Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 17, 2017

Can Washington Prevent The Death Of The Gulf States?

U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson is angry that Saudi Arabia and the UAE rejected his efforts to calm down their spat with Qatar. His revenge, and a threat of more serious measures, comes in the form of a WaPo "leak" - UAE orchestrated hacking of Qatari government sites, sparking regional upheaval, according to U.S. intelligence officials:

The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

Officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation. The officials said it remains unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted to have them done.

That the UAE and/or the Saudis were involved in the hack was pretty clear from the get go. They were the only ones who had a clear motive. Qatar already had specific evidence for the source of the hacking. Congressional anti-Russian sources ignored that and accused, as usual, Russia and Putin.

Tillerson's real message is not the hacking accusation. The hacks themselves are not relevant to the spat and to Tillerson's efforts to defuse it. The "leak" sets the UAE and Saudi leadership on notice that the U.S. has sources and methods to learn of their government's innermost discussions. The real threat to them is that other dirt could be released from the same source.

It is doubtful that this threat will change the minds of these rulers. They believe in their own invincibility. Ian Welsh describes the mindset in his prediction of The Death of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states:

This is fairly standard: all dynasties go bad eventually because the kings-to-be grow up in wealth and power and think it’s the natural state of things: that they are brilliant and deserve it all, when it was handed them on a platter. Perhaps they are good at palace intrigue and think that extends beyond the palace.

It doesn’t.

Welsh comes to the same conclusion as I did when the recent GCC infighting broke out:

No matter how the spat with Qatar ends, the GCC unity has (again) been exposed as a sham. It can not be repaired. Saudi "leadership" is shown to be just brutal bullying and will be resisted. U.S. plans for a united GCC under Saudi leadership and U.S. control are in shambles.
The Saudi under their new leadership overestimate their capabilities. So did Trump when he raised their role. The Saudi "apes with Macbooks" do not have the capabilities needed for a serious political actor in this world. Their money can paper over that for only so long.

The step Tillerson and some "intelligence officials" now took may be a sign panic. The "leak" revealed "sources and methods". Like every other government the UAE senior officials suspect that the U.S. is trying to listen to their internal deliberations. But they now know for sure. The specific date given in the "leak" will help them to take some countermeasures. Leaking "sources and methods" is not done lightly. That it has to resort to such measures shows that the U.S. administration is not in control of the situation.

During the fall of the Ottoman empire Britain created today's Saudi Arabia. Two world wars exhausted Britain's power. The U.S. took over the management of the  empire including the Gulf states. It needs Saudi Arabia for its fossil energy and the related reserve currency status of the U.S. dollar. Unrest in Saudi Arabia is not in the U.S. interest but such is now in sight. The "leak" is just a tactical measure of an inexperienced administration. It is not enough to defuse or mitigate the conflict and its consequences.

What strategies will Washington develop to counter the foreseeable instability in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states?

Posted by b on July 17, 2017 at 02:33 PM | Permalink


The petro dollar has been around some time now and has given US control of the world trade currency. As far rich kids being handed everything on a platter, the US government is no different to the Saudi's. This will be interesting.

Posted by: Peter AU | Jul 17, 2017 3:04:50 PM | 1

What can Washington do to save the khalijis?

Nothing beyond sell them weapons and eavesdropping technology. But this only buys some time, and time unfortunately for the GCC countries, isn't on their side.

With increasing swiftness, across the world technologies are being improved on and invented which will eventually wean everyone off fossil fuels. This won't happen overnight, and even when it does, petroleum will still have value as it is used in innumerable applications. But the price will fall, making the latest crash look like a road bump. When that happens, the show's over folks. The GCC countries will become ungovernable, then uninhabitable. There simply are too many people, too few resources.

The only hope the GCC states have is to diversify their economies. Not MBS's 'Prosperity through Austerity' but a multi-pronged tract to develop all critical sectors. The UAE and Qatar are trying, but betting the house on finance and real estate to the detriment of everything else. Petro dollars are still propping up those houses of cards. Oman is the only one seemingly doing things right: good relations with neighbors, trade, and developing domestic industry. If the rest of the GCC doesn't follow Oman's lead, they are simply finished.

Posted by: Don Wiscacho | Jul 17, 2017 3:29:16 PM | 2


I have to disagree with your statement "It needs Saudi Arabia for its fossil energy and the related reserve currency status of the U.S. dollar."

The US does not need Saudi Arabia for its "fossil energy". It has plenty of oil, natural gas and coal. The US shale patch is quickly becoming the swing producer of oil & gas in the world. It will become more so as they continue to reduce their break-evens. Oil demand is also declining in the US as the oil intensity of the US economy declines. As electric vehicles acquire a larger share of the US auto market, oil demand will decline even further. Electricity generation from renewables, specially solar is growing.

Relative to the size of total dollars outstanding, Saudi dollar holdings are small. China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and other Asian countries have a much larger share. In any case reserve currency status is not all beneficial to the US. By definition the US has to run a large trade deficit and cannot take a mercantilist approach like Germany and China.

Posted by: ab initio | Jul 17, 2017 3:30:38 PM | 3

Re: hack:
Perhaps we shouldnt accept claims about UAE just like that. Lets be honest.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 17, 2017 3:35:36 PM | 4

ab initio | Jul 17, 2017 3:30:38 PM | 3 "In any case reserve currency status is not all beneficial to the US."

This is what gives the US the power to sanction countries and make it stick world wide. It is a huge part of US power.

Posted by: Peter AU | Jul 17, 2017 3:39:08 PM | 5

Peter AU @5--

Thanks for calling the trolling. Its comment was almost 100% disinformation.

In answer to b's query, the Outlaw US Empire cannot save itself let alone any of its vassals. They will be used until they are no longer of use. And that time is rapidly approaching. Although, the Qataris seem best positioned to avoid extinction.

Now that I know of them, I get to purchase Mark Curtis's line of books documenting British Imperialism and its association with terrorism. Thanks b!

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 17, 2017 3:57:40 PM | 6


Posted by: ruralito | Jul 17, 2017 4:12:50 PM | 7

The United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are ontologically inseparable. You can't have one without the other. The penetration of the U.S. deep state by al-Saud -- whether it's D.C. think tanks or Fortune 500 executive boards -- is complete.

Tillerson knows this, that's why his "woe is me" shuttle diplomacy is nothing more than Kabuki.

This doesn't mean that al-Thani is without wires into the U.S. deep state; it has plenty. That's what makes this GCC throw-down so delightful. The U.S. is at a point where it can no longer sublate all the contradictions produced by its hegemony.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jul 17, 2017 4:18:06 PM | 8

anon @ 4

Re: hack:
Perhaps we shouldnt accept claims about UAE just like that. Lets be honest.

I agree. Consider the source at WAPO. Some credibility gap there. I would guess that Tillerson is not the sole source for whatever might have been leaked (if not invented).

Also, as far as sources and methods, it's one thing to burn an inside informer type of asset, but leaking SIGINT in the form of general pronouncements without physical evidence doesn't burn the source, only indicates a potential weakness in the cyber defenses of the target. For all we know there was no hack, per se, given that a lot of US and allied contractors were probably in on the installation and operation of UAE computer systems.

My impression, not to contradict b's analysis but to propose a direction of thought, is that the WAPO is promulgating a brag, that the US can look up anyone's skirt anytime and tell whatever they want. Thus, reminding the players that they'd better stay in line, as b states.

Posted by: stumpy | Jul 17, 2017 4:58:59 PM | 9

The United States will be dependent upon the Middle East, including the theocracies, up until the point that it acquires and self-realizes energy self-sufficiency. This should then be an immediate grand-strategic goal of the USA. Once America no longer needs to import oil, and knows it, all bets are off.

Posted by: Imagine | Jul 17, 2017 5:45:00 PM | 10

Considering Saudi Arabia's creation, its falling to pieces would be considered Nature's reaction to an artificial construct. Soon, instead of Saudis buying Outlaw US Empire weaponry, it will be asking for handouts as it did during its formative years when the UK held its reins. Given its role in the violent histories of the British and Outlaw US Empires, the remaining nations of the planet will be quite pleased to see its demise--even more so given that the three constitute the nest for Global Terrorism. Dan Glazebrook's series detailing the history of "British collusion with sectarian violence" at RT, one of which b linked to, are well worth the time; this links to the first installment,

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 17, 2017 6:21:58 PM | 11

It seems that it is not the US, but Israel which owns the most advanced spying hacking technology. The US sublet fiber optic data interception to Israeli companies NARUS and Verint. These companies have since been folded (hidden) into other multinational holding companies, but still (Boeing, Carlisle Group).

When is this a good idea for "National Security" (which is the constant refrain when withholding information from the public)?

Posted by: fast freddy | Jul 17, 2017 6:27:34 PM | 12

It seems that it is not the US, but Israel which owns the most advanced spying hacking technology. The US sublet fiber optic data interception to Israeli companies NARUS and Verint. These companies have since been folded (hidden) into other multinational holding companies, but still (Boeing, Carlisle Group).

When is this a good idea for "National Security" (which is the constant refrain when withholding information from the public)?

Posted by: fast freddy | Jul 17, 2017 6:27:35 PM | 13

"It [the USA] needs Saudi Arabia for its fossil energy and the related reserve currency status of the U.S. dollar."

Well Saudi oil is mostly going to Europe, but the Saudi policy does obviously effect the price of oil futures around the world.

A lot more than oil backs the US dollar, the "oil based reserve status" only goes so far.

Posted by: Jay | Jul 17, 2017 8:39:20 PM | 14

The step Tillerson and some "intelligence officials" now took may be a sign >[of]< panic.

Posted by b on July 17, 2017 at 02:33 PM | Permalink

The last monarch to get "mixed messages" from USA was the late Shah of Iran. Qatar and "Saudi" Arabia, take note.

Voltaire network is pushing an interesting deep analysis that we are witnessing ex-Empire strikes back, with the Occulted British ex-Empire putin' [haha] the finishing touches on their expulsion of the ex-Colonial Empire from "their" sphere of influence (aptly named by the slimy blood sucking limeys as "their" "Middle East").

The dismantling of the "Hyperpower" is nearly complete. Bankster power remains untouched.

As you were.

Posted by: nobody | Jul 17, 2017 8:52:28 PM | 15

This is interesting Pentagon study declares American empire is ‘collapsing’

Posted by: ProPeace | Jul 17, 2017 8:58:09 PM | 16

thanks b.. i have been yammering on about 2020 as a critical turning point in world events and that saudi arabia is very central to all this.. in my astro comments on nov 2, 2013 i stated "below is a chart for the next conjunction of saturn/pluto set to riyadh. this exact conjunction happens only once in early 2020, but i suspect given how close it is to the astro positions in the 1902 chart for saudi arabia, that if this chart has legs, this conjunction is going to bring about a transformation of present day saudi arabia and it will probably not be a pretty or easy transition given the issue of terrorism associated with these religious groups i have also mentioned.. saturn and pluto have a connection to terrorism as i understand it and were in the long opposition at the time of 9-11 as well... on the other hand, perhaps it indicates a further clamp down on freedoms and a type of totalitarianism. i suspect it will fluctuate between the two.. and, it is probably already in the process of developing here in 2013.. " from this thread..

@8 mike maloney... i fully concur to your words here: "The U.S. is at a point where it can no longer sublate all the contradictions produced by its hegemony."

saudi arabia and the world by extension are going to look very differently come 2020... lol - how is that for a lousy astro prediction? that is like saying, tomorrow things will look differently.. of course i have mentioned this about saudi arabia in the past at moa...

i enjoyed the article "The Death of Saudi Arabia".. it was fun reading the comments to that post too.. i recognized a few regulars in the comment section from sst and moa..

Posted by: james | Jul 17, 2017 9:28:16 PM | 17

@15 Looks like a big scare piece followed by plea for more weapons. Thank you Pentagon.

Posted by: dh | Jul 17, 2017 9:33:07 PM | 18

The US continues the strategy they have started less than decade ago: Weaken Saudi Arabia to the point it will accept a peace deal with Israel.
The US threw the Saudis into the Syrian quagmire, the Egyptian quagmire, then in the Yemen quagmire, now in the Qatar quagmire.
When the Saudi kingdom will come out of these, it will be exhausted and in a state of terror in front of the Iranian steadily growing political and economical strength. The threat of the collapse to their family ruled system is looming.
The USA seems to have accepted that the Iran Islamic republic's semi-democratic system is here to stay and evolve while the GCC autocratic monarchies are threatened of extinction.
Buying billions of weapons from the USA seems to give these dying entities the illusion that the USA is on their side. In fact the USA has been backstabbing them continuously thus weakening them by the day and preparation for their collapse.
The emirates will have make reforms of a democratic nature if they want to survive.
Saudi Arabia is doomed.

Posted by: virgile | Jul 17, 2017 9:53:51 PM | 19

ot, but relevant - i see craig murray has an article up Mosul – Worse than Srebrenica that some here might want to read.. quote from it "Yet, despite the glaringly obvious intellectual paucity of the position, the devastation of Mosul by western backed forces was described as a “liberation”, whereas the precisely analogous devastation of Eastern Aleppo by Syrian government forces was described as a… “devastation”.

Still more astonishing, the Western media in co-ordinated fashion played up fears of a massacre in Eastern Aleppo, whereas in fact no massacre took place. In the event, so concerned were the Syrian government (of which I do not generally approve) to refute allegations of intended massacre, they allowed many of the actual jihadists to bus out to Raqqa, where they are fighting again today.

Whereas whilst an actual massacre does take place in Mosul, the Western mainstream media has fallen almost completely silent.

The other interesting silence is from Saudi Arabia, which poses as the defender of Sunni Islam throughout the world, but actually has no interest at all in it, except as a tool for promoting the much more worldly interests of the Saudi elite. It was Saudi fury at the US effectively handing Iraq to Iranian control through its majority Shia population, that caused the USA to change policy to back the Saudi inspired and financed Sunni proxy war throughout the rest of the Arabian peninsula, and especially in Syria."

Posted by: james | Jul 17, 2017 11:45:02 PM | 20

@ Virgile # 18

There is a number of good points raised in all comments above. I find Virgile's closest to the mark however.

Several points to consider:

Saudi Arabia, a country of 22M souls and 95% sand, produces nothing economically viable neither materially nor intellectually. Yet, in absolute terms, Saudi Arabia consumes as much crude as Germany or South Korea. This is in absolute terms. Not per capita. Absolute.

Western refining capacity is mostly geared towards Light Sweet Crude (LSC). Very little new refining capacity has been built in the past 40 years.

Saudi Arabia no longer produces Light Sweet Crude

US fracking now produces the highest quality LSC ever

In the laundry list of reasons as to why we should invade Iraq, one of the reasons pertained to bringing democracy. The majority of the Iraqi population however is of Shia'a persuasion. We invaded; we dismantled the security and the administrative apparatus; we removed all administrative records. We effectively made sure we empowered the majority to take over violently.

Given the instability we deliberately precipitated in Iraq, it was an arithmetical certainty that Sunni neighbors would not merely sit on their hands applauding the ascent to power of new neighbors in Iraq.

After the Japanese, Arabs are the most racist, bigoted and intolerant society in the world. Unlike the Japanese however, Arabs have not developed neither the ability to collaborate and cooperate nor have they developed a sense of efficiency and esthetics that have allowed the Japanese to become a net contributor to the human cause. In the specific case of Arab societies of the Arabian Peninsula, very little, if anything, has emerged intellectually or materially over the centuries. Fabled advances in mathematics, science or philosophy have invariably come from Muslims hailing from North Africa, Persia or the TurkikKurdish Indian regions.

Today, the Arabs of the Arabian peninsula are sharply divided along tribal, sectarian lines that, to them, are irreconcilable. Not only that, but tribal dynamics ensure that grudges are carried over decades if not centuries as a matter of honor. These dynamics are further reinforced by the absence of the definition of the individual.

The values and the priorities of Arab society preclude a priori those constructs that allowed Western society to develop in the way it has. Concepts such as personal responsibility, abstract thought, planning or delegation are alien to their universe of values and priorities. Cartesian logic too is alien to their set of values and beliefs.

These attitudes are strikingly evident in the daily life of societies in the Middle East.

Tribal dynamics in the Arab world (the peninsula in particular) ensure zero sum relationships based on power dynamics rather than collaborative relationship based on compromise.

I have never understood the reason the West should have cozied up to Saudi Arabia. Strictly from the cultural and economic points of view, the West would have had a lot more to gain by a relationship with Iran than a retrograde, sanguinary and ignorant brat. The only thing that I can think of is that Saudi Arabia is the center of the Sunni faith. I could see not other reason to keep these troglodytes alive and rolling in cash over the decades.

It seems to me that at some point during the 2000s some power interests within the US administration decided to try to give Iran the upper hand in the region. It appears to me that the old guard that favored Saudi Arabia successfully contrasted this nascent project till around 2010 or thereabouts. It now appears to me that the Iran sympathizers are once again regaining the upper hand.

Certainly, from the historical point of view, societies that contribute nothing to the human cause have always disappeared; either absorbed, amalgamated or decimated. The Arabs of the peninsula are the archetypal parasites that have been kept in power by aberrant Western policies geared towards the exploitation of natural resources.

But, today, except for Basra, the Middle East no longer provides Light Sweet Crude oil. The heavy sour type of crude available in the Middle East can be had anywhere in the world. The only variable is the cost of extraction.

Not only that but, the past decade has witnessed a marked shift in energy investments. The rate of investments in natural gas are outpacing the rate of investments in oil. It appears to me that great stock is placed in Clathrate reserves to be found in the China Sea and the Pacific.

Put it all together and the Middle East is toast. From within and from without, it is toast.

BP Energy Outlook 2035

Posted by: guidoamm | Jul 18, 2017 12:29:13 AM | 21

dh | Jul 17, 2017 9:33:07 PM | 17

Have read some of the actual pdf - very long winded, but it basically advises more diplomacy and more information warfare. I put a couple of links in the last thread - the US Department of State (NED) and Soros are starting to get the "Ministry of Truth" well organised

Posted by: Peter AU | Jul 18, 2017 1:42:51 AM | 22

You are correct. The reserve currency status does not lend itself to a merchandist market, ie devaluation is a merchandist policy. However it has never been discussed that a overvalued currency is generally a better outlook for citizens as a whole. Nowhere in economic discussion is this point validated. ie you can buy 'moar shit' (from OS)

Posted by: col from oz | Jul 18, 2017 2:14:42 AM | 23

maybe the gccs won't last, but the usa/uk and etc are working hard to create kurdistan... elijah j. m's latest..
First “Islamic State” and then the US breaches Sykes-Picot with one objective: the Partition of Syria and Iraq

Posted by: james | Jul 18, 2017 2:23:51 AM | 24

During the fall of the Ottoman empire Britain created today's Saudi Arabia.
I don't know why you're repeating this old saw, b, although it's very common among ignorant commenters. Of course, Britain didn't create Saudi, if anything they were opposed to it. Ibn Saud did it all by himself starting in 1908, and Riyadh was just too far away to bother with. It wasn't on the Gulf coast. It was the US and Standard Oil that made saudi.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jul 18, 2017 3:28:30 AM | 25

re 24 james

Actually Magnier gets it wrong - Sykes-Picot is not being breached. In Sykes-Picot, Mosul went to Eastern Syria, much the same as the American plan today. He's imagining that Sykes-Picot was the same as the post-war mandatory settlement. It wasn't.

In any case, when the US stops paying (e.g. for the Peshmerga, but I suppose also for the YPG), and it's sure they will, when priorities change, and some congressmen start bitching about the cost, the whole position will collapse like a house of cards, as KRG is bankrupt without subsidies, and Rojava never had anything in the first place.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jul 18, 2017 3:44:52 AM | 26

re 20 james

ot, but relevant - i see craig murray has an article up Mosul – Worse than Srebrenica that some here might want to read..
Actually that was one of his poorer articles, as it is remarkably thin on facts. One video certified by Human Rights Watch is not really enough. HRW of all people! You can be sure that HRW is simply regurgitating USG policy, which of course half wants to do down the Baghdad government, so they'll play up the chance to accuse Baghdad of massacres, even to avoid mud being thrown at them over the air-strikes.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jul 18, 2017 3:56:54 AM | 27


Murray’s post was indeed a bit on the weak side, and he says he’s watching channels being in SE Turkey. And much Shia, Shia, Shia,… Hmm. Colour me a tad sceptical, at this point in time. (I’m sure a lot of ugly things are happening though).

On the other hand, Patrick Cockburn in the independent: More than just revenge: Why Isis fighters are being thrown off buildings in Mosul.

Posted by: Philippe | Jul 18, 2017 4:49:38 AM | 28

25) I guess Mark Curtis would be someone who did research on it?

London promised to Hussein that Britain ‘will guarantee the Holy Places [at Mecca and Medina] against all external aggression and will recognise their inviolability.’ Lord Kitchener, the secretary of state for war, noted in March 1915 that ‘if the Khalifate were transferred to Arabia, it would remain to a great extent under our influence.’ The coastline of the Arabian peninsula could be easily controlled by the British navy. By championing an Arabian kingdom under British auspices, Britain was exerting its dominance over the spiritual leadership of the Muslim world. Indeed, Britain was helping Islam to reclaim its roots and return to its origins.

However, some British officials during and after the war also feared that the Caliphate could be used as a rallying point for anti-colonial movements, to undermine British rule in India and Egypt. In particular, they feared the prospect of a Muslim holy war against Britain, something the Turkish sultan had proclaimed on entering the First World War. In his analysis of the Middle East during and after the First World War, David Fromkin notes that British leaders believed that Islam could be manipulated by buying or capturing its religious leadership. They believed, in short, that whoever controlled the person of the caliph controlled Sunni Islam.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 18, 2017 5:31:01 AM | 29

Laguerre 27

The Iraqi forces took big losses in taking Mosul, not to mention the headchopping and snuff videos ISIS had fun with when they where on a winning streak. If you expect the locals to behave like some impartial UN police force, you are dreaming.

Posted by: Peter AU | Jul 18, 2017 5:39:52 AM | 30

Ian writes some good stuff; glad b picked up on it.

Posted by: V. Arnold | Jul 18, 2017 6:40:39 AM | 31

I think the point is that this is done under US supervision.

The Russians managed in Aleppo to keep it mostly under control. The US did not try, actually it is their strategy.

Defense secretary Mattis says US policy against Isis is now 'annihilation'

Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We’re not going to allow them to do so. We’re going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate.

Obama tried to get the US closer to international law, Trump reverts to Bush as in ignoring it.

Open accounts were settled in Europe after WW2, too. But the officers of the allied forces kept it under control when they could. All of them.

The US are acting like a colonialist force.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 18, 2017 6:44:51 AM | 32

Would Moonofalabama like to explain to me what crime I committted that both of my posts were deleted?

Posted by: Sloopyjoe | Jul 18, 2017 7:52:52 AM | 33

I see your point, but suggest that you are missing the real impact of Saudi Arabia.

The main thing is their funding of extremist mosques around the world, and promoting their 9th century view of Islam. That has been widely successful. That appears to now be irreversible. That will outlast the Saudi Monarchy. Saudi Arabia may, perhaps, collapse before too long. What they have set in place will continue, and may come to dominate much of the world. Including, perhaps, western europe.

Oh, and as far as the Saudis being puppets of the US, perhaps a bit of it is the other way around? Remember how after 9/11, all civilian air flights were grounded - except that all Saudi nationals were allowed to fly home without question! Even though many of the terrorists of 9/11 were Saudi nationals. It would seem that perhaps the Saudis control many important US people - like the BUsh dynasty, likely many others. Not the other way around?

Posted by: TG | Jul 18, 2017 8:07:11 AM | 34

re 29 somebody

I can't see what you're getting at there. The Brits supported the enemies of the Saudis, the Hashemites, that's what Curtis says. The policy failed when Ibn Saud defeated them and took Mecca in 1925. There seems to be a failure of understanding reality here: British policy with regard to Saudi went completely wrong. Saudi and their Wahhabi jihadis were only brought back inside the fold by the US and Standard Oil in the mid 1930s. The saving grace for Britain was St. John Philby, who was thrown out of British employment in the 1920s for being too independent, and took service with Ibn Saud. No doubt he functioned as a British agent.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jul 18, 2017 8:38:54 AM | 35

re 30

The Iraqi forces took big losses in taking Mosul,
Yes, I'm aware of that factor, and indeed said it on Murray's blog. The point however is what are the facts, and not the explanation of why. THe idea that it's a genocidal massacre of thousands of civilians doesn't seem to me established.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jul 18, 2017 8:44:00 AM | 36

Laguerre 36 Yes I agree with that.

Posted by: Peter AU | Jul 18, 2017 10:54:53 AM | 38

"After the Japanese, Arabs are the most racist, bigoted and intolerant society in the world."

WTF? Apart of anything else, characteristic of ethnic groups change over time. Scandinavians are not blood thirsty Vikings anymore, English actually tolerate the Irish pretty well after centuries of hostility etc. On a historical note, why the English are not considered along the Japanese and the Arabs?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 18, 2017 11:00:22 AM | 39

@39 In fact the English tolerate pretty much everybody these days. Even Australians are welcome.

Posted by: dh | Jul 18, 2017 11:02:28 AM | 40

I actually do not foresee a scenario of a "death" of Arab monarchies in the Persian Gulf. "Unity of GCC" was always Riyad-Abu Dhabi axis and some other royals who would deign to socialize with them and cooperate when they feel like it. Internally, they are not in deep trouble, especially they have options like reducing the population and making a somewhat larger part of the citizens to work -- here some care is needed so THEY would not get revolutionary ideas. Externally, in the era of cheap oil they have to reduce their ambitions, especially the Saudis, and they are slow in realizing that. But the nature of their grandiose project is such that they will probably manage to avoid to much nonsense for too long before it is too late.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 18, 2017 11:09:21 AM | 41

The post-IS proxy war

Posted by: Thirsty | Jul 18, 2017 11:54:35 AM | 42

May be old hat to some, but alastair crooke has an excellent article up on information clearinghouse entitled "you can't understand isis if you don't know the history of wahhabism in Saudi Arabia".

The short takeaway from the article being that isis is a natural outgrowth from wahhabism. Very informative!!

Posted by: woogs | Jul 18, 2017 12:09:05 PM | 43

@26/27/36 laguerre... thanks for your feedback on that! i find it disingenuous for the western msm and leaders to refer to mosul and aleppo in very different terms... but this is what i have come to expect of the western media - lying and distortion of the realities.. as for how many people have died thanks the us retaking of mosul remains an open question.. but i especially agree with @32 somebodys comments on this..

@41 piotr.. i guess we can wait and see.. i think saudi arabia in particular, is in trouble of breaking apart..

@43 woogs... i think the connection to isis and wahhabism is very clear,but i am sure alastair crooke articulates it well too..

Posted by: james | Jul 18, 2017 12:59:37 PM | 44

We have thevreserve currency because foreigners want to save dollars, the only way they can get them is to ship us more stuff than we give them. Or, said another way, their desire to save dollars cause them to bid dollars high enough to cause a trade deficit.
Why do they want dollars? Not because we have nukes, Russia does too, and few want to save rubles. Mostly because our economy is so large, we have the oldest democracy, mostly a rule of law, and corruption used to be modest. And US dollars have been in use as a world currency longer than any other save the Brit pound, and Brit is now a small economy... nevertheless, their trade deficit indicates foreigners are also saving pounds or other financial securities.

Consider some countries, unable to manage their own currency, are on a dollar economy, another example where they must export stuff to us to get the increasing number of dollars they need to run their economy.

Oil is fungible, just like any other commodity. Access to oil is important, not what currency the seller prices it in, so long as currencies are exchangeable. Our rulers might not know this, possibly explaining why we apparently got excited when Iran wanted to price oil in some other currency, I think in the fifties.

Posted by: John k | Jul 18, 2017 2:19:54 PM | 45

@John k | Jul 18, 2017 2:19:54 PM | 45

Entire system is set in a way that 5 eyes can prosper by sucking blood from the rest of the world, and their worthless currencies are propped by guns, and not much less.

Posted by: ez-SA | Jul 18, 2017 2:51:21 PM | 46

not much more! Not good in typing today.

Posted by: ex-SA | Jul 18, 2017 2:53:06 PM | 47

The Iranian Parliament has issued sanctions against the Outlaw US Empire for its overt support for Terrorism, casting a very large net:

“1. US military and intelligence organisations and senior US commanders and officials supporting terrorist groups;

2. American persons playing an effective part in the activities of the above-mentioned US military and intelligence forces;

3. American persons with an effective role in organizing, financing or conducting acts of terror against the interests of the Iranian government or nationals;

4. American persons directly or indirectly supporting the terrorist anti-Iran Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) or other extremist and terrorist groups including Daesh and al-Nusra Front, aka Jabhat Fateh al-Sham;

5. American persons supporting the Israeli regime’s state terrorism against the Palestinian and Lebanese people”.

Given there's a UNSCR dealing with nations providing support for terrorism, it will be interesting to see how this plays out, and whether Iran will also sanction the terrorist supporting GCC nations.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 18, 2017 3:07:44 PM | 48

Re: karlof1 @41

I wonder if Iranians have the expertise and will to prevent entry of "persons supporting the Israeli regime’s state terrorism against the Palestinian and Lebanese people", which probably is the widest sanctioned group. In theory, they can copy Israeli practice of compiling data by mining social media and demand passwords to electronic devices carried in person plus accounts on Twitter, Facebook etc. They probably have the means to do it, given their considerable progress in computer science etc, but they can be loath to copy Israeli methods. If Israel does it, the Sharia correctness of a practice is automatically suspect. I recall that shortly after Abu Ghraib revelations the Majlis (parliament) enacted prohibition of torture. I am not sure if the Prophet (peace be upon him) said anything on the topic, but as torture was used by the infidels it got a bad name.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 18, 2017 6:02:05 PM | 49

I will elaborate why I am pessimistic about the prospect of government change in Gulf monarchies.

Clearly, changes within the ruling class like cousins getting rid of cousins within the ruling families did happen before and will happen in the future, and they do not always follow the codified succession rules. They do not qualify as "the death of state". Being voted out of power is not possible. You would need elections with multiple parties. Some monarchies like Kuweit and Jordan allow that much, but anytime members of those elected bodies feel too full of themselves (forgetting that they are but commoners), their formal power is suitably curtailed. What remains is some type of rebellion. Is that possible?

Iran seems to be a plausible template. However, the structure of Gulf societies makes me skeptical. In the smaller states the citizens form relatively small and very privileged minorities. Even when the pie shrinks, they have a lot to loose. The only exception is Bahrein, oil-less and relatively numerous native population being in minority, but the natives are kept under control by Pakistani mercenaries and a Saudi military presence (local royals probably would have trouble hiring sufficiently many mercenaries from their own budget). In KSA, the citizens probably form a majority, but apparently a minority of the workforce. Imported workers so far are controlled with few problems and they are expelled when unruly. The locals may have problems getting jobs, but I never heard about violence or demonstrations on that account, I guess the welfare payments, while not as generous as in tiny oil states, are enough to keep the population rather placid.

Moreover, the monarchies can afford much larger secret police in the relation to population than the late Shah. One can also observe that it is relatively easy to eliminate leftists and liberals, and it is much harder to eliminate religious fanatics. So if you have to choose, it is better to appease the latter, and this is precisely what the Kingdom does. After this little lecture from HTBER 101 (How to be an Evil Ruler), essay question: what to do in the absence of a religion with fanatics? Well, create one! Ruling ideology of North Korea is a skillful amalgam of Marxism with native Korean shamanism. They also seem to be very careful to assure that the ruler is the only chubby person in the state.

Lastly, why now? Low oil prices and economic difficulties did happen before. Professional class getting wrong ideas were also a problem in the past, with some potential for now, but such folks are easiest to control with secret (or not so secret) police. Religious fanatics going out of reservation caused some incidents, including the takeover of the holy places in Mekka, but it never lead to a more persistent movement. Superficially, the royals follow an age-proven prescription for a dynasty downfall: find some goal to conquer and persist without any heed to military losses and suffering among the population. But it is not like Saudi police going from village to village to extract food and conscripts, so the non-conscripted villagers starve and the conscripted ones do even worse. Interestingly, one such well-tested target was North Korea (for Chineses dynasties), and another, Syria/Mesopotamia (for Romans trying to correct the boundary with Persia), something that perhaps should be thought in HTBER 201 (what you should avoid as an evil ruler).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 18, 2017 6:57:15 PM | 50

PB @49--

Iranians probably have a host of resources they've developed, particularly to combat the assassination program targeting its nuclear scientists. Much has likely been learned and shared with Hezbollah since 2006. Regarding Muslims using torture, a very high premium is placed on being Truthful in Islam, such that a prevaricator will be denied ascension to heaven, whereas a Catholic liar can go to confession and be absolved--no such mechanism exists within Islam. So, when captured, if the Muslim prisoner is a true believer and desires heaven over hell, then it will be truthful--a fact CIA interrogators are still ignorant of. It is that aspect of Islam that informs me when the Grand Ayatollah says nuclear weapons are sinful and will not be built--goes to the formality of issuing a Fatwa--I believe him 100%.

An interesting related development is the Zionists refusal to abide by the truce agreed to by Russia, Syria and its allies, and the Outlaw US Empire because it limits their ability to attack Syria with impunity. Indeed, the Zionists are extremely upset, more than I am for being unable to link to an article I read earlier that showed just how crazed this made them. I think they understand now more than ever before that their nukes will not save them; indeed, they'll just seal their fate and eternal damnation beyond anything "anti-Semitism" ever produced--and that makes them rather scared.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 18, 2017 7:17:00 PM | 51

I am not sure if the Prophet (peace be upon him) said anything on the topic, but as torture was used by the infidels it got a bad name.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 18, 2017 6:02:05 PM | 49

Salaam indeed be upon him.

The torture practiced by the US military includes psycho-sexual components, thanks to soul-less Ivy League educated critters in human guise. I think it fair to consider it satanic in nature and purpose.

The Islamic Republic's security services are also not entirely shy about employing psycho-sexual degredation, it would seem. If you speak Farsi a video recording of their interrogation of one of their own (and his wife) in Evin speaks volumes about them, as well. I am not in a position to make assertion regarding the veracity of the video, but it appeared genuine to me.

We know torture is not acceptable in Islam by the simple precedent set by Ali, the designated vice regent of the Prophet. After the assassination attempt on his life -- which would ultimately result in his passing away -- he stressed and commanded that the attacker was not to be mistreated.

Certain things are obvious to some, but then some people require a Moses (SBUH) to come down and give them 'commandments' to adhere to basic decency and common sense.

Anything that disfigures the human spirit is clearly beyond the pale.

You don't need a prophet to tell you this. Just like you shouldn't really require tablets carved by the finger of God to tell you to not steal, etc. But the sad story of humanity is that we seem to have some minor fraction of decent humans generationally embedded within societies of mindless, unthinking, and cruel miscrents.

The Good News is -- take courage -- that this same "meek" minority will be the only strain of Human DNA that will be 'Permitted' to continue on this planet (which most certainly has an Overseer.) These times are the times of the final sifting. Humanity is destined for a glorious future, but first the weeds must be rooted out from the field.

Posted by: nobody | Jul 18, 2017 8:06:25 PM | 52

The Petrodollar isn't nearly as important to the US as it was during the last century, when it was a hedge against price spikes in its largest source of petroleum. It's still a nice perk to have the Dollar boosted by gulf oil prices; there's just a lot less riding on it. The secular rise in prices during 2000-08 had more structural impact than did the 1973-75 and 1979-81 price spikes. Those spikes receded before they could spur much source development. The recent rise changed the source picture fundamentally. Now there's a ceiling on what Petrodollar oil can be traded for before other developed sources will produce. IMO there may be political incentives to raise that ceiling, for example bailing out the gulf states to avoid the chaos scenario outlined in post #21, but they would be up against the incentive for domestic producers to jump into the market when prices rise.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Jul 18, 2017 8:20:49 PM | 53

AngloZio thugs never fail to amaze me with a shit like this:

When I was foreign minister and I don't know whether you recall, years ago, terror in the region, and some of these lunatics, religious guys, terrorists ignited embassies in Syria I think it was, and I came to the States and I had a meeting with President Bush and he looked at me and he said, "Look at these terrorists, we need to cut their heads off." I said, "OK Fine."

On my way back to Israel I stopped in Europe and I had some meetings with European leaders, and they asked me, "What did we do wrong that we deserve this?"

Then I came back to Israel and I heard Israelis saying, "Oh what a crazy world, this is a tough neighborhood, and we need to defend ourselves."

I believe this is very symbolic because until terror entered Europe, unfortunately, for the European it was something far away, the Middle East. They thought that it was not even their backyard. And they need to understand now, that there is a religious war out there. It's not the entire Islam against the others, but it is a religious war against all of us, whether it is radical Islam against moderates, Islam against Jews, against Christians. And there is nothing we can do to stop them, in trying to appease them or trying to understand them. We need to fight them...

Because they're against us because of our values, because of who we are, not because of what we do. And therefore it took some time for the world to understand it. I hope the international community understands it now. But this is what needs to be done.

Posted by: ProPeace | Jul 18, 2017 9:08:06 PM | 54

As always well worth reading: Billions of dollars' worth of arms against Syria, by Thierry Meyssan

Posted by: ProPeace | Jul 18, 2017 9:15:04 PM | 55

At last: German-Israel submarine deal delayed

Posted by: ProPeace | Jul 18, 2017 9:35:14 PM | 56

It is clear that a lot of American reader believes that the USA has achieved "energy independence". Sorry guys, it is just not true. The USA continues to import around 5 million barrels per day of crude oil. As for gas, any exports are really coming from Canada - Canada exports some 7 billion cubic feet of natural gas to the USA each day.

"U.S. Looks Set to Export First LNG on Canada's Behalf"

The fracking story is remarkable - American pension funds pouring money into a bottomless pit.

"Are More Bankruptcies Next for US Shale Oil Drillers? Behind the hype, shale drillers have entered a vicious circle."

Posted by: Alfred (Melbourne) | Jul 19, 2017 12:20:21 AM | 57


The argument is not that the USA has energy independence. The argument is that developed, albeit more costly, domestic sources have put a very definite price threshold in the market where gulf sources would find themselves in competition with domestic sources that would become activated. That puts a definite crimp in the style of the gulfies that wasn't there 20 years ago.

Yes, the low oil prices since 2014 have put domestic producers hard. But the infrastructure for domestic production is already there.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Jul 19, 2017 3:34:40 AM | 58

Macron: Antizionism is antisemitism

Posted by: Anonymos | Jul 19, 2017 6:21:54 AM | 59

Posted by: Anonymos | Jul 19, 2017 6:21:54 AM | 59

How smart is it for Forward to acknowledge and broadcast the notion that all Jews bear responsibility for crimes committed in, and by, the Jewish State?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 19, 2017 11:12:47 AM | 60


"Energy Independence" only occurs when an organism dies; otherwise, it's 100% dependent on energy for its entire existence. Energy Independence is a semantic chimera.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 19, 2017 4:02:37 PM | 61

It is clear that a lot of American reader believes that the USA has achieved "energy independence". Sorry guys, it is just not true. The USA continues to import around 5 million barrels per day of crude oil.

That may be but you are missing the point (quite spectacularly imho).

The US is not importing those barrels from Saudi Arabia nor from the other Gulf Medieval Satrap Monarchies. They are not dependent on Gulf oil unlike the Europeans, the Chinese and many others, who they see as enemies/competitors

Posted by: Just Sayin' | Jul 19, 2017 4:38:16 PM | 62

Yes, the low oil prices since 2014

Posted by: Thirdeye | Jul 19, 2017 3:34:40 AM | 58

It is a myth that prices are low.

Oil is priced relative to the value of the Dollar. But the value of the Dollar changes compared to other currencies.

When the dollar is high, oil prices drop (because it is priced in dollars), when the Dollar is low oil prices rise (again because it is priced in dollars)

It's all relative.

Several years ago I saw a chart of Oil vs other commodities. From the chart I saw at that time it was obvious that when compared to the price of something like Gold, the price of a barrel of oil, (if priced by "how much gold for a barrel") was actually relatively stable. (No idea if that still holds now)

Posted by: Just Sayin' | Jul 19, 2017 4:46:08 PM | 63

@ Piotr Berman #39

The argument here is not that characteristics of ethnic groups can or cannot change. Whatever that may mean.

If you spent any time in the Arabian peninsula or in Japan and took a deeper interest in the workings of society other than just looking at astounding buildings and pretty cherry blossoms, the evidence of racism and bigotry is everywhere.

White man in Japan today is still a Gaijing. Mixed marriages are few and far between. This, in the 21st century. When Japanese ONGs have to collaborate with external auditors or consultants, meetings are carried out behind closed doors in Japanese and minutes of the deliberations are handed to the consultant.

In the Arab world, Arabs cannot stand each other. Admittedly, nobody likes the Saudis, but, it is a general rule that Arabs dislike and distrust one another. Arabs delight in warning foreigners to be careful of other Arabs. Arab landlords, by and large, specifically state that they do not want to rent to Arabs.

Management performance in the Arab world, is heavily dependent on the manager's ability to understand and account for the potential of family feuds hindering the performance of the management team. It is also heavily dependent on understanding that the values and the priorities of Arab society are different than the values and the priorities of Western societies. A typical case in point would be murder.

In the West, murder carries not only legal penalties but it also carries social stigma. In the Arab world, murder is a perfectly acceptable social mechanism to resolve a number of issues. In fact, tribal law is still prevalent in the judicial system in the Arabian peninsula. Secular law merely accommodates the requirements of trbal law very often with some token gesture to satisfy secular due process. For example. In a case of rape, the victim will be forced to marry the aggressor. This satisfies both the tribal and the secular due process. If for some reason the victim does not marry the aggressor, the latter may be jailed for a token amount of time till the families work out some sort of arrangement. The only exception to this would be if the rapist is a third country national.

The list goes on and it extends to the realm of politics and economics. Hence the reason that all Arab initiatives always, without fail, ... well... fail.

Posted by: guidoamm | Jul 20, 2017 12:46:02 AM | 64

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