s Wahhabism, the virulent school of Islamic thought that teaches, in words that appeared on the website of the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. until November 2003, that “the Muslims are required to raise the banner of Jihad in order to make the Word of Allah supreme in this world, to remove all forms of injustice and oppression, and to defend the Muslims.” Waging jihad in order to make the Word of Allah supreme in this world means fighting against non-Muslims in order to impose Islamic law, Sharia, over them. Evgenii Novikov of The Jamestown Foundation notes, moreover, that the League’s publications are “often radical and vehemently anti-American.” Nor has the Muslim World League contented itself with promoting jihad by words alone. A jihadist who played a part in an al-Qaeda cell in Boston before 9/11, Nabil al-Marabh, claimed to have worked for the League in Pakistan; while this may have been his attempt to whitewash his record, also involved with the League in Pakistan was Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law and self-described “best friend,” who at another time worked to set up al-Qaeda front groups in the Philippines. Does all this mean that Talal Eid is a jihadist and a supporter of Osama bin Laden? No, it doesn’t. But his connection to the Muslim World League is not the only troubling item on his resume. Eid has proposed “five solutions for the unique problems of Muslims in America,” including “the establishment of Sharî‘ah courts which would manage the family affairs of American Muslims and mediate their religious affairs within the scope of American law.”  A similar initiative to introduce Sharia courts for mediation of personal disputes and marriage cases into Canada was defeated in 2005; Muslim women’s groups spearheaded the opposition because of Sharia’s institutionalized subjugation of women. In the thick of the battle, Alia Hogben of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women declared: “We’ve had a flood of e-mails from people asking, ‘How can we help stop what is so dangerous to Muslim women?’” In introducing a motion to disallow Sharia in Quebec in 2005, legislator Fatima Houda-Pepin saw an even greater threat: “The application of Sharia in Canada is part of a strategy to isolate the Muslim community, so it will submit to an archaic vision of Islam. These demands are being pushed by groups in the minority that are using the Charter of Rights to attack the foundation of our democratic institutions.” 

Will the U.S. now do what Canada drew back from doing, and introduce private Sharia courts, despite the harm they will cause Muslim women and the encouragement they will provide to establishing the Muslims in the U.S. as a separate, self-governing enclave? Apparently, if Talal Eid gets his way, yes. And that’s why he has no business being on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The Bush Administration should reconsider this appointment, or at very least call upon Eid to renounce any desire to introduce Sharia in any form into U.S. law, as well as all ties to the Muslim World League. After all, George W. Bush said it best: You’re either with the terrorists or with us.

Iran president sees “countdown” to Israel’s end

Iran president sees “countdown” to Israel’s end

Sun Jun 3, 2007 9:12AM EDT

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran’s president said on Sunday the Lebanese and the Palestinians had pressed a “countdown button” to bring an end to Israel.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who triggered outrage in the West two years ago when he said Israel should be “wiped off the map”, has often referred to the destruction of the Jewish state but says Iran is not a threat.

“With God’s help, the countdown button for the destruction of the Zionist regime has been pushed by the hands of the children of Lebanon and Palestine,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech.

“By God’s will, we will witness the destruction of this regime in the near future,” he said. He did not elaborate.

Iran has described the war last summer between Hezbollah in Lebanon and Israel as a victory for the Iranian-backed group. Tehran also often praises the Palestinians for what it says is resistance against Israeli occupation.

Ahmadinejad was speaking ahead of Monday’s anniversary of the death in 1989 of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, whose words Ahmadinejad echoed when he called for Israel to be “wiped off the map”.

The president’s comments caused consternation in Israel and the West, which also fear Iran is seeking to build an atomic arsenal under cover of a civilian nuclear power program, a charge Tehran denies.

Although Ahmadinejad has said Iran is not a threat to Israel, Iranian officials have said Tehran would respond swiftly to any Israeli attack. Some analysts have speculated Israel could seek to knock out Iran’s atomic sites.


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