Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 22, 2007

Saudi Arabia's secret plan to kick the US out of Iraq

Saudi Arabia is secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Shia Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, US officials say.

"Saudi Arabia is fighting a proxy war in Iraq and it's a very dangerous course for them to be following. They are already committing daily acts of war against US and British forces," a senior US official in Baghdad warned. "They [Saudi Arabia] are behind a lot of high-profile attacks meant to undermine US will and British will, such as the rocket attacks on Basra palace and the Green Zone [in Baghdad]. The attacks are directed by the Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah (General Intelligence Directorate) which is connected right to the top [of the Saudi government]."

The official said US commanders were bracing for a nationwide, Saudi-orchestrated summer offensive, linking al-Qaida and Shia insurgents to Riyadh's Sunni militia allies, that Saudi Arabia hoped would trigger a political mutiny in Washington and a US retreat. "We expect that al-Qaida and Saudi Arabia will both attempt to increase the propaganda and increase the violence prior to Petraeus's report in September [when the US commander General David Petraeus will report to Congress on President George Bush's controversial, six-month security "surge" of 30,000 troop reinforcements]," the official said.

"Certainly it [the violence] is going to pick up from their side. There is significant latent capability in Iraq, especially Saudi-sponsored capability. They can turn it up whenever they want. You can see that from the pre-positioning that's been going on and the huge stockpiles of Saudi weapons that we've turned up in the last couple of months. The relationships between Saudi Arabia and groups like al-Qaida are very fluid," the official said.

"It often comes down to individuals, and people constantly move around. For instance, the Sunni Arab so-called resistance groups use Salafi jihadist ideology for their own purposes. But the whole Saudi Arabia- al-Qaida linkup is very sinister."

Saudi Arabia has maintained close links to Iraq's Sunni political parties and militias but has previously eschewed collaboration with al-Qaida and Shia insurgents.

US officials now say they have firm evidence that Riyadh has switched tack as it senses a chance of victory in Iraq. In a parallel development, they say they also have proof that Saudi Arabia has reversed its previous policy in Afghanistan and is now supporting and supplying the Taliban's campaign against US, British and other Nato forces.

Riyadh's strategy to discredit the US surge and foment a decisive congressional revolt against Mr Bush is national in scope and not confined to the Sunni west, its traditional sphere of influence, the senior official in Baghdad said. It included stepped-up coordination with Shia militias such as Moqtada al-Sadr's Jaish al-Mahdi as well as Turkish-backed Sunni Arab groups and al-Qaida in Mesopotamia, he added. Saudi Arabia was also expanding contacts across the board with paramilitary forces and political groups, including Kurdish parties such as the PUK, a US ally.

"Their strategy takes into account all these various parties. Saudi Arabia is playing all these different factions to maximise its future control and maximise US and British difficulties. Their co-conspirator is Turkey which is allowing the takfirists [fundamentalist Salafi jihadis] to come across the border," the official said.

Any US decision to retaliate against Saudi Arabia on its own territory could be taken only at the highest political level in Washington, the official said. But he indicated that American patience was wearing thin.

Warning that the US was "absolutely determined" to hit back hard wherever it was challenged by Saudi proxies or agents inside Iraq, he cited the case of five alleged members of the Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah detained in Fallujah in January. Despite strenuous protests from Riyadh, which claims the men are diplomats, they have still not been released.

"Riyadh is behaving like a racecourse gambler. They're betting on all the horses in the race, even on people they fundamentally don't trust," a senior administration official in Washington said. "They don't know what the outcome will be in Iraq. So they're hedging their bets."

The administration official also claimed that notwithstanding recent US and British overtures, Turkey was still collaborating closely with Saudi Arabia's strategy in Iraq.

"80% to 90%" of the foreign jihadis entering Iraq were doing so from Turkish territory, he said.

Despite recent diplomatic contacts, and an agreement to hold bilateral talks at ambassadorial level in Baghdad next week, US officials say there has been no let-up in hostile Saudi activities, including continuing support for violence, weapons smuggling and training.

"Saudi Arabia is perpetuating the cycle of sectarian violence through support for extra-judicial killing and murder cells. They bring Iraqi militia members and insurgent groups into Saudi Arabia for training and then help infiltrate them back into the country. We have plenty of evidence from a variety of sources. There's no argument about that. That's just a fact," the senior official in Baghdad said.

In trying to force an American retreat, Saudi Arabia's hardline leadership also hoped to bring about a humiliating political and diplomatic defeat for the US that would reduce Washington's regional influence while increasing Riyadh's own.

But if Saudi Arabia succeeded in "prematurely" driving US and British forces out of Iraq, the likely result would be a "colossal humanitarian disaster" and possible regional war drawing in Iran, and Syria, he said.

Despite such concerns, or because of them, the US welcomed the chance to talk to Saudi Arabia, the senior administration official said. "Our agenda starts with force protection in Iraq," he said. But there were many other Iraq-related issues to be discussed. Recent pressure had shown that Saudi Arabia's behaviour could be modified, the official claimed: "Last winter they were literally getting away with murder."

But tougher action by security forces in Iraq against Saudi agents and networks, the dispatch of an additional aircraft carrier group to the Gulf had given Riyadh pause, he said.

Washington analysts and commentators predict that Gen Petraeus's report to the White House and Congress in early September will be a pivotal moment in the history of the four-and-a-half-year war - and a decision to begin a troop drawdown or continue with the surge policy will hinge on the outcome. Most Democrats and many Republicans in Congress believe Iraq is in the grip of a civil war and that there is little that a continuing military presence can achieve. "Political will has already failed. It's over," a former Bush administration official said.

A senior adviser to Gen Petraeus reported this month that the surge had reduced violence, especially sectarian killings, in the Baghdad area and Sunni-dominated Anbar province. But the adviser admitted that much of the trouble had merely moved elsewhere, "resulting in spikes of activity in Diyala [to the north] and some areas to the south of the capital". "Overall violence is at about the same level [as when the surge began in February]."

Saudi officials flatly deny US and British allegations of involvement in internal violence in Iraq or in attacks on coalition forces. Interviewed in Riyadh recently, Prince Saud Al-Faisa, foreign minister with primary responsibility for Saudi Arabia's policy in Iraq, said: "We believe it would be to the benefit of both the occupiers and the Iraqi people that they [the coalition forces] withdraw immediately."

by Timon Sisdall

Posted by b on May 22, 2007 at 14:56 UTC | Permalink

Comments

That was an interesting article in the Guardian, but I'm missing why you changed Iran for Saudi Arabia?

The original article could be true or maybe disinformation to 'justify' an attack on Iran sometime later.

Posted by: Lysander | May 22 2007 15:06 utc | 1

@Lysander - well, I believe my version is at least as true as the Guardian's one.

Where does it make less sense?

Posted by: b | May 22 2007 15:13 utc | 2

Hahaha... good one b!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | May 22 2007 15:25 utc | 3

It's also worth having a read of the front page of today's Daily Telegraph, which runs a version of the same story as the Guardian with an Afghan setting ( Iran supplying SAM's to the Taliban to shoot down UK aviation assets - in spite of there being no evidence of any such attempts to do so.)

Of course, the cynical amongst us, on reading this dual-front Monday morning all out assault of Teheran, will dimly recall that the IAEA is meeting this week to discuss the Iran dossier; the propaganda cycle tied to IAEA/UNSC meetings continues its predictable course. The double frisson is no doubt required by the fact that there is also a US-Iran ambassadorial meeting scheduled for this week in Baghdad.

I'd also note in passing that the number of US aircraft carriers in the region has gone down over the past couple of weeks, as the Eisenhower is now on its way back to the US. Both the Stennis and the Nimitz are out of the Gulf, off the coast of Pakistan, where they are providing CAS for troops in Afghanistan.

Posted by: dan | May 22 2007 15:27 utc | 4

another gem from Simon Tisdall circa 12/05

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hostile jibes at Israel have caused almost universal offence. But Iran-watchers are divided over whether the president's statements mark a dangerous shift in Tehran's international outlook or form part of an internal power struggle.

Mr Ahmadinejad's threat "to wipe Israel off the map" should be taken seriously, said Martin Indyk

etc etc

Posted by: annie | May 22 2007 15:39 utc | 5

the guardian article appears to be too bullshitty even for the knucklehead blogs.

Posted by: slothrop | May 22 2007 15:49 utc | 6

@Dan #4

Sounds about right, see my post here...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | May 22 2007 16:37 utc | 7

i am not in the last surprised that some hack at the guardian can & will write such tripe

the english press through the filter of thatcher & blair - even the press of the so called left are little more than public school whores or grammar boys who imagine themelves god

catch a little of them (without vomiting) on bbcsky with all their peurile pretence - heir disdain for their 'public'

creeps like alisdair cambell or a bernard ingram are so obvioussly full of shit for a world that no longer exists - that these cretins who crawl in & out of editors offices as indeed their editors crawl in & out of their publishers offices as their publishers do their loyal service to an empire that has long gone

it has been a long moment since i have read the guardian except for links here - its baying is just as crude & as offensive as anything by murdoch. does that leave the independant - which i read a little last summer during war by israel on the lebanese - except for fisk & a few others - it is no great shakes non plus

i've tried to search out the so called change at al jazeera because that will have a quantitative effect on the information available & the italian site it is cited is of questionable veracity

we are all going top war with iran sooner rather than later

the gates of hell, indeed

Posted by: r'giap | May 22 2007 16:42 utc | 8

what i immediately thought of wrt iran or SA funding AQ is this recent story US pays Pakistan $1 billion a year to fight terror, as country cuts patrols

the billions we spend in pakistan that are supposed to 'hunt' AQ! given our history of funding bin laden thru ISI in the past, why isn't anybody connecting the dots in the msm?

Posted by: annie | May 22 2007 16:48 utc | 9

& a q is after all just a franchise of the isi in pakistan who have an intimate relationship with the appareils of security in the u s

crude configurations

Posted by: r'giap | May 22 2007 16:59 utc | 10

this practice of publishing outrageous stories in the brit press is an old trick the US uses so as not to get caught publishing lies and propaganda in the homeland. they simply get a willing dupe to print their BS in one of the brit newspapers and then all the US papers can quote it in their own front page stories....no fact checking required because the english broke the story and the US papers always attribute the initial stories to the UK. after a while it is common knowledge.

works every time. it will work this time too.

Posted by: dan of steele | May 22 2007 17:17 utc | 11

dan

an even cruder figuration - is for the monster murdoch to cite his own papers as if they constitute a public record

that pumped up pomposity of the times was bought for that -i'd imagine - so it could serve as the more refined whore in his empire

in my experience all anglo saxon journalists are whores for murdoch or whores-in-waiting who will one day work for him

there are so few left fisk (but he is essentially a freelancer & an arabist of the old school) seamus milne who wrote a strong book on the way thatcher with the assistance of maxwell attacked the miners union & their leadership

the rest- well, i'd perefer china daily

Posted by: r'giap | May 22 2007 17:58 utc | 12

hersh on cnn

great interview on SA/US funding covert program w/sunni jhiadists.

Posted by: annie | May 22 2007 19:48 utc | 13

Wow, someone's smoking some pretty good stuff to come up with this fiction! I'm sure the Saudi royals are just shoveling buckets of money into AQ's pockets.

It's so foolish an article, I can't even imagine the nerve it took to publish it.


Posted by: Rouser | May 22 2007 20:01 utc | 14

The Task Force report describes the complex nature of the financial network sustaining al-Qaeda and the obstacles to dismantling it, and it acknowledges that the only realistic goal is to curb rather than completely cut off terrorist funding. It finds that U.S. efforts to curtail terrorist financing are impeded not only by a lack of institutional capacity abroad, but, critically, by a lack of political will among U.S. allies. The Task Force notes, for example, “For years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for al-Qaeda. And for years, Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to this problem.”
Terrorist Financing

That from the central imperial institution in the U.S. - the Council on Foreign Relations

Posted by: b | May 22 2007 20:22 utc | 15

wrt to annies #5 Mr Ahmadinejad's threat "to wipe Israel off the map" should be taken seriously, said Martin Indyk

It is entirely coincidental that Mr. Indyk works with AIPAC .

Posted by: dan of steele | May 22 2007 20:30 utc | 16

re "terrorist financing", two book recommendations

Satanic Purses: Money, Myth, and Misinformation in the War on Terror by r.t. naylor (very good, recommended)

and a similiar work, due in august
The Price of Fear: The Truth Behind the Financial War on Terror by Ibrahim Warde

Posted by: b real | May 22 2007 20:50 utc | 17

dan, this is a full on neocon assault. he quotes Charles Krauthammer too. from your link

Indyk served eight years as the founding Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a research institute specializing in Arab-Israel relations. He has also been an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies where he taught Israeli politics and foreign policy.

these are neocon centrals. specializing in Arab-Israel relations?? lol, i'll say.


Paul Wolfowitz left the Clinton administration and went to Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where he began to advocate for a second Gulf War - this time including the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Zalmay Khalilzad, the current U.S. ambassador to Iraq, went to the Rand Corporation and founded the Center for Middle Eastern Studies


Posted by: annie | May 22 2007 20:54 utc | 18

The Tisdall article is a disgrace to journalism.

Posted by: johnf | May 22 2007 21:22 utc | 19

they have already gone far beyond disgrace - they are hardly even worthy of our contempt

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 22 2007 21:45 utc | 20

Very good, Bernhard!

Brace yourselves for more in the same vein. This is by the AP, and even has a named source for a change:

Iran drawing up plans to strike European nuclear plants

Iran is to the east of Iraq, so I'd say... hmm... 48 seconds. They can hit London in 48 seconds, right?

Posted by: Alamet | May 22 2007 23:52 utc | 21

Thanks Alamet #21...

The source for (your post) this story is one Claude Moniquet, the head of the ESISC, a European terrorist research center founded in 2002. An interesting fellow, Claude is.

This site creates the strong impression that Moniquet is just another neocon yarn-spinner -- Michael Ledeen with a French accent. (He even looks a bit like Ledeen.) Regarding a previous ESISC report on the Western Sahara:

Contrary to all expectations, what emerges in the pages of the report is an embarrassingly amateurish, poorly researched, factually inaccurate, and badly written hatchet job. The most disturbing aspect of the report is not so much its poor quality (which is not exceptional if you keep up on the transparent propaganda that has been coming out of Rabat for over thirty years on the Western Sahara), but the clear malicious intent of Claude Moniquet and his crew. The lack of scholarly rigor, the numerous factual errors and the omission of widely accepted facts, the use of unsubstantiated rumor and innuendo, and ultimately the baseless attacks and badly reasoned conclusions, the accumulation of all these serious faults leaves no doubt in my mind that this is an intentional attempt to inflict extreme harm on the Polisario Front and the Western Saharan cause by purposely distorting the historical record.

This French-language article asks "Who is Claude Moniquet?" The answers are a bit disturbing: A state security source calls him a "mercenary" and "the voice of his master, the DST" (French internal security). Another calls him a "manipulator." A journalist refers to him as "a guy who sells to the highest bidder."

(Since Moniquet has, on one occasion, brought a lawsuit against writers who displeased him, let me here state that none of these quotes reflect my assessment. These characterizations come from the afore-cited article by Belgian author Pascal Martin -- who, as far as I know, was not sued. I hope I have translated accurately.)

So that's Moniquet. That's the fellow trying to convince us that if anything goes boom in any European city, we should blame Iran. My god, haven't these spooked-up neocons caused enough trouble over the past seven years?

And If I remember correctly, the French also have an Air craft carrier group in the Persian Gulf no?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | May 23 2007 3:28 utc | 22

Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report:

The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.

"I can't confirm or deny whether such a program exists or whether the president signed it, but it would be consistent with an overall American approach trying to find ways to put pressure on the regime," said Bruce Riedel, a recently retired CIA senior official who dealt with Iran and other countries in the region.

Click Here to See Photos of the Players in Another Iran Operation -- the Iran-Contra Affair: Where Are They Now?

A National Security Council spokesperson, Gordon Johndroe, said, "The White House does not comment on intelligence matters." A CIA spokesperson said, "As a matter of course, we do not comment on allegations of covert activity."

The sources say the CIA developed the covert plan over the last year and received approval from White House officials and other officials in the intelligence community.

Officials say the covert plan is designed to pressure Iran to stop its nuclear enrichment program and end aid to insurgents in Iraq.

"There are some channels where the United States government may want to do things without its hand showing, and legally, therefore, the administration would, if it's doing that, need an intelligence finding and would need to tell the Congress," said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism official.

Current and former intelligence officials say the approval of the covert action means the Bush administration, for the time being, has decided not to pursue a military option against Iran.

THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS
Blotter Crackdown on the Secret War Against Iran
Blotter Pakistan Denounces ABC News Report on Backing Iran Radicals
Blotter ABC News Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran
Click Here to Check Out Brian Ross Slideshows
"Vice President Cheney helped to lead the side favoring a military strike," said former CIA official Riedel, "but I think they have come to the conclusion that a military strike has more downsides than upsides."

The covert action plan comes as U.S. officials have confirmed Iran had dramatically increased its ability to produce nuclear weapons material, at a pace that experts said would give them the ability to build a nuclear bomb in two years.

Riedel says economic pressure on Iran may be the most effective tool available to the CIA, particularly in going after secret accounts used to fund the nuclear program.

"The kind of dealings that the Iranian Revolution Guards are going to do, in terms of purchasing nuclear and missile components, are likely to be extremely secret, and you're going to have to work very, very hard to find them, and that's exactly the kind of thing the CIA's nonproliferation center and others would be expert at trying to look into," Riedel said.

Under the law, the CIA needs an official presidential finding to carry out such covert actions. The CIA is permitted to mount covert "collection" operations without a presidential finding.

"Presidential findings" are kept secret but reported to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other key congressional leaders.

The "nonlethal" aspect of the presidential finding means CIA officers may not use deadly force in carrying out the secret operations against Iran.

Still, some fear that even a nonlethal covert CIA program carries great risks.

"I think everybody in the region knows that there is a proxy war already afoot with the United States supporting anti-Iranian elements in the region as well as opposition groups within Iran," said Vali Nasr, adjunct senior fellow for Mideast studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"And this covert action is now being escalated by the new U.S. directive, and that can very quickly lead to Iranian retaliation and a cycle of escalation can follow," Nasr said.

Other "lethal" findings have authorized CIA covert actions against al Qaeda, terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

Also briefed on the CIA proposal, according to intelligence sources, were National Security Advisor Steve Hadley and Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams.

"The entire plan has been blessed by Abrams, in particular," said one intelligence source familiar with the plan. "And Hadley had to put his chop on it."

Abrams' last involvement with attempting to destabilize a foreign government led to criminal charges.

He pleaded guilty in October 1991 to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress about the Reagan administration's ill-fated efforts to destabilize the Nicaraguan Sandinista government in Central America, known as the Iran-Contra affair. Abrams was later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush in December 1992.

In June 2001, Abrams was named by then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to head the National Security Council's office for democracy, human rights and international operations. On Feb. 2, 2005, National Security Advisor Hadley appointed Abrams deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for global democracy strategy, one of the nation's most senior national security positions.

As earlier reported on the Blotter on ABCNews.com, the United States has supported and encouraged an Iranian militant group, Jundullah, that has conducted deadly raids inside Iran from bases on the rugged Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan "tri-border region."

U.S. officials deny any "direct funding" of Jundullah groups but say the leader of Jundullah was in regular contact with U.S. officials.

American intelligence sources say Jundullah has received money and weapons through the Afghanistan and Pakistan military and Pakistan's intelligence service. Pakistan has officially denied any connection.

A report broadcast on Iranian TV last Sunday said Iranian authorities had captured 10 men crossing the border with $500,000 in cash along with "maps of sensitive areas" and "modern spy equipment."

A senior Pakistani official told ABCNews.com the 10 men were members of Jundullah.

The leader of the Jundullah group, according to the Pakistani official, has been recruiting and training "hundreds of men" for "unspecified missions" across the border in Iran.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | May 23 2007 3:37 utc | 23

Simone Tisdall is usually far more insightful about the real intentions in the Middle East. When I read his original article, I decided that he must have been forced to write this article by his editors. It is basically a U.S. propaganda piece worthy of the Soviet authorities.

Posted by: Simon | May 25 2007 1:26 utc | 24

Simon Tisdall is usually far more insightful about the real intentions in the Middle East. When I read his original article, I decided that he must have been forced to write this article by his editors. It is basically a U.S. propaganda piece worthy of the Soviet authorities.

Posted by: Simon | May 25 2007 1:27 utc | 25

Simon Tisdall is usually far more insightful about the real intentions in the Middle East. When I read his original article, I decided that he must have been forced to write this article by his editors. It is basically a U.S. propaganda piece worthy of the Soviet authorities.

Posted by: Simon | May 25 2007 1:43 utc | 26

I Think whatever is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan it is all because of the wrong foreign policy of America. As i am from Afghanistan i know alot about it and the policy America is trying to implement in there is going to take the US to deafet in afghanistan.
US is supporting the wrong people in afghanistan . All the warlords and criminals who had flew away during talibans regime were brought back by US to Afghanistan and today the same warlords are causing more trouble and insecurity than the taliban does.
But there is still a chance for the US to accept the reality and give chance to those who have the majority support of the country and should accept their terms and conditions, so they both can succeed in bringing peace and stability.

Posted by: Bary | May 31 2007 5:26 utc | 27

The comments to this entry are closed.