Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 05, 2014

There Is No "Power Vacuum" In The Middle East

Vacuum is the absence of matter.

But according to the New York Times the only "matter" that counts is the U.S. military. Thus this hallucinating thesis that a Power Vacuum in Middle East Lifts Militants:

[F]or all its echoes, the bloodshed that has engulfed Iraq, Lebanon and Syria in the past two weeks exposes something new and destabilizing: the emergence of a post-American Middle East in which no broker has the power, or the will, to contain the region’s sectarian hatreds.
Amid this vacuum, fanatical Islamists have flourished in both Iraq and Syria under the banner of Al Qaeda, as the two countries’ conflicts amplify each other and foster ever-deeper radicalism.

Hmm - there has been no bloodshed in the Lebanese civil war? There was no Iraq Iran war? All was peaceful while the U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq?

That "vacuum" thesis is nuts. The "power vacuum" idea is even more stupid when one looks at the list of powerful forces within the "vacuum" space that are mentioned in the piece:

For the first time since the American troop withdrawal of 2011, fighters from a Qaeda affiliate have recaptured Iraqi territory. In the past few days they have seized parts of the two biggest cities in Anbar Province, where the government, which the fighters revile as a tool of Shiite Iran, struggles to maintain a semblance of authority.

Lebanon has seen two deadly car bombs, including one that killed a senior political figure and American ally.

In Syria, the tempo of violence has increased, with hundreds of civilians killed by bombs dropped indiscriminately on houses and markets.

Linking all this mayhem is an increasingly naked appeal to the atavistic loyalties of clan and sect.

So the "power vacuum", the absence of "power matter", is, according to the NYT writers, filled with al-Qaeda, the Iraqi army, terrorists in Lebanon, and various forces fighting in Syria all somehow involved in a Saudi Iranian proxy war. That is quite a "vacuum".

Behind propagandizing the idea of such a "vacuum" which is none is of course the intend to get the U.S. further involved so that the non-existing vacuum is filled with the only "power matter" that somehow is supposed to count.

Where did those NYT writers get this stupid idea? One might guess that such nonsense can only leap from some neoconned minds. And indeed, a different NYT report points to such a source:

Two Republican critics of the Obama administration’s decision to withdraw all American troops, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said that “many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by America’s enemies and would emerge as a threat to U.S. national security interests.”

What "vacuum" and what "national security interests" might that be?

It was the U.S. attack on Iraq that set off the sectarian war in Iraq and beyond. It was the removal of Saddam Hussein that changed the balance between Saudi Sunnism and Iranian Shiaism which then motivated the Saudis to unleash the Jihadist forces. It was not a "power vacuum" that created the strife that continues today and will continue in the future. It was the insertion of U.S. forces into the Middle East that led to overpressure and the current explosions.

To pretend that such military insertions and presence is needed to fill Middle Eastern space only points to the lack of matter in the writers' sculls.

Posted by b on January 5, 2014 at 08:49 AM | Permalink

Comments

Vacuum is in the head of the participants, be they the Western elite or the illiterate and drug-addict fellows who fuel the war. Interesting news of the international djihadist brigades here. Everybody want to become the new emir around the block. Sounds like Afghanistan?
http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/battle-isis-syrias-rebel-militias/

Posted by: Mina | Jan 5, 2014 9:32:20 AM | 1

Egypt, same but without full-scale civil war
http://arabist.net/blog/2014/1/4/egypt-in-tv

In a thousand years, maybe people will start looking at patriarchy and its side effects...

Posted by: Mina | Jan 5, 2014 9:48:42 AM | 2

"Where did those NYT writers get this stupid idea?"

From AIPAC?
From the State Department?
From the Cheney/neocon axis of drivel?

Posted by: bevin | Jan 5, 2014 10:01:53 AM | 3

The silver lining to the NYT story is that at least it names the Saudis; the downside is it does so in a fashion that makes it seem as if the Saudis aren't directly funding and provisioning the Qaeda groups. The fiction the story peddles is that the Saudis are supporting Sunni Islamist fighters who then collaborate with Nusra and ISIS but that the Saudis aren't directly backing Al Qaeda.

B has always been good about drawing attention to the spurious nature of these distinctions that the Western press likes to draw between Islamist fundamentalist groups so as to be able to elide the role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jan 5, 2014 10:10:28 AM | 4

One of the most difficult questions for me over the last few years has been to decide the extent to which the Maliki government in Iraq constitutes a willed and chosen outcome from the US point of view, a least worst option, or what. I generally assume that Maliki and his government are actually US puppets, and that the constant accusation from the US side that they are pawns of Iran is just another variation of the omnipresent theme of US deniability vis-a-vis its clients. But I would like to hear other people's views on this.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jan 5, 2014 10:22:05 AM | 5

RB @ 5: I think it is unclear at this point the extent of U.S. commitment to al-Maliki. One reads that Obama is rushing weapons, and then one reads that deliveries have been slow to arrive. One thing seems certain. Al-Maliki's allowing Iranian overflights to Syria was not appreciated by the puppet masters.

Going forward, the situation in Anbar should provide a illuminating lens on how deep the ties between Iraq and the United States really are.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jan 5, 2014 10:44:53 AM | 6

rowan, my opinion is that maliki was chosen by cheney/bush because he was weak and mutable. i forget his name but there was another more popular leader the US rejected. and the hounding he's a pawn of iran is US posturing that their puppet isn't pliable enough. but any shia gov in iraq regardless of the leader is going to align more w/iran than the US.

and this is funny. the nyt reports the US is considering allowing iran to participate at the next geneva conference as long as they agree to surrender to US demands before they engage! what a joke:


Russia has argued that Iran should be present at the peace conference, as has Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations special envoy. But France and the United States had previously insisted that Iran first make clear that it supports the goal of the meeting: a transition to a governing structure that would exclude Mr. Assad.

Posted by: annie | Jan 5, 2014 10:48:51 AM | 7

The United States government has sows the seeds of sectarian hatred throughout the Middle East through it's constant scheming and naked aggression for upwards of 70 years. US global strategy used to foment ultra-violent, bloody civil wars as an "unfortunate byproduct" of its desire to squash even the most tepid social reform. But starting in Iraq and going on through Syria, the sparking all-out blood feuds between ethnic groups seems to be the prime objective of US policy. Of course none of this could be accomplished without the help of the unaccountable anachronism and US puppet state of Saudi Arabia, nor without the support of Israel who benefits most of all from a Middle East bent on cannibalizing its own sons - sometimes literally.

But faster than the average mind, propagandized for decades with the concepts of "Responsibility to Protect" and the tragedies of Rwanda and Yugoslavia, can ask "But I thought US policy was to prevent ethnic massacres?" the New York Times appears with the answer, and not a moment too soon! Ever the loyal servant of power, they now jump at their masters call to clean up this, the dirtiest of intellectual messes - as only highly trained Ivy League graduates can:

Reality: Nightmarish violence caused by US meddling.
NYTimes: Nightmarish violence cause by US not meddling enough.

And voila. The door is open to even more US terror and violence in the name of preventing the terror and violence it caused in the first place.

"It's good to be the king."

This should be viewed as well, a 1968 US Army Training film entitled Psychological Operations in Support of Internal Defense and Development Assistance Programs in which we visit the small country of "Hostland" and learn to work with its army to achieve US objectives.

https://archive.org/details/Psycholo1968
https://archive.org/details/Psycholo1968_2

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 5, 2014 10:52:03 AM | 8

@RB 5: In a recent interview with Patrick Cockburn, Muqtada al Sadr contends that "Maliki is strong because he is supported by the United States, Britain, and Iran."

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/11/29/an-interview-with-muqtada-al-sadr/

Posted by: LLza | Jan 5, 2014 10:53:55 AM | 9

9) yep.

b. There is a power vacuum in as much as none of the players seem to be able to dominate the others, the US included. There is also no alliance, no ideology that can take over. It is Wahhabism against the rest of Islam against secularism against "Western" liberalism, tribalism against nationalism. There also seems to be no military technology that can prevail against asymmetric warfare.

The survival of ISIS which does not seem to be funded by any government sources but by Gulf businessmen and self funds from hostage taking and extractions is a case in point.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 5, 2014 11:30:40 AM | 10

It was only the early black ops in Iraq that ushered in the 'sectarian' meme, and imo, ONLY so later actors could step in under some kind of plausible deniability, and of course the plan was for the ENTIRE REGION. Vacuum or no vacuum, sectarian strife was completely fabricated - and still is. All of this vacuum talk is just the neocons picking their teeth after a good meal, and anticipating the next one.

Rowan of course Maliki was set up to be a pawn/whatever. EVERYTHING the US has wrought in the region follows the plausible deniability handbook. (No matter how ridiculously obvious most of these actions appear to the sane)

Posted by: L Bean | Jan 5, 2014 11:41:18 AM | 11

Only pawns were eligible to run in the Iraqi "elections." So, in that sense, Maliki was a pawn. But all this means is that he was known to be unambitious regionally, coalesced with corrupt elements and was bound to be weak and unimaginative.
The US would much have preferred other candidates, notably Ayad Alawi. But it saw Maliki as malleable, not least because, in the Saudi backed "jihadists" they retained a militia capability which could weaken Baghdad at will, keeping it dependent.
In recent years we have seen those sunni militias strengthened considerably, not least by being trained in fighting in Syria. Now the US is, as is its wont, backing both sides: the militias fighting Maliki are all US trained, financed and armed, while Maliki is being furnished with weapons by the US.
The big question is Iran's role. With the likelihood being that Iran is holding back full support for Maliki in order not to give Congressional critics an excuse to insist on breaking off talks with the Islamic Republic.
Just another war, which will continue- an expansion of the Syrian war which was an expansion of the Iraq invasion- until the Iraqis grow out of the military mimicry which was Saddam's downfall and develop popular militias based on local communities.
Of course to do so is to risk, from the point of view of corrupt politicos, the loss of power to the people.

Posted by: bevin | Jan 5, 2014 11:58:20 AM | 12

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Besides, when the US has no realistic diplomatic options, using force is the only way they know how to exert influence. Especially when their foreign policy is crippled by Israeli lobbying.

Posted by: OAB | Jan 5, 2014 11:59:55 AM | 13

I was just about to come here and post about this story when I was pleasantly surprised that b already had destroyed this Zionist propaganda.

Gee, funny how - once again - the NYT can promulgate a story about the breakup of the sovereign ME states without mentioning the apartheid, genocidal state of Israel once by name. Don't worry, it's not there.

Yup, nothing to see here. No realization of the Yinon Plan. No implementation of a Clean Break.

Who could have even thought that events would play themselves out in this manner?

Yup, let's not discuss once again how the Zionist neocons waged all of these wars at the behest of their Israeli masters.

How all of the murder, maiming, destruction and looting can be directly laid at the feet of the apartheid, genocidal state of Israel and its ardent supporters in the American halls of power as plans decades in the making are being brought to fruition before our very eyes.

Yup, it's just those crazy Muslims being Muslim, I guess.

I think that the future war crimes tribunals should start with the Zionist propagandists as then we at least wouldn't have to suffer from their treasonous (from an American pov) and nonsensical horsesh!te day in, day out.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Jan 5, 2014 12:01:18 PM | 14

'vacuum' is the space between the neocons ears..

Posted by: james | Jan 5, 2014 12:02:07 PM | 15

And as per usual in the NYT comments section only one poster - out of 200 which is a fairly large size - has made a passing reference to the apartheid genocidal state of Israel by name. Just one.

Yup, no mention or thought as to who would benefit from such a "power vacuum", who would benefit from the creation of said "power vacuum" or who had planned for said "power vacuum". Nope.

Just a smattering of meaningless drivel as to who is worse Bush or Obama, the Saudis or the Iranians.

Bravo, Zionist propagandists, may you all slowly rot in hell.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Jan 5, 2014 12:18:36 PM | 16

There is Iranian humour now

Iran ready to help Iraq battle Qaeda: military chief

after

Kerry: US Will Support Iraq, but Without Troops

Posted by: somebody | Jan 5, 2014 12:31:03 PM | 17

It's pretty obvious that any time O', Kerry, Cameron or Hollande use the phrase "power vacuum" (it was used extensively by Fabius last year to justify the prospect of an intervention) it means "evading our control".
The news in South Sudan have been accelerating. I'm sure Pepe will soon enlighten us about the US/China power struggle there.

Posted by: Mina | Jan 5, 2014 2:47:24 PM | 18

With all due respect, b, et al.

We KNOW that zamerican median, corporations and politicians bullsh*t and lie realiably and virtually always.

Now, I understand that from time to time, and be it just for a good laugh, one would comment some zamerican media smea ... uh, "article".

But, frankly, don't you find it boring to do it that often? I mean that's like my grandfather playing heavy metal every noon for 30 minutes only to note each and every day how yuck, distasteful and shitty heavy metal is.

And then, of all "newspapers" the nyt, a paper published by guys known for decades to be dedicated to lies, smear, propaganda, dirt and trivia.

Oh well, if you enjoy it ...

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jan 5, 2014 2:48:05 PM | 19

Watch AIPAC's lackeys in Congress try to tie this to Iran - despite the fact that Al-Qaeda is Sunni and Iran largely Shi'a - using bogus Israeli intel.

The citizens of Fallujah get caught in the crossfire for the third time in less than 10 years. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the rest of the neoconservatives who started this need to pay for their war crimes.

H/T: antiwar.com

http://news.antiwar.com/2014/01/04/hundreds-dead-as-fallujah-falls-to-al-qaeda/

Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 5, 2014 2:52:08 PM | 20

stupid idea gain traction when mouthed by authority

Posted by: brian | Jan 5, 2014 3:47:31 PM | 21

Pragma, if I may, it is important to follow the direction of the spin in the MSM. Poland and the US are usually close allies, something which the interview refered to above confirms, if we are to believe that at least some people in the US administration never wanted an intervention in Syria.
Now the French media still try to leave under cover the role of Hariri, and therefore published articles recently after the Beirut different bombings, and the visit by Hollande to KSA (followed by a stop in Moscow) where they simply miss to give any clue to their readers as to what is going on.

Posted by: Mina | Jan 5, 2014 3:55:07 PM | 22

Mina (22)

You are right. But my point wasn't to do with the daily glancing over msm (if they don't jump at you anyway) to be informed as to the diverse official stances, lures, fairy tales, traps, aso.

My point was about getting exited, criticizing, being angry, pointing at msm.

That's, Pardon me, just non-sensical. It's akin to criticizing advertisements for being biased.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jan 5, 2014 4:01:26 PM | 23

Agreed.

It is apparent from that NY Times article that the US military never invaded Iraq in 2003.

And since there was never any invasion then the USA holds no blame for the destabilization of Iraq and, therefore, that invasion (which obviously never happened) never acted as *the* event that destabilized the entire Middle East.

Apparently (again, as far as the NY Times is concerned) those GIs were there because, well, that's where they are. Obviously. A natural feature of the landscape, nothing more.

And, therefore, it is Obama's reckless and wanton removal of that natural feature of the landscape that has created all this turmoil. Clearly.

Posted by: Johnboy | Jan 5, 2014 4:50:35 PM | 24

Is it possible that US is intentionally allowing Iraq to slide back into chaos because China has been the main beneficiary of Iraqi oil?

Posted by: spiuk1 | Jan 5, 2014 4:51:23 PM | 25

JSorrentine @16,

May blowback in its most brutal form reach out and strangle the Israeli government, and its military monsters. These creatures of hate, bloodlust, and murder must be treated like the Nazis were treated in Nuremberg.

Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 5, 2014 5:00:29 PM | 26

And would the EU let the whole African continent fall (the mayor of Lampedusa called the weekly dead in the Mediterranean a 'genocide') because the Chinese had managed to take too many important businesses there (oil + constructions).

BTW, Morocco has legalized sub-saharian workers last week. The new Libya or just obeying some pressures by KSA/EU? What kind of eldorado do they plan there? Brothels and casinos?
http://magharebia.com/en_GB/articles/awi/newsbriefs/general/2014/01/03/newsbrief-03

Those guys won't like it
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/africa/2014/01/02/Morocco-dismantled-first-terrorist-cell-sending-fighters-to-Syria.html

Posted by: Mina | Jan 5, 2014 5:06:28 PM | 27

@27 I was poking around the first site and found this from Libya:

"Many have been taking to streets since last Thursday at al-Jazaer Square, where the Tripoli local council is located, hundreds of metres away from Martyrs' Square, to condemn the extension of the congressional mandate.

They carried independence flags and went around the square carrying sweepers and palm branches that were used in cleaning in the past to show their desire to remove the GNC. Some of them staged a sit-in at the square following the protests."

The Western Psy Ops have worked exquisitely when the people of Libya can somehow see as "independence" their move from a sovereign state to a divided, western dominated semi-protectorate.

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 5, 2014 7:38:39 PM | 28

I see Fox News has picked up on this "power vacuum" BS, using it as another tool by which to blame Obama for the "resurgence" of "Al Qaeda in Iraq". Never mind blaming that hapless champanzee Bush and his handler, Cheney, for the actual emergence of "Al Qaeda in Iraq". As I have predicted for years now, Obama will be blamed for an epic clusterfuck put in motion by the criminal Bush Administration. In reality, Bush, Cheney, and thier cabal of rabid neo-con fanatics should actually HANG for what they did.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Jan 5, 2014 8:44:47 PM | 29

Posted by: spiuk1 | Jan 5, 2014 4:51:23 PM | 25

Very possible.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 5, 2014 9:42:04 PM | 30

The fights among the islamist and the islamists+ and the islamists++ is turning out to be a sinister joke.
The media is confused in their labelling. Who are the rebels? who are the militants? who are the "Syrians", who are the terrorists? the moderates? the ultraconservatives? the extremists?
No one seems to know who is fighting who in the opposoition and what do they really want?

Posted by: Virgile | Jan 5, 2014 10:53:43 PM | 31

Trying to appear one way, while actually being another, isn't easy. Both Maliki and Obama, IMO, fit into that category. Neither, would hold their offices without permission from the real rulers of the empire, the mega-corporate trans-national oligarchs, who through interlocking boards of directors, make an ever growing amount of world decisions. This cabal is wealthy enough to buy ANY nation, and the puppets they control, are numerous, and growing.

Posted by: ben | Jan 5, 2014 11:12:09 PM | 32

31) :-)) Look here Afghan Militants Join Syria’s Civil War, As If It Wasn’t Awful Enough

Any project manager knows that throwing resources into a project in a late stage does not mean the project will finish in time - it just creates chaos.

If above news is true and I imagine it could be, Saudi et al are recruiting proxy forces throughout the region - from Caucasus, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq to Pakistan and Afghanistan. These proxy forces have no clue whom they are fighting - they can be directed anywhere. They will also clash with locals who are in the fight to protect their territory, the locals will not be able to compete with professionals. There also is a language barrier. And there needs to be a project management that would have to be linked to Saudi.

Mind you, ISIS financing seems to be quite independent. I guess Saudi somehow lost control of their proxy forces - therefore the attempt to rain them in.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 6, 2014 1:43:18 AM | 33

I don't believe in unaccountable private sources in the Gulf states funding anything. These are police states, dammit: nobody runs private financing rings without the Mukhabarat knowing all about them and either permitting or forbidding. Of course, 'private funders' can be used by the Mukhabarat itself, to create deniability for money actually being channelled from their own secret funds, in accordance with CIA instructions. Thus, you have total deniability at all points. And it is not true that ISIS members live simply and frugally. At least some of them live in considerable luxury, in villas 'donated by sympathisers'.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jan 6, 2014 4:24:23 AM | 34

34)
:)) It is called extortion. Basque nationalists, IRA used that, it works. The Mafia uses it. You can call it protection money. In a destabilized country you have to pay that to be able to do business. I think even the US army pays it in Afghanistan - directly funding Taliban. Established authorities and robber barons call it tariffs and taxes.

There are also well connected businessmen like this guy:

Yasin al Qadi - he was removed from the UN terrorism list last year. Turkey - Erdogan - sheltered him whilst he was on UN and US terrorism lists. I am not sure if he was ever removed from the US list. The Gülen movement now is washing all the dirty laundry they can find.

Here is a link on drug money, cartels, shells, and money laundering - terrorism is indistinguishable from drug cartels and other criminal networks

Lots of things are possible in a police state - especially in a corrupt police state.

War, terrorism and business tend to become an indistinguishable maze in war times.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 6, 2014 6:20:05 AM | 35

Then theres people like this guy

Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheldon_Adelson

Who pays so much "extortion money"/bribes, in the corrupt police state in which he lives, that he doesn't even have to hide.

Posted by: stfu | Jan 6, 2014 6:30:40 AM | 36

Here is a link on drug money, cartels, shells, and money laundering.... Posted by: somebody | Jan 6, 2014 6:20:05 AM | 35

This looks like a very fishy book, but thanks for the link (I had to shear it of all its suffixes before it would let me view the book). The author is a USAF Lt-Col. She has a detailed chapter on Hezb'ollah, including its supposed commission of multifarious crimes in South America. Since I have always regarded this entire dimension of Hezb'ollah as a creation of Israeli hasbara, it does not make me want to read the book.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jan 6, 2014 7:16:05 AM | 37

Well the Gülen movement is directly funded directly by the US taxpayer
Their structure is pretty mafia like.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 6, 2014 7:32:40 AM | 38

I think this guy here gets it about right:

Yes, the Saudis finance the terrorists and they believe they control them, athough they do not control them to a large degree or do not control them at all. ... This hypothesis which is a possibility of terrorism as well financed and uncontroled is a factor in the massive disorder of our antipolar world.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 6, 2014 8:19:58 AM | 39

re 34

I don't believe in unaccountable private sources in the Gulf states funding anything. These are police states, dammit: nobody runs private financing rings without the Mukhabarat knowing all about them

Well you should do. You have the wrong model of the state in the Gulf (and indeed in other Arab countries). The state is these people, who own the state and everything in it ("Qatar is 300 people and a television channel", as one Saudi said.) as their private domain. However, their support for jihadism is done on a private basis (not that there is really that much difference, as the wealthy Gulfis can dip into the state pocket), because that is the ancient tradition, and it makes the policy deniable. When jihadism started in the 9th century, it was funded by aristocrats in a private capacity. The mother of the Caliph and other members of the court built establishments to fund jihadis to raid Byzantium. The building and the expenses for war-horses and men. They did it on a personal basis. It was like Barons funding the construction of cathedrals in medieval times, or as stfu mentions above Sheldon Adelson today.

Posted by: alexno | Jan 6, 2014 9:01:23 AM | 40

40) Difference is that terrorism is outlawed internationally, so that money transfers have do be done through criminal networks and that it is not advisable to boast about it.

Though of course, alexno, you are right, the Saudi Monarch can easily denounce terrorism in his capacity as head of state and privately fund it :-))

Posted by: somebody | Jan 6, 2014 9:38:12 AM | 41

Rowan
you miss the point: these charities are their SOLE political freedom apart from the one they are given on their household (keep them busy from demonstrating)
should it be assimilated as money laundering?
after 9|11 there was talk of regulating gray finance; since then we hear about it every g8 or so, but it is just to give hope to the kids...

Posted by: Mina | Jan 6, 2014 9:54:31 AM | 42

@alexno (#40)

I don't think that what you say contradicts what Rowan says at 34. The main point is that these "donations" are not and cannot be made without the knowledge and complete approval of the state. Secret service and the police apparatus in these countries would nail them to the ground if people wanted to send money to anyone not approved by the state. When Bandar tells to Putin that Saudies are in complete charge of Jihadies, that is what he bases his claim on.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jan 6, 2014 11:45:36 AM | 43

43) How stuff works - money laundering

From the mosque to charity to businesses to businessmen private funding ...

The legitimacy of the Saudi monarchs is based on Wahhabi clerics, they are in no position to fully control them though of course they try.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 6, 2014 12:38:36 PM | 44

@Somebody;
How much control in reality the Saudi monarchy has over the Jihadies is one thing why Bandar boasts that he controls them is quite another. Jihadi foot-soldiers may be loose cannons, but those who hold the strings of the "purse" (ie. those who make donations) cannot act without the state's unambiguous approval (and in fact encouragement). In fact I find what alexno says quite correct that

" The state is these people, who own the state and everything in it "

And those billionair petro-dollar Sheikhs cannot do a damn thing against the interests of the USA. They owe their very existence to USA! Take out the fifth fleet out of Persian Gulf and take away the physical security guarantee of the West and let's see how long SA, Qatar, UAE and Kuwait can last.
How long exactly did it take for Saddam's tanks to just roll into Kuwait city unopposed? I had heard that it wasn't more than a flight time from Kuwait city to Riyad after Saddam's first tank crossed borders that Al-Sabah family was in Riyad.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jan 6, 2014 1:13:25 PM | 45

It's not a power vacuum, it's a manufacture of failed states
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/04/us/politics/us-is-facing-hard-choices-in-south-sudan.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0

Most article at the time of the referendum in 2011 were mentioning that the risk of civil war was huge as the tribes on BOTH sides of the newly imposed border were not accepting it!

Posted by: Mina | Jan 6, 2014 1:19:26 PM | 46

45) Saudi Arabia has a population of 30 million and something like 10,000 princes. 10.000 princes cannot control 30 million, you need an ideology for that. In Europe monarchy ruled via religion - no bishop, no king - I assume that applies for Saudi Arabia, too.

They have the problem of a religious ideology that Western publics cannot stomach (neither can other publics), i.e. their customers, the ideology also involves crossing Saudi borders, it is impossible to "control" what is happening in other countries. What they presumably do is infiltrate Jihadi groups with secret service. What could go wrong ...

We do not know what Bandar really said to Putin, we know from a London court what he threatened Blair with.

Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE.

So, that's how it works. They produce the Jihadis in their - international - schools and then they warn everybody so they can fight terrorism. They might even give money for that goal. It used to work fine for the US when they were in the business of fighting terrorism. That might have changed. We will see.

Above quote by the way is proof that they are not the state - they have private pockets.


Posted by: somebody | Jan 6, 2014 1:56:18 PM | 47

@somebody#33:

The presence of Afghanis in the Syrian conflict is not new. They are a good candidate for the source of the polio epidemic. Of course, there might be a new arrival of young Afghani cannon fodder. Thousands of foreign fighters have died thusfar and there is still money to fund their replacements.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Jan 6, 2014 2:31:35 PM | 48

In addition to funding from Saudi "businessmen," takfiri groups usually target oil resources when they take over a region (ISIS is said to still control oil wells and smuggling in parts of northeast Syria). Further, they subsidize operations through kidnapping, looting and archaeological plunder.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Jan 6, 2014 2:38:32 PM | 49

48) With a little help from the EU

EU decision to lift Syrian oil sanctions boosts jihadist groups Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaida affiliate, consolidates position as scramble for control of wells accelerates

Jabhat al-Nusra is on the US State departments terrorism list.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 6, 2014 2:51:54 PM | 50

Speaking of money laundering, this article perhaps explains in part what is happening in the Turkey 'corruption'/'graft' scandal.

http://www.todayszaman.com/news-335753-money-laundering-rings-poison-host-countries.html

Posted by: okie farmer | Jan 6, 2014 3:01:17 PM | 51

@Somebody;
Ideology (or religion for that matter) cannot suppress a hungry stomach. On the other hand, the threat of brutal suppression joined by cash distributions to calm people can. You believe that Saudi Royalty control its people by “ideology”, I on the other hand think that Saudies are hardly in a position to brag about their “piety” and I am willing to bet that their people know about that too. So instead of “ideology” I think it is the bribe that works:

”Saudi king offers benefits as he returns from treatment”

”Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah promises $36 billion in benefits”

Of course this does not mean that things will go on like this forever, in 1980 Saudi family had to pacify 10 million by bribing, in 2014 they have to bribe more than 28 million. The oil income does not increase with population, and besides most of oil revenue is to be looted by the Royal family and the more you bribe your population into passiveness the less you have for the likes of Prince Bandar to loot. So there is an upper limit to how much you can bribe and things seem to become more and more unstable with a rising http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-saudi-arabia-unemployment-and-booming-population-drive-growing-poverty/2012/12/02/458e648c-3987-11e2-a263-f0ebffed2f15_story.html”>poverty.
And believe me once that upper limit has decreased to a low enough of a level that the Saudies can no longer bribe their people, no amount of “ideology” or religious “piety” will suffice to pacify the people.
By the way, I don’t believe that Bandar or SA is in a position to threaten the West with anything. As I said before, Bandar and SA owe their very existence to the 5th fleet and the security guarantees by the West. Bandar has once famously said about Qatar that it is 300,000 people with a TV station, what he forgot is that SA is not all that different, it is a country of 28 million with rampant ignorance and NOTHING to produce except pumping oil from under the ground.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jan 6, 2014 3:11:44 PM | 52

By the way Somebody;
Do you really believe that Blair was scared that Saudi Jihadies would attack London and that was the reason for stopping the investigations?
I on the other hand am more inclined to believe that the reason was this:

"But on Thursday the attorney general said the investigation was to be stopped, because of doubts over a potential prosecution and on grounds of national security.

It came weeks after reports that the Saudis were threatening to pull out of a deal to buy 72 Eurofighter jets from BAE and deal with France instead."

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jan 6, 2014 3:40:10 PM | 53

52) Sure, Blair and his ambassador would have wanted to shut the investigation down no matter what and the threats were the only reason they could possibly justify it. So after all, Bandar's threats might have been an invention. Their accounts are more credible though than the unnamed officials reporting Bandar's threats to Putin.

51) That is a fallacy, poor people do not fight. Revolutions start when people feel things are getting better. Any decent trade union will organize strikes when the economy is up, and offer concessions in a downturn. So let's hope Saudi payments will contribute to the monarchy's downfall.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 6, 2014 4:37:41 PM | 54

Somebody;
When was it that Germany went through the most uncertain times and experienced the greatest political instability? When was that the German communist party had its highest vote? Was it at the time of economic prosperity when everything was becoming better? What was the economic situation in France at the time of the revolutions of 1848? Were things getting better or worse economically?
If indeed hungry people would not revolt then revolutions should have happened in USA or Scandinavia rather than in Iran, Russia, China or Cuba.
Employed people are always worried that if they end up in jail and could not show up at work in the morning they may get fired, those who have nothing to lose on the other hand become very dangerous.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Jan 6, 2014 8:59:27 PM | 56

"The media is confused in their labelling. Who are the rebels? who are the militants? who are the "Syrians", who are the terrorists? the moderates? the ultraconservatives? the extremists?
No one seems to know who is fighting who in the opposoition and what do they really want?"

I think we are already playing their MSM game by talking about ISIS this, JaN that, and FSA and so forth.

Of course they're all supported by the same cretins, so what is really the difference?

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 7, 2014 10:31:57 PM | 57

@georgeg

I also question Col. Lang's characterization of the Phoenix Program as one that "had as its goal the capture of VC political cadres so that they could be "re-educated." Kill was a fall back position." Please refer to John Stockwell - who ran the Phoenix Program near the end of the war - describe it more succinctly than I ever could:

"The Phoenix Program was created by the CIA and its purpose was to kill..."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iU0FH3WSAwU

...

The above is serious, but in this case, Col. Lang is pretty funny:

Tariq Aziz, Saddam's foreign minister, was Christian. He may not have been a good Chrsitian, but he nevertheles was Christian by sect...

What exactly is this supposed to mean? And by what measure? I'm certainly curious. I'm sure others are as well.

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 7, 2014 10:49:57 PM | 58

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