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Drifting Saudi- US Relations

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Relations between global super power USA and energy super power Saudi Arabia have been successful in terms of trade volumes with USA buying oil from Saudi kingdom and sells goods, including terror goods to Riyadh. In political terms, the post Cold War era in general and post-Sept-11 in particular, have not been smooth as continuous tensions spoil the otherwise strong bilateral ties.

One logical factor that perhaps binds USA and Arab world is crony capitalism, corruption and state lies and threats to common people.

Ever drifting Saudi-US relations give us an idea about the hidden agendas of USA and Israel against Arab nations, including Palestinians. USA looks at Arab world through Israeli prism and uses Israel to promote the region as a prime zone for profitable energy cum arms trade.  

Saudi-US relations are not exactly what it used to be a few years ago. Now a couple of issues, like Saudi ambition for a UN veto, supposed covert US support for Iran’s overt efforts to dominate the West Asia region, keep them disengaged politically, though in economic terms ties look to be in order.

The post King Abdullah era seemed to be promising a restart of better relations but that is not the case. However, Saudi support for US war in Syria somehow tries to bind the ties not to deteriorate further.  

More than Saudi Kingdom, it is the USA which is eager to reduce tensions between West and Arab world due to NATO war in Islamic world and continued US support for an essentially fascist Israel against Palestine.

In January, Saudi Arabia’s Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and US President Barack Obama, in their first formal meeting in Riyadh, pledged to work closely on a range of regional and international issues as they focused on regional and international issues of common interest in addition to setting out the means to enhance bilateral relations. In the talks they focused, instead of Israeli arrogance towards Palestinians, on ‘counter-terrorism’ and regional stability with special reference to bilateral Saudi-US relations.

Obama’s meeting with King Salman was considered significant as it comes just days after the death of King Abdullah and during his four-hour stop in Riyadh Obama also attended a dinner with Saudi officials at Erga Palace.

Earlier Americans had no particular interest in Saudi kingdom – then a dessert nation without economic prosperity as oil, making Arab nations rich l, was discovered only later.   Roosevelt arrived from the Yalta summit with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Roosevelt’s health was very poor; he had only weeks to live. Ibn Saud had come from Jeddah on an American destroyer, the USS Murphy. It was king’s first trip outside the Arabian Peninsula aside from a brief visit to Basra in Iraq.

Though the Saudi-US relations had begun in 1945 during the Cold War as allies against the communist Russia, they were not important for America. On February 14, 1945, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met with Saudi King and the custodian of Holy Mosques Abdul-Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud in Egypt, as World War II was coming to an end, and the two forged a partnership that has endured for the last 70 years despite occasional severe strains.

As a rule, USA establishes ties with nations only if they are useful to US interests and overtly supportive of US plans for the world. That Saudi does not promote Zionist agenda in Mideast against Palestinians does help improve relations with Arab nations. It is primarily because American rulers consider Israel as being a part of USA or at least a part of US Empire globally. While Israel has the US given right to attack any Arab or Persian nation at will, none in the world can ever try to attack Israel because the super power and the notorious NATO can retaliate on Israel’s behalf.

Discovery of energy resources made Saudi Arabia dear to USA. USA began focusing on energy rich Arab nations very early even while installing an ultra fanatic Israeli regime in Mideast and pampering it with free supply of weapons and technology to fight the Arab nations that did not recognize it and oppose it.

The USA and Saudi kingdom agreed to work together to ensure stability in the post-war Middle East. The USA took the responsibility for ensuring security for the kingdom, focusing on places like Mecca and Medina with holy sites, and the Saudis had to ensure American access to their oil fields. Thus Americans control Saudi economy with many Americans working for the kingdom and economic establishments. US oil companies began already operating in the kingdom.

In the name of Saudi security and using Soviet communism as the main threat to Islam, USA in fact focused on expanding its military bases in Arab world. In order to expand its military might globally, the United States quickly acquired use of Dhahran air base for operations in the Middle East. Under pressure from Washington Saudi Arabia even declared war on Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, securing an ordinary seat in the United Nations with US support but without the veto. USA is opposed to Saudi acquiring veto because that make Israeli regime accountable for its crimes against humanity in Palestine, elsewhere in the region.

When, during their luncheon meeting as part of Quincy summit Churchill smoked and drank champagne in order to belittle the Arabs, the Saudis felt insulted. The Quincy summit was carefully planned in advance. Ibn Saud’s son Prince Faisal, the future king, had visited the United States in November 1943 to begin the courtship. Faisal was only 36 but he had been serving as his father’s top diplomat since 1919, when he traveled to London to discuss the future of the region after World War I when he was 12 years old. He visited Washington and it was during Faisal’s visit that the plans for the Dhahran air base were agreed and the United States began providing military assistance to the kingdom.

Every Saudi king and every US president since 1945 has reaffirmed the partnership begun on the Quincy. US President Barack Obama was wise to visit Saudi Arabia on his way home from India last month to pay his respects to the memory of the late King Abdullah and confer with the new king, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud Salman. As the Saudi-US partnership is entering a period of transition in the post US Sept-11 reality, both sides would reconsider their priorities.

Roosevelt found Ibn Saud to be a fascinating figure but a tough negotiator. The issue that they quarreled over was the future of Palestine and the aggressive Zionist movement for Israeli state in Palestine. Roosevelt tried to convince the Saudi monarch to support plans for a Jewish state in Palestine after the World War II without disturbing Palestine. Americans argued that Israel and Palestine would exist side by side. Ibn Saud argued that since the Jews had been the victims of German atrocities, they should get their state out of German territory not in West Asia or Mideast. Rational arguments did not make USA change its preset Zionist criminal mind. Americans with strongest military back up were bent upon putting the arrogant Jews inside Palestine.

USA its ally UK won for Israel and Saudi lost then and there on Palestine. After the creation of Israel in Mideast in Palestine lands, USA helped Israel with its expansionist agenda of effecting holocaust of Palestinians in a sustained manner. Israel occupied West bank and Gaza Strip and later let Gaza Strip become independent by withdrawing terror forces from there during Ariel Sharon era, but West Bank is still in Israeli occupation. Now Illegal Jewish settler parties in Israel ask the fascist regime to retake Gaza Strip as well and put an end to Palestine. Still USA wants to shield Zionist crimes against humanity.

Not only USA and Europe that support Israel and unkind to the besieged Palestinians, but even Russia maintained a discreet silence over Zionist expansionist strategies through criminal policies because a billion Russian Jews were to be sent to the newly created Israel.

Thus the super power USA, veto powers UK, France, Germany, Russia and nuclearized fascist Israel all won and Arabs lost the political war against fascism.. They have in fact threatened the humanity by their defense of Israel and conspiracy against Palestinians. Since all of them have coordinated their strategies to deny Palestinians their legitimate home Palestinians have just one way forward: fight for their rights and for Palestine state through UN. They have made the first moves in the direction with enormous success as US-Israeli terror twins had to lose their illegal and immoral war against humanity.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict proved to be the most contentious issue in the American-Saudi relationship for the next 70 years and likely will remain so for many more to come. 70 long years of ties between them with difference social and political systems, have let them understand each other as best as possible and the future US alliance with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would rely on their rich experiences on intentional arena.

USA uses both diplomacy and even triclomacy to get what it wants from the globe and it has been successful as Russia plays double roles very superbly. However, Moscow never comes in the way of US-Arab ties.

Establishment of Palestine has been a major policy of Saudi Arabia while USA has a different plan altogether in favor of Israel. USA, like Israel, is not sincere about settlement of the tensions or establishment of Palestine though they had declared decades ago as their Mideast policy.

Siding with the Palestinians on their right to have a sovereign nation, King Salman has promised continuity in Saudi foreign policy and stressed that implementing the 2003 Arab peace plan for Israeli withdrawal from occupied Palestine was his top priority. The Saudis blame the endless continuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict for fueling terrorism in the region.

Ever since US 9/11 hoax the relationship has been more controversial than in the past in the United States and the rest of the West. Israel expected USA to attack Saudi Arabia for the Sept-11 hoax but the Pentagon attacked an Islamizing Afghanistan. Israel insisted the USA – and still insists hopelessly – to attack Iran over its nuclear program. However, Obama declined to oblige Zionist regime and rich US Jewish leaders who fund generously both the political parties.

Obama’s reluctance in attacking Iran has annoyed Israel and its fascist and fanatic allies. Anti-Islamic media and other sources like war mongers and arms manufactures seeking wars, badly want a civilizational divide between Christianity (and plus Judaism) and Islam as they focused on lingering questions about human rights and gender equality, about Saudi ties to al-Qaeda in the 1990s and early 2000s, concerns about how the Wahhabi puritanical faith provides a breeding ground for radical Islam and questions about have become much more frequent and stark in the last decade. They have many more such bogus reasons.

Arabian kingdom is an absolute monarchy named after the ruling family; maybe the United States is a “vibrant” democracy in the promotion of corruption and capitalism. How Americans treat those who write or speak about US militarism goals is not a secret.

Many Jewish Americans and their powerful organizations influence US foreign policy and have raised doubts in media about the wisdom of the US-Saudi partnership when Israeli ties are enough for Washington.

Saudi Arabia and the United States have few capitalist – even imperialist- values in common though many say they don’t share any values and so the alliance has always been defined primarily by shared threats and enemies. This suits war mongers and arms manufactures.

After all, they all want and hope to watch – rather enjoy – a third world war on their TV sets when millions of humans get killed and wounded, nature is badly destroyed. These sadist elements in USA and Israel, however, might be thinking that only Muslims would be killed and Muslim nations would be destroyed as peer the IA-Pentagon plan as the superpower USA has acquired military bases world over and everywhere USA has maintained paid agents.

Israel, seeking to kill or drive remaining Palestinians out of their homes in Palestine to enable the Jewish military to create a so-called greater Israel, obviously, does not want any Arab-American unity at all. War mongers and arms manufacturers in USA and Israel also do not want peace anywhere in the world especially in West Asia as they seek a permanent and profitable war situation especially in Mideast can make them richer all the time.

With Israel deciding policies for USA, it is not that easy to precisely forecast the future relations between USA and Saudi Arabia or broadly US Arab relations in general.

Middle East

Erdogan’s Calamitous Authoritarianism

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Turkey’s President Erdogan is becoming ever more dangerous as he continues to ravage his own country and destabilize scores of states in the Middle East, the Balkans, and North Africa, while cozying up to the West’s foremost advisories. Sadly, there seems to be no appetite for most EU member states to challenge Erdogan and put him on notice that he can no longer pursue his authoritarianism at home and his adventurous meddling abroad with impunity.

To understand the severity of Erdogan’s actions and ambitions and their dire implications, it suffices to quote Ahmet Davutoglu, formerly one of Erdogan’s closest associates who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and subsequently Prime Minister. Following his forced resignation in May 2016 he stated “I will sustain my faithful relationship with our president until my last breath. No one has ever heard — and will ever hear — a single word against our president come from my mouth.”

Yet on October 12, Davutoglu declared “Erdogan left his friends who struggled and fought with him in exchange for the symbols of ancient Turkey, and he is trying to hold us back now…. You yourself [Erdogan] are the calamity. The biggest calamity that befell this people is the regime that turned the country into a disastrous family business.”

The stunning departure of Davutoglu from his earlier statement shows how desperate conditions have become, and echoed how far and how dangerously Erdogan has gone. Erdogan has inflicted a great calamity on his own people, and his blind ambition outside Turkey is destabilizing many countries while dangerously undermining Turkey’s and its Western allies’ national security and strategic interests.

A brief synopsis of Erdogan’s criminal domestic practices and his foreign misadventures tell the whole story.

Domestically, he incarcerated tens of thousands of innocent citizens on bogus charges, including hundreds of journalists. Meanwhile he is pressuring the courts to send people to prison for insulting him, as no one can even express their thoughts about this ruthlessness. Internationally, Erdogan ordered Turkish intelligence operatives to kill or smuggle back to the country Turkish citizens affiliated with the Gülen movement.

He regularly cracks down on Turkey’s Kurdish minority, preventing them from living a normal life in accordance with their culture, language, and traditions, even though they have been and continue to be loyal Turkish citizens. There is no solution to the conflict except political, as former Foreign Minister Ali Babacan adamantly stated on October 20: “… a solution [to the Kurdish issue] will be political and we will defend democracy persistently.”

Erdogan refuses to accept the law of the sea convention that gives countries, including Cyprus, the right to an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for energy exploration, while threatening the use of force against Greece, another NATO member no less. He openly sent a research ship to the region for oil and gas deposits, which EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called “extremely worrying.”

He invaded Syria with Trump’s blessing to prevent the Syrian Kurds from establishing autonomous rule, under the pretext of fighting the PKK and the YPG (the Syrian Kurdish militia that fought side-by-side the US, and whom Erdogan falsely accuses of being a terrorist group).

He is sending weapons to the Sunni in northern Lebanon while setting up a branch of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) in the country—a practice Erdogan has used often to gain a broader foothold in countries where it has an interest.

While the Turkish economy is in tatters, he is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the Balkans, flooding countries with Turkish imams to spread his Islamic gospel and to ensure their place in his neo-Ottoman orbit. Criticizing Erdogan’s economic leadership, Babacan put it succinctly when he said this month that “It is not possible in Turkey for the economic or financial system to continue, or political legitimacy hold up.”

Erdogan is corrupt to the bone. He conveniently appointed his son-in-law as Finance Minister, which allows him to hoard tens of millions of dollars, as Davutoglu slyly pointed out: “The only accusation against me…is the transfer of land to an educational institution over which I have no personal rights and which I cannot leave to my daughter, my son, my son-in-law or my daughter-in-law.”

Erdogan is backing Azerbaijan in its dispute with Armenia (backed by Iran) over the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is inhabited by ethnic Armenians and has been the subject of dispute for over 30 years.

He is exploiting Libya’s civil strife by providing the Government of National Accord (GNA) with drones and military equipment to help Tripoli gain the upper hand in its battle against Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Former Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said in February 2020 that “The unclear Turkish foreign policy by Erdogan may put Turkey in grave danger due to this expansion towards Libya.”

He is meddling in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an effort to prevent them from settling their dispute unless Israel meets Palestinian demands. He granted several Hamas officials Turkish citizenship to spite Israel, even though Hamas openly calls for Israel’s destruction.

He betrayed NATO by buying the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, which seriously compromises the alliance’s technology and intelligence.

He is destabilizing many countries, including Somalia, Qatar, Libya, and Syria, by dispatching military forces and hardware while violating the air space of other countries like Iraq, Cyprus, and Greece. Yakis said Turkey is engaging in a “highly daring bet where the risks of failure are enormous.”

Erdogan supports extremist Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and an assortment of jihadists, including ISIS, knowing full well that these groups are sworn enemies of the West—yet he uses them as a tool to promote his wicked Islamic agenda.

He regularly blackmails EU members, threatening to flood Europe with Syria refugees unless they support his foreign escapades such as his invasion of Syria, and provide him with billions in financial aid to cope with the Syrian refugees.

The question is how much more evidence does the EU need to act? A close look at Erdogan’s conduct clearly illuminates his ultimate ambition to restore much of the Ottoman Empire’s influence over the countries that were once under its control.

Erdogan is dangerous. He has cited Hitler as an example of an effective executive presidential system, and may seek to acquire nuclear weapons. It’s time for the EU to wake up and take Erdogan’s long-term agenda seriously, and take severe punitive measures to arrest his potentially calamitous behavior. Sadly, the EU has convinced itself that from a geostrategic perspective Turkey is critically important, which Erdogan is masterfully exploiting.

The EU must be prepared take a stand against Erdogan, with or without the US. Let’s hope, though, that Joe Biden will be the next president and together with the EU warn Erdogan that his days of authoritarianism and foreign adventurism are over.

The views expressed are those of the author.

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Middle East

Syrian Refugees Have Become A Tool Of Duplicitous Politics

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Syrian refugees in Rukban camp

Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria the issue of Syrian refugees and internally displace has been the subject of countless articles and reports with international humanitarian organizations and countries involved in the Syrian conflict shifting responsibility for the plight of migrants.

The most notorious example of human suffering put against political games is the Rukban refugee camp located in eastern Syria inside the 55-km zone around Al-Tanf base controlled by the U.S. and its proxies.

According to official information, more than 50,000 people, mostly women and children, currently live in the camp. This is a huge number comparable to the population of a small town. The Syrian government, aware of the plight of people in Rukban, has repeatedly urged Washington to open a humanitarian corridor so that everyone can safely return home. However, all such proposals were ignored by the American side. U.S. also refuse to provide the camp with first aid items. Neighbouring Jordan is inactive, too, despite Rukban being the largest of dozens other temporary detention centres in Syria, where people eke out a meager existence.

At the same time, the problem is not only refugee camps. Syria has been at war for a decade. The country’s economy has suffered greatly over this period, and many cities have been practically grazed to the ground. Moreover, the global coronavirus epidemic didn’t spare Syria and drained the already weakened economy even more. However, Damascus’ attempts of post-war reconstruction and economic recovery were undermined by multiple packages of severe sanctions imposed by the U.S. At the same time, U.S.-based human rights monitors and humanitarian organizations continue to weep over the Syrian citizens’ misery.

The situation is the same for those refugees who stay in camps abroad, especially in countries bordering on Syria, particularly Jordan and Turkey. Ankara has been using Syrian citizens as a leverage against the European states in pursuit of political benefits for a long time. No one pays attention to the lives of people who are used as a change coin in big politics. This is equally true for Rukban where refugees are held in inhuman conditions and not allowed to return to their homeland. In those rare exceptions that they are able to leave, refugees have to pay large sums of money that most of those living in camp are not able to come by.

It’s hard to predict how long the Syrian conflict will go on and when – or if – the American military will leave the Al-Tanf base. One thing can be said for sure: the kind of criminal inaction and disregard for humanitarian catastrophe witnessed in refugee camps is a humiliating failure of modern diplomacy and an unforgivable mistake for the international community. People shouldn’t be a tool in the games of politicians.

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Middle East

Is Syria Ready For Second Wave Of COVID-19?

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©UNICEF/Delil Souleiman

Despite a relative calm that has been holding on the front lines of the Syrian conflict since the beginning of the year, Syria had to face other equally – if not more – serious challenges. The spread of COVID-19 virus in the wake of a general economic collapse and a health care system battered by nine years of war threatened Syria with a death toll as a high as that of resumed military confrontation. However, the actual scale of the infection rate turned out to be less than it was expected considering the circumstances.

Although Syria did not have much in resources to mobilize, unlike some other countries that were slow to enforce restrictions or ignored them altogether, the Syrian authorities did not waste time to introduce basic measures that, as it became obvious in hindsight, proved to be the most effective. A quarantine was instituted in the areas controlled by the government, all transportation between the provinces was suspended, schools and universities were temporarily closed and face masks were made obligatory in public spaces.

As a result, official data puts the number of people infected with COVID-19 in the government areas at modest 4,457 while 192 people died of the infection. In turn, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria announced that 1,998 people contracted the virus. The data on the infection rate in the opposition-controlled areas in Idlib and Aleppo is incomplete, but the latest number is 1,072. Compared to the neighboring Turkey with  9,000 of deaths of COVID-19, Syria seems to be doing relatively well.

Tackling the virus put the already embattled health care system under enormous strain. Syrian doctors are dealing with an acute shortage of medicines and equipment, and even hospital beds are in short supply. Over 60 medical workers who treated COVID-19 patients died.

The situation is worsened even further by the economic hardships, not least due to the sanctions imposed on Syria by the U.S. and the European states. Syrian hospitals are unable to procure modern equipment necessary for adequate treatment of COVID-19, most importantly test kits and ventilators.

The economic collapse exposed and aggravated many vulnerabilities that could have been easily treated under more favorable circumstances. A grim, yet fitting example: long queues in front of bakeries selling bread at subsidised prices, that put people under the risk of catching the virus. Many Syrians are simply unable to avoid risking their health in these queues, as an average income is no longer enough to provide for a family.

Moreover, despite a nation-wide information campaign conducted with the goal of spreading awareness about means of protections against COVID-19 like social distancing and mask-wearing, for many Syrians the disease is still stigmatized, and those who contracted it are often too ashamed to go to a hospital or even confess to their friends. As consequence, a substantial number of cases goes unreported.

With the second wave of COVID-19 in sight, it is of utmost importance that the work of health care professionals is supported, not subverted by the citizens. Otherwise Syria – and the world – may pay too high a price.

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