With the latest spurious allegations concerning the alleged hack of his phone by the Saudis, Jeff Bezos brought himself back into an unwelcome and embarrassing spotlight, involving nude pictures of himself cheating on his ex-wife, all seemingly for the sake of destroying the reputation of the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. His claim that Mohammed bin Salman taunted him with photos of the supposedly “secret” affair and then somehow used his own phone’s Whatsapp account to hack Bezos’s phone and to expose the nudes, which were then leak to the public remains unsubstantiated despite the mention of undisclosed forensic investigators supposedly responsible for these latest disclosures to the soap opera.
The story about the alleged hack broke exactly a year ago, after Jeff Bezos and his wife filed for divorce in January 2019. Soon after, the National Enquirer publicized pictures of Bezos’ affair with his girlfriend, including “intimate texts and photos.” Bezos accused the Enquirer of extortion & blackmail. Bezos, backed by his security chief, accused Saudis of having taken part in a hack that led to the leak of these photos. The Saudis denied having anything to do with that. Soon after, information came out that Bezos’ girlfriend gave the photos and texts to her brother, who leaked them to the media.
Bezos had further alleged that the owner of the Enquirer had a business relationship with Mohammed bin Salman, but after the revelation came out concerning his girlfriend & her brother’s involvement in the leak, did not appear to pursue this matter further. The story died down despite Bezos’ personal op-eds with accusations, but in January 2020 Bezos doubled down on his initial allegations. He produced a poorly sourced UN report produced by Agnes Callamard, and an equally questionable forensics report by investigators he paid for, claiming that there was a hack and that the hack came from the Crown Prince’s account. Increasing evidence point in other directions.
For instance, US prosecutors tasked with investigating the alleged leak/hack say they have evidence that the girlfriend and her brother are the culprits. Bezos is yet to explain what connection, if any, there is between the Crown Prince and Bezos’ girlfriend. Was she in possession of Mohammed bin Salman’s phone? Did he first hack the account and then have her leak it to the press in exchange for a princely sum of money? The increasingly embarrassing situation went from bed to worse in terms of optics for Bezos himself when a number of cyberexperts started questioning the conclusions in the forensics report, stating that Bezos has not actually established a technical link between Mohammed bin Salman’s account and Bezos’ phone.
At issue now is Bezos’ central claim—that his phone was hacked at all. Whether Bezos will spin these developments into a conspiracy theory—in which his girlfriend was in on it with Mohammed bin Salman, seduced Bezos to get into his good graces and ruin his marriage and personal life, and then, after the Crown Prince hacked Bezos phone, took the resulting leak and shared it with a tabloid—remains unclear. Increasingly, however, pressure is mounting on Bezos to back his claims, as his allegations appear increasingly fantastical yet persistent.
These accusations raise several inconvenient questions that neither Bezos, nor the mainstream media which parroted his side of the story without doing the basics of any ethical journalist—which is to say, demanding evidence of these scandalous claim—bother to address.
For instance, why did Jeff Bezos keep silent about the Crown Prince’s alleged knowledge and “taunts”, allegedly made BEFORE the hack, all this time? Why did he not say anything even at the time when he first reported the incident?
Further, he does not explain how Mohammed bin Salman would even know about this clandestine liaison. Did he have a gaggle of spies follow the Amazon founder around? Or was Bezos always so careless with his online activity that the Saudis could have hacked him long before and been tracking him for some time?
Which raises yet another natural question: how is it that Jeff Bezos, the founder of a gigantic company with millions of accounts, could have failed to secure his own personal data? And can any of his customers trust him with their own privacy? Supposedly bad blood between Bezos and the Saudis is related to a business dispute over his interest in building Amazon in KSA, but failing to address Saudi concerns over Amazon’s handling of Saudi customers’ data. If so, Bezos’ behavior is fraught with irony.
The next question any reasonable person could/should ask is why would the heir to the throne of a major Middle Eastern country use his own personal account to engage in any sort of illicit and unethical activity, much less something blatantly criminal as a hack of one of the wealthiest individuals in the world? Is there no one Mohammed bin Salman could hire, even if that is something he was contemplating for unknowable reasons? Why would he make himself so vulnerable, especially considering the many other character attacks he’s been facing since early on in his tenure?
Finally, even IF there is technical evidence linking Mohammed bin Salman’s Whatsapp account to the hack, how do we know that the Crown Prince’s phone was not hacked or spoofed, which is more than likely? For all it’s worth, Bezos himself probably had interacted with the Crown Prince over that account and could have easily leaked it elsewhere. But why would Bezos be involved in a set-up that discredited him in light of his own personal drama unfolding before the world’s eyes?
Rather than speculating on Bezos’ motivations, I invite the readers to examine his actions, which indicate that this story is about far more than just Bezos’ personal issues with the Saudis (if any of these rumors are even true).
Shortly following the break out of the media storm over the renewed allegations, Bezos tweeted a picture of himself from Jamal Khashoggi’s memorial with the hashtag “Jamal”. Who else attended that memorial? Jamal Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancé, known for her support of Turkey’s authoritarian president Erdogan, and none other than the UN rapporteur Agnes Callamard, a fierce defender of Qassem Soleimani against US strikes, and the allegedly impartial UN official responsible for the UN investigation of the Saudi role in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Discrediting her claims to objectivity, the very same Callamard has now sided with Bezos demanding an international investigation into the hacking allegations against Mohammed bin Salman, despite the lack of evidence. What a coincidence!
Bezos was also pictured with the founder and executive director of CAIR, Nihad Awad, at the memorial. CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in investigations concerning money laundering to Muslim Brotherhood-backed terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, and has extensive links to the Brotherhood.
By tweeting this image shortly after the renewed claims, Bezos admits the following:
He has a political agenda in going after the Saudi Crown Prince, beyond any business dispute
The Washington Post, which Bezos owns, is not objective but rather openly sides with the ex-Saudi spook cum turncoat cum Qatari agent Jamal Khashoggi—despite the Washington Post’s own admission that the Qatar Foundation International fed Khashoggi the articles he used to attack the Crown Prince in the pieces basically rewritten to the level of readability by his editor Karen Attiah. The Washington Post, if it has benefited financially from this arrangement, may itself be implicated as an unregistered foreign agent in violation of US laws, and Bezos is openly hinting at that. Karen Attiah, after all, also took part in the memorial.
Finally, Bezos’s accusations against Mohammed bin Salman are directly tied to Qatar and the Khashoggi matter. This thinly veiled message affirms that Bezos, Callamard, and others are deeply involved with state actors who are fueling the ongoing political campaign to discredit, smear, and ultimately oust the Crown Prince.
What could be Bezos’ political calculus in this unseemly scenario, where he is publicly making himself into a laughingstock at least as much as he is turning Mohammed bin Salman into fodder for supposedly reputable national publications, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal (who published all of this uncritically)? Furthermore, why is he returning to the apparently debunked story after a year and subjecting himself to potential embarrassment and discreditation, likely knowing fully well that there is no “there, there”?
There is no mystery. The strategy by Mohammed bin Salman’s enemies, from the very beginning of the Khashoggi affair, has been to make it appear that the Khashoggi death is not an isolated incident; rather, the claim has been that Mohammed bin Salman has a strategy of surveilling, hacking, physically intimidating, and even trying to abduct dissidents, critics, and opponents of his policies. Since Khashoggi’s death, both the NY Times and WaPo, known for taking conspiracy theories and baseless allegations from the Qatar-funded Arabic and English language media and giving them legitimacy without ever providing counterpoints or raising doubt about these claims, have printed numerous articles giving space to known leftist, pan-Arabist and pro-Muslim Brotherhood critics of the Crown Prince and his Vision2030 reform plan, who reside in Canada, the UK, and the US and who have all claimed that they had been threatened, harassed, or surveilled by Saudi intelligence in the wake of Khashoggi.
Prior to Khashoggi’s death, however, these individuals resorted to broader statements claiming that Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for a crackdown on dissent (read: antagonistic activism) inside the Kingdom. The Khashoggi affair gave an opening to opportunists to push for creating an image of Mohammed bin Salman as an irredeemable villain who will never stop shutting down anyone who stands up to him. Bezos has clearly aligned himself with other agents of this strategy, and despite past evidence showing that other parties were responsible for the embarrassing leak of his “dick pics” (technical term), jumped in full throttle into this morass.
The calculus here is not so much to “prove” that Mohammed bin Salman is personally guilty of this cyberattack, which may ultimately prove impossible even if any evidence exists, but to embarrass him (again) to such an extent that his own family will decide that he deserves no more chances to fix his reputation in light of this ongoing PR/information warfare nightmare, and should be removed from a public role or at least from his current position.
As for the timing, if Bezos, as it increasingly appears to be the case, is in cahoots with foreign regimes and possibly elements of domestic intelligence agencies who have an ax to grind with Mohammed bin Salman, the recycling of the old conspiracy theory is nothing new. It follows a pattern of other such thinly veiled character attacks on the Crown Prince, and likely came from the same Qatari playbook. The aim is to weaponize the media and to cause a public fracas, at any cost. Furthermore, the thought is that that the public is heavily dependent on Amazon for services, and therefore anything will go. By contrast, the Western public does not perceive itself as being dependent on Saudi Arabia or its Crown Prince, and presumably has no loyalties to him, even if he is unjustly accused of crimes he did not commit. Timing, however, is of interest here.
The Iran-Qatar connection fueling Qatar’s interest in continuous attacks on Mohammed bin Salman
January 2020 started with the killing of the head of IRGC’s Al Quds Brigade Qassem Soleimani, which appeared to be a blow to the Iranian regime’s hegemonic ambitions, especially as it struggles to contain internal protests and faces uprisings against its proxies in Iraq and Lebanon. Responding to this event, Iran caused a self-inflicted PR disaster when it shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane with 176 civilians on board—and lied about it for three days. Following this fiasco, Qatar offered $3B to Iran to cover the costs of paying the families of the victims. There may have been some awkwardness to the exchange, as the US used the Al Udeid base in Qatar for the operation, and yet the Qatari officials traveled to Iran immediately thereafter to offer condolences on the death of Soleimani.
Qatar’s public siding with a US adversary did not go unnoticed. Indeed, it constituted yet another political example of Qatar openly supporting Iran’s aggressive action in the region. Qatar’s past silence during the oil tanker crises resulted in an intelligence report indicating that Doha was in cahoots with Tehran and covered for Iran, rather than share information that could have prevented these attacks. Analysis of Qatar’s long-term relationship with Iran and its reaction to any steps by the US and others that would have had any negative impact on the regime indicates that Qatar may have even facilitated the attacks on ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia in September, widely attributed to Iran.
Increased scrutiny over these geopolitical concerns are a massive headache to Doha, which had spent millions on lobbying efforts in the United States and Europe, and has developed a sophisticated media apparatus to cultivate an image of a pro-Western, friendly country open for business. After a series of missteps involving its close ally Iran, Qatar may have been desperate to distract from its own US government ire-raising role in these events, and sought to redirect the negative scrutiny and public outrage onto a favored scapegoat for all sorts of scandals, the Crown Prince, who was made vulnerable due to Qatar’s prior character assassination campaigns as well as the Saudi government’s complete lack of PR acumen. Bezos, who may have personal issues with Mohammed bin Salman, had already proven his usefulness against him through the consistent role the Washington Post has played in not letting the Khashoggi affair die down.
Indeed, Bezos himself made that issue highly personal by attending Khashoggi’s memorial alongside Callamard, Attiah, and Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancé. On the one hand, here was an opportunity to give Iran time to recover from bad publicity long enough to be able to focus on strategy and shutting down protests—when the Western world is busy gossiping about the hapless Crown Prince, they are not paying attention to the violent crackdown and torture of protesters, and killing of journalists in Iraq and Lebanon; on the other hand, it was another opportunity to resurrect the ghost of Khashoggi, putting more salt on the wounds of Western perception of Saudis.
But why would anyone side with Qatar, especially someone as wealthy as Bezos, who needs not depend on Qatari largesse? And why have other media outlets, presumably with no business grievances with the Kingdom, and portions of Western intelligence agencies, be lending a hand to these dubious operations, which have turned the US media into a battleground for authoritarian foreign regimes and unregistered agents of influence?
With Bezos, those who are fueling this witch hunt have likely appealed to his vindictive motives following the business dispute with Saudi Arabia. Bezos has a reputation going back years before Mohammed bin Salman’s ascent to his position. And aside from the Crown Prince, Bezos has engaged in public spats with other corporate leaders not so long ago. Motive, meet opportunity. The media did not need to be “sold”, as it has been aligned with Qatar’s agenda in the West since after the imposition of the boycott against Qatar by Saudi Arabia, and the ensuing Qatari campaign to win friends and to destroy Saudi Arabia’s image in the West.
How the Media Circus around Bezos’ Unfounded Claims Carries Water for Foreign Regimes
The Strange Case of Cybersecurity “Expert” and Khashoggi Ally Iyad El-Baghdadi
A Palestinian born critic of Saudi Arabia Iyad El-Baghdadi, in a lengthy soft-ball interview with the Deutsche Welle on the subject of the hack, writes: “…Then, Bezos in February of 2019 wrote a Medium post saying that he had just experienced a blackmail attempt and hinted very strongly that Saudi Arabia was probably involved. We immediately put two and two together. Number one: We know that MbS has a problem with Bezos, that was very clear because the propaganda output of his regime was really aggressive against him. What we also know is that they had an ongoing business relationship. And we know that Jamal Khashoggi’s murder came in the middle of that. So we published our findings online and two days later we were contacted by the head of security for Bezos (editor’s note: Gavin de Becker, a longtime security consultant hired by Bezos), who said: ‘You guys are onto something and we have certain information we want to share with you as well.’”
El-Baghdadi claims to have “worked” with Bezos’ security team on investigating the incident. El-Baghdadi admits to having worked with Jamal Khashoggi in the past on his “MENA democracy” initiative. Khashoggi had been building an anti-Saudi think tank and engaging in cyberoperations against Saudi online activists when he was killed. El-Baghdadi’s distaste for the Saudi government is not explicitly explained, nor is his fellowship with Khashoggi ever fully presented, but both have had a history of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood ideology and resented Saudi outreach to Israel. El-Baghdadi, for instance, wrote of “two Israels”, with one of which “no peace” is possible, claiming that there are no Israeli centrists or peace partners, only “colonial masters”, and calling for “resistance”. Khashoggi was both opposed to normalization with Israel and wrote against Jews. What is interesting here is that El-Baghdadi was hired by Bezos’ security chief after the hack, but his role appears limited to propaganda, as he had no access to the technical information regarding any allegedly cyberattacks on Bezos and he admitted as much. His reputation of being affiliated with Khashoggi and attacking Saudi Arabia should, but somehow does not, discredit his professional conclusions of what must have transpired, even though they are based not on technical forensic evidence, but on ideological conclusions. El-Baghdadi believes that Mohammed bin Salman was personally responsible for the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi based on Khashoggi’s personal criticism of the Crown Prince and his policies.
El-Baghdadi even states that Bezos’ security team and he started to “coordinate things”, without explaining what it is they coordinated—and the DW reporters do not challenge him on this issue. What is public knowledge, however, is that in the same year after Bezos’ alleged hack, El-Baghdadi, speaking to Qatar’s mouthpiece, Al Jazeera, claimed that he was in the “crosshairs” of the Saudi government, that he is a pro-”democracy” activist (does that mean he is calling for a violent internal coup against a popular heir to the throne?) despite having no connection to the Kingdom or its people, and many months after Khashoggi’s death (May 2019), and felt “in danger”. He apparently came to that realization after starting to work with Bezos’ team in February 2019, after the scandal regarding Bezos’ hack had already waned in the public eye. Did Bezos put him up to that?
Or did Bezos hire El-Baghdadi to make these statements, that would not only keep the Khashoggi story alive well past its due date, but would appear to substantiate his own concerns about Saudi Arabi? If Qatar was supportive of this apparent collusion, El-Baghdadi’s claims would further the idea being propagated that Khashoggi was neither an isolated case nor an issue arising from “rogue operatives”, but rather part of a strategic and brutal crackdown against Mohammed bin Salman’s critics. This would further distract from the emerging information that Khashoggi himself was no white fluffy kitten, but an experienced intelligence operative who had sold out to Qatar, and was weaponized against Riyadh. The story was soon picked up without any criticism by various Western publications, including The Daily Beast, which claimed that the activist was “forced into hiding”—although he continued to tweet and speak to the media.
To return to the interview, DW, despite this suspicious background that undermined the story, did not in any way push back, but rather gave El-Baghdadi plenty of space to attack Mohammed bin Salman, repeat unproven claims that the Crown Prince massacred Khashoggi in the Consulate, and link all of that to the Bezos hack as revenge for the Washington Post’s coverage of the Khashoggi affair. Of course, once again, DW never asks about any possible collusion between the Washington Post and the Qatar Foundation International, nor whether El-Baghdadi benefited financially in any way from his relationship with all these actors.
Even when El-Baghdadi makes clear the case of his personal collusion with the Bezos team in describing the extent of their professional collaboration, and even after admitting that there is no evidence that the phone was compromised at the time Bezos alleged or earlier, the reporter lets the activist continue as an expert witness on this subject, without questioning any aspect of his story or motives. Thus, DW, by failing to do its job and remain skeptical of such sweeping claim, legitimized someone with a clear political agenda, gave him a platform, and introduced him to the public eye, not as a political actor, but as a victim who is the “good guy” in this confusing chain of events. DW relinquished its role as a neutral observer and objective medium of information and sided with Bezos and Team Khashoggi.
What makes this situation still more sinister is that, like the BBC, DW receives public funding from the German government. In other words, Germany, as a state, is essentially taking part in this situation and siding with Bezos, El-Baghdadi, and promoting unsubstantiated claims about Khashoggi’s death. Aside from Qatar, then, European governments and their media tools, are playing an interventionist political role in this campaign.
Agnes Callamard, meanwhile, appears to be backing an El-Baghdadi-like activist in UK, who is funded by unknown forces (possibly Qatar, some pro-MB foundations, or Bezos), Ghanem Almasarir, who hails from the Kingdom, but shares El-Baghdadi’s virulently anti-Saudi views. Almasarir now came out to allege that he, too, was being electronically surveilled by Saudi intelligence, allegedly hacked through the use of the same Israeli malware that was supposedly used to spy on Khashoggi and El-Baghdadi, and now has been allowed by the UK to sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for these alleged activities. Even if the case ultimately is thrown out, it is clear that he will get the attention he wishes, and the indelible damage to Saudi Arabia as a country, and Mohammed bin Salman personally, will have been done.
In yet another recent incident, the FBI—which since Robert Mueller’s time has had CAIR and other Islamist organizations involved in sensitivity trainings— supposedly foiled an attempted abduction of a young Saudi YouTuber, Abdulrahman Almutairi, by the Saudis. The Daily Beast report is almost entirely based on Almutairi’s own story, in which he claims that Mohammed bin Salman sent a hit team for him in the airport to kidnap him because he had criticized the Crown Prince. The likelihood of such a plot against such an unknown person is extremely low.
But what is obvious is that The Daily Beast and other publications are eager to report such sensationalist accounts, without verifying details, because they confirm the inherent bias against the Crown Prince and in favor of the “dissidents”, young people without jobs, funded by unknown organizations, and living abroad, whose sole raison d’etre seems to be making low quality podcasts and videos trash-talking Mohammed bin Salman. All these individuals are supposedly of such importance to the Crown Prince that he would risk a major scandal with the United Stated government in an attempt to illegally recover them and bring them back home rather than ignore their yammerings. The readers are invited to believe this version of the events on the ground that “reputable journalists” wrote it up.
In the case of Almutairi, if they media had so much as checked his social media account, they would have discovered a self-revealed history of mental health issues (Almutairi has written about being bipolar), discussing his hospital stays and mandatory medication for his condition. A cursory review would also disclose that he was studying on a Saudi government scholarship and KSA was also paying his medical bills. Due to his frequently erratic behavior, the government finally cut off his tuition. Almutairi complained about it on Instagram (screenshot); in short, he was a mentally unstable, disgruntled individual, who ended up calling the FBI on his own father, accusing him of working with the Saudi government to abduct him. (It is possible that his father came to visit to persuade him to return home for continued medical treatment.) In other words, he is less than a credible source, yet the media did not look into any of these details, thus essentially misinforming the public and creating the impression that Almutairi’s story was exactly what it appeared to be. These media outlets used a mentally ill individual to push their agenda, without disclosing the facts, shamefully exposing him to the kind of public attention that could aggravate his condition.
It seems that Bezos and Callamard are working together to identify anyone who may be persuaded to make similar claims against Saudis to bolster Bezos’ own credibility, but also in order to discredit the Crown Prince.
The Clown Choir Whitewashed Qatar’s Hacking but Echoes Baseless Claims Against the Saudis
The rest of the so-called “mainstream media” has hardly been any more professional nor has demonstrated any journalistic integrity over this matter.
The Philadelphia Inquirer covered this story with the following headline (thinly veiled as an opinion piece): “Saudi Arabia murdered a journalist and hacked Jeff Bezos. Trump sent them U.S. troops”. The rest of the piece is very much along the same vein, embracing unproven or discredited and openly biased assertions, without even an attempt to present a counterpoint that could shed light on the otherwise outrageous scenario being presented. Given the increasing public distrust in the media and the disappearing skill of distinguishing between opinion & fact, even if such an article is categorized as an “opinion” piece, at best it will feed into existing perceptions, at worst some may take it as information, rather than a personal position.
The NY Post, in its initial coverage, took Bezos allegations as “evidence“ rather than claims.
The Washington Post, not surprisingly, has followed its owner’s line with fierce loyalty. It has published multiple stories on this issue, all of them equally one-sided, and despite the paucity of technical evidence, reaffirms that these allegations “implicate” Mohammed bin Salman in the hack.
The Daily Beast coverage runs was about the same.
The NY Times makes an effort at appearing objective by covering what the “UN experts” have said about the hack, but does not question their expertise nor their conclusion nor the fact that the same experts had previously produced a one-sided report on Khashoggi lacking in facts or evidence.
Vanity Fair amps up the drama by using a conclusive description of the “MBS-Bezos” hack as a potential “ticking time bomb”.
AP News follows the lead claiming, again, with very little backing or follow-up investigation, that the Saudi Crown Prince’s phone is linked to the alleged hack.
NBC News once again focuses on the UN experts, and their completely unproven (and likely unprovable claim) that the alleged hack was aimed at influencing Washington Post coverage of Saudi Arabia. It is hard to take seriously such an allegation, given that the chickens have already flown the coop and the incriminating information against Bezos has already been published; he has divorced and lost half his fortune. How could he possibly be influenced by that incident to change all of the coverage about KSA?
The Hill takes fearmongering to the next level, with the writers claiming that now everyone who is critical of KSA could be endanger of being hacked.
MarketWatch echoes the mass media hysteria.
Ditto for Axios.
PBS also takes Jeff Bezos’ claims as proven fact. If only the media had stuck to following the late Jim Lehrer’s rules for ethical journalism, perhaps the issue of public trust would not have been quite so evasive.
And on and on it goes.
In short, once again, the scions of journalism have beclowned themselves with premature, one-sided coverage based on a high profile figure’s sensationalist claims, and have failed to follow-up with their own investigation on any of these comments or even to wait for other experts to weigh in. In the fray to be the first to “break” the “news” that Bezos claimed something that has already been largely discredited, these outlets once again put their own credibility at question.
Why would they take such a risk? There are several observations to be made of this baseless kerfuffle.
First, these same outlets reacted in exactly the same way to the initial reports of Khashoggi’s disappearance and death. They based their reports on leaks and claims made by the foreign media (Turkish intelligence affiliates known for their outright disinformation), and in some cases had to publish retractions of debunked histories concerning the case. They had failed to inform the public of essential facts concerning Khashoggi’s past, and to this day, many of these outlets, particularly the Washington Post, refer to Khashoggi as a “dissident” and “journalist” without disclosing his relationship to intelligence, to Qatar, and to the fact that others were basically writing his columns for him. These outlets have worked to shape a narrative about Khashoggi, just as they are currently working to shape a narrative about Jeff Bezos’ phone, and have not allowed facts to get in the way of spinning these tales. At no point have any of these outlets set their own reporters to investigate the situation on the ground in Turkey after Khashoggi’s disappearance. Adopting a Turkish intelligence agency’s narrative is not merely lazy, unethical journalism, but rather turns the US press into agents for foreign governments and their intelligence agendas.
Second, in both cases, the outlets have used very similar language to describe the stories. For instance, many have used sensational and personal language to describe the Crown Prince, referencing the “bone saw”, or describing him as “dark”. Similarly, now, the same outlets are peddling the Bezos narrative almost word for word, and rely on the same UN “experts” for “analysis”. After the Saudi Embassy denied the accusations, not one probed further or contacted the Saudis for a more detailed comment on the allegations. Just as the slogan of the “MeToo” movement has become “believe all women” (with questionable results), the slogan of the current craze around the Saudis appears to be “believe all attackers/dissidents/anyone with a grievance”. Investigative rigor of pursuing all perspectives has gone out the window, perhaps because the agenda is not to inform the public, but to shape the narrative, and also to give a particular portion of the readership what they are inclined to believe and want to hear. Would these outlets make a successful American businessman a villain of a story that also involves a controversial Saudi prince, whose reputation they themselves had already undermined with previous reporting? Doing so would amount to an admission of incompetence or malice against Mohammed bin Salman in previous reporting.
Finally, it is Qatar rather than Saudi Arabia that has a reputation for hacking critics. An Arab journalist details the cyberattack on him following his investigation into Qatar’s policies, one of 1,500 celebrities reportedly hacked by the agents of the country. Elliott Broidy, a former Republican Party apparatchik who has gained his own renown for allegedly plotting policies to counter Qatar’s influence in the US with an Emirati operative, unsuccessfully sued Doha for the alleged hack and leak of his email, which revealed embarrassing personal and professional information, leading to his resignation from his post. However, while his legal attempt at holding Qatar and its agents accountable for the hack has thus far failed, his efforts at disclosing the various parties involved in illicit Qatari schemes found their way into the press. Even the NY Times was forced to acknowledge that hacking has become a strategic method of promoting its agenda and intimidating potential critics, as well as a pathway to espionage for Qatar.
And those who have followed Qatar’s increasingly aggressive interference in the West and foreign affairs, as David Reaboi has, have noted that even as Qatar openly engaged in aggressive and criminal activity, the US media has become a “megaphone for foreign agitprop”. The above-mentioned outlets all continued to support the pro-Qatar, anti-Saudi narrative, even after Qatar’s hacking scandal broke, revealing that it was not merely a coincidence, but pecuniary and political motives, that drove some in the media to align with a country openly using its intelligence to meddle and spy in the US, and hack US citizens.
Given the ironic role these outlets have played whitewashing Qatar’s hacks at the time, the contrast with the coverage of the allegations concerning Mohammed bin Salman is striking. What gives this different treatment, where in the first instance, over a thousand reputable critics came forward as witnesses against Qatar’s hacking, and where various well known entities were implicated in the recruitment of agents for the leak and distribution of Broidy’s kompromat, and where in the second instance there is little more than Bezos’ personal vendetta backed by weak poorly sourced reports by his political allies?
How did Mohammed bin Salman Arouse the Media and Intelligence Agencies’ Ire?
Why are the campaigners against the Crown Prince so relentless in their hounding?
David Reaboi outlines some of the ignoble role the media has played in this gruesome saga, not as an impartial arbiter of some moral standards, nor as an objective pursuer of truths, but rather as nothing more than crude tools employed by various autocratic foreign regimes in pursuit of their anti-Saudi foreign policy.
However, there is more to the story (and a long litany of Mohammed bin Salman’s enemies) than just the media.
No sooner had Mohammed bin Salman burst onto the political scene than controversy and media speculation about the heir to the throne began. That event coincided with the announcement of the boycott against Qatar following Doha’s rejection of the thirteen demands put forth by the members of the Anti-Terrorism Quartet (KSA, UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain) and which included the calls to shut down Al Jazeera, an appeal to move away from Iran, the push to drop support for various terrorist groups and the funding of Muslim Brotherhood, and a warning against further meddling in the politics of various MENA states. Simultaneously dealing with the Qatar crisis, the Crown Prince was also handling the ongoing war in Yemen, an aggressive push for domestic reform, and the necessary move to consolidate power, which included a corruption probe against some Royal Family members and their associates with a reputation for involvement in dubious financial and political schemes.
Not too long after, the rumors began.
Some were focused on Mohammed bin Salman’s alleged personal hypocrisy, including the supposedly shocking allegations that the Prince who went after some people for corruption himself had purchased an expensive yacht, chateaux, and a painting. Some of these rumors were so poorly sourced that the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal were forced to withdraw these stories. New rumors started flying with the corruption probe, each more incredible than the next. The rumors began with a story in an obscure Arabic language Qatari-backed publication in London, quickly moved to the known pro-Qatar vehicle the Middle East Eye, and from there, in various forms and with details increasingly vague and unverifiable, migrated to The Guardian, NY Times, and other major publications.
The story, which sounded dubious from the start, concerned some official under investigation for corruption allegedly being tortured to death. His personal details and circumstances of his supposed demise increasingly disappeared as the story moved up in ranks. No New York Times or other journalist ever bothered following-up on the story and either collaborating or dismissing these allegations, and nothing ever came of it due to the lack of detail. However, the story circulated for months firmly embedding itself in the public mind, even as details faded over time, perhaps deliberately so.
The spread of similarly emotionally appealing but vague and unsupported stories attacking Mohammed bin Salman’s character were published with increased frequency as his first visit to the United States drew closer. By the time he arrived for a three week series of meetings, the media war, mostly consisting of subtle attacks on his image as a reformer popular with young people and with a mindset for a blossoming relationship with the West, appeared to be at its apogee. Most of these allegations smacked of an old Soviet-style smear campaign. Thanks to the widespread network of Qatari and Qatar-funded media, character assassination was back in vogue
The Aim of the Attacks is to Discredit the Crown Prince and to Demoralize His Supporters
Character assassination can be broadly defined as the “malicious and unjustified harming of a person’s good reputation”. It can, but not always does, fall under the legal category of “defamation of character”; however, the smear techniques used to destroy one’s reputation are not always false, nor necessarily carry legal culpability. In international relations, various forms of character assassination have been used as part of information warfare strategy to smear, demoralize, and, ultimately, to disarm their opponents. Information warfare is not a simple concept to define. According to some sources, information warfare involves information collection, transport, protection, and manipulation with the aim of gaining a competitive advantage over one’s adversary, whether in the military, intelligence, political, or business context. Other elements may include information disturbance, degradation, and denial. Another way of looking at it is as a combination of electronic warfare, cyberwarfare, and psy-ops (psychological operations).
Information warfare utilizes cyberspace, advanced computing, mobile networks, unmanned systems, and social media to gather intelligence, disrupt the operational capabilities of the other adversary, and to engage in a variety of tasks to advance the mission of the governmental or non-state actors.
Character assassination is an element of information warfare that can be pursued through a variety of disinformation tactics and is generally considered a type of psy-ops. More recently, however, traditional means of character assassination, has also relied on various types of cyberwarfare, such as hacking to advance the agenda of destroying the reputation of the target. In the course of the past two years, all of these methods had been used with the clear aim of bringing about the downfall of the Crown Prince, or at least weakening his relationships with Western countries and portions of the Arab world. The death of the former Saudi government spokesman and intelligence officer Jamal Khashoggi sparked a spike in attacks on the Crown Prince, which bordered on obsessive. For months, not a day passed without some supposedly objective Western outlet characterizing him in highly negative terms and by contrast, falsely painting Khashoggi to be an innocent journalist, whose only crime was his criticism of the monarchy and who met his end at Mohammed bin Salman’s hands for that reason.
The attacks were soon interspersed with negative publicity related to a group of women’s rights activists, both men and women, who were detained and eventually put on trial after being accused of working with foreign entities against Saudi Arabia. Indeed, journalists and political operations seemed to merge into one as increasingly negative stories about Saudi Arabia, regardless of how irrelevant, superficial, or one-sided continued to proliferate. Most journalists somehow managed to tie in literally anything that happened in US politics or in the region to Jamal Khashoggi and to the Crown Prince—whether it was the war in Yemen or the story of runaway Saudi girls who have had conflicts with their strict families. Mohammed bin Salman’s face was brought to every publication and was made to embody some abstract evil, while the incorrect narrative about Khashoggi’s death, often based entirely on leaks from Turkish newspapers affiliated with the local intelligence agencies, took on increasingly gruesome and often contradictory iterations.
The result of this coordinated series of attacks included the withdrawal of various lobbyists and business partners from work with Saudi Arabia, two Congressional resolutions holding Mohammed bin Salman personally responsible for Khashoggi’s death, a joint Congressional resolution pushing for US withdrawal from Yemen (which was vetoed by President Trump), and negative coverage of Saudi Arabia even following terrorist attacks and acts of war committed against its people and infrastructure by Iran and its proxies. The character assassins who went after the Crown Prince were successful in creating negative impressions of his person because, they took advantage of three factors: 1.) the bitter political climate in the US, 2.) the information vacuum left by the Saudis themselves, and 3.) unsuspecting Western audiences who were overwhelmed with one-sided stories from a multitude of seemingly respectable outlets. The non-stop coverage permeated every conceivable type of institutions, and while the Khashoggi-related discussions waxed and waned, the attacks on the Crown Prince himself never fully abated.
The media played a significant role in facilitating these attacks.
Who are the Forces Behind the Media and Political Campaigns to Punish or Oust the Crown Prince?
The media has allowed Turkish leaks to drive the narrative, showing little concern for truth or justice, and willingly publishing even the wildest stories, taking little responsibility when these tidbits from Erdogan’s table changed momentarily. Essentially, the leading Western Press, as Lee Smith writes, has become a tool of political operatives and foreign and domestic intelligence agencies with an agenda—to take down Mohammed bin Salman, and to replace him with members of the reactionary faction that was at the helm prior to his surprising rise to power. Ironically, the same people who blame the Saudi government for its alleged support for Saudi members of Al Qaeda who perpetrated the 9/11 terrorist attacks are gunning to remove the very person who pushed that faction from power. Is their agenda modernization and, however gradual, liberalization and reform of Saudi Arabia, or are they merely concerned with access to their old and well-known players?
The Old Guard, with its connections to the Western intelligence agencies, was at the forefront of assorted leaks and fabrications that plagued the early months of investigations into Khashoggi’s death and subverted the assessment of the security situation. Turkish President Erdogan immediately took advantage of the events to push his own narrative, claiming to have a secret tape tying the Crown Prince to the murder; however, the tape itself was never fully released and to this day, nothing concrete is known about what actually happened. It was obvious that at the time that Turkey, which was pushing for a pathway into Syria and which was enduring increasing tensions with the United States, was using this opportunity to extort Saudi Arabia and the United States, with bad optics if nothing else, in exchange for significant leeway to pursue its own agenda.
Mohammed bin Salman’s corruption probe may have recovered some money for the country and temporarily stopped some Islamist sympathizers and funders from their destabilizing activities inside the country and plots against the Crown Prince, but he, without a doubt, has further angered those who already had grievances against him, whether as a result of competing claims to power, different political priorities, old family grudges, or condescension towards a young prince who surpassed many older pretenders with his quick rise to prominence. Alwaleed bin Talal, the son of the Soviet-sympathizing “Red Prince”, who is known for funding interfaith efforts in the West but also for his financial schemes, was a backer and promoter of Jamal Khashoggi, as was Turki al-Faisal, the former Chief of Intelligence, who has strong contacts with Western intelligence agencies, especially the US, UK, and Germany. Turki al-Faisal was not imprisoned during the probe, but Alwaleed was placed under arrest. The famous former Ambassador Bandar bin Sultan, whose daughter is the new Saudi Ambassador to the United States and whose son is the Ambassador to the UK, is alleged to be under a travel ban. He, too, was a Washington insider, who once was a press favorite and feed information to US intelligence agencies.
The backers of former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef—who was surrounded by Muslim Brotherhood supporters, such as the Governor of Mekka (Turki al-Faisal’s half-brother, Khalid al-Faisal)—are using the grievances of those implicated in the corruption probe who lost their money, freedom, and/or dignity to undermine the Crown Prince, going so far as to align with Turkish, Qatari, Muslim Brotherhood, and Western intelligence actors with an interest in weakening, extorting, or displacing the Crown Prince with someone more pliable, such as bin Nayef or another familiar candidate.
All these actors knew they could not act directly in a palace coup against Mohammed bin Salman as he has managed to consolidate the support of the National Guard and other security agencies, but the intelligence apparatus within the country could—and given what happened with Khashoggi—very likely was infiltrated by those looking to subvert his agenda—and who, via the likes of Turki and Bandar—could have worked with their old Western contacts and counterparts to pursue that common goal. None of that is spoken of in public in Saudi Arabia, particularly to foreigners—and yet, without understanding the extent of penetration of Western institutions by the enemies of the Crown Prince, we cannot begin to understand the seriousness of the unfolding situation. Essentially, we have portions of Western intelligence agencies working against the security interests of the United States in having a stable, liberalizing, economically prosperous Saudi Arabia with a leading role in the Middle East. The supposedly independent and private media has been disinforming the public, and taking part in political operations that impact the events both in the United States and abroad. And now it appears that the business community, or at least some individuals such as Jeff Bezos, can also be coopted by these foreign and domestic interests, in pursuit of the same goals, even if their own grievances and agendas are entirely personal.
According to many Saudis social media giants inflict unequal crackdowns, shadow bans and account suspensions, for those who praise the Crown Prince while anti-Saudi bots and accounts are allowed to replicate and spread propaganda. We are already seeing the impact of such alliances in the Silicon Valley and the tech world, as much as on K Street and in intelligence agencies. These institutions may not need to be paid off by Qatar or Turkey, but they may have domestic political agendas that are in line with the anti-Saudi forces, and although they may not agree on long-term goals, they can certainly be more immediate allies.
Qatar and Muslim Brotherhood activists had a ball with their own media in smearing the Crown Prince, who stood in the way of Qatar’s sponsorship of terrorist groups and Islamists in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and even in the United States, and who expelled Muslim Brotherhood ideologues from their positions in the mosques inside KSA. Iran lobbyists and former Obama officials, who were threatened by Saudi Arabia’s opposition to the nuclear deal and Iran’s assorted regional proxies, too, had a hand in promoting the anti-Crown Prince narrative, which soon became an expertly organized and coordinated media and political campaign, with the same type of language describing Mohammed bin Salman appearing in multiple, otherwise divergent outlets and channels.
It helped that the PR campaign concerning his role was superficial and it took only a rumor to besmirch a pristine image. The Crown Prince was described only in terms of his own image as a young dynamic reformist leader, but his substantive accomplishments inside the Kingdom have not been explored in depth, particularly in the period leading up to Khashoggi’s demise. Whatever positive impression he made on the Western public was easily destroyed by the very first scandal and rumors.
The media was a willing partner to all of these interests in part and parcel because they, too, viewed the Crown Prince as a disruptive force that threatened a comfortable status quo. Many of the media were connect to the “Old Guard” and benefited both financially and in terms of social status from those relationships. Mohammed bin Salman’s focus on internal reforms and reduction of media related expenditures upstaged their access, their influence, and supposed expertise on Saudi Arabia, which consisted ultimately of the leaked crumbs of information from the country’s intelligence officials. Ultimately, none of the smear attacks against Mohammed bin Salman were about human rights, Saudi Arabia’s role, or anything other than bringing down a political leader that stood in the way of power and influence.
Qatar’s economic and political interests in distancing US from KSA and becoming the primary investor and counterpart played their part, for sure. Muslim Brotherhood saw this as an opportunity to promote their own ideology, particularly if their adversary was weakened and his credibility suffered. The lack of interest in the human side of the Saudi story was transparent and obvious: there was no real attempt by the Western scolds to engage with the Saudis and provide opportunities for professional networking or to volunteer their skills in a variety of productive ways, any of which could have had practical utility towards making Vision 2030 easier to achieve. Many Westerners did not necessarily share in all of Qatar’s, Turkey’s, the Old Guard’s, or Obama’s political agendas, were nevertheless otherwise threatened by the possibility of Saudi Arabia rising, developing its own industries, and assuming independent leadership in the region.
For that reason, even the defense sector that benefited the most from deals with Saudi Arabia, did not lean on Congress particularly hard to ensure that the relationship endured, but just enough to get these deals to pass. Universities, tech companies, and assorted would be cultural and business counterparts that ultimately abandoned Saudi Arabia, may not have had a specific anti-Saudi agenda to begin with, but ultimately yielded to the increasingly radical left movement in US institutions and its partnership with both Sunni and Shi’a Islamists.
At the end of the day, Mohammed bin Salman found himself isolated not because he did anything worse than any other leader in the region, or the world, but because he is not a convenient presence for anyone who does not wish to see Saudi Arabia to become a powerful and modern country, or who is opposed to the reforms—cultural, and religious, as much as political and economics. Thus assorted radicals, Islamists, leftists, self-interested Iran stooges, and corrupt media and institutional apparatchiks made a strange alliance, all focused not on building bridges or overcoming any specific issues or making either Saudi Arabia or the West better places, but rather on bringing down the one person who stood in their way to full control of institutions, narratives, minds, and self-enrichment. Islamists, in the past, had colluded with the media and assorted social institutions and felt comfortable in that alliance.
Mohammed bin Salman ruined the party—and what better way to pay him back for these political operatives who imagined themselves to be central to journalism and the gatekeepers of truth and morality than by humiliating him where he should have been reaping success and destroying every potential for anything positive? They took advantage of existing vulnerabilities in Arab culture & media and in Western polarization and increasing lack of critical thinking, and sold everyone a dark fairy tale that too many people with too many interests were all too ready to swallow. Ultimately, the only way to overcome these issues, to repair the Crown Prince’s reputation in the West, and to expose this unholy alliance seeking to undermine him, is by working to shift the perspective of the West towards KSA from viewing it as a “necessary evil” or an inconvenient ally to understanding that there is a lot of good will, and genuine interest, in deepening cooperation and collaboration.
Eventually, even the internally focused Crown Prince started to wise up and take measures to protect his own reputation from these attacks.
What are the Options for Shutting Down These Attacks and to Prevent Further Reputational Damage?
As Dr. Najat Al Saeed explains, Mohammed bin Salman, in his recent visit to the UAE, inaugurated a joint KSA-UAE Committee to Combat Character Assassination. The idea is to counter psychological/information warfare against the leaders of these countries by various forces. However, so far, there is no evidence that the Committee has been able to produce anything of value. The response from the Embassy to this latest attack has been extremely mild and did not yet shut down this meritless discussion. If anything, it invited further leaks by Bezos. For now, Bezos is acting like he has nothing to fear. He has calculated the risk of engaging in likely defamatory tactics, and having seen how paralyzed the Saudis get in the wake of such extremely bad publicity, decided that he is better off taking his chances, since the Kingdom will not wish to dignify his below-the-belt tactics with a substantive strategic response.
If Mohammed bin Salman wishes to put an end to this resource-draining, distracting, and needless damaging bullying smear campaign, he should pursue an active, forward-looking strategy aimed at both preventing and shutting down these disinformation campaigns at the root, before they take on a life of their own. The strategy should include at least four major prongs:
Legal—it should be legally costly to engage in any sort of deliberate defamation, especially where the allegations are likely to be proven false. Bezos’ ill intent and the extent of reputational damage may be the easiest elements to prove here; even if there is ultimately a settlement of some sort, KSA should make it clear that there will be a legal pushback and that Bezos himself will be embarrassed and lose credibility in the process.
PR—Saudis should not be waiting for the events to resolve
themselves. Left to their own devices, the Crown Prince’s enemies will continue
searching for new, additional angles of attack. Saudis should identify strong
spokespeople not afraid of engaging in deliberative and strategic
confrontations, and have them respond to these attacks, attend panel
discussions, make frequent appearances on TV, and be fairly assertive in
combating these allegations before the public. Such spokespeople should be well
prepared to keep calm, and to understand the Western mentality. At the same
time, they should not forget about the positive aspects of public outreach and
communication, and be able to engage with the public itself, to explain the
situation, to introduce the people to the country in a positive way that makes
it easy to examine its position, and to focus on relevant issues, not just what
feels like “fun” to the insiders (i.e. talk about Saudi accomplishments in
hosting Western-style events, which have no bearing on these attacks or most
Furthermore, the media has to be held accountable for failure to do due diligence, but more importantly based on emerging evidence of collusion by various outlets in support of foreign interests and with clear agendas to convey false narratives and to inflict reputational damage on Mohammed bin Salman as a person, and on the Kingdom. Recently, CNN was forced to settle with an American high school student Nick Sandmann, after painting him in a false light and demonizing him for his alleged role in the March of the Living. The standard of proof of defamation by the media is substantially higher for a public figure, but nevertheless not impossible to meet, at least to the extent of sending a strong message that such campaigns are damaging to the public confidence in journalism and destructive to the United States, as much as to Saudi Arabia.
The media has been able to use a few cases of disgruntled activists to play on public sympathies and proclivity for bleeding heart Americans and anti-Saudi bigots to favor anyone who appears to be acting in pursuit of “democracy”. But if the events of the Arab Spring have taught anyone anything, it is to be skeptical of the claims made by such “do-gooders” and to vet carefully both the claimants and their agendas. Saudis can play an invaluable role as partners to the United States in educating the public about fallacious arguments, deceptive organizations, and doublespeak narratives. That means, however, that they can no longer afford the luxury of isolating themselves and refusing to take an active social role.
Cybersecurity—Saudis should invest into this sector, first by hiring the best in the business from the West, and second by having them train young Saudis (including the top echelons of the government) in secure communications and best practices. For the instant crisis, they should hire independent forensics experts to examine the accounts in question and not rely on Bezos to make their case for them. As far as Bezos is concerned, truth doesn’t matter. The Saudis are already a step behind, but finding out exactly what happened will help them immensely.
Information Warfare—the Saudis should understand that they
cannot ignore the crisis into dissolving as after over two years of the
tensions with Qatar, Turkey, Muslim Brotherhood, assorted infiltrators of the
Western intelligence agencies, and others, it is obvious that they are invested
in having the Saudis in general, and Mohammed bin Salman specifically, fail.
They should, therefore, invest into media mechanisms that could win public
hearts and minds, as well as identify the vulnerabilities of their enemies’ and
hit at them.
For instance, Amazon’s poor information security is an opportunity for some great billboards in Times Square outlining how Bezos’ poor practices endanger millions of users, and also to develop Saudi or Saudi & Western joint ventures, alternatives to Amazon that are better, more responsive to individual needs, and are more secure. Amazon is a great service, but is not beyond competition and is certainly not too big to fail if its founder is more invested in fighting wars on behalf of foreign regimes than in ensuring cyber security for his customers.
Most importantly, the Saudis should remind the public that the burden is on the accuser—in this case, Jeff Bezos—to prove his claims. Allegations should not be given the weight of evidence to be used as weapons to discredit, smear, and destroy reputations even of individuals in positions of wealth and power, such as Mohammed bin Salman. His position in life does not nullify his basic human right to be treated with justice and not to have his life destroyed by rumors, hearsay, and malicious campaigns.
The AUKUS Alliance and “China’s Maritime Governance Strategy” in the Indo-Pacific
1) Announcing the (French-Indian alliance) to confront the (Australian-American alliance) for establishing a (new multilateral system), and the AUKUS alliance conflicted with the (Anglo-Saxon Five Eyes intelligence alliance), and New Zealand’s rejection of the Australian deal with Britain
2) The AUKUS alliance and the division between (technological and defense democracies against Washington), in favor of strengthening Chinese technological and defense alliances with pro-Beijing political regimes
3) The division of (the Quadruple Regional Alliance) against China led by Washington, (India’s alliance with France in defense, and India’s alliance with Iran economically and strategically in favor of China) fails and restricts (AUKUS alliance) against China
4) Uniting the front of the Chinese naval communist alliances in the face of the authoritarian maritime democracies led by Washington
5) Beijing’s support for the strategy of “maritime governance” in the (Indo-Pacific) region, in the face of “AUKUS Defense Alliance” led by Washington
Since the signing of the “AUKUS Defense Alliance between the United States of America, Australia and Britain“, the Egyptian researcher, as a well-known expert in my region on Chinese political affairs, as well as my closeness to a number of Chinese political files in the Middle East, noticed a dangerous thing happening, namely:
A- I was academically and analytically, surrounded by an increasing number of emails from American and Western think tanks and research centers, to promote the idea of (AUKUS Alliance and the creation of a new world order by the USA).
B- The insistence of a large number of academic colleagues in the West and the United States of America, that it recognize China’s defensive and security defeat in the face of Washington, by declaring the “AUKUS Defense Alliance, in addition to the former Quad alliance, also led by Washington”.
C- This was also accompanied, perhaps for the first time, with a large number of international invitations that I received to work in several universities and a number of research projects, to develop my perceptions and ideas of the shape of the new world order, especially with my in-depth research and academic experience for many years in the files of China in the Middle East and globally.
D- It also coincided with an invitation that I received from the Syrian TV to analyze the “Australian submarine crisis with France, and the AUKUS Defense Agreement”, on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, and to note the American follow-up to my analysis of this crisis with other international analysts, by covering a speech by the US State Department spokesperson before the program will immediately begin to analyze the crisis raised, regarding the “AUKUS Defense Agreement between Washington, Australia and Britain“.
E- This is also in line with (the deep research and academic desire within me to continue my research, academic, analytical and practical career from inside Beijing once again, to study all those new actual changes in that region surrounding China), especially with the American insistence in 2017, to change its name from (the “Asia-Pacific” region to the “Indo-Pacific” region), as an American attempt to ensure the exclusion of China from the interactions of that region surrounding it regionally, in return for involving India as an ally of Washington and a competitor to China.
F- Perhaps what academically, intellectually and research surprised the Egyptian researcher, given my deep understanding of the interactions of that sensitive area surrounding China, according to the (Chinese and American viewpoints together), is the global academic and research situation that occurred, with the establishment of many (think centers, centers and giant research and discussion groups, and international peer-reviewed scientific journals), all of which bear the name of (Indo-Pacific), and not under its previous name (Asia-Pacific).
G- This previous mentioned point, means analytically that defining it (in the Pacific), leads to ensuring the exclusion of China from its interactions, and restricting the freedom and movement of China’s extensions, ambitions and movements in the (South and East China Sea regions, extending its territorial and maritime borders to the Indo and Pacific region), according to the Chinese perception, which is what Washington and its allies completely rejected.
L- Accordingly, upon my following up with a deep analysis, as an Egyptian academic expert in Chinese political affairs, of all those American and Western analyses that I have received, read and understood their analytical angle well, on the “formation and reshape of a new world order led by the United States of America“, so, based on my very accurate understanding of all American perceptions and the Western aforementioned, I favored to develop this comprehensive detailed international analysis in all its aspects and dimensions, which scientifically proves and responds to all previous analyzes, with my new analysis, which I am proving here in practice, that we are actually in the process of:
(Features of a new global division between maritime and technological democracies according to American ideological terms, division and conflict of American and Anglo-Saxon defense agendas, violation of the democratic laws of some allies of countries to Washington, such as: “New Zealand“, preparing for a new (European defense alliance) and excluding Washington from it, and the contradiction of the goals of the “AUKUS American Defense Alliance” with the “Alliance of Five Eyes Anglo-Saxon Intelligence”, the French announcement of coordination with India, as the Washington’s ally to create a new multilateral system, rejection of “New Zealand”, as a Washington’s ally and Australia of the Australian nuclear submarine deal, and the Beijing’s start to create new regional maritime alliances, and the re-introduction of its “Chinese Maritime Governance document” to restrict and curb the (American naval ambitions and influence in the Maritime offshore near areas of China).
– This previous brief summary analysis, I preferred to put in the beginning to “analytically, academically, militarily, security and defensively” respond, and most importantly, from my practical experience to understand the American mentality towards China, and how Beijing can respond to any alliances or moves led by Washington against it in the first place.
From here we understand, and we almost all agree, that the “AUKUS Agreement” is basically a defense agreement directed against China, a point reinforced by the fact that the leaders (Britain, the United States, Australia) have appeared together through the video that has spread globally, to announce this partnership, due to the increasing importance of the “Indo-Pacific region” for both the United States and the United Kingdom.
Although British officials insisted that the new “AUKUS defense agreement” is not a response to any country, Britain reiterates that it is directed to maintain (security and stability in the Indo-Pacific regions) and to support a “peaceful rules-based order“. It’s not a secret that Britain, the United States and Australia share concerns about (the Chinese military build-up) in the region, and the fears of threatening their interests.
The AUKUS deal represents a strategic turning point, especially as it is the first time that the United States of America has made a deal to provide such sensitive technology with a country other than Britain, and here we find that the only country with which the United States has shared this type of (nuclear propulsion technology for the AUKUS submarine Nuclear deal) to Australia is Britain only, since 1958, which is a dangerous strategic shift in the US military and defense thought against China, by seeking to strengthen Washington’s alliances and its allies in all directions to confront Beijing, through (forming a strategic security alliance in the Indo-Pacific region).
– The Egyptian researcher found analytically that the most prominent results of this (maritime division) that was begun by Washington in confronting China and France itself as a freely democratic country, are the following:
1) Announcing the (French-Indian alliance) to confront the (Australian-American alliance) for establishing a (new multilateral system), and the AUKUS alliance conflicted with the (Anglo-Saxon Five Eyes intelligence alliance), and New Zealand’s rejection of the Australian deal with Britain
Perhaps the most analytical point that caught my attention was the division created by Washington in the regions of Indo-Pacific, causing French and also New Zealand anger for contradicting the AUKUS alliance with its interests, and perhaps the anger of other international and Western parties from Washington for breaking its covenants against France, which could call, according to the Chinese, that:
(Democracies contradict the core of their liberal and humanistic values)
– The most serious consequences caused by the United States of America breaking its covenants with the French, were:
1) The French assertion came – in response to the US-Australian defense alliance against French interests – by publicly declaring France to coordinate work with the Indian side to consolidate a (new pluralistic international order), as two large sovereign states in the Indo-Pacific region.
2) France considered that the American abandonment of the French submarine project and the announcement of (a new partnership between Washington and Australia) constitute unacceptable behavior between (the allies and democratic partners) and inevitably leads to division among the democratic countries in the world, and its consequences affect the concept of (the network of alliances and partnerships for maritime democracies), regarding the importance of the Indo-Pacific region to Europe.
3) Accordingly, the statements of the French politicians, and the French leadership itself confirmed it, by declaring that:
“France is unable to trust Australia in the ongoing talks on a trade agreement with the European Union after the capital, Canberra, abandoned a deal to buy French submarines in favor of American submarines”
4) With the affirmation of the Minister of State for European Affairs, “Clément Bonn” through the various media, by verbatim saying that:
“We are in French trade negotiations with Australia, but we don’t know how we can trust our Australian partners”
5) The most important analytical point for me is what the French Minister, “Clement Bonn“, stated, by emphasizing, that:
“What happened is a serious breach of trust on the part of Australia. International relations are not naivety and good feelings, but the word. Signing contracts means something, but if we lose confidence, we cannot move forward”
6) In addition to the growing distrust (the European Commission) and the unification of the front of the European Union itself against the United States of America and against Australia, which France is an active part in the system of its European countries, where Australia is negotiating with France a large number of trade agreements, noting that (France is negotiating here on behalf of the European governments that are members of the European Commission), and Australia has entered the (eleventh round) of trade negotiations with its European partners, which started with the European Commission since 2018.
A decade before and the announcement of the Australian-American nuclear submarine deal, it was scheduled to hold a next round of talks between Australia and Europe, covering areas, including:
(Trade, services, investment, intellectual property rights)
7) In a French comment on (the consequences and repercussions of French anger), regarding the ongoing trade negotiations between the European Union and Australia to conclude a (Free Trade Agreement), “Dana Spenant“, Deputy Spokesman for the European Commission, confirmed that:
“There will be no immediate impact on discussions and relations with Australia, with the full assurance that there is great anger among politicians, the French street and all shades of public opinion”
8) The French considered that (the American-Australian-Brtish defense alliance is directed against France mainly to exclude it from the Indian and Pacific regions), to prevent any French leadership role there. It is a project that threatens to undermine French ambitions in the region, and even distance it from it.
9) The (AUKUS Alliance) is preparing to ensure that Australia obtains a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, a matter that led to the Australian side canceling another huge deal it had concluded with the French side to buy French-made submarines, which in turn would lead to the sensitivity of relations between those countries concerned with France, in the sense that (the United States of America has caused the division of the democratic countries against each other), and not, as Washington is promoting, that the AUKUS deal is the inauguration of a new multilateral world order in the face of China, because the AUKUS agreement has led to the (division and conflict of interests of the maritime and western democracies in the face of Washington basically).
10) Perhaps my analysis of the situation is that there are French fears that Washington deliberately distance France from the (Indo-Pacific region), as a key partner and ally in it, which will increase the state of European fear and distrust in general in confronting the United States of America and partnering with it.
11) On the other hand, it can be considered that (AUKUS alliance is working against the idea of the European Union working system and works against its interests, by including Britain, which left the European Union front), and this is a great diplomatic victory for the British strategy aimed at sparing the country international isolation after Britain left the European Union, especially since the AUKUS treaty or alliance will link Britain, Australia and the United States more deeply, which will reflect on the level of trust between them and confirm the depth of their goal of forming a strong alliance against China.
12) The AUKUS alliance leads to the (independence of the European Union as democratic countries strategically from Washington and the failure of any US-European alliance in the future), especially if it is directed against China.
13) it’s expected for the upcoming period (increase in the European distrust towards Washington), especially with the catastrophic American failure in several global files, such as: withdrawal from Afghanistan, and others, which leads to a lack of effective cooperation between the European Union countries as democratic countries with the American side that can’t be trusted.
14) It is as well expected that after the AUKUS agreement and the betrayal of the American-Australian trust towards their democratic partners in Europe, the European Union will move to discuss ways to strengthen (the issue of strategic independence and the European Union’s defense system), perhaps in the face of Washington itself.
15) It is worth noting that the EU and France were upset about the deal not because they were not included in it, but because they were not consulted in the first place. This was confirmed by the European Union’s foreign policy coordinator “Josep Borrell“, who confirmed that:
“The AUKUS Agreement, which was concluded without the consultation of the European Union, requires the need to put strategic European autonomy high on the agenda”
16) Perhaps one of the most dangerous analytical point for the Egyptian researcher, is what was confirmed by the French side, considering the Europeans’ defense and independence from Washington, as the only effective means of defending European interests in the international community, including the Indo-Pacific region.
17) Based on the foregoing, the European Union “EU” announced (a new strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, after few hours of unveiling of the “AUKUS Alliance”, which considered by the Europeans that it was directed against all of them, not only against France.
18) What deepened the crises of the democratic countries allied with Washington and their division in the face of the United States of America, despite the fact that they are democratic, maritime and technological countries also with the same American approach, is (the rejection of the State of New Zealand as a democratic system also close to the United States of America, Britain and Australia), by allowing submarines to enter Australian nuclear to the depth or borders of New Zealand territorial waters, and New Zealand’s anger at (Washington’s exclusion of it from the new partnership agreement between the capital, Canberra and Washington), and New Zealand’s rejection of the Australian nuclear submarine deal, based on the policies officially established in New Zealand, since 1985, which expressly states, on:
“The state of New Zealand prohibits the entry into its territorial waters of any nuclear-powered ship”
19) Perhaps, we find that with the continued refusal of New Zealand to enter Australian nuclear submarines to its territorial waters near Canberra, this may threaten in the future severe tension in relations between (Australia, Britain and the United States of America in the face of New Zealand and its policies), despite the state of the alliance and permanent partnership between Australia And New Zealand for decades due to the proximity of the territorial waters and the maritime borders between the two countries.
20) Expectations also increasethat (many of democratic countries surrounding themselves will not join the AUKUS defense alliance with Washington), given the complex requirements that Washington imposes on its allies, given the nature of large defense alliances, especially against China, which requires special security arrangements that are not available in many countries, even with the democratic ones.
21) The State of New Zealand also considers that (AUKUS Defense Alliance is an alliance against its vital interests with both Australia and Britain), which shares with “New Zealand” in another defense and security alliance in the “Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance”, which worries New Zealand about its conflicting interests. With Washington’s interests and ambitions with Australia towards China.
22) There are also criticisms from within (the countries of the Quad Quartet alliance led by Washington and its allies against China), directed at the AUKUS defense alliance led by Washington also against China), with the focus of the “AUKUS Alliance” on (the US security dialogue and defense coordination with the Anglo-Saxon countries, not the Asian region in the most near Beijing).
23) In the same context, other criticisms were directed to Washington from some democratic countries themselves, that are friendly and ally to it as well, that the “AUKUS Defense Alliance”, doesn’t include any new security arrangements, and didn’t seek to involve other countries allied to Washington, and therefore the “AUKUS Alliance”, according to a number of friends and allies of Washington, as support to:
(Quartet Security Dialogue, ASEAN Agreement, Bi-Regional Partnerships in the Asian Region, and Indo-Pacific area)
From here, we can analytically understand, the growing state of distrust between the European partners in the face of Washington, which may lead to the failure of the American strategy to form (a new democratic world order according to American perceptions), after the United States of America lost the confidence of its European democratic allies and even the “Anglo-Saxon state of New Zealand”, and France, of course, deepened the state of suspicion and mistrust in any future alliance with Washington.
And, this case analytically is similar to the Egyptian researcher, as it goes back to an old theory, called “the theory of democracies are going to fight each other”, as the previous mentioned analysis reveals to us with evidence that the AUKUS alliance or agreement is an actual return for us to the same previous concept meaning, about “the division of democratic countries against each other, and their fight against each other by searching for their self-interests and distrust or mutual coordination between them, as in the case of the Australian nuclear submarine deal against French interests“.
Here, it comes the most dangerous from my point of view, that the growing sense of mistrust and lack of transparency towards Washington from its European partners and the democracies themselves, may hinder Washington itself from making any other alliances coming in the future, especially with (European leaders, the European Commission and the Anglo-Saxon state of New Zealand), as a result of Washington betraying their trust, by violating French covenants and agreements with Australia and Britain for narrow American interests directed primarily against China, and representing an attack on the maritime sovereignty of the territorial waters of New Zealand, and contradicting defense agreements and alliances that exist in the first place, Washington had to enter it to strengthen its allies, instead of increasing the state of division by creating America’s new defense alliances.
2) The AUKUS Agreement and the division between (technological and defense democracies against Washington), in favor of strengthening Chinese technological and defense alliances with pro-Beijing political regimes
One of the most prominent negative results of the (AUKUS agreement) was what was announced by the United States of America and US President (Joe Biden) himself, by announcing a new defense alliance between Australia, the United States and Britain, expanding the scope of the technology of American submarines operating with nuclear propulsion to include Australia, in addition to the (security technologies, Electronic) alliances, additionally, the (artificial intelligence, and underwater marine capabilities), as a declared US alliance between American-Australian liberal democratic technologies, in the face of Chinese communist digital technologies. This brings us to another level of analysis, through:
1) Confirmation of the link between the concepts of (democratic technologies and maritime democracies in the face of China), and others. What confirms the previous proposition is the circulation of a new term in mind that has raised China’s concerns regarding (maritime democracies), meaning that the US alliance was only made between (freely democratic countries that pursue liberal ideology), just as Washington divided digital technology into (democratic technology that follows the Western approach, and authoritarian communist technology on the Chinese approach), for countries that have benefited from Chinese fifth-generation networks.
2) Washington deliberately integrates the “technology component of defense” into the (Australian submarine deal), which is an indirect message to Washington in the face of Beijing’s defense technological superiority, which pushes in the region around the Indo-Pacific to increasingly the number of hypersonic missiles at several times the speed of sound, which the current US military capabilities lack reliable defenses against, as well as the advanced Chinese electronic warfare capabilities, which are directed against the (US command, control, and navigation systems), and against (the US Global Positioning System), in addition to China’s technical and technological superiority in the field of using advanced counter-weapons for satellites to reduce the use of intelligence and early warning capabilities of US forces.
3) The Chinese rejection of the new American security partnership with Australia came in its vital strategic environment, because it is “an American ideological deal in the first place”, and it reflects (the same Cold War mentality and the American ideological bias against regimes and countries that are ideologically different from it), with the constant American insistence on spreading its liberal values and ideologies around the world, which has proven its failure in “Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America, Africa“, and all the different countries of the world in their systems than what Washington is promoting.
4) China called the American mentality in the Indo-Pacific region, as reflecting of (the American ideological bias state, in favor of its allies at the expense of other international and regional powers, including Washington’s allies itself), which came in the form of a Chinese protest against the official level, by calling on the Chinese embassy in Washington, that the United States of America should abandon the (Cold War mentality, ideological bias, conflict and competition).
5) Also, the official Chinese warning to the United States of America of its establishment of forms of (exclusionary blocs), with the aim of targeting or harming the interests of other countries, such as: China.
6) The spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, “Mr.Zhao Lijian“, issued a strongly worded statement, in which he considered:
“Washington and London have taken irresponsible behavior that would undermine regional stability and efforts to limit nuclear proliferation, which means intensifying the nuclear arms race by providing Australia with harmful nuclear technology to other neighboring countries such as China”
7) On the other hand, Britain, through its Prime Minister “Boris Johnson“, defended the (AUKUS defense alliance) with Washington in the Indo-Pacific regions, and the United States of America supplied the Australian side with advanced nuclear technology, “Boris Johnson” stated, emphasizing:
“Australia’s acquisition of submarines that operate with advanced nuclear technology maintains regional stability in the region, and that this step was not intended to antagonize any country”
8) The situation of “the ideological, technological and maritime division between the United States and China” has increased in the Indo-Pacific region, with a belief at all levels in China that the “AUKUS Defense Agreement” is (a threat to the Chinese presence in its areas of influence), and an American attempt aimed at (Chinese communist ideology restrained in favor of promoting American ideas and values, centered on democracy and economic and political liberalism), which does not fit the specific circumstances of individual countries such as China.
9) It is clear here that this American insistence on the predominance of (the pattern of ideological character over the strategic competition between Washington and China), and even the American conflict itself, which will extend to all ideologically different countries with American liberal values during the coming period in the form of (conflict or ideological competition to divide the world into Democratic and authoritarian regimes), according to the same American division.
11) It is expected – as a reaction to the new US defense deal with Australia – that China will resort to (employing the economic tool in the face of US defense initiatives), by adopting the method of deals, partnerships and economic investments, in order to prevent countries from siding with the American side in its conflict with the other Chinese side.
12) Likewise, Washington’s intention (merging the maritime and western democracies with the pattern of democratic digital technology, according to the description of the current US administration), through the exchange of advanced American technologies with its network of democratic allies to confront common democratic security challenges, so that it includes multiple other areas of cooperation to meet the emerging security challenges before democratic countries, in the face of other authoritarian and non-democratic regimes, as promoted by the United States of America.
13) Hence, Washington deliberately concluded (democratic defense and technological deals, i.e., with its allies ideologically as liberal democratic countries), as happened with Australia and Britain, through cooperation in a number of fields related to defense, security and democratic technology, such as:
(Cyberspace, artificial intelligence, cyber defense, technology of additional capabilities under the sea)
14) Here, we find the assertion of all the parties allied to Washington against China, that what is happening is (an alliance between democratic, military, technological, defense and political regimes against non-democratic countries), which is almost the same direction taken by the leaders of the three countries (USA, Australia, Britain), by full affirmation, and declaration after completing the AUKUS Defense Deal together:
“It was only natural that the extended defense cooperation relations between the countries of the three maritime democracies culminated in a step that strengthened the relations of friendship and trust that unite them”
15) Hence, it is like (an ideological game of competition to divide the world into two parts, or two parts, or two alliances, liberal-democratic American, and communist authoritarian China), which is something President Biden deliberately declared implicitly that the partnership with Australia will take two forms of (defensive, and technology ideological rivalry), and deliberately linking them together in the name of (democracy).
16) The same context applies to the problem of introducing the concept of “maritime democracies”, based on the common history of the AUKUS countries, as maritime democracies, that is, as countries bordering the seas and adopting a democratic approach.
17) We find that China’s fears revolve mainly around the fear of (Australia’s possession of nuclear-powered submarines on its borders), and China’s desire to differentiate between (submarines operating with nuclear propulsion, or a US submarine deal for Australia equipped with nuclear weapons, which will inevitably be directed against China). Australia, which was denied, asserting that it (works only with nuclear propulsion and is not equipped with any nuclear weapon, according to Chinese fears).
18) As we know, “Joe Biden“, announced several times that the American investment in forming alliances against China, whether they were defensive, economic, or technological, in partnership and the alliance with similar democracies like the USA, according to the American expression, in the face of Chinese communism, and this matter is the greatest source of strength for China to Washington.
19) Hence, we can understand the United States’ attempt to stifle and contain the strategic and vital ocean of China by forming American alliances with the democratic Chinese neighbors, according to the American propaganda, especially since there is another alliance directed against China also by Washington is the “Quadruple Regional Quartet alliance“, with the intention of US President “Joe Biden“, on September 24, 2021, in a meeting at Washington, aimed at establishing an alliance confirmation that includes (Australia, India, and Japan), with a primary goal of (re-launching the quadripartite alliance known as the “Quad” or “Quadruple Security Dialogue”, which includes those four countries.
20) Hence, we find that the AUKUS Alliance, as well as the “Quad Quartet alliance”, led by Washington and its allies in the region surrounding China, aims mainly to put pressure on Beijing’s activities in that region, under the incomprehensible rubber slogan promoted by Washington and its allies called (the Alliance of Democratic Countries), which is incomprehensible from a superpower like Washington, and neglects the different orientations, policies and ideologies of countries and does not understand the special circumstances of each country separately, as Chinese and other nations are always confirming.
21) What added to China’s concerns was the declaration of the countries of the alliance with Washington that (the four partners in the Quad Quadruple Alliance), they should join forces to deepen their commitment to make the “Indo-Pacific region open and free”.
22) Hence, we understand that these phrases are just stretchy phrases or methods adopted by Washington, as diplomatic tools to denounce Chinese regional aspirations in (the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions and the South China Sea), then link them to the development of a system of democratic technologies for the American democratic allies, such as: Australia.
From here, it becomes clear to us by analysis, this basic direction of the policy of the US alliances and its adoption of the formula or the word “democratic technology and democratic freedom”, and thus, to divide the world into two parts or two fronts in the first place (democratic allies with Washington in the face of non-democratic countries led by China), whether politically Defensively, technologically, scientifically…etc.
3) The division of (the Quadruple Regional Alliance) against China led by Washington, by (India’s defense alliance with France, and India’s alliance with Iran economically and strategically, in favor of China), which fails and restricts (American AUKUS alliance) against China
Indian coordination with the French side after the signing of the AUKUS Agreement between the United States of America and Australia is an important response to Washington, as well as a number of other Indian moves, through which it seeks to secure its interests, which may conflict with its ally Washington, as follows:
1) The Indian-Iranian agreements, and the increase in Indian investments in (Chabahar port), despite the US sanctions imposed on Iran.
2) Likewise, India’s announcement several times through its politicians of India’s desire to settle the Iranian nuclear crisis with Washington is also an important example in this context.
3) Also, it can be said that in the event of a settlement of the Iranian-American crisis, this will undoubtedly reflect positively on the chances of implementing the Indo-Iranian axis in the face of American influence in the first place.
4) India is trying to revive the idea of (establishing a trade corridor linking the regions of South, West and Central Asia and Western Europe, all regimes and countries that are mainly allies of China), and India actually began implementing this project in September 2000, with the signing of an actual agreement between (India, Russia, Iran) to create this corridor, all of which are not completely allies of Washington in the same region surrounding the Indo-Pacific regions.
5) India has taken actual measures to establish and even strengthen this former alliance, in order to create a large trade corridor, to link several regions surrounding the (Indo-Pacific) region, by negotiating with several surrounding countries to join and strengthen it, all of which are not allies at all to Washington, such as:
(Central Asian countries, Caucasus region, Armenia, Ukraine, Turkey, plus Bulgaria as an observer member)
6) Despite the great importance of this mentioned project for both (India and Iran), the chances of its implementation were severely affected by the crisis of the Iranian nuclear program, and the associated waves of international economic sanctions on Iran, which led to its temporary suspension, with the expectation that it will be completed once the American negotiations with Iran resume. This is something that India strongly encourages.
7) The most dangerous remains, India’s endeavor to revive the “North-South Corridor” project, which includes countries allied to China, mainly:
(International North-South Transport Corridor “INSTC”)
The former corridor aims to (link India through the port of Mumbai, which is located on the Arabian Sea, and Western Europe through a number of different sea and land routes).
8) Despite the multiple proposed paths of the Indian corridor with those countries close to Western Europe and the Arabian Sea, but (the sea route from the port of Mumbai in India to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on the Strait of Hormuz, and then the land route inside Iran via the railway network), represents a major component in This project proposed by India with its various tracks.
9) Also, what may irritate Washington more towards its ally India in the “Quad Quadruple Alliance”, is this strict Indian tendency towards strengthening and supporting its influence in (the Iranian port of Chabahar), in order to balance (the Chinese influence in the Pakistani port of Gwadar).
10) Hence, we find that the growth of Indo-Iranian relations basically takes on broader and more dangerous dimensions than the Indian presence in the Iranian port of Chabahar, especially with the intensity of analyses on the development of the “Indo-Iranian axis” to balance the “Chinese-Pakistani axis”. Hence, the Indian insistence on the economic, political, and geo-strategic alliance with the Iranian side threatens the failure of the “Quad Quartet alliance led by Washington and its allies to confront Beijing”, especially with that deep strategic partnership between China and Iran in confronting Washington, while India, with Washington forms a front of Quad Quartet alliance against Beijing, but, in the same time, India is establishing an actual relations with the Iranian side, as an archenemy enemy to Washington, and the most closest regime to China.
11) With regard to the American mobilization of New Delhi against the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean region, it has become clear that the Indian lack of interest in sharing Washington’s ambitions in this regard, with the Indian naval mobilization only interested in heading mainly towards (New Delhi’s direct areas of influence), which extend from the (eastern coast of Africa, all the way to the strategic stopping points leading to and from the Indian Ocean, especially the Straits of Malacca and Singapore), and others. Looking at these areas, the Indian mobilization is directed more towards (securing interests within the immediate Indian Ocean region and not to securing the interests of Washington), while projecting Indian naval power in further regions is a secondary task for India, in contrast to the American strategy in that region.
Through the previous detailed analysis of the Egyptian researcher, she was able to demonstrate in a practical way that the Washington’s democratic allies in the (Indo-Pacific regions), led by India, as a mainly Washington’s ally in the (Quad Quadruple Alliance against China), are basically allied with regimes and countries that constitute prejudice to the US national security, such as: (Iran), additionally the countries of (Central Asia and the Caucasus), which are more closest to Russia and China, in the face of Washington.
Hence, we can practically prove by evidence, the applying to (theory of democracies are fighting each other and struggling to search on their interests, even in the face of their liberal ally of the USA).
4) Uniting the front of the Chinese maritime communist alliances in the face of the maritime authoritarian democracies led by Washington
The importance of the United States’ alliances with Australia and Britain, specifically in the “Indo-Pacific” regions surrounding China, is the result of a number of important factors, most notably, are:
A) The growth of Chinese influence beyond the Pacific Ocean region and the South China Sea, and its extension to the Indian Ocean region and the group of sub-regions associated with it.
B) American fear of China has taken more than one level, due to: the large geographical area of the Belt and Road Chinese Initiative, and the extension of the Chinese initiative to a number of major regions in the Indo-Pacific regions, as well as other sub-regions associated with it.
C) In addition to the large Chinese concessions within the seaports on the coasts of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and China’s direction, and most importantly, to build a (new maritime governance).
Hence, China seeks to revitalize a number of its regional alliances in the face of Washington’s alliances in the Indo-Pacific regions, through:
1) Supporting the (Chinese Maritime Silk Road) as a Chinese strategic plan to encircle the Indo-Pacific and the Indo-Pacific regions in the face of the (AUKUS Defense Agreement), which is mainly between Washington and Australia.
2) China will add to its maritime network many of the so-called “nutrition or strategic corridors network“, such as: (securing and strengthening the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), and these corridors are called “economic corridors”, which in fact serve as strategic highways, allowing China to reach (Indian Ocean through the North Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal).
3) China will undermine the US and Australian naval movements, by strengthening its network of alliances with Asian countries that have joined the (Chinese Belt and Road projects), such as: (Pakistan, Myanmar, Maldives, Sri Lanka) by providing huge infrastructure investments to these countries that are friendly to Beijing, which is eventually allows it to use the ports of those countries close to the areas of American influence in the “Indo-Pacific oceans” to encircle and control American ambitions in the region surrounding China.
4) China will also expand the establishment of “naval and military bases” to protect its interests in the face of Washington, and we find that (China’s naval base in Djibouti), as a prominent example of the increasing development in China’s naval strategy.
5) Also, the arrival of China and its investments in several nearby ports, such as: (Gwadar port in Pakistan, Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, and the ports of the Maldives), would facilitate China’s use of such ports (as logistical support centers for Chinese ships to expand its maritime influence on these ports). Naval spaces facing American moves).
6) China will support its economic weight within the regional countries surrounding the “Indo-Pacific” regions, by establishing:
(A huge Chinese market, a stable Chinese position that ensures the decision-making of trade and investment flows in the region, China’s influence as a center of gravity for the main actors within the emerging international groups, such as: (the Group of Twenty, the BRICS, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and dozens of trade agreements free and regional), which resulted in maximizing the gains of the economies of these countries in their relations with China.
7) China seeks to make a group of (polarizing alliances), that is, to attract partners in confronting Washington. In fact, China’s dilemma in pursuing (balanced policies in the Indo-Pacific) will not be confined to the borders of this region only, but also extends to most other sub-regions, including Southeast Asia. This can be confirmed by the speech of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, in which he proposed (signing a treaty of friendship and peace in the Indo-Pacific region), in a clear indication of the preoccupation of the countries of the region with the risks of conflict and polarization between China, the United States of America, Australia and their allies in that region, which will be reflected on the level of trust between them and in the face of each other.
8) China seeks to strengthen the path of the Chinese project “Belt and Road” to encircle and control the United States of America, through the (economic corridor) that links China with (Central Asia – West Asia), and aims in particular to link China with the Asia region and the Indo-Pacific region across the region. The strategy surrounding it, which enables Beijing to accurately monitor Washington’s movements in the Indo-Pacific regions, which reinforces the failure of US alliances in that region facing China and its regional partners.
9) Also, China will try to thwart American moves in the “Asia-Pacific region“, with the intensification of the dependence of the major economies in the “Indo-Pacific” regions (especially in East and Southeast Asia) on China to provide the largest proportion of its various imports, which gives China special importance within the Indo-Pacific region, even if countries, such as: Australia, are mainly allies of the United States of America.
10) China will also re-emphasize (the strategy of naval deployment in the face of American expansion), which reminds us of what happened in 2014, which witnessed a remarkable extension of the Chinese spread in the maritime domain of the Indian and Pacific oceans, when (three ships from the Chinese navy sailed through the Lombok Strait), which is for the first time that movement has taken place from (the South China Sea to the Pacific Islands), and was followed by the entry of several Chinese warships into (Indian waters) under the pretext of searching for a missing Malaysian plane, which increased Indian and American fears at the time about Beijing’s movements in the Indian and Pacific Oceans region.
11) Beijing will seek to exert control pressure on any American movements in the area facing Australia and China after the “AUKUS Defense Alliance”, as confirmed by (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) in mid-July 2021, as Australia announced that “it had detected a second Chinese spy ship on its way to enter the waters off the Northeast Australia Coast, a move that enhances Beijing’s presence in the area near Washington and Canberra to monitor, especially after Canberra and Washington began joint military exercises in mid-July 2021”.
Therefore, the Australian Navy monitored the approach of a Chinese naval spy ship approaching Australia, through the (Solomon Sea around Papua New Guinea).
12) The Australian media has also announced several times before that there are movements of Chinese naval intelligence ships on their way to the area around Australia, through the (Torres Strait), with Australian forces announcing that they are monitoring their movements.
13) We find that there are American and Australian accusations leveled at Beijing during the month of July 2021, of China sending two naval vessels to monitor (the Exorcism Sword exercises between the United States of America and Australia), which are exercises that Washington calls “routine exercises in the military cooperation between the United States and Australia”, and are carried out every two years, which aroused fears and ire of China in its confrontation with Washington and Canberra, while seeking to restrict and curb Australian ambitions in the region with mainly American assistance.
Hence, we almost analytically understand the importance of these Chinese moves at all levels, to globally weaken the maritime strategy of the United States and the places of its positioning and spread, after the United States of America relied more on the three main strategic fulcrums in (Europe, Middle East, Asia and Pacific region), the United States is now focusing intensively its efforts on the Indo-Pacific region, which China has tried to exploit by filling the void left by Washington in other maritime areas of influence.
This makes us analyze another level of American deployment in the face of China, which is (the realistic option), meaning:
“The United States can only enhance the position of the global police by being a good policeman in the Asia-Pacific region, and on the western coast of the Pacific, with no real places of power in it except to guard and secure it as a policeman for the region against China”
5) Beijing’s support for the strategy of “maritime governance” in the (Indo-Pacific region), in the face of the “AUKUS Defense Alliance” led by Washington
China issued a new document in 2017, as a part of its strategy in the “Maritime Silk Road“, to build what Beijing described as a “new maritime governance” in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, in order to limit the US naval spread in the region, and limit the maritime regional influence of neighboring and surrounding countries to strengthen the mechanism of “maritime consultation, partnership and mutual benefit for all”, according to Beijing’s definition of the “maritime governance” strategy, as a new maritime strategy centered on China within the framework of the maritime part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
– Hence, the Egyptian researcher is trying to analyze the possibility of benefiting from this (new Chinese proposal) for the concept of “maritime governance”, to address the (AUKUS defense agreement) and the maritime division in the Indo-Pacific region, through the following Chinese standards and mechanisms:
1) The Chinese proposal for the concept of “strengthening joint maritime security” within the framework of (Chinese maritime governance of the Indo-Pacific region), as a proposal through which Beijing is trying to cooperate with the Australian side and all countries surrounding that maritime region, to jointly participate together to maintain security and stability of the maritime region, as a “proactive step” by Beijing, mainly to block and restrict the American arguments for (China’s maritime expansion in that region).
2) China, by introducing the “Maritime Governance Strategy”, means “collective maritime cooperation in all fields and various aspects of projects in the Indo-Pacific regions”, and promoting China’s win-win cooperation to deepen the collective commitment to maritime services along the Maritime Silk Road.
3) China has even gone beyond (the peaceful concept of maritime governance) to deeper defense aspects related to “strengthening defense, security, strategic and oversight cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region through consultative, coordinating and cooperative maritime governance”, and this is the essentially ambitious plan that China seeks to achieve in that surrounding region. Australia, which is Washington’s closest traditional ally, is working to limit China’s influence in that region.
4) China called for obtaining the consent of the surrounding maritime countries, which China has taken care to call them in its (Maritime Governance Document), for collective regional maritime cooperation with China to maintain “joint maritime security against any external dangers, threats or interference”, through:
(Building a network for monitoring and controlling the seas, strengthening international cooperation on expanding the application of the Chinese system for “satellite navigation” services, which is known in China as “Beidou application”)
5) China called on all maritime parties surrounding the Indo-Pacific regions through the “Chinese Maritime Governance Document” to develop a number of important relevant regulations on (maritime safety and cooperation in the field of maritime safety and security), and Beijing proposed the following:
A- Establishing a mechanism for bilateral and multilateral management and control
B- Develop collective plans and strategies to maintain the security and safety of maritime navigation
C- Collective regional joint combating of crimes within the maritime lines separating the countries concerned
D- Working on the protection, security and safety of maritime navigation
6) Perhaps the most dangerous part, from the Egyptian researcher’s point of view, is the confirmation of the (Chinese Maritime Governance Document) on China’s readiness to assume all “appropriate obligations to maintain the security and stability of the relevant maritime region”, according to its vision of the implications of “maritime governance and its extension”.
7) Through the Maritime Governance Document, China called for (expanding the areas of win-win maritime cooperation), and those expanded areas for collective regional maritime cooperation in (Indo-Pacific regions) from a Chinese point of view of its concept and definition of maritime governance, passing through:
A- The Chinese Maritime Governance Document, calls for the establishment of a (high-level dialogue mechanism for maritime cooperation) between countries along the Indo-Pacific Maritime Route.
B- China is inviting to sign a (series of maritime cooperation documents) between the governments involved in the Indo-Pacific maritime borders across the Indo-Pacific.
C- The Chinese Maritime Governance Document called for maritime (collective partnership) to develop plans for maritime cooperation and implement projects and various areas of cooperation in that surrounding maritime area.
8) According to the Egyptian researcher’s accurate perception and analysis, the part or part related to the “Chinese Maritime Silk Road Initiative”, and its publication of the “Chinese Maritime Governance” document, may have come (as a proactive attempt by Beijing to confront the US naval expansion and spread in the Indo-Pacific surrounding areas of influence China Maritime), which is the reason why the United States of America signed the (AUKUS Defense Alliance) with Australia and Britain to restrict the Chinese maritime governance document.
9) American fears, and the warnings of its rival allies to China in that region, such as: (Japan and Australia), have grown over the issuance of this Chinese document on maritime governance, which is primarily intended to maximize Chinese maritime influence.
10) Perhaps the most problematic for the signing of the (AUKUS Defense Agreement between Australia, Britain and the United States of America), is the fears raised by Washington and its allies about “the timing of issuing the Chinese maritime governance document,” and China’s overreaching its maritime region and borders that center around (the South China Sea region, and parts of the Pacific Ocean), to cover new marine areas from the “Indian Ocean region”, which are not primarily within the maritime border area of China.
11) In addition to other American and Australian accusations against China of trying to impose a maritime governance document, to extend China’s influence around a number of (water areas and seaports surrounding the Indian and Pacific oceans), (as a Chinese attempt to restructure the balance of power in its favor), and overturning all areas of influence of other powers for their own benefit and even control over them.
12) Because of this, the American consensus came with the network of traditional allies in the Indo-Pacific region, to agree on the need to primarily form alliances directed against Beijing’s maritime ambitions, whether (Quad Quartet alliances led by Washington or the AUKUS Defense Alliance led as well by Washington).
13) Perhaps this new transformation came in the re-drafting of a new maritime term that documents those “marine borders that do not enter or share with China to separate Beijing’s maritime borders with other surrounding regional maritime states”.
14) Therefore, the new emergence in recent years of new maritime security vocabulary, and the implicit abandonment of the use of the “Asia-Pacific” concept, and the “Indo-Pacific Document” was actually issued in 2017, because (the Asia-Pacific concept) shares China in a large parts of its borders, while its deportation by referring to the “Indo-Pacific” region, enters in China to another specific region that doesn’t fall within its scope, and this region, according to the American perception and its allies, is known as, the “Indo-Pacific” region.
15) Hence, the concept of “Indo-Pacific” adopted by Washington and its allies in the region surrounding China aims primarily to restrict and curb Chinese ambitions, and it is a concept contrary to the Chinese maritime space in the “Asia-Pacific” region, in order to mainly deal with all Chinese maritime movements in the region, which does not fall within China’s areas of influence, which China strongly rejects, stressing the entry of part of the Indo-Pacific region, and the new designation of the name of the region, as “Indo-Pacific” within the joint maritime borders of China with those countries.
15) The Egyptian researcher reached the Chinese viewpoint rejecting the concept of “Indo-Pacific“, as a vague concept put forward by the United States of America with its network of allies in the maritime region near China, in addition to proposing concepts and general borders that do not rise to dealing with the region.
Based on the previous proposition, we note that the majority, whether on the American or Chinese side, is the intensification of reliance on (the pattern of alliances and partnerships) in confronting each other, which will make it difficult for the United States of America to create a new world order with an alliance of democracies together as promoted by the current American administration led by the “Joe Biden“, which leads to the transmission of this split-over to other regions in the world, and the increasing intensity and degree of American and Chinese polarization against each other, which will increase the intensity and intensity of the level of competition / conflict in this important theater of regional and global politics, and its extension to regions Others in the world such as the Middle East, South and Latin America, the Caribbean, and others.
How Taliban Victory Inspired Central Asian Jihadists
Following the fall of the US-backed Afghan government of Ashraf Ghani on August 15, al-Qaeda-linked Uighur, Uzbek and Tajik jihadi groups widely celebrated the Taliban’s “historic victory” over the “enemies of the Muslim Ummah”. In honor of the Taliban’s rebuilding of the Islamic Emirate, leading Jihadi groups from Central Asia and China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region issued special congratulatory statements, echoed jihadi nasheeds (chants of jihadi glory), arranged a festive feast for their Muhajeers (who immigrated to spread Islam and wage jihad) and gloatingly booed the US military forces leaving Afghanistan on jihadi media.
Turkestan Islamic Party called on all Muslims to unite around the Taliban as one body
Uighur jihadists of the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), formerly known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) from Western China, were one of the first to congratulate the Taliban victory. On August 16, in a statement of the TIP’s Syrian branch, released by its propaganda arm, ‘Muhsinlar’, Uighur militants congratulated the Taliban’s emir Haibatullah Akhunzada and all Afghan fellow believers on the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Notably, in its statement, TIP ‘discovered’ the root causes of the Taliban’s victory in the Muslim holy book of the Quran, which refers to Surah al-Fatiha “Indeed, we have given you, o Prophet, a clear conquest” (48:1). The TIP further emphasized that “one generation of Muslims have sacrificed themselves for the religion of Allah, for today’s boundless joy and rejoicing.” The Taliban’s victory is “a fruit of long and arduous struggle and God’s big gift to Muslims worldwide”, the statement reads.
The TIP’s Syrian branch has called on all Muslims to make dua’s (invocation of God) for the Afghan Mujahedeen, to cooperate and support their fellows of Taliban. Uighur jihadists emphasized the need for the integrity of the Islamic Ummah, which should be governed only by the rule of the Almighty as one nation and one country. At the end of the statement, TIP noted that “East Turkestan Mujahedeens, as an integral part of the Great Ummah, celebrated the historic victory of the Taliban with boundless joy, and will stand alongside them shoulder to shoulder.”
It is recalled that ETIM was designated as a terrorist organization by the UN Security Council resolutions 1267 and 1390 on September 11, 2002, for its alleged association with al-Qaeda, its leader Osama bin Laden, and the Afghan Taliban. As part of the “global war on terror,” the US Federal Government designated ETIM as a terrorist organization on August 19, 2002. At that time, China skillfully took advantage of the situation emerging after the 9/11 attacks, achieving the recognition of ETIM as a terrorist group by many members of the U.S.-led “war on terror” coalition.
However, on November 5, 2020, the US Department of State removed ETIM from the blacklist, which provoked a fuming reaction from official Beijing. China on the other hand is pursuing a harsh repressive policy against the Muslim minority in its Xinjiang region detaining more than one million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz in so-called “re-education camps.” Despite the US decision, the post-Soviet Central Asian countries, Russia and China did not exclude TIP from their banned list of terrorist organizations.
According to the latest 2021 UN Security Council’s report, “several hundred Uighur jihadists of TIP located primarily in Afghan Badakhshan and neighboring provinces, whose strategic goal is to establish an Islamic Uighur state in Xinjiang, China.” The report stated that TIP affiliated with both the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and their ties remain “strong and deep as a consequence of personal bonds of marriage and shared partnership in struggle, now cemented through second generational ties.” Moreover, the notorious leader of TIP, Abdul Haq al-Turkestani, has remained a member of al-Qaeda’s elite Shura Council since 2005. For more two decades, the most wanted key Uighur jihadist has been openly loyal to the Taliban’s top leader Haibatullah Akhunzada and the al-Qaeda’s emir Ayman al-Zawahiri. Today, all three top emirs are successfully continuing their faithful jihadi fellowship, skillfully hiding their close relations, and throwing dust in the eyes of the US and its Western partners, tired of the “longest war”.
Thus, it can be assumed that despite the Taliban’s warm relations with the Chinese government after their return to power in Afghanistan, it is unlikely that they will break ties with the Uighur jihadists of TIP. On the contrary, both are expected to remain loyal to the oath of allegiance (bayat). The long relationship between the Taliban, al-Qaeda and TIP has shown that the bayat has a sacred religious value for them.
Taliban is a source of inspiration for Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad
The Uzbek jihadist group Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad (KTJ) on its Telegram channel posted a video congratulating the Taliban on the victory over the most powerful evil empire in the world, which it considers the US. The congratulations were unusual, as the three KTJ leaders via video addressed the Taliban comrades in joint jihad in three official languages of Afghanistan – Pashto, Dari and Uzbek. In particular, the KTJ’s top emir Abdul Aziz al Uzbeki, whom the UN identified as ‘Khikmatov,’ spoke in Pashto, the military commander Sayfiddin in Dari, and the main ideologist of Central Asian Salafi Jihadism, the group’s imam Ahluddin Navqotiy in Uzbek.
Abdul Aziz glorified the Taliban’s victory over the foreign invaders and occupiers as a gift from Allah Almighty to the Ummah. He eulogized the vision of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s first emir, who once said, “Allah has promised us victory and America has promised us defeat, so we shall see which of the two promises will be fulfilled.” Top Uzbek jihadist further noted that “today, after a long-suffering patience, tireless struggle and great jihadi perseverance, finally came Nusrat (victory) in Khorasan, promised by Allah.” “Because the Mujahedeen are stronger in spirit and faith in God than the invaders, who, despite their military might and immeasurable wealth, fled the country in shame”, concluded Abdul Aziz.
Then, in an emotional speech, the group’s hard Salafi ideologist, Ahluddin Navqotiy, congratulated the Taliban Mujahedeen on behalf of KTJ Muhajeers waging a jihad in Syria’s Idlib province against Bashar al-Assad regime and pro-Iranian radical militias. He expressed confidence that today’s Nusrat of Allah in Afghanistan will become the driving force behind the establishment of Sharia rule in Central Asia.
Noteworthy, the KTJ leader, Abdul Aziz, had close ties with al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, in particular with the Haqqani network. As a native of the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan, Abdul Aziz made a hijrah (migration) to Afghanistan fleeing the repressive policies of Uzbek President Islam Karimov in the early 2000s. He waged a jihad in Afghanistan as part of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). Then, in 2015, along with dozens of comrade-in-jihad, he split the group and joined the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), a splinter faction of the IMU. At the time, Central Asian jihadists split over the internal conflict between al-Qaeda and ISIS struggling for the leadership of global jihad.
On August 20, 2015, when the IMU officially swore allegiance to the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the IJU followed in al Qaeda’s footsteps and renewed bayat to the Taliban’s emir Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. In May 2005, a decade before these events, the US government listed the IJU as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization in May 2005.
He belongs to the first generation of foreign fighters from Central Asia, who went through Taliban’s jihadi school in Afghanistan. He gained prestige among the fellow militants as a military strategist, and not as a deep scholar of the Quran or a public orator-ideologist of Salafi jihadism. In 2008-15, Abdul Aziz, along with the IJU’s leadership, was based in the al-Qaeda’s military hub of Mir Ali in North Waziristan. In one of his Jummah Khutbah preaching he admitted that allowing the Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) to take refuge in North Waziristan saved the lives of many Uzbek jihadists from the US drone strikes. In 2019, Abdul Aziz made a hijrah to Syrian Idlib province and became the leader of the KTJ group.
Motivations and Strategies of the Central Asian Jihadism
The congratulations from the Central Asian Sunni militant groups to the Taliban were a vivid manifestation of their long-term and tested joint jihadi cooperation, which began in the late 1990s. Thus, Uighur’s TIP and Uzbek’s KTJ complemented a long list of global jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda’s Central Command and its franchises in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Hurras al-Deen (HD), Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Hamas, congratulating the Taliban on their ‘victory’ over the US and NATO forces.
To celebrate the Taliban’s ‘victory’, Uighur, Uzbek and Russia’s Caucasian Jihadists in Syria also hosted grand feasts for foreign and local Sunni Arab militants and heroized the Afghan Mujahedeen during Jummah Khutbah Sermons. The Central Asian jihadi media widely published photos and videos from these parties and against this background tried to recruit new supporters to make hijrah to Afghanistan and Syria to protect the values of Islam and wage the sacred jihad against the infidels. The dramatic picture of Afghan government soldiers fleeing to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan has made the Taliban and al-Qaeda more attractive for recruiting a new generation of Islamists from Central Asia. Calls to make hijrah, or migrate, to the Taliban’s so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan are also surfacing on jihadist forums. If the Syrian province of Idlib falls, al-Qaeda-aligned and HTS-backed Uzbek and Tajik jihadists’ migration to Afghanistan will be inevitable. The Taliban can easily melt them into Uzbek, Tajik and Kyrgyz societies in northern Afghanistan and use them as leverage over rebellious ethnic minorities.
So, analysis of the jihadist media indicated that al-Qaeda-linked and Taliban-backed Central Asian extremist groups, operating in both Afghanistan and Syria, were deeply inspired by the Taliban’s victory over the pro-Western government of Ashraf Ghani. As a result, small and fragmented Salafi-Jihadi groups from post-Soviet countries have received the biggest boost to unite around the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Consequently, conducive conditions after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan are expected to lead to a resurgence of al Qaeda in the Central Asian region. Latent al-Qaeda sympathizers and other radical Islamists in the “Five Stans” view the restoration of the Islamic Emirate on the other side of the border as the beginning of the great jihad’s revival and the approach of Nusrat. With the decline of ISIS and the rise of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, internal divisions, and inter-group feuds between the jihadist jamaats (group) of Central Asia, sometimes accompanied by bloodshed, are expected to diminish, and the volume of clandestine donations to jihad in the region are also expected to increase markedly.
But the main fear for local authoritarian and corrupt pro-Russian governments is that a Taliban victory could provide a historic boost for Uzbek, Tajik and Uighur violent extremist groups encouraging them in their campaigns to overthrow and replace local regimes. And although the Taliban is viewed by the world community as a Pashtun nationalist jihadi movement, and the Afghan jihad has always been more inward and parochial, nevertheless its ideological influence has always been strong among the Central Asian jihadists.
Despite the fact that the Taliban leadership publicly denies the presence of transnational terrorist groups in the country, a recent UN report revealed that there are about 10,000 foreign fighters in Afghanistan, who are members of al-Qaeda, Uighur’s TIP, Uzbek militant groups Katibat Imam al-Bukhari (KIB), KTJ, IJU and Tajik’s Jamaat Ansarullah (JA). Moreover, some of them took an active part in the recent military attacks against the Afghan army on the side of the Taliban, which led to the rapid fall of Mazar-i-Sharif, the strategically important capital of the Northern Alliance. As we predicted earlier, the Taliban exploited the Central Asian jihadists during the fighting in the north of the country as their “hard power” and political leverage on the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. When the Taliban captured a strategically important security checkpoint near Afghan border with Tajikistan in July, they assigned a Tajik jihadi group Jamaat Ansarullah (JA) to raise the Taliban flag on the site. They also put JA in charge of security in five districts of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province – Kuf Ab, Khwahan, Maimay, Nusay, and Shekay – near the Tajik border.
Although the Taliban has repeatedly promised not to allow Afghanistan to be used as a staging ground for any attacks, they will not sever their ties with Central Asian jihadi groups and will not violate the bayat. Uzbek, Uighur and Tajik jihadist groups are expected to maintain a safe haven in Afghanistan under the tacit and tight control of the Taliban. In the jihadist world, bayat or pledging allegiance is a heavy Islamic commitment reaching under the holy gaze of Allah Almighty, and reneging it is considered a serious offence. Therefore, the Taliban has never disavowed the group’s pledge.
In conclusion, the high fighting spirit and ideological strength of al-Qaeda-affiliated Central Asian jihadist groups in Afghanistan is associated not only with the Taliban’s lightning victory, but also with the humiliating and chaotic US withdrawal from the country. One of the Kyrgyz jihadists in Syria wrote on the KTJ Telegram channel that “the honor and dignity of America today is under the Taliban’s feet in front of the great Ummah.” This indicates that a new generation of Central Asian extremists has emerged on the scene of global jihadism, absorbing in itself the al-Qaeda’s Salafi-Takfiri military ideology, and synthesizing it with the Islamist nationalism of the Taliban, based on the common kindred Hanafi’s al-Maturidi Aqeedah (Sunni Islamic theology school). As the US counterterrorism capacity in Afghanistan weakened in the foreseeable future, the terrorism threat from Central Asian region will grow symmetrically for the US and the West as a whole.
Russia, Turkey and UAE: The intelligence services organize and investigate
The FSB (Federal’naja Služba Bezopasnosti Rossijskoj Federácii, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) – created in 1995 from the ashes of the Komitet Gosudarstvennoj Bezopasnosti (KGB), the State Security Committee – is ready for additional responsibilities under the new national security strategy. President Putin’s recent redefinition of the FSB’s role provides some indications on the national security strategy that will soon be announced – a strategy that will affect seas, borders and the security of strategically important intelligence.
On June 1, 2021 President Putin issued a decree outlining the new priorities that will be given to the FSB in Russia’s revised national security strategy, which replaces the one that officially ended last year.
The changes to the Intelligence Service’s regulatory framework, including the peripheral one, provides some indications on the Russian security priorities. Some of the main changes include additional responsibilities for intelligence security, counterterrorism, border control and stronger protection of maritime interests.
Border control and the various references to counterterrorism in its broadest sense – as recently defined by Russia – means entrusting the security service with a number of new areas and tasks, including the redefinition of procedures to detect political radicalisation.
Border control is also strengthened in the revised rules, with FSB border guards acquiring records, filing and storing biometric data and obtaining and processing DNA information obtained during border checks.
The details on access to Russian soil shed light on the Kremlin’s problems with its own fellow countrymen. In the article on the FSB’s involvement in controlling entry into Russia, the decree mentions the “territories requiring special authorisation” such as Transnistria, some parts of Georgia and Eastern Ukraine, and states that the FSB will be involved in a national programme to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of Russians living abroad.
Intelligence is a valuable asset and its security has always been one of the Kremlin’s main concerns. Therefore, the new strategy makes the FSB the leading agency, not just the end user regarding computers, security and telecommunication encryption.
It will oversee and supervise the implementation of the new technological security throughout the community. All this was outlined in December in a law that redefined the role of the FSB’s Centre for State Licensing, Certification and Protection. It will grant licences for the use of “special technical means and equipment intended to receive information secretly”.
The FSB will also examine patents for classified inventions. In addition to its official role in intelligence warfare, the FSB has been tasked with producing more security measures to protect the identity of Russian intelligence agents, and keep the confidentiality of its own officials, officers and soldiers.
The Internal Security Service will also set up a new procedure to inspect agents and individuals entering the army, the intelligence services and the Federal Administration. Using the protection of marine life as an additional task, the FSB will also have increased responsibilities for the seas, including competence and powers over the protection of fishing grounds outside Russia’s exclusive economic zone, the establishment of checkpoints for fishing vessels entering or leaving the zone, and the power to suspend the right of passage for foreign vessels in certain Russian maritime zones.
The Service will also define the structure of operational offices in maritime zones. These measures follow a law adopted last October outlining the FSB’s role in “establishing control and checks in fisheries and the conservation of sea biological resources”.
An important concept in Russian history and life is the silovik. He is a representative of law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, armed forces and other structures to which the State delegates the right to use force. This concept is often extended to representatives of political groups, but also to businessmen, associated with power structures in Russia or formerly in the Soviet Union.
As a jargon term, this word is used in other languages as a broad political term in everyday conversation and in journalism to describe political processes typical of Russia or the former Soviet Union. The etymology of the word is the Russian word sila, meaning strength, force and power.
Trying to renew the aforementioned concept, President Putin provides momentum and injects new impetus into the meaning of this word. After putting the issue on the agenda of the National Security Council of May 28 last, the President is now pushing for the publication of the national security strategy. It has been delayed despite the fact that the Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation (Sovet bezopasnosti Rossijskoj Federacii), Sergej Vachrukov, had announced it was to be published in February.
As we might commonly believe, the steps to strengthen the Russian secret services are not so much focused on the aforementioned and movie-style “derby” between secret agents, but are mainly targeted to Russia’s traditional “Ottoman” adversary, namely neighbouring Turkey.
President Erdogan’s official meeting with the UAE’s National Security Advisor, Tahnun bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and the renewed ties with Abu Dhabi are the result of behind-the-scenes regional intelligence operations in which the Kremlin wants to see straight and clearly.
While there is still a deep political divide both between Russia and Turkey, and between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, the Turkish President hopes to encourage future Emirates’ investment. Turkish President Erdogan’s unprecedented meeting with the UAE’s national security representative, the aforementioned al-Nahyan, in Ankara on August 18 can be largely attributed to the work of the two countries’ intelligence services over the last few months.
There is a desire to turn a new page after eight years of icy relations, crystallised by the 2013 overthrow of Egypt’s leader Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood’s member close to Turkey and firmly opposed by the United Arab Emirates.
Steps towards reconciliation began on January 5, 2021 at the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in al-Ula. The Summit marked the end of Qatar’s isolation, thus paving the way for a resumption of relations between the UAE and Turkey. After the Summit, al-Nahyan flew to Cairo where he met President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who strongly encouraged him to begin a new chapter with Turkey.
At the same time, Egypt’s intelligence service, Mukhabarat al-Amma, engaged in secret talks with its Turkish counterpart, the Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatıı. However, it was al-Nahya’s meeting with the Turkish intelligence Chief, Hakan Fidan, in Cairo a few weeks later that achieved the first results.
That meeting was organized by the Chief of the Mukhabarat al-Amma and by Abbas Kamel, al-Sisi’s regional Director, along with Ahmed Hosni, the strongman of Jordanian Dayirat al-Mukhabarat al-Amma, that King Abdallah II had sent from Amman. Since then, there were eight additional meetings between Turkey and Abu Dhabi, which then led to the aforementioned meeting of President Erdogan with al-Nahyan, with the possibility of holding a future Summit between them.
This rapprochement still has difficulty hiding the deep divide between the two countries on key regional issues such as their respective positions on Syria and Libya, in particular. While they have managed to find some common ground for understanding – ending smear campaigns and trade blockades; resuming visa issuance; direct air links and the return of Ambassadors – President Erdogan and al-Nahyan are simply keeping quiet about their current irreconcilable differences.
Political considerations are put aside to facilitate future UAE’s investment in Turkey.
On August 25, the Emirates’ Group International Holding CO announced it would invest massively in Turkey’s health and agrifood industries, while it seems that the sovereign fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is willing to lend Turkey 875 million US dollars.
Is it just business? Russia is investigating.
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