Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 22, 2013

No Blowback For Saudi Arabia?

The War Nerd thinks there will be no blowback for Saudi Arabia from sending Jihadis to kill Syrians.

The Middle East has been Saudi-ized while we looked on and laughed at those goofy Saudis who didn’t understand progress. No wonder they’re content to play dumb. If we took a serious look at them, they’d be terrifying.
And of all their many skills, the one the Saudis have mastered most thoroughly is disruption. Not the cute tech-geek kind of disruption, but the real, ugly thing-in-itself. They don’t just “turn a blind eye” to young Saudi men going off to do jihad—they cheer them on. It’s a brilliant strategy that kills two very dangerous birds with one plane ticket. By exporting their dangerous young men, the Saudis rid themselves of a potential troublemaker while creating a huge amount of pain for the people who live wherever those men end up.

This worked well, the War Nerd says, and Wahabized Afghanistan and Chechnya while the blowback, he says, has been zero in those cases:

[L]et’s total up the number of Saudi Sunni killed in this “blowback” from the Afghan jihad. I’m no math whiz myself, but I think I can give a pretty exact figure: Zero. None.

In short, there was no blowback for the Saudis. Blowback by Saudis, and by Saudi-funded groups, Hell yeah, but blowback within Saudi Arabia, against Saudis (real Saudis, which means Sunni), nope. Nary a bit.

It is a good argument but I am not convinced. There has been some blowback from other Saudi Jihad interventions that the War Nerd leaves out. There was, for example, a serious attempt to kill the Saudi deputy intelligence minister. The blowback also does not have to come from Jihadis. Syria is nearer to Saudi Arabia than Afghanistan or Chechnya and its allies are more potent forces.

Someone within the Syrian, Iranian or Hizbullah's inelligence services will surely be able to come up with some good ideas.

Posted by b on December 22, 2013 at 11:42 AM | Permalink


@all - I am traveling and visiting friends over the next days. There will be little time to read and write and blogging will therefore be light.

Posted by: b | Dec 22, 2013 11:44:25 AM | 1

A happy and fulfilling holiday season to you b.
Let it start with sincere gratitude to you for maintaining this valuably unique blog over the years.


Posted by: juannie | Dec 22, 2013 12:00:50 PM | 2

As the year ends I would like to thank you for running this blog; your posts are remarkably insightful and prescient. It is a great resource, to which you obviously devote quite a lot of time.

Have a good Xmas and a happy new year!

Posted by: FB Ali | Dec 22, 2013 12:27:49 PM | 3

If I remember well the Arab brigade formed by Bin Laden had: according to russian figures 88 deads! A joke...

Posted by: André | Dec 22, 2013 12:31:21 PM | 4

A good counterpoint to this article is Sharmine Narwani's new article Security Arc forms amidst Mideast Terror which looks at how the victims of this Saudi policy are responding.

The War Nerd does make some good points. Sometimes it can be to easy to discount Saudi Arabia as reactionary, corrupt, and incompetent, but the fact remains that the Al Saud family have ruled the Arabian peninsula for almost a century, something no other family or country has achieved. They know how to crush their enemies, whether its Nasser's Pan-Arab movement, or Communists, or Muslim Brothers. Al Saud has crushed all rivals. Something to bear in mind today with the rise of the Anti-Imperialist Resistance Axis.

But his main argument is that Saudi Arabia has been successful in exporting "angry young Saudi men" to fight Saudi Arabia's enemies while allowing stability at home with no blowback. First of all, he does not mention the main blowback Saudi Arabia received from this plan during the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. Al Qaeda and Bin Laden ended up turning on the Saudi royals. He doesn't mention Yemen when "Al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula" AQAP, is rising to become the most powerful franchise on Saudi Arabia's southern border. He also doesn't mention that this policy has made enemies with Russia due to its support of Chechyan rebels and is now damaging US relations and Iranian relations.

Russia, the US and Iran are all powerful foes. But making enemies with all 3 at the same time, is possibly fatal. It's true things haven't gotten that bad yet with the Americans. But its obvious that relations are straining (just look at the return of the lawsuit by 9-11 families) to see relations are going downhill.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Dec 22, 2013 12:33:23 PM | 5

Blowback? What blowback? Those recurited/sent to Syria by the Saudis are seen by the Saudis as their enemies. At the moment, they're happy to give them jihadis, all epenses paid one-way trips to Syria. Hoping they'll never return but also contribute to the destruction of Syria. And by judging by the events of the past 3 years, it's been a successful strategy for them. All of Saudi Arabia & Israel's enemies are engaged/busy slaughtering each other. They also know that if worse comes to worse, they have the Americans to back them up.

All they need to do is dangle a few billion dollars in the eyes of relevant US congressmen/women and presto, Bob's your uncle!

Assad's fatal mistake was not striking the Al-Sauds/Israelis during the early days of the conflict when it was clear who was financing/supporting the rebels. His father was a no-nonsense man who didn't hesitate to strike while the iron's hot.

Posted by: Zico | Dec 22, 2013 12:35:19 PM | 6

Save travels B, and Frohe Weihnachten to you and yours. And on that note, a happy festive season to all you barflies. Thanks for all your comments, links and opinion pieces. Great stuff.

Warm regards, JM

Posted by: Juan Moment | Dec 22, 2013 12:40:28 PM | 7

I wrote a comment on Sharmine's article, doing my usual trick of thinking out loud in dangerous directions, which Sharmine has already complained about right here. This is what I wrote:

I find this article very confusing, and I think much of ambiguity in it is intentional. It's underlying logic is this: to the extent that Saudi Arabia can be thought of as a direct sponsor of AQ itself, Saudi becomes an enemy of the US and the Western alliance, and to that extent, the US will respond by encouraging this supposed Security Arc, which geographically speaking isolates the Shi'ite world from the Gulf. But defense alliances cannot be concluded and activated on the basis of such abstract covariant equations. Defense alliances are either on or off, you don't need Carl Schmitt to tell you that. The problem is this: if the Saudi rulers are directly accused of responsibility for 9/11, they will respond by saying quite accurately that they only played the part they played in 9/11, under CIA instructions. And then the fat will be in the fire. So the US can't do that. It is playing an incoherent game of brinkmanship by almost doing it but not quite, thus trying to discredit the Sauds without precipitating its own complete ruin, which is what would follow from a full exposure of the truth about 9/11. Now, Sharmine is not prepared to engage in analysis on this level, so what she is doing can really be dismissed as superficial and misleading, if not as intentional disinfo, on her part or on that of her informants. There is really no point in skating around on the surface like this any more.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Dec 22, 2013 1:00:46 PM | 8

Happy hols, b.

On the other hand, I didn't think much of the War Nerd's article. Lacking in knowledge of the Middle East, although he did get to meet a Saudi police captain (lucky him!). The Saudis are indeed playing a dangerous game - it's changed into a much more aggressive phase recently - and it is that that is dangerous, not what they did twenty years ago.

If they do get anything wrong politically, there is a vast open northern border that anyone can infiltrate jihadis/agents into, and a virtually inert military. They can push people around because of the money, but they're still heavily exposed.

Posted by: alexno | Dec 22, 2013 1:20:03 PM | 9

February 1945. And nobody remembers that this is the 12th anniversary of the Reichstag Fire.

9/11 just isn't very important any more. It will be interesting to learn the truth. But it isn't going to "precipitate the complete ruin" of any state, least of all the United States.
It is quite possible that Bandar's agents were sub-contracted by US governmental agents, and both were co-ordinating with others, such as the Israelis. But there are so many layers of deniability, Rowan, and there is so much control over the media that there is not going to be a sudden flash of light which awakens humanity to the truth.

After Pearl Harbor the story of FDR's foreknowledge, mixed up with the inevitability of war after US sanctions had brought Tojo to power, began to circulate. There was considerable evidence that Washington had just sat back waiting, impatiently for the Japanese fleet, wishing its pilots good luck and readying themselves for the task of warming up public dismay into mass anger and genocidal revenge. The books "proving" FDR's complicity just kept on coming out, over the years. But nothing, not even Roosevelt's place in history has been affected, in the end.
Anyway it will soon be 2014 and, in the grand scheme of things, a construction failure and the loss of 2500 lives, thirteen years ago doesn't much signify any more. Just like the Reichstag Fire.

Posted by: bevin | Dec 22, 2013 1:22:14 PM | 10

still one of my daily-reads, b, so thank you for continuing to provide your insight. and cheers all around to you moony regulars.

Posted by: lizard | Dec 22, 2013 1:30:39 PM | 11

@b This is a amazing site! Keep up the great work.

Posted by: nini | Dec 22, 2013 1:32:52 PM | 12

Merry Xmas b, have a good, well deserved vacation. Your work on Syria has been impeccable this year.


"Al Saud has crushed all rivals."

Of course they have. What is to stop them? The Saudis have run without a doubt the most absolutist regime on the planet for over a century. They combine the most regressive forms of authoritarianism with a totalitarian religious indoctrination - all of which would of course fall like a house of cards if it weren't for the vital backing of the world's foremost military power.


On the assumption that the US is being forced, by its fading power and desire to focus what remains of that power elsewhere, to, at least to some degree, redefine its posture towards the new balance of power in the world then the question, I think, is whether the Saudis and the Israelis will accept that the US can/will no longer provide cover for the worst of their excesses.

But this is the problem with making allies with such unaccountable, aggressive dictatorships and apartheid regimes. Will the Saudis and Israelis decide that - being the sole vehicles for US power in the region - they can still do what want, no matter how aggressive and dangerous (and possibly the more aggressive and dangerous the better, for them), knowing that the US has little choice other to back them or risk losing even those levers of power in the Middle East?

It is hard to see the Israelis and Saudis being split by the United States. They both need each other, and I suspect they will try to make their case - even if it means holding a gun to their own heads - that the United States needs them too.

Lie down with dogs, get fleas. I think this will be the lesson the US learns over the next decade. The waning hyper power is left with few friends, and with friends like it does have well - who needs enemies?

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 22, 2013 2:04:48 PM | 13

On the issue of blowback for the Saudis, we need to remember that they (and their ilk) are at the bottom of the Jihadis' list. The Shia seem to be at the top, with the West next, and the Muslim rulers last. Once they've sorted out the others, the Jihadis believe they'll have no problem dealing with these renegades. Also, some of them are proving useful by foolishly providing money, arms and recruits.

So, the absence of immediate blowback is not really significant. It'll come. If the Jihadis get checked in their campaigns against the Shia and the West they may turn on the easier targets in Muslim countries earlier.

Posted by: FB Ali | Dec 22, 2013 2:05:23 PM | 14

I don't really see al Qaeda turning on the Saudis though. Saudi Arabia is precisely the model the extremists would like to bring to the rest of the Muslim world.

Their focus has been turned sharply on the "non-believers", then most likely the will find their preferred home not in a homogenous (save for the eastern provinces) Sunni state like Saudi Arabia, but in places where they can attack their enemies (read: women, children, working people who "pray wrong"). They will be helping to destroy - to the glee of the Israelis, no doubt - places like Iraq, Syria, and Africa for decades in some form or another. Unfortunately, as long as the Saudis provide a "safe haven", funding, and the design of the indoctrination of the jihadists, that ideological poison will keep flowing out of the desert kingdom.

So that said: B is right on with his thinking that the fight will have to be taken to Saudi Arabia by those who are threatened by them most, the world should not simply wait with bated breath for their crimes to come back to them. And if part of that coalition is the United States, and the weapon used is 9/11, then so be it. The weakening of the Saudi regime would be a huge step towards a better Middle East. And Israel would be greatly damaged, having lost its only genuine Arab ally, the ally that now provides the military repression in Egypt and keeps the civil war raging in Syria. Without either of those, Israel would certainly be facing a serious engagement with the Palestinians over peace deal instead of freely building settlements and bulldozing people's homes.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 22, 2013 2:42:31 PM | 15

@14 Ah, I didn't mean to repeat you there. I was typing away and didn't see your comment.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 22, 2013 2:44:52 PM | 16

the loss of 2500 lives, thirteen years ago doesn't much signify any more. Just like the Reichstag Fire. Posted by: bevin | Dec 22, 2013 1:22:14 PM | 10
Bevin, are you living on tranquillisers?

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Dec 22, 2013 2:57:50 PM | 17


one arguable difference is, the US was left in quite a different, geopolitically advantageous position after that war than it likely could be in now.

Posted by: amspirnational | Dec 22, 2013 3:05:24 PM | 18

"And if part of that coalition is the United States, and the weapon used is 9/11, then so be it"

Never happen. Too much chance of members of our own ruling glass being implicated. Along with the Israelis, of course.

9/11 was hatched with a specific agenda as a goal, and the demonization of the Saudis was not, is not, part of that goal. Many believe that taking down, (looting), Iraq and Afghanistan was the goal. But taking thirteen years of watching the legislative process, (and the decisions of the Supreme Court), into consideration, one has to arrive at the conclusion that a huge part of the agenda was to strengthen the police powers of our government. Since 9/11 we have morphed into a police state unrecognizable as the nation we purport ourselves to be.

Who, or what, did 9/11 empower? Thats the question that must be asked in order to reach a conclusion about culpability.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Dec 22, 2013 3:09:14 PM | 19

blowback for these creeps? No such thing for them.
(note the guy in snickers)

They have been a blowbacked by the moment when they've seen the world.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Dec 22, 2013 3:09:58 PM | 20

As long as the KSA throws $20+ Billions per annum on the U.S. military-industrial complex, plus U.S. T-bonds and etc., they are safe. They can afford to rent whole 82nd airborne division and the Navy's fifth fleet. Kingdom is one of the pillars of the U.S. hegemony: dollar.

As long as the KSA is cruising on the chartered waters: they are safe.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Dec 22, 2013 3:23:13 PM | 21

As long as a creeps from post #20 are in love affairs with those who wears Hermes ties and Ferragamo shoes, but have the same mindset they are safe. And both sides love Rolex.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Dec 22, 2013 3:32:17 PM | 22

I think the Saudis will have more of a problem, than with one of their officials being almost killed by a piece of flying sphincter, as happened with that suicide bomber. The Ras Tanura is the biggest oil terminal in SA and ships most Saudi oil through the gulf, and is very vulnerable to terrorist attack things get decidedly dodgy in Syria [which of course is an attack on Iran,] then unattributed nasty things could happen to that terminal. Perhaps a friendly piece of advice from "the arc of extremism" along these lines "you have a nice oil terminal there, wouldn't like anything to happen to it, know what I mean Governor".

Posted by: harrylaw | Dec 22, 2013 3:47:32 PM | 23

"Anyway it will soon be 2014 and, in the grand scheme of things, a construction failure and the loss of 2500 lives, thirteen years ago doesn't much signify any more. Just like the Reichstag Fire."

Noam would be so very proud. Move to the front of the class.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Dec 22, 2013 3:53:58 PM | 24

Or maybe it was Obama himself who best summed up bevin's sentiment:

OBAMA: We’re still evaluating how we’re going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions, and so forth. And obviously we’re going to look at past practices. And I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. And part of my job is to make sure that for example at the CIA, you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no 9/11 Commission with independent seeking of power?

OBAMA: Well we have not made any final decisions but my instinct is for us to focus on how do we make sure that moving forward, we are doing the right thing. That doesn’t mean that if somebody has blatantly broken the law, that they are above the law. But my orientation’s going to be to move forward.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So let me just press that one more time. You’re not ruling out prosecution, but will you tell your Justice Department to investigate these cases and follow the evidence where it leads?

OBAMA: What I — I think my general view when it comes to my attorney general is that he’s the people’s lawyer. Eric Holder’s been nominated. His job is to uphold the Constitution and look after the interests of the American people. Not be swayed by my day-to-day politics. So ultimately, he’s going to be making some calls. But my general belief is that when it comes to national security, what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past.

Yup, since TPTB have figured out and told us what the shelf-life of our outrage must be - wulp - we'd just better listen to them, I guess.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Dec 22, 2013 4:05:09 PM | 25

Raimondo details who was empowered, POA, and his analysis of the matter elsewhere seems most plausible.

Gregory today at MTP was at his police state-advocating best what with his references to his sister (mis)representing
public opinion re NSA surveillance.

Posted by: amspirnational | Dec 22, 2013 4:10:03 PM | 26

Saudi's "new" friend is China. They are building a huge new refinery at Yanbu coastal town.

"In what Riyadh calls "the largest expansion by any oil company in the world", Sinopec's deal on Saturday with Saudi oil giant Aramco will allow a major oil refinery to become operational in the Red Sea port of Yanbu by 2014."

and the KSA is already largest Chinese supplier.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Dec 22, 2013 4:52:19 PM | 27

"Bevin, are you living on tranquillisers?"
No, but you might want to give it some consideration/.

"one arguable difference is, the US was left in quite a different, geopolitically advantageous position after that war than it likely could be in now."

Very true, while the parties getting political advantage from the Fire, also found themselves in a disadvantageous geopolitical position.
The point, amspirational, is that these cunning plots generally don't turn out too well for the geniuses who invent them. The neocons will soon be gone: 9/11 was their plot, either because they arranged for it or because they adopted it and used it as their alibi.

Surely J Sorrentine no purpose is served by constantly returning to 9/11. Or did it take that to persuade you that the US government was a criminal racket with genocidal propensities?
The first letter I ever wrote to a newspaper attacked the Gulf of Tonkin incident reports as incredible inventions by warmongers. That was close to sixty years ago, and millions of people were killed in "revenge" for that attack. Forgive me if I don't need 9/11, whoever was responsible, to remind me of the fact that imperialism is evil to the core and back outwards again so that it radiates from the skin.

3/11 at Fukushima was a far more important event. And there too what is important is not to assign blame between the manufacturers the patent holders, the operators, the government, the media and the weather but to deal with the fallout, literally.

Maybe you think that is what Obama is interested in. Or maybe you just can't resist cheap debating points.

Posted by: bevin | Dec 22, 2013 7:08:42 PM | 28

"3/11 at Fukushima was a far more important event"

Completely disagree, although it is gratifying to note that another participant here, besides myself and Juannie, are aware of the epic nature of the unfolding Fukushima disaster.

9/11 was an obvious planned and executed event designed to advance a specific agenda. Extremely evil in intent, it was carried out towards achieving a specific end.

The Fukushima disaster, on the other hand, although predictable, was NOT a product of intent, it was a product of negligence, greed, and corporate malfeasance. The end result of these human failings was a nuclear accident, unintended.

If you want to argue that Fukushima may have far more disastrous and long term ramifications, you will get no argument from me. But as far as "importance" goes, 9/11 goes far further in demonstrating the depravity of power, and the evil that lurks in the character of our nation's "leaders".

Fukushima is important because of what it may do to us. 9/11 is important because of what it tells us.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Dec 22, 2013 7:37:09 PM | 29

And BTW....Sorrentine's mention of Obama's traitorous (to the law, as well as to the citizens) prattle about "looking forward" was an extremely apropos insertion to the debate. Basically, what this despicable whore, Obama, was saying, was...."I am the President, and I will choose who is held to the letter of the law, and who is not".
It was an admission that there are those that are above the law, beyond the reach of prosecution, no matter how illegal, immoral, or murderous thier actions.

You are wrong, Bevin. 9/11 need be revisited, again, and again, and again, until finally the perpetrators are at the very least, exposed, if not prosecuted. And, if nothing else, it needs to be revisited if only to remind us how we got to where we have found ourselves, and why. 9/11 was probably the largest crime ever committed against the American people by their own government, and it is asinine to advocate allowing time to sweep this crime under the rug.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Dec 22, 2013 7:49:32 PM | 30

ben should be included as well POA, but you're correct in recognizing that few others here recognize the “epic” proportions of 3/11. ben, I believe, lives on the west coast and is on the front lines of Fukushima here in the US although I think you're somewhere in western US as well. I've pretty much given up on trying to alert others to the existing and continually developing ramifications; not that there is really much of significant action any or all of us could take to ameliorate the consequences. I thought out here in VT we were relatively insulated from the worst of it but just this morning I read that the Pacific is leaking into the Atlantic through the Canadian archipelago. ...Atlantic To Be Contaminated... A more slow motion disaster to watch I guess but it doesn’t seem much of a blessing or consolation.
And while I’m on the subject just one more, out of many, titbits.

Posted by: juannie | Dec 22, 2013 8:37:02 PM | 31

OT. My apologies for above #31. I should have preceded it with "OT".

Posted by: juannie | Dec 22, 2013 8:39:56 PM | 32

Juannie....I live high altitude, Central California. I'm right in the crosshairs.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Dec 22, 2013 8:55:01 PM | 33

Yikes! Contact me if you ever decide you want to relocate. I think you would fit into the verde mountains. We're a pretty irreverent culture out here but we could always use another outspoken radical.

Posted by: juannie | Dec 22, 2013 9:10:48 PM | 34

"9/11 need be revisited, again, and again, and again, until finally the perpetrators are at the very least, exposed, if not prosecuted."

Revisit at your leisure. And I will be interested in your visits, but don't let the revisiting get in the way of the analysis of developing events and important political work.

" needs to be revisited if only to remind us how we got to where we have found ourselves, and why. 9/11 was probably the largest crime ever committed against the American people by their own government, and it is asinine to advocate allowing time to sweep this crime under the rug."

Let's start at the bottom here: Obama might be talking of sweeping things under rugs but I'm not.
And that ought to be clear. If it isn't it should be now.
If you want to define asinine again how about the position that you're taking, and J Sorrentine takes, that my views on this subject equate with Obama's. That's not just asinine it's sectarian, suicidal self indulgent asininity. Or do you really find yourself in agreement with Obama as often as you agree with me?

As to your substantive points: do you really think that "9/11 was probably the largest crime ever committed against the American people by their own government,"?
What about cutting millions of kids off food stamps? Ending welfare? Leaving millions of unemployed without benefits? Scamming millions of homeowners by letting the banks repossess their homes. Did I say "letting"? How about paying the banks to do it? How about allowing them to foreclose without paperwork or deeds? How about stealing two Federal elections in open view? How about the union busting, pension stealing shenanigans at GM and Ford. How about Detroit? How about the Supreme Court's work debauching elections and disqualifying black voters? How about the public school meltdown. Or the Student debt crisis? How about the US prison system? It must kill, one way or another, thousands of lives monthly?

Look about you: 9/11 was nothing compared with the crimes of everyday America.

As to "how we got to where we have found ourselves, and why." That was all established long ago. 9/11 didn't signal a radical departure. Upping the ante, sure. A new arrogance on the part of the scum running the country, fair enough. A radical contempt for the common sense of Joe Q Public, but hardly new.
The trajectory was well established under Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and the Bushes. It was the Cold War without consequences: with no fear of Soviet reprisals or assistance to national liberation movements, the US ruling class thought it could get away with anything.
That was new, post Cold War new. But the drive to hegemony, to corporatist government was there long ago, when Hamilton was around, probably. And that was before skyscrapers and aeroplanes.

The aim, to dominate the middle east, to build up the Israeli fascists, to change the regimes in Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria and Sudan was openly avowed. But the broader aim was clear enough. And 9/11 was just a short cut. Maybe it woke you up. But that doesn't mean we have to celebrate your coming of age, any more than your birthday.
"The biggest crime in American history!" Tell that to a black guy. Or an American Indian. Tell Ward Churchill about it.

Posted by: bevin | Dec 22, 2013 9:17:35 PM | 35

syria and medioa disinfo

Posted by: brian | Dec 22, 2013 9:47:26 PM | 36

"Look about you: 9/11 was nothing compared with the crimes of everyday America"

Bullshit. You might bne blind to it, but 9/11 laid the groundwork for a 21st century Crusades.

Wake up, Bevin. I've been awake for a very, very, long time. The crimes you speak of are the crimes of governence, governence, power, begats suych crimes. The strong prey on the weak.

But 9/11? "Upping the ante"??? ROFLMAO!!! You really don't get it, do you? This isn't simple imperialism. Its not about simply putting one's foot on the neck of a "lesser" human being. This is about eradication. This is about laying the groundwork to justify genocide on an unprecedented scale. For you to trivialize 9/11 is for you to trivialize evil.

Yes, I agree with Sorrentine. When you make statements like "Surely J Sorrentine no purpose is served by constantly returning to 9/11" you are saying EXACTLY what Obama said, just using different semantics to say it.

And your "The neocons will soon be gone" statement is naive to the extreme. "Neocon" is just a label. It is the policies and actions that should influence our perceptions. You wouldn't label Obama a "neocon" I'm quite sure. But in many respects, he has pursued the agenda of those "neocons" as if he was a neocon on steroids. He still allows rendition. Gitmo is probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to United States covert gulags. Drone murders are now waged against American citizens. Simple labeling now legally justifies the asassination of american citizens, or foreigners. Domestic spying is openly touted as a reasonable defense against the very boogy men that 9/11 was designed to place under all our beds. 9/11 changed us in an unprecedented manner, and has been used as an excuse to undermine, openly, the very essence of what we purport ourselves to be.

Sorry, but I do find your opinion on this subject to be asinine. And naive. And counter productive. And....well, kinda ovine.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Dec 22, 2013 9:51:04 PM | 37

All the best for Xmas b, and sincere thanks for the time you spend making and keeping MoA at the top of my list of useful, stimulating, informed and informative blogs.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 22, 2013 11:25:34 PM | 38

Sharmine is going to be goddam livid with me, for once again personalising it. I quite like her, I mean, she is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and she is daring in her own way, going where other opinion/analyists fear to go, talking to assorted Shi'ite politicos like they were human beings, and so forth. But my first big critique of her was that she was in the pocket of the known British spooks or spook associates at St Antony's College Oxford, and what understandably freaked her out is that I posted that view of mine at al-Akhbar, where Arab and Persian audiences would read it. Now once again, I am accusing her of being a conscious or unconscious misleader ('disinformationalist'). I know she is out if front in terms of talking to and listening to the Shi'ites. But the way I see it, we have a world full of cowardly, turgid politicos who would like nothing better than to make friends with the USA and pretend it was a force for good, for wealth creation, democracy promotion, and all that jazz. There is not a single state on this planet that is not staffed by functionaries who would rather kiss & make up with even the evillest other states. And I regard the result, the queasy alliances and pacts between states, as the crust of evil that keeps the whole world oppressed. I want to blow the lid off the entire bourgeois state system. The last thing I want is for Iran and the US to forgive each other. That would just add to the crisscrossing network of lies that keeps us all under their thumbs.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Dec 22, 2013 11:46:29 PM | 39

Thanks for the link to War Nerd, b. I was a keen follower when he was a regular at Exile and until it/they petered out.

"The War Nerd thinks there will be no blowback for Saudi Arabia from sending Jihadis to kill Syrians."
"It is a good argument but I am not convinced."

Me too.
I remember trying to trace the origins/background of War Nerd's output a few years ago. I decided, after a bit of sleuthing, that War Nerd was probably William S Lind's thoughts interpreted through Mark Ames' clever and entertaining word-smithing skills. This speculation was reinforced when Exile, Lind's On War essays (at, and War Nerd's tales all ran out of steam at about the same time.

Anyhow, Ames' position seems to have shifted slightly right-ish since Exile's halcyon days and this might explain the slightly 'impure' overtones creeping into War Nerd's recent perspectives (assuming Ames is still his ghostwriter). I'm not condemning Ames or War Nerd, btw, just saying what if...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 23, 2013 12:22:42 AM | 40

The mechanism in play through the stolen 2000 Election, culminating in 9/11, is a coup d'etat; and I believe that what has been plotted was much more than the ordinary intrigue of imperialism. It is a crime which made the enormity of subsequent crimes possible: the expansion and consolidation of police and paramilitary power, and the ever-moving, shifting battlefield, and the surveillance state shifted into high gear.

I suspect that arrangements were carefully made beforehand with the Saudis, including air travel that allowed several of the well-placed elites to escape without questioning. The voluminous PATRIOT ACT didn't just sprout like a mushroom; it too was part of the ambush of our liberty, to be rolled out after the deployment of the Anthrax Letters, which so effectively terrorized congressmen.

And what is so effective about the ongoing coup, is how well it has facilitated the transfer of wealth to a few, and enabled the concealment of financial theft and embezzlement. The process also aims at the takeover of governmental sovereignty. Who until now would have dreamed that the monopoly of violence would be moving directly into the boardrooms of transnational corporations, where it is to be decided just how the bodies politic will be carved up royally, and served on the plates of our would-be masters. The privatization of the empire's domestic gulag is part of this far-reaching coup as well.

Disruption on a global scale is being practiced; and the Saudis are probably being strung along and played, for the contribution they can make in that direction--at least--as long as their dream of avarice is enough to sustain them. They were certainly risking a very different kind of blowback when Prince Bandar, their spokesman, was threatening the Russians

I can't agree 9/11 was simply "an upping of the ante". I see it as much more than that.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 23, 2013 12:59:21 AM | 41

international sunni islam vs national syria...what would Marx think of his ideas of internationalism vs nationalism!

Syria سورية
UK, Portsmouth / MORE young men from Portsmouth are fighting in Syria, it emerged this weekend.
Police believe Mahdi Hassan, 19, who is understood to be a former pupil of St John’s College in Southsea, travelled to the Middle East in October to join a group fighting the Syrian government.

It has been reported that the fitness enthusiast is a friend of Ifthekar Jaman, 23, who had worked for Sky TV in Portsmouth and went to fight in the civil war until he was killed by a tank last weekend.

A cousin of Ifthekar is also understood to have joined the fighting.

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock, who has been in contact with Mr Jaman’s family in Southsea, said he was aware that Mr Hassan had been in the Middle East for several weeks.

He told The News: ‘I am worried about all of them.

‘I don’t think any of them should be going out there.

‘If they want to help the situation in Syria, they could be raising humanitarian aid to go out there. I don’t think it should be seen as a good thing – young men putting their own lives on the line and causing worry for their families and community.’

According to Mr Hassan’s Facebook profile, he was once a pupil at St John’s College, an independent Catholic day and boarding school.

His profile also makes reference to Havant College in March this year and his intention to go to university.

Last week the Southsea school declined to speak reporters when asked about Mr Hassan.

He indicates on social media that he has also travelled to Chechnya and Yemen. His last Facebook and Twitter entries are dated October 8 and state in Arabic: ‘Thanks be to Allah.’

He refused to respond to requests from reporters for comment.

As reported in The News, around 30 people attended a vigil in Guildhall Square last week to remember Mr Jaman.

Mr Jaman was understood to be part of the Portsmouth Dawah Team, which has a stall in Commercial Road.

In May this year, Mr Jaman flew to Turkey and crossed the border into the war-torn region.

His parents, both from Bangladesh, own a takeaway curry restaurant in Portsmouth and he worked as a customer services assistant.

Posted by: brian | Dec 23, 2013 5:16:32 AM | 42

Dylan ‏@ProSyriana 15 Dec
Wahhabis who are trying to teach #Islam to #Syria-ns, are throwing #Quran in the gutter... Photo from #Saudi Arabia

Posted by: brian | Dec 23, 2013 5:25:27 AM | 43

I wonder how Mr Nerd arrives at this assertion:

The Ba’ath, who were going to secularize and modernize the Arab world, have seen their ideology vanish completely, so that even the guys fighting for so-called Ba’athists like Assad are openly fighting for their sect, not pan-Arab socialism.

Has anybody else noticed ex-Ba'athists fighting for their sect? Alawi sectarians? isn't this just a media myth?

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Dec 23, 2013 5:55:01 AM | 44

And again, you know:

Assad is fighting for his life in a little strip of coastal hill territory.

Is that really the case? I can't claim first-hand knowledge one way or the other, but I haven't come across anyone else who says that except a few neocons. It sounds like wishful thinking, psychological warfare, disinfo and propaganda.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Dec 23, 2013 6:01:54 AM | 45

Take off your shoes, throw your bottles of water/perfume/shampoos, get a biometric passport, it won't make a difference for Turkish airports letting djihadists into Syria but have no fear: there will be no blowbacks as Arab governments have had a long tradition of giving passports to people they want to see out of the country but manage very well to control their attempts to come back

Posted by: Mina | Dec 23, 2013 7:52:26 AM | 46

yep, I stopped reading him at this:

"Saudis have shipped money, sermons, and volunteers to Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Russia’s North Caucasus just as they’re doing now in Syria."

He is into dominant, past and present, narrative popularized by Gov. media and popular press. He is picking up pieces and, since the truth doesn't matter, recycling a "news" on his own liking. Here is word about another internet personality ala Moses Brown - internet jounalist who suddenly becomes an authority in the matter.

"It sounds like wishful thinking, psychological warfare, disinfo and propaganda."

Maybe not in strict sense, but they are ambitious and ready to do anything to be noticed, thus potentially dangerous.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Dec 23, 2013 8:20:26 AM | 47

A few months ago there were reports that Putin threatened to bomb Saudi Arabia..

Posted by: Andoheb | Dec 23, 2013 2:14:13 PM | 48

Nothing is going to happen to Saudi Arabia. They will will slither away like the snakes and serpents they are.

Posted by: Fernando | Dec 23, 2013 3:20:56 PM | 49

I am throwing these out here, not because I agree with either of them, but note that
is running both. An anti-Zionist and anti-Saudi blog.

Posted by: amspirnational | Dec 23, 2013 4:05:37 PM | 50

@Rowan B

It is completely irresponsible and morally bankrupt to throw around such accusations -- about Narwani being "in the pocket of the known British spooks or spook associates" at Oxford.

Grow up and stick to issue analysis.

Posted by: gurb | Dec 23, 2013 4:25:27 PM | 51

From Angry Arab: Saudi propagandist-in-residence at Harvard University
A well-known Western correspondent in the Middle East wrote me this (he/she does not want to be identified): "Obaid is the key regime interlocutor with Western media, analysts and academics. He is in their employ. Part of his job is to harass Western journalists if they don't tow the line. He is empowered by the interior minister to control foreign journalists access to country - he made a list of demands of..., for example, and the information minister was merely cc-ed. He was recently working with Bandar on the Syrian file, and specifically was looking into how viable and desirable it would be to partition Syria. He makes attempts to recruit Saudi students abroad to the project if defending the kingdom in the West - he tells them they will have a life of riches like him and they could get status at a place like Harvard too. He is however a phoney - his Havard work has been a paper saying most Arab countries lack the characteristics to form modern states, except Saudi Arabia. Bit journalists can't be bothered exposing him because they need him for access or a quote; and an elite US academic institution seems to see a use in keeping close to the regime's man too."

Posted by: brian | Dec 23, 2013 7:14:40 PM | 52

@44 - Yes, absolutely. I am tired of the "Sunni versus Shia" nonsense. Assad's army is mostly Sunni, apparently. The battle is between fanatic Wahabbis and, well, everyone else.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 23, 2013 8:53:16 PM | 53

"The mechanism in play through the stolen 2000 Election, culminating in 9/11, is a coup d'etat;"

I think this is worth examining. And since I have believed, with some fervor, the same as you since the fiasco of 2000 (though much diminished having seen the way the Democrats have handled their opportunity to reject the Bush era) I'll be playing devil's advocate to some degree.

Lets not forget exactly who the alternative to Bush was. It was not Jesse Jackson or Ralph Nader. It was Gore and Lieberman. =Let's not forget that Lieberman was about as outspoken a pro-Israel hawk as it was possible to be. Both him and Gore were Likud to the core (yuk, bad rhyme). I have heard characterizations of Gore since 1988, and from respectable Democratic sources - not people attempting to bait him - as being from the "Likud wing" of the Democratic party. What would a Gore presidency towards the eruption of the Second Intifada in Palestine have looked like? How would the tandem of Gore and Lieberman have responded to the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon?

And let's not forget that Gore was such an exceptional Clintonista - NAFTA et al. If we want to start discussing transfers of wealth in the United States, you start with Clinton, not Bush. The "New Democrats" were well in bed with Wall Street by this point. It is hard to see how he would not have presided over the same housing bubble and financial shenanigans - even if he avoided the ridiculous tax cuts that Bush pushed through.

As for civil rights, It was Gore who rolled over without a whimper, his denying the motions of all the Black congresspeople standing up not for Gore, but against the disenfranchisement of their people - a crime better suited for the Jim Crow era than for the dawn of the 20th Century. His turning down of the Presidency - his refusal to fight - that wasn't a selfless act of him, it was a selfish one that flew in the face of the memory of the Civil Rights movement.

Of course Bush was an idiot and a lunatic who was the vehicle that allowed the neo-cons to commit vast crimes. But likely 9/11 would have still have happened - assuming the deep state was responsible. So we have to ask - though it is entirely in the realm of speculation - how would Gore have responded? An invasion of Afghanistan, no doubt, with ZBig in the drivers seat of US strategy, followed by who knows what? Let's not forget that Clinton was running the sanctions against Iraq, and lobbing cruise missiles at it on a regular basis. The problem, likely, was not George W. Bush. Instead, the problem is the United States. Let's not forget that the Iranian Bomb was a key issue at that point. Would the Israel oriented Democratic party have focused on that as opposed to the Arabist GOP who wanted to vanquish Hussein? The possibilities for war following 9/11 - even under a Democratic presidency - were enormous.

I don't think 2000 was a coup to the same degree of the Kennedy Assassination. The argument could be made (as could the counter-argument) that Kennedy was beginning to turn towards a more liberal outlook for the US (having been burnt by the CIA with their foolish Bay of Pigs Fiasco and the FBI with their insidious involvement spying on Americans at all levels) a sort of move away from the virulent anti-communism and coupism of the Eisenhower years. But by 2000, US policies were well set in place. 9/11 was bound to happen and the Neo-cons/Likudniks were in the wings no matter who was on stage for the duration of the performance.

Bevin is right to point out that the US has long been at the center of world crimes. Our government certainly needed no 9/11 to kill another half a million Iraqis - they had already done so by the end of the Clinton era.

And I infer another argument here, perhaps I'm seeing things. No one here, not JSore or POA or anyone else, have made this argument so please don't think I'm putting words in your mouth - I'm just talking what I see in others who seem to argue for 9/11 as the ultimate crime. But there are people who seem to have the idea that 9/11 was a key moment without which the United States never would have dared commit the crimes in Iraq. That, in fact, the US is really a force for good as we were always taught in school, but it was those dastardly plotters (whoever they are) who fooled our brave if blundering nation into launching the heinous post 2000 wars.

Unfortunately, the millions of bodies the US has piled up form Indochina to Central America to Afghanistan seem to indicate otherwise. The US is, and has always been, a bully. And not just a bully, but, since World War 2 at least, the #1 bully. The exposure of 9/11 will expose the ultimate crime of a state against its own people, that's for sure, but it will not vindicate the United States as a somebody's victim. It will only prove that, after 55 years following its apex at the end of World War Two, the elite of the United States finally had to make victims of its own people in order to continue its victimization of the rest of the world.

9/11 was the day we lost our status as protected citizens, and joined the ranks of the Vietnamese and the Iraqis and Panamanians et al as just another group to be killed for the sole good of the elites of maintaining power. And in that sense, 9/11 was just another crime among many before and many to come until these cowardly, craven, anti-social regimes who serve in the favor of the elite (be they the chosen or the exceptional) over the people are toppled once and for all.

If the exposure of 9/11 can bring that goal one day closer, than it should be used for that goal. But for those looking for vindication for the murderous acts in Iraq and in other places - there will be none forthcoming.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 23, 2013 9:24:56 PM | 54

#Syria: President Assad received Australian solidarity delegation headed by Prof. Tim Anderson.

Damascus, (SANA) – President Bashar al-Assad on Monday received an Australian solidarity delegation comprising academic figures and activists,headed by Prof. Tim Anderson.

During the meeting, President al-Assad said that what is happening in Syria and the region affects the entire world, because the takfiri extremist mentality Syria is facing is a terrorism that knows no borders and has no home, asserting that it's an international blight that could strike anywhere and at any time.

On relations with the West, President al-Assad said that the problem lies in the double standards employed by some western politicians regarding regional issues and their pursuit of narrow interests in a manner removed from a correct understanding of the reality and nature of what is happening in Syria and the region.


The President underlined the importance of visits like this in deepening communication and building cultural bridges among people in order to relay reality as it is and confront attempts of media falsification and misdirection.

For their part, members of the delegation said they will do their best to relay the truth about what they witnessed in Syria, noting that they represent a broad section of the Australian people who support Syria against the multifaceted war targeting it which aims to deplete its people's resources and undermine its integral role in the region.

H. Sabbagh

Posted by: brian | Dec 23, 2013 9:26:34 PM | 55

"....after 55 years following its apex at the end of World War Two, the elite of the United States finally had to make victims of its own people in order to continue its victimization of the rest of the world"


And I push it back further than the stolen election. In my opinion, the wheels to 9/11 started rolling when Bush senior's State Department gave Hussein a wink and a nod when they learned of his intentions to attack Kuwait.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Dec 23, 2013 10:15:57 PM | 56

@Rowan B It is completely irresponsible and morally bankrupt to throw around such accusations -- about Narwani being "in the pocket of the known British spooks or spook associates" at Oxford. Grow up and stick to issue analysis. Posted by: gurb | Dec 23, 2013 4:25:27 PM | 51
Now you've managed to annoy me. You've made me realise that I really don't like, and don't trust, Narwani. Congratulations.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Dec 23, 2013 10:39:30 PM | 57

Did we not see in Egypt, for the first time Saudi monarch openly backing a secular regime against sunnis islamists? What will Saudis do if jihadists launch an insurgency against the egyptian junta?

Posted by: spiuk1 | Dec 23, 2013 10:58:52 PM | 58

@56 This may be of interest, though you may be aware of most if not all of it. It gives a very nice run down on the history of Iraq-Kuwait relations, as well as a full examination of the game the US ran on Saddam to convince him the US wouldn't lift a finger if he invaded Kuwait.

Plus its Phil Agee, truly one of the classic Western dissidents, talking on Alternative Views TV, a long lost gem of US dissident/Peace Movement media. It doesn't get much better IMHO.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 23, 2013 11:19:19 PM | 59

Did we not see in Egypt, for the first time Saudi monarch openly backing a secular regime against Sunni Islamists? What will Saudis do if Jihadis launch an insurgency against the egyptian junta? Posted by: spiuk1 | Dec 23, 2013 10:58:52 PM | 58
The Sauds backed Sisi because the 'Sunni Islamists' in Egypt were the wrong sort of 'Sunni Islamists'. They were MBs, not Salafis. The difference is not primarily doctrinal, so much as political, although the two aspects are really just two faces of the same thing. The MBs have ceased to be obedient to Saudi Mukhabarat dictates for several decades now. They were obedient enough back in the 1970s, but by the 80s they had started to become disobedient for a number of reasons, most of all being their peculiar, multinational federative structure, which means that even if the immediate MB interlocutor promises to try to pull them back into obedience, some national sub-unit is constantly going off on its own. In recent years, the MBs have been getting their money and instructions via Qatar, and I say 'via' because ultimately the guiding strings are always CIA. But since the Morsi debacle, in which they started building up in Sinai to a point that Israel took unilateral action to encourage the Sisi coup, without even asking the US (at least, that's my reading of it), Qatar has been in disgrace even in Langley (CIA HQ). This in my view illustrates how the US ultimately does what the Israelis tell it to do.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Dec 24, 2013 3:12:12 AM | 60

A Christmas tree in #Bethlehem made of razor wire and decorated with tear gas grenades collected by Palestinians.

Posted by: brian | Dec 24, 2013 7:41:44 PM | 61

Snarwani a spook!? the mind boggles...but so far ive seen no evidence for that: just accusations

Posted by: brian | Dec 24, 2013 7:45:05 PM | 62

Its worth wondering about what the Saudi's get out of the deal. They already had a country to rule. Anyone would buy their oil. Their US arms are nothing special.

What do they get out of the alliance with the US then? A true ideological partner and a complete free pass on the world stage.

All they have to do is sell out alAqsa. Why bother protecting the third holiest shrine when you could have a monopoly on the first two? The hajj can be bigger than Disney Land.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 24, 2013 10:51:38 PM | 63

No brian, not a spook in the strong sense. That would be a trained, professional intelligence agent, in this case just masquerading as a journalist, which would be nonsense. I never suggested that. What I said was first that I had accused her of being in the pocket of the spooks and spook associates who populate St Antony's College Oxford, and they really do. No one who knows anything about the place would deny that it is exactly like something out of a Le Carré story. It is a very exclusive postgraduate research facility devoted solely to advanced studies in disciplines with political applications. What the tutors are like, I leave to your imagination. Anyway, she has spent the last year as a research fellow of this place, which I assume brings a bursary with it. I mean, it isn't like a place where you pay fees to do a course taught by the tutors. It's a place to which you are sponsored by a tutor who undertakes to mentor you during that year while you produce eg a doctorate dissertation. In other words, they pick your brains. And now she is back interviewing Hezbollah intelligence officers and etc. Remember if you will the 'ex'-MI6 officer Alastair Crooke who created a helpful research establishment in Beirut where members of entities to which HMG official does not talk, like Hezbollah, could have quiet conversations with western diplomats and researchers. You get the idea?

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Dec 24, 2013 11:27:29 PM | 64

exiledonline confirmed a couple of years ago that the War Nerd is an alter ego for John Dolan. Which makes sense, Johan Dolan is a teacher in english litterature, and when you look at it what the War Nerd writes is not investigative journalism, it is narratives. Generally well-written narratives that run counter to the dominant ones and with more underpinning them.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 25, 2013 2:35:49 PM | 65

Maybe Rowan is right to judge anyone working at Oxford as being willingly manipulated by mi6 and neocons, BUT that's ignoring the fact that after 9/11 the grants and positions have been reduced to an extreme minimum allowing these very same guys to screen/filter/select anyone in such fields. Some people still try to jump into as 'independents' because they DO need some money to survive. It's quite naive from them as they usually find out after a few years, so somehow Rowan is right. Call it survival.

Posted by: Mina | Dec 25, 2013 3:35:14 PM | 66

@ 65. Thanks for the heads-up on Dolan. I agree that it's more likely that War Nerd was word-smithed by Dolan than Ames.

I (thought I) posted a longer version of this response but it seems to have disappeared. So don't get confused if turns up.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 25, 2013 9:09:38 PM | 67

Off topic, but what the heck...
I've never had a comment disappear "into the system" since I first came here to MoA. I have had several minor problems from time to time BUT every single one of them was due to an omission/carelessness by me. I suspect that the problem I mentioned at #67 was the result of hitting the Preview button (again) instead of the Post button.
I didn't read/look carefully at what came up, and there's not much difference in superficial appearance between the 'This is only a preview' screen and the 'Your comment has been posted' screen.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 25, 2013 11:27:10 PM | 68

Copeland # 41

That event has to do with a calculated plan about reverse, undo, change of direction. How else they could justify and have masses along with Patriotic Acts, Suspend of constitution, Rebuilt and modernize Military, create new
And extreme security measures and, homeland security….
Short of event like that American would not approve over $100 billion for modernizing military at the time of economic crisis.
Smoke and mirror

Posted by: loyal | Dec 26, 2013 7:12:04 AM | 69

The Saudis are feeding the hate and the Sunni-Shia conflict ... among others. So why doesn't the US govt do more to address this. Either or both of the same two reasons:
1. They're inept and have no idea what they're doing.
2. They're corrupt and are protecting the Saudis.

Posted by: Curtis | Dec 29, 2013 10:20:50 PM | 70

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