Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 04, 2013

Syria: The Saudis Can Not Lead

Bob Woodward propagandizes for the Saudi prince Bandar in the Washington Post:
Persian Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, are moving to strengthen their military support for Syrian rebels and develop policy options independent from the United States in the wake of what they see as a failure of U.S. leadership following President Obama’s decision not to launch airstrikes against Syria, according to senior gulf officials.
In another attempt to unify the Syrian opposition the Saudis want to build a complete new external army with weapons from France and Pakistani special force training. That army is then supposed to defeat the Syrian government.

It is not going to work writes Carnegie's Yezid Sayigh:

This Saudi effort will only serve to further polarize the rebels. The main losers are likely to be the currently recognized leaders of the opposition—the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and the allied Higher Military Council of the Free Syrian Army.
Unless the Saudi-supported rebels adhere to an agreed political strategy and buy into being represented by the National Coalition, they are likely to suffer the same lack of cohesion and capacity as those they seek to supplant. And by funding its own chosen group of rebels, Saudi Arabia too risks slamming shut its windows of opportunity and undercutting its goals in Syria.
That prediction was quite good. The head of Revolutionary Military Council of the so called Free Syrian Army, Abdul-Jabbar-Akidi just resigned. This came after his loss of Safira and the reopening of the government supply line between Damascus and Aleppo. Several Damascus suburbs were also recently cleared of insurgency forces.

There are some scary phantasies of what the Saudis could do to press on the U.S. to wage open war against Syria. But any of the measures the Saudis could take could be easily countered. In the worst case,  from the Saudi perspective, the U.S. would just turn around, make nice with the Persians and put the Saudi family dictatorship instead of Iran onto the "axis of evil" list. There are likely rather few people in this world who would have problems with such a move.

The Saudi rulers are internally devided over the succession of King Abdullah as well as their internal and external policies. That is not a consolidated position from which they could lead the Arab world or even seriously challenge the Syrian government.

Posted by b on November 4, 2013 at 13:48 UTC | Permalink


A clear analysis, as always. I believe FUKUS use Saudis and Turkey as pawns in theirs game plan.

Posted by: sync99 | Nov 4 2013 14:36 utc | 1

I don't know what the Saudis are supposed to be doing in order to strengthen their military aid for the Syrian rebels. They are hardly going to hand over F16s.

It is quite interesting to see the determination with which Bandar is pursuing his policy. The more he pushes, the more he is likely to overturn the apple-cart. risky move. What are the factors that make him push so hard, other than failure so far?

Posted by: alexno | Nov 4 2013 16:00 utc | 2

There is a sense in which Saudi Arabia is an illusion, not a real state but a construct of US foreign policy which, very handily, occupies an empty quarter of the Arabian peninsula.

It is meant to be unstable. It lacks anything resembling a constitution, giving its government legitimacy, because its sponsors prefer it that way: if the people of Arabia were given a voice it would be almost unanimous in its opposition to the Kingdom's allies, in support of Palestine and against collaboration with Israel and the US.

The alternative source of legitimacy, that of protectors of the Holy Places, is equally fragile. Photographs showing the appalling “redevelopmemnt” of Mecca almost suggest a deliberate affront to pious muslims and traditionalists with the added provocation of mimicking the most vulgar “western” idioms and tastes.

This makes the ruler, whoever he may be, completely dependent on the US government and Aramco. The fact that the oil resources are largely located in the shia Eastern Province, whose people are doubly discriminated against-firstly as mere subjects, secondly as heretics -greatly compounds that dependence. The one authentic note in the alleged Saudi complaint against Obama’s Syrian policy was that the US failed to guarantee security in the Eastern Province. It sounded right because without US involvement in keeping the lid on the east (and Bahrain) the Saudis would long since have been expelled.

The truth is that Saudi Arabia is ruled by foreigners, although many of them are born in Arabia. Prince Bandar is a perfect example: after quarter of a century as Ambassador in Washington and years of indoctrination/education in American ways, he thinks not like an American but like a member of the ruling Beltway elite and regards Americans and people generally as pawns (see above) to be played with.

All these stories of "Saudi anger" with Washington are nonsensical, but there is a grain of truth in them: Bandar and his ilk are part of the neo-con faction, fundamentally allied with the Likud-ist factions in the United States. The "anger" Bandar expresses is part of a neo-con chorus which includes Tel Aviv's hard line fascists and Washington's dominant Israel First party.

It is no accident that all the Gulf emirs, as well as Jordan and Saudi, are not only entirely dependent on foreign support but pursue policies designed to alienate their subjects, just as it is no accident that Britain sponsored the rule of sunni tribalists, from the interior, over urbanised, often shia, families in the ports which fell under Imperial "protection" in the C19th. The protection offered was against the merchants, fishermen, port workers and sailors of places like Aden and Bahrain. Many of the rulers of these places-Abdullah of Jordan being a pathetic example- retain only the slenderest of links to their fellow countrymen. They are educated in the US and Britain, they are socialised in the jet set and barely speak their own language.
They follow in the model of the late, and greatly unlamented, Shah, a playboy and dilettante whose power rested on the twin foundations of banks and torture chambers, all staffed by foreign or foreign trained professionals.
Bandar's plan for Syria- the neo-con plan- is a classic expression of a US foreign policy which goes round in ever diminishing circles.
The jihadi auxiliaries who have been knocking about since at least Yemen in the early sixties, but in fact can be traced back much further, have moved from the periphery. They first served as not much more than useful distractions for public opinion and, more importantly, fall guys for SAS type terrorism, now they have become central. Almost the entire burden of the fighting falls on them and their militias, ‘stiffened’ with veterans of CIA jihads in Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan.

The strategy of using sunni fanatics to pull down US enemies and then disposing of them before they can turn against their masters has been abandoned. US policy, modelled after Israel's, has become entirely destructive. The aim is to turn the middle east into a wasteland full of lightly armed warlords who can be ruled from, literally, above. This is the old Churchillian fantasy of the RAF plus a few fortified bases ruling Iraq, Yemen and the Gulf. Now the RAF is replaced by drones, and there is no need for bases at all.
The Libyan "no fly" zone strategy was an example of this recycled thinking.
The logic of the current policy inexorably leads to the lunacy of an Israeli Empire: the entire region to be openly policed and managed by Israel, making it a major Mediterranean and European power as well as Uncle Sam's oilfield security guard.
Which is to say that, left to itself, the US and Israel will very likely self destruct, because, as the current Saudi succession crisis will almost certainly show, the great problem with puppets is that they aren’t very good at decisions. They lack the mental agility and understanding of reality that helps so much in ruling.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 4 2013 16:10 utc | 3

The Saudi rulers are internally devided over the succession of King Abdullah as well as their internal and external policies. That is not a consolidated position from which they could lead the Arab world or even seriously challenge the Syrian government.

...which, from a cynical perspective, suggests that the Saudi Royal's main purpose in supporting the Syrian 'uprising' was a half-baked plot to unite the disgruntled locals (all the women and more than half the men) behind a brainless and unimaginative common cause (plus curry favour with USrael). The princes should have stuck with what they do best - whoreing and paying servants to count their money.

I'm still waiting to see that Saudi-Israel 'superpower' swagger into the spotlight and make a fool of itself. But I'm not holding my breath...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 4 2013 16:20 utc | 4

' ... make nice with the Persians and put the Saudi family dictatorship instead of Iran onto the "axis of evil" list ... '

got my vote.

Posted by: john francis lee | Nov 4 2013 16:21 utc | 5

I was quite electrified for a moment by this:

The head of Revolutionary Military Council of the so called Free Syrian Army, Abdul-Jabbar-Akidi just resigned.

Colonel Akidi is in fact just the head of the Aleppo Military Council, not the pan-Syrian one, which is headed by a General (at least in name).

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Nov 4 2013 16:29 utc | 6

There are some scary phantasies of what the Saudis could do to press on the US to wage open war against Syria.
Simon Henderson, who wrote that, works for WINEP. So you have to think of him as speaking for the Israeli-Saudi axis. But it isn't ready to turn against the US yet awhile. It has tasks for the US to perform before ditching it. Quite a few tasks, involving heavy lifting.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Nov 4 2013 16:39 utc | 7

Kurds last week have witnessed bombs that let a yellow smoke and made people feel sick. Now we know what kind of stuff it may have contained:

It may be time for Ayrault, Hollande, Kerry, not to mention the wonderful neighbours of Syria to try on themselves what they spread around?
The continuous destruction of Iraq, Syria, Lybia, through 'regime change' means whole populations under medication to resist the stress, and lost generations for the future, not to mention the thousands who will remain addicted to these pills or worse.

The media is silent on the Lybian mayhem, which got worse since the last attempt (this one apparently more succesful) of 'independence' of Benghazi and the Cyrenaic.

And here is another good reading

Posted by: Mina | Nov 4 2013 16:42 utc | 8

Bevin @ 3, great comment. Thanks for that. If you had to guess, what triggering event might bring about the fall of the Saudi government? Do you think US strategists might decided to give KSA the Libya/color revolution treatment and try to break it up?

If so it would be ironic if the Saudis have to turn to Iran for help.

Posted by: Lysander | Nov 4 2013 16:53 utc | 9

Bravo bevin @ 3! Given all of Kerry's kowtowing to King Abdullah it's hard to interpret Ryan Crocker's opinion piece, Talk to Iran, It Works, in today's NYT. Crocker, Bush's top diplomat in Afghanistan and Iraq, has a lot of good things to say about Iran. He puts the onus on Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech for the end to the productive post-9/11 contacts. Crocker calls the Iranians rational actors and says one-on-one contacts should proceed. Then there's this gem:

Finally, the United States must make clear that we do not seek to overthrow the Iranian regime. Iranian paranoia on this issue is virtually limitless and understandably so. In 1953, the American and British intelligence services ousted a democratically elected Iranian prime minister, an episode that very few Americans remember and no Iranian will ever forget.

No doubt tomorrow or the next day NYT will print a reply from Bibi or Abe Foxman.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Nov 4 2013 16:55 utc | 10

"Who attacked Ghouta" blog has gathered all the evidence available and reached the conclusion that the chemical attack was certainly done by the Syrian "opposition"

Posted by: Mina | Nov 4 2013 17:16 utc | 11

thanks b! bevin @3 - thanks for that.. very insightful and informative..

Posted by: james | Nov 4 2013 17:27 utc | 12

Great page, Mina. Sorry to see that MintPressNews have fallen by the wayside though. That means their two reporters have ruined their careers for nothing.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Nov 4 2013 18:50 utc | 13

I can only agree with bevin @3, as he has re-used a number of points that I have already made.

The point where I would disagree is the idea that the policy-makers are aliens to the Saudi situation. Bandar's position is in fact entirely founded on the Saudi situation of the 1920s: use jihadis to conduct the conquests. They did, but then had to beat them down in the 1930s, but never mind.

There was a quote, from what origin I forget, perhaps from Bandar: We know how to control jihadis. That means jihadis have been sent out, to conquer Syria and Iraq. Unfortunately the Islam of Syria and Iraq is not so extreme. Wahhabi-style extreme Sunnism is not likely to appeal. In northern Syria, it is so-so. In Iraq the Sunnis are tired, from the rebellion against the Americans. I haven't seen any signs that they themselves are ready to revolt anew, even in spite of the discrimination practiced by the Baghdad government.

At the moment the Wahhabists succeed in North Syria. That won't last long, as even the village women are used to working. Either before or after the re-establishment of a neutral regime, they will be back in the fields, or digging for archaeologists, like myself.

The idea of jihadism as a foreign policy to defeat one's Shi'a enemies, is a smart idea, but it has the disadvantage that those concerned may be less than convinced.

Posted by: alexno | Nov 4 2013 20:46 utc | 14

it doesnt seem to occur to people that states arming insurgents violates international law and worse sets an ugly precedent whereby any state can attack another by arming their insurgents...imagine how US UK france (FUKUSA) would feel if iran or china were to arm local anti govt militias.

Posted by: brian | Nov 4 2013 20:46 utc | 15

Just in case you heard bad news and suffer from a gloomy wet autumn day, have a look here:

Posted by: Mina | Nov 4 2013 20:49 utc | 16

@3 a desert area in the saudi peninsula is known as The 'Empty Quarter''_al_Khali

worlds biggest beach!

Posted by: brian | Nov 4 2013 20:50 utc | 17

its this sort of confused person who helped ISIS enter syria in the first place, now she discovers the 'rebels' are not interested in 'freedom' but power

Posted by: brian | Nov 4 2013 21:07 utc | 18

Somehow I so not think that time is on the side of the Syrian government. The longer the rebels control Northern Syria, the greater the chances that the country will be split into three. Even if the Assad regime survives the disintegration it would be difficult to call that a victory.

The most important development in that regard is the fall of Safira SE of Aleppo to the govt forces. This improves the picture of the battle map around Aleppo but they need a few more of these kinds of victories soon if the government ever wants to reunify the country.

Posted by: ToivoS | Nov 5 2013 0:36 utc | 19

"Israelis plan new Colonies, Oil Drilling, on Palestinian Land during 'Peace Talks'"

Posted by: D | Nov 5 2013 1:13 utc | 20

@TovioS: I can't see the rebels forming even a rump statelet of their own. They have proved completely inept at governing their areas and I suspect that any area where they settled in to rule would quickly see a flood of refugees heading away from it. And anyway, the Syrian state will not likely let them rest, especially having backed them into a corner. In the end, I suspect they are too violent and radical to be long term neighbors even the Turks who have funded and helped them so much.

The best these freaks can do is to be a terrorist army. I think anything above that is beyond their interest and frankly, their capability.


I'd like to also throw in my admiration for Bevin's comment above.

I come here for b, but I stay to read the comments of a great many of you all.

I do wish Don would return but you can't have it all I guess.

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 5 2013 1:22 utc | 21

The Saudis are apparently now claiming that Syria is under "Iranian occupation".

These are the same dictators who claim to be fighting for democracy, so...their hypocrisy knows no bounds obviously.

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 5 2013 1:25 utc | 22


The war is practically over. The question is more about whether starvation, cold, negotiation, or firepower will settle things. Since the war is lost, Turkey and Qatar will want to negotiate over pipelines and such. This means that the Takfiris in the north will be sacrificed.

Posted by: Ozawa | Nov 5 2013 2:28 utc | 23

@ Mina 7

Kurds last week have witnessed bombs that let a yellow smoke and made people feel sick.

Mustard Gas lets off a Yellow-Brownish smoke depending on purity. Also points to the Turkish seizure of 20 bags of Sulfer on the Syrian border you linked to. Sulfer is the ingredient Mustard Gas comes from. The tragedy is that the last time Mustard Gas was recorded as used in combat was when Saddam used it on Kurdish villages in the 1980's.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Nov 5 2013 3:50 utc | 24

Not on topic, but I wanted to post this link because I found it unfathomable. More than 6,000 barrels of yellowcake uranium have been left essentially unguarded in a Libyan warehouse. Russia has asked the UN to secure the nuclear material, which now under the control of a Libyan weapons dealer, and is being stored with an estimated 4,000 surface-to-air missiles.

Posted by: LLza | Nov 5 2013 4:06 utc | 25

#22 ozawa

I hope you are right. I worry. The central govt has lost control over Northern and Eastern Syria for over a year. The longer this goes on the more difficult it will be for them to regain control. I think we all know that it is the Saudis that are sending in the troops to seize those regions. It seems to me that the central government must move soon to re-establish control over those regions or Syria could be splintered into at least three new states (two of which would be puppet states of outside powers).

Posted by: ToivoS | Nov 5 2013 10:30 utc | 26

internet used to recruit terrorists /martyrs for war on syria:

'The US newspaper Washington Post has published a report about the Saudis fighters who come to Syria to fight the Syrian Army and who use the internet to recruit new fighters with them.
In his death portrait, the young rebel’s bearded face is fixed with a broad, unearthly grin. The Saudi man had been killed in fighting, and his corpse, with its beatific smile, was photographed and displayed in a Twitter posting inviting others to celebrate his martyrdom.
“He always used to say: ‘Those martyrs smile. What is it they see?’ ” a former comrade wrote in a tribute to the fighter, identified as Abu Hamad al-Saya’ri. In another post, an admirer mused about the good fortune of the fallen and speculated on what the dead must be saying: “Congrats to me, congrats to me, I became a martyr.”
The Saudi fighter is one of hundreds of Islamist veterans of the Syrian conflict whose deaths are heralded in Web postings, many of which feature bloody — and, occasionally, smiling — portraits of the newly deceased. Although the images may strike many Westerners as macabre, they have become one of the rites of service among Syrian jihadists, as well as a popular recruiting tool.
“These guys are celebrated, and to young people back in the neighborhoods, they are heroes,” said Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington nonprofit group that monitors Web sites and news media in the region. “They look at the photos and they say, ‘I can be this guy.’ ”
The memorials for dead fighters are but one manifestation of an explosion in the use of social media by Islamists since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. Although jihadists have long used the Internet to communicate messages from leaders or spread images of battle, Syrian rebel groups are flocking to Web sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Flickr to create new ways to recruit, train, raise money, debate theology and coordinate strategy, researchers say.
To some Syrian rebels and their supporters, Twitter is not just a communications tool but also an online cash machine, useful for soliciting donations or even running auctions for donated cars and jewelry. Others use Skype accounts to conduct interviews with potential recruits or to share advice on military tactics. Still others employ YouTube or Facebook to trumpet their battlefield successes or to document alleged atrocities by their opponents.'

Posted by: brian | Nov 5 2013 11:04 utc | 27

A marriage of convenient is what can best describe the US's relationship with her satraps in the Persian gulf region. A rather abusive relationship for both sides but somehow it works.

For the old/fat Arab Sheikhs, the US is their gun for hire when needed. We've seen this in Iraq, Libya, Lebanon and now Syria. For the US, those Arab Sheikhs provide a convenient plausible deniability in operations that would otherwise be deemed by most Americans as repulsive and "un-American". Every nobody in the region knows Al-Qaeda and other extremists groups in the region are sponsored, financed etc etc by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the assorted minions but the US conveniently turns a blind eye and even encourages it. They provides the US's the plausible deniability of dealing directly with Al-Qaeda. The Arab Sheikhs reward the US by buying billions of weapons they can't use or need.

A very strange relationship that seems to have worked for the past few decades.

Now on Syria, the Saudis have their credibility as the leader of the "Sunni world"(whatever that means), on the line. Their failure to unseat Assad is bad news with dangerous result. Every two bit Sheikh will not take them seriously anymore. Add that to their inevitable succession showdown and you have the perfect storm. I see a regime desperate to survive at all cost by throwing everything they have - money, weapons, terror etc etc.

Posted by: Zico | Nov 5 2013 13:11 utc | 28


The longer the insurgents have held an area, the more they are hated. Anyway, the government is going to take over just about all the important areas fairly soon.

Posted by: Ozawa | Nov 5 2013 13:37 utc | 29

Rowan @ 6"Simon Henderson, who wrote that, works for WINEP..."
Does that name Henderson ring a bell, anyone?

AToL has this today, in case you haven't seen it.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 5 2013 16:11 utc | 30

I wonder if the progressive destruction of the Middle East with the result of paralyzing Iraq and Lybia's oil production is not meant to ascertain that the price of oil does not fall down. After all, without their generous subsidies, the Wahhabi potentates would not hold for a second. The current events in Benghazi might just have this intent.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 5 2013 16:22 utc | 31

Thanks Bevin, the ATOL article is pretty good. Indeed I am convinced that it is the Wikileaks that made KSA deeply embarassed and unable to pretend further diplomatic moves towards the Iranians.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 5 2013 16:51 utc | 32

Brian @26 “They look at the photos and they say, ‘I can be this guy.’ ” Yes they could be, I suggest they cut out the middle man and save on all that travel to Syria and just commit hari-kari in the country they are in.

Posted by: harrylaw | Nov 5 2013 18:30 utc | 33

The Saudis can lead, even in Europe.

Kerry visits Poland:

Posted by: Michal | Nov 5 2013 18:48 utc | 34

@ Michal

Instant Classic ! Just what you would expect from the Washington Post.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Nov 5 2013 19:03 utc | 35

Bevin: as regards Simon Henderson, Sourcewatch have a little resume for him which says that for many years he was with the Financial Times, and before that with the BBC. Henderson surfaces as a "middle east analyst" in 2009, saying that "it would make sense for Zarqawi to strike Jordan" (after a bombing attributed to the one-legged prodigy). Those were the days, eh? That Asia Times article makes what I would call a dubious inference. It says:

There is some indication that the same groups on which the kingdom relies are also ideologically and dogmatically opposed to the form of governance practiced in Saudi Arabia. It is only a matter of time before the kingdom faces the threat of terrorism it exports to Syria, Iraq, Libya, and other countries around the world at home. This fact is underscored by the rise in the number of armed attacks on security installations, churches, and public installations in Egypt despite the Saudi rulers' support for the military regime in that country. In other words, the kingdom may have control over some Salafi groups, but not all of them. Equally important, even those groups currently under the kingdom's control will not remain there should circumstances change because their alliance is one of convenience.

I don't really accept that. False flag terrorism in Egypt is not incompatible with Bandar's methods, as I see them. AQ staged the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi itself so that Bandar could blame Iran for it. The salafi groups act as genuine terrorists in countries which are being attacked or destabilised, and as false flag terrorists in countries he regards as allies. False flag terrorism is a service to friendly rulers, it gives them convenient pretexts for security clampdowns on groups they actually dislike which may be perfectly nonviolent.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Nov 5 2013 19:13 utc | 36


"A very strange relationship that seems to have worked for the past few decades."

There is nothing strange in alliance of Evangelical Christian-Zionists-Wahabi, i.e. neofacists, it's quite natural synergy among "cave minded" regimes.

On the lower lever of so-called international relationship, Lenin coined phrase "useful idiots". Wikipedia defined them as, "In political jargon, useful idiot is a pejorative term for people perceived as propagandists for a cause whose goals they are not fully aware of, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause."

What I can see many people, including academia, has brought that story: leadership and a decisive role of the KSA in West Asia which is foolish. From "useful idiot" phase we are now into "scapegoat" phase what seems to make people happy. This is situation with which both liberals and left and rest of progressives are not comfortable: Empire loosing face and credibility, hence it's somebody else guilt.

It must be guilt of the KSA because Lance Armstrong (he, who epitomize the US society) had fooled whole world for how long...10-15 years! Ah, those despicable Saudis.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Nov 5 2013 20:11 utc | 37

Chronology re-cap
A few days ago the report on the CW attack is postponed from end October to December (after the head of the team claimed it was almost ready just 2 weeks ago). Source: Innercity press.

Yesterday, Le Monde lauches an attack against Qadri Jamil saying he is a regime insider and that his "dismissal" last week after he had met Ford was just staged by the regime to make him a trojan horse at Geneva and "help dividing the opposition". Source: "Leverrier"'s blog at Le Monde. (I can't link to this garbage)

Today: Geneva is postponed, but the Russians will meet tomorrow in Geneva with Ri'ad al-Asad, Haytham Mana' and Qadri Jamil.

Sabra (voice of KSA) a few days ago has washed out any hope for Geneva to happen quickly by reaffirming 1) Asad must go 2) the Iranians should not participate to Geneva.

What does Hollande need to understand? A new separatist movement in French Brittany? (The Bretons are having their "occupy" movement since a couple of days. Check for "bonnets rouges". And the extreme right is sky-rocketting. But apparently Hollande in private conversations forecasts that the extreme-right might succeed him!!!)

Posted by: Mina | Nov 5 2013 20:21 utc | 38

Rowan thanks for the info.
Was there not a famous torturer/secret policeman called Henderson, in Aden or Bahrain?
I thought that perhaps this man was his son/.
Brian I know, about the Empty Quarter it was by way of being a reference to Wilfred Thesiger's great book-for that was what it seemed to me when I read it several centuries ago.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 5 2013 20:52 utc | 39

This is not completely off topic. The m23 rebellion in Eastern Congo (backed by US and Israel ally Kogame in Rwanda) just collapsed. Basically, it looks like it suffered a major military defeat and its leaders are asking their surviving troops to lie down their arms. Now if the rebellion in Syria could just end like that.

Posted by: ToivoS | Nov 6 2013 0:58 utc | 40

From PressTV:

"A meeting between the Saudi Arabian spy chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, Tamir Bardo, has infuriated Saudi authorities.

"According to an unnamed source from the Saudi embassy in the Jordanian capital Amman, the meeting which took place in Jordan’s Aqaba city elicited outrage from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz.

"Prince Salman had already advised the Saudi spy chief to indirectly consult the Israeli regime on strategic issues in the Middle East, the source said.

"In the wake of the secret talks, Prince Salman ordered the prosecution of the spymaster.

"According to the Wall Street Journal, Bandar is leading the rebel forces trying to overthrow the Syrian government. Many analysts consider Bandar a prime suspect in the apparent false-flag chemical weapons attack in al-Ghouta.

"Adam Entous of the Wall Street Journal says that Prince Bandar and his Saudi Intelligence Agency manufactured “evidence” that the Syrian government had used sarin gas prior to the al-Ghouta attack.

"Entous stated during a Democracy Now interview: “Bandar’s intelligence agency concluded that chemical weapons were being used on a small scale by the regime. Followed by that, the Brits and the French were convinced of the same conclusion. It took US intelligence agencies really until June to reach that conclusion.”

American writer Kevin Barrett says Prince Bandar has reportedly been "the operations chief of al-Qaeda, the CIA data-base of its Arab legion of mujahideen fighters, ever since the Afghan war of the 1980s. It is these CIA-supported, Mossad-supported al-Qaeda fighters that Bandar commands today in Syria."

Posted by: bevin | Nov 6 2013 2:27 utc | 41

@41 An open split in the Saudi elite would be a very interesting turn of events.

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 6 2013 3:19 utc | 42

Bevin, #30: ah, I get your point now. You're talking about Ian Henderson; Torygraph obituary here. Quite a bio. It ends up saying that he is survived by his wife Marie, a son and a daughter, but it doesn't name the son.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Nov 6 2013 8:03 utc | 43

Rowan, it has to be his son. Thanks for the link. General Lathbury,(C in C Africa) who commanded the Parachute Division at Arnhem, was William Cobbett's great grandson!

Posted by: bevin | Nov 6 2013 13:52 utc | 44

There is a sense in which Saudi Arabia is an illusion .... - bevin at 3.

The clan of the Royals with many hangers-on, some desperate- rules other clans, tribes, populations. Royals hold Gvmt., politics, and the religious authorities, as well as revenues (oil). This system is on its face decentralized (districts etc.) yet de facto run from the top. Thus the Royals make all the decisions at all or any level(s) but without a clear structure amongst themselves, be it collaborative or authoritarian or other.

About? 5-8 thousand people locked into personal relations, pecking orders, and rivalries. Therefore the internal divisions, the incapacity to act and follow a clear line.

The Royals hold the rest of the country hostage through redistribution of the oil dividends, importing cheap slave-type labor.

With the attendant clashes between nationals who want jobs (KSA has many poor ppl, though that is relative, see one link below) and legals and illegals who are exploited, regulated, maybe thrown out, even imprisoned, with the upper, qualified, foreign workers essential (petro etc.) ...

It is the extension of an ancient tribal system to a large, rich territory, which has made ‘modernization’ efforts hollow, as they clash with the basic spirit and structure, and end up costing a bomb for no return. As have efforts to move away from oil as the primary, practically only, source of revenue.

The no woman-no drive rule is very emblematic. Conservative doctrine would have it that women occupy a trad home role. Modernity that all Saudis have the right to move freely about (spatially and professionally) and work (not just be ‘edjucated’) and paid. (1.)

Were that to happen, the Royals would be toast, so they oppress half the population plus keep many men out of meaningful work or locked in schemes of patronage and corruption. Concurrently, the culture is skewed to privacy, the home, family relations. Public space is merely lines on a map that follow a route to a shopping mall. Public *discourse* is non-existent. Children are locked into their own class and under familial control.

As long as the oil gushes this system will not change.

Right now KSA is pissed at another patronage system wobbling - US is not stepping up to the plate re. Syria, Iran. (China is now KSA’s biggest client.) So KSA is an illusion, in the sense that it is not a 20th century ‘Nation State’, but a territory occupied by a some brand of elites, which, btw is one reason why the alliance with US-Isr. has held for so long. (Gotta love the oppression.)

1. Many Saudi women, maybe 15% - work, as entrepreneurs, or U profs, or secretaries, part of the ‘allowed’ upper class, rich, with, SUVs, chauffeurs, and home help to take care of the kiddies. Others work in only-F environments, low level, like the Orthodox in Israel at xyz factories.)

vid - poverty in KSA

10 mins. subs in Eng

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 6 2013 15:22 utc | 45

@Rowan Berkeley

That's interesting. So we have some "colonial policeman" who, apparently, himself defeated insurgency in Kenya. According what we are told he was extreme capable and intelligent person. Yet no rank, just, policeman!? Are they want to protect "finest and bravest", its Armed forces who committed crimes that a Nazis would be envy.

After the British destroyed thousands of file that were in its archive vaults, now they are (trying to) tailoring history, telling us own version of an events.

Edward Said's book Culture and Imperialism is priceless.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Nov 6 2013 15:52 utc | 46

Nicola Nasser has this at Counterpunch today:

Visitors to that site are warned that "Sectarian of the Year" Louis Proyect has an unbearably idiotic piece which ought to be avoided at all costs.
Just watch the fund raiser stall now!

Posted by: bevin | Nov 6 2013 16:01 utc | 47

Louis Proyect has been an idiot from his appearance.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Nov 6 2013 17:30 utc | 48

@48, just sent an angry email to Counterpunch urging them to dump that rat, giving chapter and verse. I urge others to do the same. He wants to spread his bilge, let him write for HuffPo!

Posted by: ruralito | Nov 6 2013 20:44 utc | 49

Posted by: neretva'43 | Nov 6, 2013 12:30:36 PM | 48

no Louis went off the rails when the war on Libya began...before then he was even fair on zimbabwe

note this:

Re: GLW -- ZIMBABWE: Socialists confront Mugabe dictatorship
from [Louis Proyect]

To: marxism@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: GLW -- ZIMBABWE: Socialists confront Mugabe dictatorship
From: Louis Proyect
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 10:50:50 -0400
Delivery-date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 09:04:14 -0600
In-reply-to: <3B83C44B.423A5711@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

>``It is critical that we intervene in these struggles. The
>struggles in Zimbabwe are at the cutting edge of these
>struggles in peripheral capitalist societies.

INTERVENE: To come between; to intercept; to interfere with; to prevent,

(Oxford Dictionary)

Louis Proyect

here he seems less keen on 'intervention' in Zimbawbe but is happy for it in Libya/Syria

Posted by: brian | Nov 6 2013 21:42 utc | 50

Posted by: bevin | Nov 6, 2013 11:01:05 AM | 47

yes Louis P has taken a right turn on both Libya and Syria, for reasons not at all clear. Its as if Gadafis and Assads friendship with Castro and Chavez never existed or were errors of judgement

Posted by: brian | Nov 6 2013 21:48 utc | 51

First garbage what I read from him was about Yugoslavia and wars overthere, which is like late 90s. Or, Diana Johnstone she celebrates fascism representing it as a fight against NATO.
There are bunch of them writing for CP like Viyaj Prashad supporter of Libya intervention and in case Syria he is on the same note.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Nov 6 2013 22:23 utc | 52

Proyect is wrong about Zimbabwe too:

Unlike nearly every other African country, Zimbabwe does not play host to US military bases or any AFRICOM presence. No military “advisors” have entrenched themselves in the armed forces as they have throughout the continent. There is no US drone base as in Niger, Djibouti and elsewhere. Zimbabwe has maintained a steady, if somewhat fragile, peace since independence, choosing to maintain support for independent African nations such as Libya while it was free under the leadership of Muammar Qaddafi, and Eritrea which, like Zimbabwe, is vilified by Western imperialists for its unwillingness to be made part of the imperial system. Essentially then, Zimbabwe has in nearly every way asserted its independence from the US-UK sphere.

Posted by: ruralito | Nov 6 2013 22:27 utc | 53

my apologies if someone already posted this from today's bbc.
Saudi nuclear weapons 'on order' from Pakistan

Posted by: james | Nov 7 2013 2:09 utc | 54

So far as Zimbabwe is concerned, the attacks on Mugabe have a great deal to do with the commitment to land reform in the Treaty of 1980. Britain and the US promised to subsidise a buy out of the white settlers who were occupying land stolen from African subsistence farmers and turned into commercial plantations.
When they refused to put up the money Mugabe went ahead with the land distribution anyway.
One thing which is very clear is the injustice of the treatment of the Zimbabweans. These people, often the children or grandchildren of those dispossessed of the land, were being driven into city slums and mines because first their land had been taken from them and, second, mechanisation had killed the farm jobs which were the only compensation they were ever offered.

neretva@52 Your characterisation of Diane Johnstone as a celebrant of fascism is neither fair nor accurate. Johnstone's articles on the smashing up of Yugoslavia are very good.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 7 2013 2:14 utc | 55

The Times of India has an interesting piece on the following (excerpts)

" LONDON: Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects and believes it could acquire atomic bombs "at will," the BBC reported on Thursday. "

" Last month Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, "the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring". "

Any comments on this ?

Posted by: curious | Nov 7 2013 16:07 utc | 56

Yes. The emergence of a grotesque alliance - Saudi Arabia, Israel and Pakistan.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Nov 7 2013 17:29 utc | 57

First garbage what I read from him was about Yugoslavia and wars overthere, which is like late 90s. Or, Diana Johnstone she celebrates fascism representing it as a fight against NATO.
There are bunch of them writing for CP like Viyaj Prashad supporter of Libya intervention and in case Syria he is on the same note.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Nov 6, 2013 5:23:37 PM | 52

so is this Louis's view of Diana Johnstone????

Posted by: brian | Nov 7 2013 20:46 utc | 58

neretva@52 Your characterisation of Diane Johnstone as a celebrant of fascism is neither fair nor accurate. Johnstone's articles on the smashing up of Yugoslavia are very good.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 6, 2013 9:14:38 PM | 55

yes it looks as if neretva@52 is taking a clumsy poke at Johnstone without clarifying what he means.

Posted by: brian | Nov 7 2013 20:52 utc | 59

brian. That was my stupidity: as you suggest neretva '43 was simply reproducing the nonsense that Proyect puts forward.
My apologies to neretva'43 : I am an old man and I lack the intellectual agility, sometimes, to recognise irony. I hope that I did not offend you.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 7 2013 21:38 utc | 60

curious @56.

Pakistan's role in the Middle East is becoming increasingly open. It actually goes back to the days when the Raj ruled the Gulf and most NCOs in the local armies (Levies) were muslims from the sub-continent, trained in the Indian Army.
The current rulers of Pakistan are, and long have been, sponsored by the Sauds.
Regarding this story in The (Murdoch owned) Times the reality is that Iran has no nuclear weapons programme and everybody knows it.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 7 2013 21:45 utc | 61

I believe this is all hot air on the part of the Saudis, but it shows precisely how dangerous they can be if allowed to by their protector, the United States.

In the interests of starting a debate: I do not believe that the United States would allow such a transfer and would prevent it militarily if necessary.

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 8 2013 0:46 utc | 62

the arrogance of islamism: masked terrorists search syrian civilian...but are the searchers syrian at all?
'Just three pictures. So interesting. The masked fighters aka hired killers/mercs
Nationalities and identity obscured.
So convenient for controlling and promoting a specific narrative and obfuscating of fact & reality'

Posted by: brian | Nov 8 2013 6:02 utc | 63

Two ISIS British Jihadis whose alliance with "FSA"/ JaN is DIRECTLY funded/ armed/ trained by NATO/ GCC send terror messages to their Western backers;
"...And Britain will be next, inshallah; in the Islamic World. God's permitting"..
"..I say to the US your time will come; we will bleed to death and inshallah we'll raise the flag on the White House."

not that they will attack the hand the feeds, because they are being aided BY FUKUSA....but itd be nice if they did turn their jihad on FUKUS

Posted by: brian | Nov 10 2013 0:11 utc | 64

Al qaida-Al nusra terrorists in Antakya-Turkey
Updated 4 hours ago
''Antakya-Türkiye'deki katil El Kaide üyeleri.Suriyeliler yıllardır Hatay'a gelir.Ama biz Antakyalılar hiçbir zaman böyle Suriyeli görmedik.Bunlar asla Suriyeli olamaz.Bu katilleri şehrimizde görmekten iğreniyoruz.'' Antakyalı vatandaşlar
Antakya citizens from Turkey says ''They are al Qaida members in Antakya -Turkey.Syrians come to Antakya for years.However,we have never seen such Syrians.They are not Syrians,never!!!!!It is disgusting to see the Al Qaida members in our city.''

Posted by: brian | Nov 10 2013 4:33 utc | 65

ha ha ha, good grief:

The government supporter who was interviewed in West Beirut, who speaks often to senior military and security figures, said some of them would be open to a future without Assad if a transitional government included “somebody they can accept.” They mentioned Rifaat al-Assad, the exiled uncle of President Assad. He said President Assad might be persuaded to preside over a transition and then decline to run for re-election, allowing him to claim that he saved Syria from Jihadis and led it to democracy.

- Anne Barnard, NYT, Nov 8

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Nov 10 2013 9:16 utc | 66

He said President Assad might be persuaded to preside over a transition and then decline to run for re-election, allowing him to claim that he saved Syria from Jihadis and led it to democracy.

- Anne Barnard, NYT, Nov 8

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Nov 10, 2013 4:16:45 AM | 66

leading a country to 'democracy' : you mean 'democracies' like US France UK Germany canada, israel? when will people learn 'democracy' does not mean 'rule of the people' let alone 'good government'.

Posted by: brian | Nov 10 2013 20:39 utc | 67

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