Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 14, 2021

What Was Biden's Diktat The Saudis Are So Furious About?

Two seasoned commentators, Abdel Bari Atwan and M.K. Bhadrakumar, note the recent snag in U.S. - Saudi relations. Writes Atwan:

The past two weeks have seen an unprecedented rise in tensions between the two sides, which could lead to political and economic standoffs in the days and months to come. Several recent developments attest to this. Last week the Associated Press, well known for its connections to Washington decision-makers, confirmed that the Biden administration has withdrawn all its Patriot and (more sophisticated) THAAD air defence systems from the kingdom.
Then it was announced that a visit to the kingdom by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin – as part of a Gulf tour that included Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain — had been postponed or cancelled, ostensibly due to ‘scheduling issues’. That was an unprecedented snub reflecting official Saudi anger at the US.

A minor Saudi prince, Sattam Bin-Khaled Al Saud, was assigned to explain that it was Saudi Arabia that called off the visit. The ‘great kingdom’, he tweeted, would not be dictated to, and would only conduct relations on the basis of ‘shared interests and mutual respect’. No ruling family member has spoken about the US this way previously.

The young royal, who is close to Crown Prince Muhammad Bin-Salman, went on to contrast the cancellation of Austin’s visit with the very warm reception the kingdom accorded to Leonid Slutsky, head of the Russian Duma’s international affairs committee. This was intended as a warning to Washington that Riyadh potentially has an alternative ally in Moscow — a ‘brave’ but potentially risky and very costly challenge.

There was also the recent publishing of FBI findings about Saudi involvement in 9/11. And on Afghanistan the U.S. worked with Qatar instead of using Saudi channels. But both issues are neither new nor do they justify such a response.

Bhadrakumar opines:

The incipient signs of a US retrenchment from Saudi Arabia have appeared in a series of moves in the past 2-3 weeks.
Without doubt, the Biden Administration has just made a big statement in its regional strategies in West Asia by the removal of the most advanced US missile defence system and Patriot batteries deployed to Saudi Arabia to counter Iran and face down air attacks from Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Riyadh showed its displeasure already by abruptly cancelling a scheduled visit to the kingdom by US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.

I doubt that this snag is really about the two Patriot batteries and one THAAD system which the U.S. brought into Saudi Arabia after the 2019 attack on the Saudi oil installations in Abqaiq.

Everyone knows that those systems are pretty much useless against the drones the Houthi (or Iran) had used in that attack. The removal of these system has been anticipated for some time. In April the Saudis rented a Patriot battery from Greece in anticipation of the removal of the U.S. systems. The actual removal of the U.S. systems was announced in early June. Back then a Saudi spokesman said that his country had no problem with it:

US military assets downsizing in Saudi Arabia will not affect the kingdom’s defense capabilities, a Riyadh-led coalition told local press, Sunday. In a statement to the reporters, coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki said that the tactical withdrawal of the United States troop and Air Defence units in the Arab Gulf region will “not affect Saudi,” adding that there is a strong understanding between the kingdom and its allies and partners in the region and that the country is capable to defend itself.

I doubt that the military view on the Patriot issue has changed much since then.

But on September 9 the Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal mentioned the Patriots in an interview with CNBC:

He was responding to a question on what the Middle East needs from the U.S. in the wake of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.

"I think we need to be reassured about American commitment," the prince, Saudi Arabia's former intelligence chief, told CNBC's Hadley Gamble last month.

"That looks like, for example, not withdrawing Patriot missiles from Saudi Arabia at a time when Saudi Arabia is the victim of missile attacks and drone attacks — not just from Yemen, but from Iran," he said.

For Turki Al-Faisal the Patriots are a symbolic, not a military issues. The core problem is a lack of 'assurance about U.S. commitment'.

Pulling Patriot missiles from the kingdom is "not indicative of America's declared intention to help Saudi Arabia defend itself against outside enemies," Al-Faisal said, adding that he hopes the U.S. will give assurances of its commitment to deploy "whatever is needed" to help.

Who are the Saudis outside enemies? The Houthi in Yemen? Biden had announced to end support for Saudi attacks in Yemen back in February. He correctly believes that the Saudis have lost that war and should end it. His position on that is not a surprise and has not changed. Why would the Saudis now make an issue out of it?

So what is the Saudi concern really about?

Bhadrakumar seems to thinks that the U.S. is ready to find a new agreement with Iran and that this is the issue the Saudis are disturbed about. But the door on a nuclear deal with Iran is closing and there is no sign from the Biden administration that it really wants to reactivate it.

In my view the real issue here can not be the Patriot missiles, the Houthi, or an Iran deal. None of those issues is new or is coming as a surprise.

What else might it have been that would justify to cancel, on very short notice, a planned visit by a U.S. Secretary of Defense?

Such a move is unprecedented in its outright hostility. There must be  a really big and current issue behind it.

The minor Saudi prince Atwan quotes lamented about the 'great kingdom' being 'dictated to'. What was the 'diktat' about? The harsh reaction lets me presume that it was something very personal to Clown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, who runs the daily business in Saudi Arabia.

Did Biden order him to fully retreat from Yemen, a war the crown prince had started?

Might Biden even have asked the King to replace the crown prince with a more agreeable figure?

Or are there other issues I have not thought about?

Posted by b on September 14, 2021 at 18:08 UTC | Permalink

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Good report and ponderings as to the diktat. My two cents (because that's all I have) is the 911 document released which ties some of the alleged 'hijackers' to a possible handler with ties to Saudi intelligence. The "King" didn't know nothing, but someone Saudi knew something... it's downright embarrassing, and you know how those Saudis' feelings get so hurt so easily.

On the other hand you really don't want to look too closely at the nexus of CIA/Mossad/Saudi Intelligence networks especially as regards 911.

But I hope one of b's musings is correct - Saudi regime change.

Posted by: gottlieb | Sep 14 2021 18:24 utc | 1

Even though Vladimir Putin was first elected Russia’s president in 2000, he is currently serving his “zero” term – according to the law that “nullified” his three previous presidencies and the current one. Putin's successor - Shoigu?

Posted by: Serg | Sep 14 2021 18:29 utc | 2

A very good question. A few ideas, bothing convincing comes to mind. Probably something too stupid for a normal person to contemplate.

Posted by: Bemildred | Sep 14 2021 18:33 utc | 3

Quando olho para a Arábia Saudita,vejo uma futura Líbia!

Posted by: Rodrigues | Sep 14 2021 18:46 utc | 4

Indeed a very interesting question and I agree the reason is unlikely to be any of the ones mentioned.

As for Yemen, the US could easily dictate to the 'great kingdom' a demand to withdraw. No spare parts or missiles for the KSA airforce and whatever they have left in Yemen collapses.

If I may Hazzard a guess: The US has been the guarantor of the royal family's continued reign over the country. It may be time that the US feels a different leadership would be better for US interests in KSA. So could it be the Saudis feel they are about to find themselves on the wrong side of a color revolution? Losing in Yemen, Losing in Syria and Losing in Lebanon definitely would make them vulnerable, and the US probably would only need a breath of air to collapse a house of cards. Hence the "Saudis plus 9/11" headlines. Ask any number of former US puppets how much loyalty the US has shown them, and I can easily see why the Saudis are nervous.

Going to Russia seems (from the Saudi point of view, which is rather witless and one dimensional) a logical counter move. But I'm not so sure. Russia wouldn't mind cordial relations with KSA, but would it want the commitment of keeping the royals on the throne forever? I'm not sure Russia would care to do that. And that would be the thing the Saudi royals would need above all.

Posted by: Lysander | Sep 14 2021 19:06 utc | 5

Trade with China in a strategic area? There were minor bilateral talks a couple weeks ago, but the only noteworthy thing IMO was talk of Chinese nuclear tech/ infrastructure export. However, even a whiff of trade in non dollar currency would set off a reaction from Washington. Besides that, maybe Saudi support for Biden administration's political enemies is an issue. Maybe royal infighting, rival of MbS trying to use US as a lever (probably not the first time).

Posted by: ptb | Sep 14 2021 19:06 utc | 6

Saudi Arabia's oil fields are pretty much all tapped out and depleted. Therefore, USA doesn't need Saudi Arabia anymore. Case closed. It's as simple as that.

Posted by: Hoyeru | Sep 14 2021 19:07 utc | 7

Convoluted threats within convoluted declarations of support -- is there a faction within the US of North A foreign policy establhihment that tries to learn and copy British duplocity? In that case, they are four hundred yearas behindand need to catch uo quick! Learn the Chinese classics on strategy instead, and Y'll will understand Y'all already been defeated -- not by the Chinese, but by Yourslves there in Washaoutton-D.C (or is it "Wshington W.C"?

Posted by: Tollef Ås اس طلف | Sep 14 2021 19:08 utc | 8

Yes it does seem the crack in the Empire's middle east pot is spreading. Since there is no sign that Saudi is attempting to build rapport with Iran, could this be due to undercurrent movements on the de-dollarization front? Is Saudi talking to China to get on board of digital yuan? Is Saudi gearing up to trade on the Shanghai Oil Future bourse? Boy o' boy, lots of possibilities:-).

The operating words to note is: 'Dictate to'!!!! Saudi is yelling: take a hike Uncle Sam.

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Sep 14 2021 19:16 utc | 9

Some possibilities.

1) Money; MbS has a soft spot and a earnest desire for lots of cash. He shook down the Princes and Billionaires for part of their assets (Sometimes literally). He also tried to get OPEC and increased revenue through manipulating them.
His Neom City and the straight line city, with the Yemen war all have high potential cost overheads. (The occasional $500 billion for Neom are not exactly chump change).
Revenue from the Haj (Pilgrimage) must have fallen due to C*v*d.
Now, IF the US tried it's usual protection racket, then it may have demanded a larger percentage of the Saudi Oil revenues for continued protection, "for their own safety".
2) BRI; Saudi is not (yet), part of what will become the major trading network. (You can argue that it is already the most influential). It can see Qatar, Pakistan, Iran, all setting up routes (Maritime as well) that it is not part of.
3) Oil/Gas. Setting up new port facilities outside the Straits of Hormuz, may be a good idea for oil exports. Does he also want to sell directly to China?
The Oil pipeline from Qatar via Iraq or Saudi which would have gone to Israel, is it still on the cards? There is still an open possibility of creating an overland route to eliminate the passage of the Suez Canal. (Originally through Syria).
4) Political and religious Influences; Lebanon? Afghanistan? A newly invigorated Syria being reintroduced into the Arab Political world? Saudi could see that it's influence is waning. Both monetary and religious?
5) Israel: It has NOT made buddy-buddy with Israel as the other Gulf states have. Could there be renewed pressure from US-Israel to "join-in" that? (ie. to limit the bad PR from 9/11 in the states).
6) Personal; Has MbS himself become a handicap for the States?
7) Russia and China; Has he tried to negotiate "outside" US dictats?

Those are only my first impressions, and can be adapted or rejected as more information comes in. Much of the visible leadership of the Arabic world is being taken over by the Emirates, which probably does not do much good for MbS's ego.

Posted by: Stonebird | Sep 14 2021 19:19 utc | 10

Such a move is unprecedented in its outright hostility. There must be a really big and current issue behind it.

The price of energy.

Posted by: Norwegian | Sep 14 2021 19:22 utc | 11

I think Rêver @ 5 is on the right track.

Thierry Meyssan can be quite erratic, but his 'Yalta' series did seem to hang together quite nicely.

In line with that, let's look at the bigger picture here. The absolutely catastrophic Afghan pullout took a lot of shine off the US and its claims about its own power. It looked totally incompetent and impotent, and even more important, all of its talking points about how the end game would play out have proved to be nothing but VAPOR. There is no way it can possibly influence anything in post-pullout Afghanistan like it was bragging it would do.

People notice that kind of clinical-level DELUSION!

Afghanistan is just the latest such setback for the US. A big one happened on January 8, 2020 when the Iranians rocketed the US Al Asad military base in Iraq, and the US chose, wisely, to slink away with its tail tucked.

Then there is the Quixotic 'trade war' against China, in which the US has been bitch-slapped back to its rightful place as nothing but a loud-talking pretender.

All of these signposts of accelerating US decline will of course result in hangers-on reappraising their commitment to this rotting empire.

Saudi Arabia is one such player. Sure, the Biden petty hostility to the Kingdom is part of it, but we also see the Saudis turning to Russia---having just signed a historic military cooperation agreement in Moscow.

This will mean not only arms purchases from Russia, perhaps even the S400 [which the goofy western 'experts' think is unlikely, but making it all the more likely considering the track record of such 'experts'].

But there is also the question of diplomacy in the region. Russia is seen increasingly as a competent and honest broker. It is not at all clear that Saudia is hell bent on an intense rivalry with Iran. In fact probably the opposite is true. We recall that Soleimani, at the time of his assassination in Baghdad, was on a peace mission with the Saudis.

The Saudis have already started a rapprochement with Syria, and there is lots of talk about reducing tensions with Iran. Who are you going to turn to as an interlocutor in these things? The completely useless US?

And finally we have word that Saudia is likely to be granted dialog partner status in the SCO in the upcoming Dushanbe summit [along with Qatar and Egypt].

Russian diplomacy is respected everywhere, even in the delusional west, albeit grudgingly. So it is not necessary for the loosening Saudi-US ties to be confined only to that relationship itself.

It is also a case that a realignment of the global order is exerting its own pull on US relationships with third countries.

Posted by: Gordog | Sep 14 2021 19:28 utc | 12

Norwegian | Sep 14 2021 19:22 utc | 12

You reminded me of something. The US relied on cheap Saudi Oil to give it's industries lower cost overheads when they still had productive factories. Rather like the Germans want cheap gas from Russia nowadays. At one time (long ago) it was theorized that the US was paying the "difference" in gold.

It is possibly no longer relevant (the gold payment scheme), but with a sinking dollar and importing Oil from the ME, they might need preferrential prices.

Posted by: Stonebird | Sep 14 2021 19:36 utc | 13

As yet there has been no sniping or covert attacks other than financial on Afghanistan's new leadership. There was one report of US pulling back from some of its bases in Iraq but that hasn't been confirmed elsewhere. US Dems don't like MBS for sawing up one of theirs, Also the Saudis are looking the China Russia direction.
US for some time have been talking of pulling out of the forever wars to concentrate mostly on China but also the hereditary anglo enemy Russia. US military is now trying to play soldier boys fighting a peer.
All of what we are seeing I thing is the repositioning for the new era and new form of warfare (US foreign policy).

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Sep 14 2021 19:44 utc | 14

Suggesting MBS remove himself from power seems like a good bet. Syria and Yemen have been military and PR disasters, chopping up Mr Khashoggi so publicly was a faux pas, and Israel by itself creates enough tsuris about Iran. I'm sure the Bush family can suggest a replacement prince. I think reminding the public about KSA's involvement in 9/11 is a different flavor. I'm sure that if pushed, the Saudis themselves can publish some interesting documents, and who knows where that might lead (Tel Aviv and Langley)? Kicking at a main support of the petrodollar in these delicate times also seems unwise.

Posted by: NoOneYouKnow | Sep 14 2021 19:44 utc | 15

"Saudi Arabia's oil fields are pretty much all tapped out and depleted."

Sometimes the simple explanation is the most appropriate and terrifying

Posted by: JPC | Sep 14 2021 19:50 utc | 16

There are some speculative articles in Arabic and Farsi that demand frome Saudi Arabia is to recognize Israel then accept her as a member of Arab League, though there is no reference, and no reliable source.

Posted by: Arata | Sep 14 2021 19:51 utc | 17

@Stonebird | Sep 14 2021 19:36 utc | 14

Yes, the US is close to economic collapse and sorely need cheap energy to keep the wheels rolling. For the Saudis the situation is the opposite, to keep their charade rolling they need as high oil price as possible, or else the regime cannot be sustained.

Wars or other big policy events is usually fundamentally about economy and/or raw materials. The withdrawals of US forces from Afghanistan and possibly Iraq/Syria has to do with economy also.

So perhaps the US gave the Saudis an offer they could not refuse.

Posted by: Norwegian | Sep 14 2021 19:52 utc | 18

Some recent, serious but unknown undiplomatic gaff aimed at a highly ranked Saud. Concern over the Empire defaulting on its debt and being told off undiplomatically. Continuing support for Qatar that's seen as favoritism at Saudi expense? These combined with other suggestions. Refusal of MbS request to speak at UNGA. Whatever it is it doesn't seem capable of being publicly acknowledged.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 14 2021 19:55 utc | 19

@ NoOneYouKnow | Sep 14 2021 19:44 utc | 16 who ended with

Kicking at a main support of the petrodollar in these delicate times also seems unwise.

Is what we are seeing an action or a reaction? Do the global financial elite know that the days of the petrodollar are numbered and are "facilitating" a transition that works out in their favor?

Empire was forced into some level of reaction by the Afghanistan exit and they want to regain the upper hand and so kicking at SA may seem like the "proper" thing to do.

We are watching an amazing shit show and we mostly only get to see the shit coming out the end.....think about the upstream geo-political making sausage....grin

Posted by: psychohistorian | Sep 14 2021 19:58 utc | 20

I thought things had really deteriorated when KSA signed a defence co-ordination pact with Russia a couple of weeks ago? The last thing that the US would want is KSA working more closely with Russia, especially to help establish high oil prices (and potentially do so in currencies other than the US$). I'm assuming the US might have told KSA that it can't pivot towards Russia. Most of the deterioration in the relationship seems to have happened following that.

Tom Luongo had quite a good piece on all this -

Posted by: Mark H | Sep 14 2021 19:59 utc | 21

There could be another reason for this public turn against Saudi Arabia. It's called misdirection.
With the recent anniversary of 9/11 came more and more speculation about possible Mossad and Israeli involvement. Perhaps there's a sudden and urgent need to get that dialogue off the front pages, to send it firmly back down the memory hole?

Posted by: Hal Duell | Sep 14 2021 20:08 utc | 22

The Saudi canceling of Austin's visit coincides with SA inking a defense agreement with Russia. They have changed sides.

Posted by: cdvision | Sep 14 2021 20:25 utc | 23

Quoting from recent thoughts emanating from the ether:

"We have great news for His Royal Nibs,errr Highness. We are pleased to declare that all your gold holdings are belong, errr being held safely at no charge and will remain forever secure under full protection of the USA. Thus, there is no need for the Kinkdom, errr Kingdom to take the expense of vault construction and relocation risk. trust me. I am your friend."

The inquired of the speakers identity. The response was garbled, but sounded much like "Lincolnpoop".

Posted by: chu teh | Sep 14 2021 20:29 utc | 24

thanks b... its fun to speculate and fun to read others speculating!

i liked what gordog @ 13 said.. here's a nice quote - "hangers-on reappraising their commitment to this rotting empire." that rings true for me..

the other one about the gas/oil station ksa running low - maybe... the craziest idea would be that usa gave a rats ass about supporting a full on whack job dictator who is happy to chop peoples heads off for even thinking about mentioning the horrible reality for the people of ksa... that is definitely not a concern for the usa!!

but i think my thought before i read others comments was the idea that ksa realizes siding with russia technologically and china / russia more generally is an obviously good idea... snubbing the usa seems to make sense here, especially given the fiasco on demonstration with the usa leaving afganistan.... i wish the people of ksa well and that clown prince a quick exit stage left the sooner the better...

Posted by: james | Sep 14 2021 20:35 utc | 25

The other day Mercouris was speculating that Russia is going to step up the arms trade with Iran, likely supplying them with a fresh air force (Checkmate?). This would make the Saudis upset so the Russian diplomatic balancing act would involve supplying the Saudis with S400 air defense system. We all know how sensitive the US is to this unparalleled A2/AD system, so they probably told the Saudis "nope." Now the Saudis are pissed at the Americans, and I can only imagine how these ultra-conservative men feel about the ongoing "cultural revolution" in the US...

Posted by: Pjack | Sep 14 2021 20:46 utc | 26

So the US military has pulled its troops out of Afghanistan (very uncharacteristic - their idea of 'withdrawal' usually means more troops), pulled Patriot missiles from Saudi Arabia, is pulling troops out of east Syria, Iraq too (?).

What do these events have in common? They are all within range of Iranian military strikes. Why would that suddenly be a concern? An expectation that Iran would strike these military (and it would be effective strikes)? And why would Iran strike out at US assets in proximity to its borders? In response to a major strike against Natanz, etc? Just one final gesture of goodwill to Mielekowski prior to the US economy being pulled. It is on life-support anyway.

Biden is either really out to lunch or drugged up to his eyeballs. He will be a piece of cake for the whisperers in the US government. Not that it matters. The whole USG is just a set of performing seals.

Posted by: Arfur Mo | Sep 14 2021 20:47 utc | 27

Russia might like better relations with Saudi Arabia but to achieve that Saudi Arabia will need to give up funding/supporting any jihadis within Russia. The Saudis are too arrogant to think they'll have to. And Russia will be reluctant to get as closely involved with the Saudis as Washington has been.

Who's been funding the Taliban for the last fifteen years? Pakistan's ISI, Who's been funding Pakistan's ISI for the last fifteen years? Saudi Arabia among others. Perhaps Washington is beginning to have second thoughts about having good relations with duplicitous Riyadh and particularly keeping the al Sauds on the throne.

The most outlandish thought I have about this is that the Washington and Riyadh are plotting to sucker Tehran into attacking Riyadh, but I can't see Tehran falling for such a plot.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Sep 14 2021 20:48 utc | 28

To echo some of the others here, there is inflationary pressure on the US economy and the Biden administration has been promising cheaper domestic energy prices which the Saudis may not be willing to oversee via OPEC. But who knows? Quite a quick turnaround from Trump posing beside the glowing orb.

Posted by: jayc | Sep 14 2021 21:16 utc | 29

Learned colleagues here will perhaps be more knowledgable on the subject of the petrodollar relationship. My understanding is that KSA agrees to recycle the $US it receives for oil back into US t-bills and other assets in exchange for its highly-favoured-regime status and protection. These funds contribute a great deal to the Pentagon budget. This OPEC-US symbiosis has been a main plank of empire. I'm reading here that this relationship is now unstable or unsustainable. Conflicts of interests have emerged in recent times: KSA needs high oil prices, the US low ones; gas is an emerging cheaper alternative to oil rendering the KSA only one option in a more multipolar energy market; is Biden's 'green turn' still a thing? I'm looking for a good analysis of the structural contradictions in this relationship that would cause the US to want to walk away from it. My stumbling block is the question of US military funding——where does that massive budget come from with OPEC $US recycling?

Posted by: Patroklos | Sep 14 2021 21:31 utc | 30

Wasn't the Quincy deal about protection vs support for the petrodollar ? Haven't the Saudis started to sell oil for other currencies ? Didn't all the other oil producing countries that tried to do that get in big trouble soon thereafter ?

Posted by: DF | Sep 14 2021 21:33 utc | 31

That last sentence should be "where does that massive budget come from without OPEC $US recycling?"

Keen to hear the orthodox historical materialist perspective (vk?).

Posted by: Patroklos | Sep 14 2021 21:35 utc | 32

Posted by: DF | Sep 14 2021 21:33 utc | 32

Interesting: so the KSA wants to sell oil in other currencies. That didn't work so well for Venezuela. The new 9/11 'scandal' may well be the pretext for regime change then. Don't screw with the mighty dollar.

Posted by: Patroklos | Sep 14 2021 21:38 utc | 33

@ Posted by: Patroklos | Sep 14 2021 21:31 utc | 31

The original Petrodollar deal made by Nixon involved oil for T-bills + American military weapons. I don't know how it works nowadays.

Posted by: vk | Sep 14 2021 22:14 utc | 34

re cancellation of a significant meeting...

On vital or existential matters wherein final go-ahead [eg, for jointly going to war] is given or an ultimatum [e.g. death or equivalent threat] is delivered, it must

1. come from a source whose credentials cannot be doubted, and
2. be delivered

A workable handling to avoid this unwanted situation?...Do not answer the phone. I.e., cut the communication line before the delivery. That puts a STOP on the other party's plan...and creates an interval to develop a counter-plen.

Posted by: chu teh | Sep 14 2021 22:19 utc | 35

Given my Big Picture thoughts on the Week in review thread @212, it's possible that a retrenchment is in the process of occurring. Do note that we've yet to see any reduction in Qatar or Kuwait. Perhaps the Sauds thought they would be treated differently than the Kurds or Afghans but will now face a similar fate.

IMO, the Outlaw US Empire has a very damaged nation at its core that's the result of its own faulty policies. Trump's MAGA resonated with many millions because that's actually the proper policy pathway but it goes against the Neoliberals who control most everything--particularly media and Imperial policy. But today I reported the words of General Hyten @203 who upon reflection raised the white flag--we can't have nuclear war, so we must back off our policy of confrontation. Plus, we can't $$$$ afford it dealing with the cost required to play catch-up in an arms race where you're already far behind. Have the Realists finally won over the Neocons?

Consider today's Shadowstats update:

"First Time in Five Years, the 2020 Poverty Rate Jumped and Real Median Household Income Plunged, with Surveying Disrupted and Distorted by the Pandemic-Driven Collapse • After Two Months of Decline, the August 2021 Cass Freight Index® Showed Some Seasonally Adjusted Rebound, Taking Up Some Slack from Railroads, but Still at a Four-Month Low • How Can the Economy (GDP) Be Recovered With Headline Annual Payroll Growth Weaker Than at the Troughs of the Last Seven Recessions, the 2007 Great Recession Excepted?" [My Emphasis]

Then there's the huge problem of getting Biden's own MAGA effort financed/passed by Congress so the Ds don't get slaughtered in the 2022 midterms. The only place to find real money is in the war and imperial budgets. Some smart puppy probably got the courage to speak up and state the obvious: Folks, we're in one Hell of a Mess. And most of it's contrived. Trump's message to NATO and the EU should have been, We can't help you anymore as we now must save ourselves. If that got said to the Sauds, what sort of reaction do you think they'd provide?

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 14 2021 22:33 utc | 36

"What Was Biden's Diktat The Saudis Are So Furious About?"

Obviously, the Americans must have demanded that the Saudis clearly specify their preferred gender pronouns--he, she, or non-binary gender?!


Posted by: ak74 | Sep 14 2021 22:51 utc | 37

My take on this is that this is a simple of anxiety of the American Empire's borderland provinces.

South Korea, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine et al are anxious they will be next in line after the Americans abandoned Afghanistan. They're all mobilizing their head-of-states and diplomatic corps to ask face-to-face with the American counterpart if the USA is going to keep them or not and, if yes, if it is really committed.

The American Empire is shrinking. To which frontiers, we still don't know. Until the new frontiers are stabilized, we should expect these borderland provinces to continue to plead for support from the metropolis.

Posted by: vk | Sep 14 2021 23:14 utc | 38

What you havent thought about is what it means to end the war in yemen. Usa told MBS to basically end the war immediately which means dealing with the houthis as the legitimate government of yemen. Thats the end of saudi arabia. The saudis know this. America doesnt care. Even israel cannot survive this. Trump was correct when he said the saudis wouldnt survive weeks without america, and trump was also right when he said "israel would have to leave the middle east" without saudi arabia.

If the houthis are the legitimate government of yemen and saudi arabia failed in its ethnic cleansing attempt, that means the saudi royal family and its custodianship of mecca is illegitimate according to sharia law. This means that all of israels support, relationships, or recognition in the middle east are illegitimate. It means pakistan and turkey are also enemies of saudi arabia according to sharia law. It means many many things. Much of the politics of the middle east revolves around religious legitimacy and the implications of that legitimacy according to religious laws. America is aware of all of this. America doesnt care. If usa is giving up on israeli politics and downgrading to a hard power only approach for israel, how could anyone expect usa to care about saudi arabia? They habe no hard power value and are a hard power liability. Basically saudi arabia is fucked.

Posted by: Poshpotdllr | Sep 14 2021 23:58 utc | 39

KSA Having a hissy fit over declassifying 9/11 report

It's not just this one, very minor report but the promise of releasing more info.
I don't think they have anything to worry about because the FDD will cover for them but that's besides the point. The Saudis are used to getting their way.


Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Sep 15 2021 0:49 utc | 40

It might be something related to the Taliban. Saudi Arabia has supported them in the past.

Posted by: Edward | Sep 15 2021 1:14 utc | 41

James, I previously couldn't stand MBS but strangely he seems to be growing on me, lol!

There are certainly worse people around in our own midst as far as I'm concerned. Look at the way they smoked that Good Samaritan aid worker in Kabul, plus seven beautiful little children.

For what? It was nothing more than a completely random act of brutality, with zero information about this man. They just picked a guy out of a hat. That's how casually they take a human life.

And that has happened how many hundreds of times? Didn't Saint Obama have a kill list Tuesday every week?

Nothing gets me more than holier-than-thou hypocrisy. They all screamed to the heavens about one scumbag getting bonesawed. He had it coming anyway. A lifelong shit disturber deeply embedded up the CIA rectum.

But MBS hung tough, lol. I gotta admire the guy's chutzpah. Besides, Putin seems to be rather chummy with him. Reportedly he is a likeable guy! 😺

Posted by: Gordog | Sep 15 2021 1:39 utc | 42

I believe the fallout started on 14 Sept 2019 when Aramco facilities were hit. It was a perfect demonstration of Iranian ability & American disability. Saudis were sure that the US would attack Iran for it as they saw this a a giant red line. That did not happen and shattered their entire national security calculations.

Trump tried to make up for it by hitting Soleimani (one of many reasons) but the dye had already been cast. Not to mention that too showcased unprecedented Iranian ability both internally and externally.

The notion that the Iranian regime was unpopular and the Iranian missiles were duds were put to rest. The only thing they found was a dud was their relationship with the US.

Posted by: Afgun | Sep 15 2021 2:03 utc | 43

Well, obviously, it is the Saudi's treatment of women that is causing the disruption. We learned that when the US left Afghanistan, women are all-important to the US of A. (Just kidding. The people that allow women to have their faces broken by trans-dudes, and who defend men flashing their penises to 8 y.o girls don't actually care about women.)
I think that they are going to drop the petrodollar, in the move to a world-wide digital currency, which is being rolled out at the same time as the vaccine passport.
They want total control of the chattel, which involves keeping track of their human inventory, including all movement and purchases made.
This would also explain why they gave up the billion-dollar heroin trade in Afghanistan.
Can't have a drug trade without cash. To give up that kind of money must mean that they are seriously making their digital currency move.

Posted by: wagelaborer | Sep 15 2021 2:07 utc | 44

" The ‘great kingdom’, he tweeted, would not be dictated to, and would only conduct relations on the basis of ‘shared interests and mutual respect’."

Galloping megalomania. The Saudis suddenly started dreaming that they were the other, Jewish murder theocracy in the same geographic area.

Posted by: Piero Colombo | Sep 15 2021 2:38 utc | 45

Probably not coincidentally, the Israelis recently admonished the Biden administration not to hold Saudi Arabia and Egypt accountable for human rights abuses.

Posted by: John Lewis Dickerson | Sep 15 2021 2:58 utc | 46

This author sees two competing teams active in the US of A: the globalists and the nationalists:

Posted by: Antonym | Sep 15 2021 3:19 utc | 47

It is conceivable that the US expressed it's displeasure with MBS and "suggested" rethinking that choice, maybe going back to the previous prince-in-waiting who had been groomed by the CIA/State Dept (and thus Democrat party). It was Trump who loved MBS. But I doubt they would be so bold as that--they would more likely just back a palace coup. So that leaves things like:

...Quit funding the Taliban, ISIS, or other Wahabiis while the US is trying to extricate itself while simultaneously putting economic pressure on those places in an attempt to retain influence.

...Increase oil production to bring down US domestic fuel prices, which are starting to pinch and remind voters the Biden people don't seem to have any economic answers in the run-up to another election.

...Quit talking to the Russians about buying functioning air defense systems, and/or don't dare agree to let the Chinese start buying oil in Rnb.

...Agree to foot the bill for some as yet unknown new mischief the US and Israel are cooking up.

Posted by: J Swift | Sep 15 2021 4:02 utc | 48

@Poshpotdllr #41:

If the houthis are the legitimate government of yemen and saudi arabia failed in its ethnic cleansing attempt, that means the saudi royal family and its custodianship of mecca is illegitimate according to sharia law.

How so? Please explain.

Posted by: S | Sep 15 2021 4:42 utc | 49

It's another grain of sand before the avalanche, see the excellent article by Crooke:
Posted by: ak74 | Sep 14 2021 22:51 utc | 39

Who wrote:

"What Was Biden's Diktat The Saudis Are So Furious About?

Obviously, the Americans must have demanded that the Saudis clearly specify their preferred gender pronouns--he, she, or non-binary gender?!


Thanks AK74, we need a laugh.

I bumped into a group of Saudi's staying at the same hotel in SE Asia in 2018. We started talking and after they found out I was not an American [a common presumption] AND I was pro-Palestine they became visibly frightened of me in the following days.

I guess that comes with citizenship in a brutal theocratic dictatorship.

Posted by: Paul | Sep 15 2021 4:57 utc | 50


KSA already has an understanding with Iran
and with Iraq, The commercial and military
relations with China and Russia have grown by leaps and bounds,

Now we have rhetoric. This ship has sailed to Eurasia.
Iran is as of August promoted to full voting rights.

Now, US is putting together package of punishment.

First, 9/11, and opening doors for fleecing Saudi
Arabia in courts. Second, taking US out, opens doors
for Israel to do some real damage in the name of
Houthis. Third, Saudis cannot exit war. They must
get some level of control over South separatists,
backed by US/UAE/Israel. And to do that, they need
to cut through Houthi territory. At the moment it is
Mareb. Why? Put yourself in Saudi shoes.
How will Saudis export any of its oil if
US/UAE/Israel can bock Straights of Hormuz?

And if UAE/Israel/US take control of. Bab Al-Mandeb, what then? US already controls African side, now UAE (aline) is
already setting base on islands within straits. What then?

Block Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt from Asian trade,
block Asian trade from entering Red Sea, bankrupt
Suez Canal and Asian trade through Red Sea to Europe.

Much is as stake here!

And hopefully we can stop making neocon luves
easier by demonizing MBS. We are useful idiots,
we are not getting it — our darling MBN was ousted in
June 2017 by MBS. And we had a fit ever since.

Why? No more Saudi Money for any. “rebellions”
Islamic militancy, and regime undermiining,

Let us find out WHO payed ISIS-K in Afghanistan?

Ghani budget. All of them came from Syria, we took
out more valuable assets, left the rest of them to
Taliban mercies. This is why they hit airport.

Without Saudi money and Wahhabi support,
Islamic militancy has no future. Who will puck up
the tab next? Hope we can see through neocon games, and STOP helping them out!

Posted by: Bianca | Sep 15 2021 4:57 utc | 51

Both B & Bhadrakumar are a bit late with this hot topic:

"U.S. pulls missile defenses in Saudi Arabia amid Yemen attacks :
Next, Taiwan?
Posted by: Antonym | Sep 11 2021 9:28 utc | 172"

Posted by: Antonym | Sep 15 2021 5:03 utc | 52

Poshpotdllr #41:

[something that people with weak stomach or susceptibility to headaches after ingesting nonsense should skip]

Posted by: S | Sep 15 2021 4:42 utc | 51

It is not a defense of Poshpush to point to historical antecedents with incredibly stupid explanations. My favorite is the reasons used by Great Britain, France and Sardinia (et tu Sardinia) to attack Russia in Crimea in 1850-ties. It starts with the rights given by Ottomans to Russia to be a protector of Christian pilgrims to Palestine and through many leaps arrives at the conclusion that attacking Russia is necessary. At least Sardinia gained on this doomed enterprise because French felt some gratitude and help them to unite Italy several years later.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 15 2021 5:07 utc | 53

What else might it have been that would justify to cancel, on very short notice, a planned visit by a U.S. Secretary of Defense?

Such a move is unprecedented in its outright hostility. There must be a really big and current issue behind it.
And how can we explain why I did not even try to invite U.S. Secretary of Defense? Is it also hostile and unprecedented? Privately, I do not have any positive opinions about U.S. Secretaries of Defense, but I do not feel that hostile.

Moreover, the politics in Middle East is based on contrasts. Insult and make up, kiss and stab in the back etc.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 15 2021 5:19 utc | 54

It may be more than one thing

But high on my list would be pressure to open formal relations with Israel. Israel sees such relations as its only chance for a lasting peace while retaining its territorial gains.

Biden is likely working on the second leg of the Trump-Netanyahu "Deal of the Century". This 'deal' requires someone(s) to pay the Palestinians to leave.

When all is said and done, Israel will do everything it can to solidify and improve it's position: the Golan Heights, the West Bank, removal of most Palestinians, and (eventually) removal of Assad and Hezbollah.

<> <> <> <> <>

Also high on my list would be Saudi consent to use their extremist networks and oil power to help USA against Russia and China.

Only Israel and the struggle against Russia & China are important enough to risk a break in relations.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 15 2021 5:21 utc | 55

Or are there other issues I have not thought about?

Arata @ 18 hit one nail on its head "Saudi Arabia is to recognize Israel then accept Israel as a member of Arab League,. and Afgun @ 45, <= Israel has been working with Turkey and Saudi Arabia since 2018.. to gain control of the Middle East.. Russia has been monitoring so nutty is gone from Israel, Afghanistan is free , Yemen and Syria will prosper.

Hal Duell @ 23, "Mossad and Israeli involvement. Perhaps there's a sudden and urgent need to get that dialogue off the front pages, to send it firmly back down the memory hole? and AFgun @ 45, Aramco facility hit by the Yemeni <= I think Biden's release of the FBI report speaks to an about face on 9/11 re Saudi and Mossad. Informing the American public is just the beginning of the propaganda to be directed at those Mossad, Saudi, and Turkey bandits. Somehow Epstein, Khashoggi, Prince Andrew, Erdgodan, Covid 19, and retreat from Afghanistan and the murdered Iranian General Soleimani all fit into this picture.. I think its the same reason Trump was not allowed to continue his presidency, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey on the one side vs those refusing to allow an attack on Iran.. on the other side.

Posted by: snake | Sep 15 2021 5:24 utc | 56

This comes as USA-Iran JCPOA talks are coming to a head: it's clear that USA will concessions that he has demanded, mostly: adding missiles to the agreement, and a longer term.

I never had any hope for those talks but what happens once they actually terminate unsuccessfully?


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 15 2021 5:46 utc | 57

Glad to see b asking questions about KSA/ Us
It’s clear to me that the big difference is Trumps repartee with the kingdom is over.
Biden ain’t playing that game.
And I don’t think that’s actually good, when it comes down to stability with KSA.

Personally, I think Trump was effective in tamping down extremism coming from KSA projects.
Even though KSA is evil, Trump worked with them well.
The princes love their fundamental warriors.

Build more madras’!

Posted by: Cadence calls | Sep 15 2021 5:58 utc | 58

@18 "There are some speculative articles in Arabic and Farsi that demand frome Saudi Arabia is to recognize Israel then accept her as a member of Arab League, though there is no reference, and no reliable source."

Just to point out the obvious: if Israel is to join then they will have to change the name of that organization to something other than "The Arab League".

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Sep 15 2021 6:21 utc | 59

chu teh #25

I agree on the gold storage concept. It is clear that any nation that has its wealth and gold stored in any FUKUSA bank or vault is held hostage. First extract the bullion to home base, then disperse the banked reserves to accessible institutions. Second commence taking active steps to amend foreign policy objectives and multinational alliances.

cdvision #24 "They have changed sides."

Perhaps, but equally likely they have simply taken a direction that is outside of the US permitted range. They may have refused to accommodate a FUKUSA base close to Syria/Iraq/Jordan region. I gather FUKUSA is being squeezed by Jordan, Iraq and Saudis. Time will tell.

Silence on the Israel front too and I cannot interpret that beyond it being a new style.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Sep 15 2021 6:35 utc | 60

Probably just a P2P Biden Gang shakedown based on a chain-sawed, acid-bathed Ghost writer's memoirs about to be released in DC, unless, ... Is young Hunter still the brown paper bag man? Or is he still in cocaine-land 'rehab'?

Otherwise, if at the state level, then likely rising anxiety about diversifying assets held (trapped) in fast inflating $usd. At a stretch, possibly a choke hold on future sales to China as the US positions to start a China-Taiwan showdown and entree for WW3.

Posted by: imo | Sep 15 2021 6:45 utc | 61

- I would vote for "Biden wants Saudi Arabia to stop the war in Yemen".
- Or Saudi Arabia doesn't like that the US is getting serious about withdrawing troops from Iraq ? Or perhaps it's a combination of a few things. Or the US has intentions to start supporting Yemen ?

Posted by: Willy2 | Sep 15 2021 7:22 utc | 62

It could be a US demand that threatens the KSA elite at an existential level - modernise the country. Not least because every time the US war machine sets out its humanitarian imperatives for killing a further half million people, half the world points at KSA and complains that this major US ally is an even more barbarous nation.

Posted by: Finger8 | Sep 15 2021 7:42 utc | 63

Agree with Jackrabbit/57. Here's a possible scenario: Biden wants Israel to do something, perhaps a new Palestinian peace offer, perhaps help to manage Idlib's mercenaries. The price is normalisation of relations with KSA. Biden sets the stage for that discussion by reminding the princes who runs their defence industry by a timely withdrawal of assets, then pops the question intending to discuss it while Austin is in Saudi during the grand tour of gulf states. But this is a minefield for KSA and Mohammed bin Salman has been approaching it with the enthusiasm of someone barefoot looking at a corridor full of broken glass. It could finish him politically. To have his erstwhile strategic partner push him into that under threat of reducing support would be considered treacherous, insensitive, stupid meddling in KSA's business, and not something about which MBS would under any circumstances talk with Lloyd Austin or anyone else. But precisely because it is a sensitive issue, the outrage must leak out through other channels, e.g. weapons system purchases and SCO alignment.

Posted by: Loftwork | Sep 15 2021 9:00 utc | 64

Saudis might be angry at the US for delivering Afghanistan to Qatar. In 2000 it was Saudi Arabia that supported the Taliban. Now they rely on Qatar.

The Saudi-Qatar clash of 2017 is still not over.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Sep 15 2021 9:02 utc | 65

I’ll keep saying what I have for the last 5 years.

The Empire is Dead

Long live the new Empire!

As the Saudis (let’s face it they are only 10’s of thousands ) are displaced by their controllers , the rest of the proxies will follow. Including the fake Israeli settlers and their great plans to stay and extend the Saudi deserts and coastal tourist spots - which the Billionaires have as their main plan for the development of these lands. That requires the slicing up of SA - Mecca can’t be part of the new rivieras.

We all know Biden or any potus does not make ‘foreign policy’ decisions.

The same as the U.K. Parliament doesn’t as it goes for an Exceptionalism decision to cancel the Chinese Ambassadors address to it today.

It is obvious that as the crumbling Dominate Imperial era subsides over this generation , these the Empire used , deceived, flattered, enriched a few & enlisted to fight endless wars - these proxies, the proverbial ‘suckers born every day’, will be hung out to dry , as all such proxies and indeed dumb ‘patriots’ & ‘nationalists’ at ‘home’ have been through the repeating history of European Empire.

Posted by: D.G. | Sep 15 2021 10:26 utc | 66

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 15 2021 5:21 utc | 57

Who wrote:

"Only Israel and the struggle against Russia & China are important enough to risk a break in relations."

You have nailed it again Jackrabbit. Thank you for your clarity.

Posted by: Paul | Sep 15 2021 10:36 utc | 67

To expand my post above.

There has only been one set of winners through European history - these who gather ever more Wealth by controlling the controllers of such proxies.

How much difference was there in the fates of such peoples as the Nazi Germans or the Indo-China peoples? Every such proxy belligerent? Are you watching Ukraine, Hungary and Poland?

The manufactured enmity of lines drawn on maps by the retreating European Empires (which includes our very own 5+1 eyed version) that is the suppurating sore that is Africa, the MENA and the Subcontinent - which is notably tied to its subjugation by a common tongue from a corner of Europe.

China and Russia have resisted and survived and beaten the Imperium. The SCO has succeeded and enlarged. It has been obvious since the high water mark in the Mediterranean shown down in 2013 that nato and CentCom is futile. The end of the Great Game is here. Russian, Chinese, Central Asian AND African resources will revert to their own peoples.

There are only the backyards to ‘protect’ and ‘retreat to’.

The Saudis are just the first , the rest of the emirates will follow, the retreating Imperium will attempt to preserve some of the paradise ports for the ancient wealthy slavers with a 100 year lease - who will easily sell their partners and proxies to retain their ‘positions’ as they have done for ever.

Nuclear wars are an impossible threat - everyone and everything dies - so it is not on the agenda.
Boots on the ground require masses of poor canon fodder - not going to return without conscription in the west.

So any amount of Sea /Air Power is useless without actual ability to control what is targeted. Even more useless if it can be defeated easily by nextgen weapons.

Pointless out of date missile defences are best withdrawn so they retain some credibility at Arms Fairs and merchants.

Most of us may yet live long enough to see in the new world order in some of our lifetimes that is underway, certainly within a generation.

Posted by: D.G. | Sep 15 2021 11:50 utc | 68

İt is Israel! The USA wants Saudi Arabia to follow the UAE and Bahrain to make peace with Israel.
Soon Kuwait and Qatar will be put under similar pressure. Once all the gulf countries are in business with Israel then the USA can decrease it's financial support to Israel and Biden can assure his second term with the support of Jewish and Arab lobbies.
İn addition İran will be faced with a powerful local military and economical bloc and will only be able to propagate it's influence in Syria and Lebanon.
Turkey is waiting for that to restore its relation with Israel and turns it back to Russia.
İ think all this is wishful thinking.. but the USA gasdhien that it's motor is Wishful thinking!

Posted by: Virgile | Sep 15 2021 12:49 utc | 69

Perhaps the headchopper regime in Saudi Barbaria has finally just realised that the Amerikastani Empire will only use it for its own ends, and now that the future begins to look increasingly bleak for the repulsive royal reprobates in Riyadh, what with peak oil, climate change, the failure to unseat Assad, etc, it is looking for a new host to batten on? The zionazi pseudostate is far ahead in that already, now wooing Russia for all it's worth.

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Sep 15 2021 12:59 utc | 70

Apparently Russian president Putin is on good terms with Saudi Arabia's king could Biden be planning to give Saudi Arabia enough rope to hang itself, by in the future declaring it a terrorist harbouring state with no human rights, all of which are true, and eventually attack it.

Removing Saudi Arabia's long tentacles from around the globe from the USA to Pakistan via its madrasa's would open up a big niche that US proxy fighter could step into.

No alliances last forever that's for sure.

Posted by: Republicofscotland | Sep 15 2021 13:31 utc | 71


The US is making preparations to attack Iran due to the inability to force Iran to sign a revised JCOPA containing provisions not found in the original agreed JCOPA.

These preparations include either or both of:

1) US / Israeli demand to use Saudi airpsace enroute to Iran
2) A US demand for aircraft basing rights in Saudi to facilitate the attack and any subsequent ongoing conflict.

Saudi has refused these requests it quite reasonably views US action placing Saudi on the front lines of any conflcit.

The US response has been to state "If you are not with us then you are against us," and to withdraw the Patriot and other systems. The US is also likely to be declining to provide military spares and otehr supplies required to support the Saudi conflcit in Yemen.

Saudi response is to say "we have other partners," i.e. Russia.

Posted by: Sushi | Sep 15 2021 14:00 utc | 72

Or are there other issues I have not thought about

It is with virtual certainty about Saudi relations with Russia, not about changes in the crown prince (unless that was an attempt to attack the relations with Russia, not so likely), withdrawal of useless Patriot batteries, etc. Anyone with more than 3/4 of a brain cell can see that the US is a declining power and has no future in the Middle East. And anyone with more than 3/4 of a brain cell can see that Russia is the future, and Russia has the best and most effective defences.

Included in that is the role of the petrodollar - the Saudis know very well that the petrodollar cannot survive, it is only a question of when not if. China is the future market for oil not the US, and Saudi must relinquish the petrodollar to survive. Both Russia and China would have had vast strategic planning for dealing with all these issues, including the defence issues involved in Saudi and other countries dropping the petrodollar.

Therefore it is absolutely certain that Russia has been engaged - certainly for an extended period of time already, probably at least 4 years - in strategic diplomacy and strategic planning with Saudi to plan for the safest way to wean off the petrodollar and necessarily for the required air defences against the US. There are obviously very complex and interlinked strategic issues involved. Also closely involved also would be issues of buying treasury bills - whatever strategy Russia recommends may or may not involve ditching the buying of treasury bills (as opposed to slowly weaning off dollar oil sales as a whole, which itself involves reduction in buying of treasury bills), and if so when. My guess is that Saudi would continue to buy treasury bills from US dollar oil sales for quite a while yet; but if they did ditch treasury bill buying at this stage it would be especially dire for the US right now. In any event any significant increase in non-dollar oil sales would be life-threatening to the US dollar, so the triggering event might involve contracts for the sale of oil in Yuan (I am pretty sure Saudi has been making limited sales in Yuan for a few years already, but most oil sales to China are still in dollars). If Saudi agree to sell in Yuan all oil China wants to buy, that will massively increase the Saudi share of that market. Necessarily to the detriment of the petrodollar.

That is surely what this is all about.

In addition, Saudi would HAVE TO buy Russian air defences, especially S-400 or later. Probably in quite large numbers.

We can already see several hints of this. For example,

coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki said that the tactical withdrawal of the United States troop and Air Defence units in the Arab Gulf region will “not affect Saudi,” adding that there is a strong understanding between the kingdom and its allies and partners in the region and that the country is capable to defend itself.

- that necessarily means well advanced plans for purchase of Russian air defences, which unlike the US bullshit Patriot batteries are highly effective.


The young royal, who is close to Crown Prince Muhammad Bin-Salman, went on to contrast the cancellation of Austin’s visit with the very warm reception the kingdom accorded to Leonid Slutsky, head of the Russian Duma’s international affairs committee.

Any putative diktat from Biden would either relate directly to the petrodollar commitment or to Russian air defences or both (in my view the above suggests especially the latter); but in any event it comes down ultimately to sales of oil to China in Yuan.

Another closely related possibility (but in my view far less likely to be the crux of this incident) might involve an agreement with Russia concerning the staged phase-out of dollar sales. It still comes ultimately back to the same issues though.

Posted by: BM | Sep 15 2021 14:02 utc | 73

@BM | Sep 15 2021 14:02 utc | 75

You make a lot of sense. This sounds plausible to me, and it fits the requirement for "a really big and current issue".

Posted by: Norwegian | Sep 15 2021 14:26 utc | 74

There are some speculative articles in Arabic and Farsi that demand frome Saudi Arabia is to recognize Israel then accept her as a member of Arab League, though there is no reference, and no reliable source.
Posted by: Arata | Sep 14 2021 19:51 utc | 18

Ha ha ha, what a joke! Quite plausible in an obscene kind of way, very American. Maybe it was intended as an insult?

If it were the case, though, I assert that it would just be superficial to the real issues I posted above.

Posted by: BM | Sep 15 2021 14:31 utc | 75


"The American Empire is shrinking. To which frontiers, we still don't know. Until the new frontiers are stabilized, we should expect these borderland provinces to continue to plead for support from the metropolis."

I shudder to contemplate what awaits all those poor souls in Central and South America when the contours of the emerging world order become plainly apparent. The US will project its might only in the western hemisphere and will do so with cruelty and finality. This, to me, seems the most plausible future history.

Posted by: vinnieoh | Sep 15 2021 15:26 utc | 76

Excellent commentary by BM!

People need to get their head around the very real fact that the global order is changing very dramatically. It is shifting EAST!

The old structures and dynamics that everyone is used to are out the window at this point.

West Asia, the so-called Middle East, is naturally turning in the direction of the shifting wind. The US has been defeated in Syria. It is still clinging to some presence there and in Iraq [three US Syrian bases in Kurdistan have been evacuated], but that is only a matter of time.

As for BM's comments about the Petrodollar and Saudia, I am reminded of Karlof's mantra that China and Russia's plan is to let the US down easy, in order to avoid massive disruptions.

China is the biggest holder of US T-bills. It is also the biggest supplier of manufactured products to the US. Were China to demand, tomorrow, payment in yuan instead of dollars, the US would simply crash. Nobody wants that, since it would bring about a desperation that could lead to a world war.

Not even the few remaining sane folks in the US. Just the other day, Gen John Hyten, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs, in an address to the delusional Brookings stink-tank, made this point crystal clear.

"We never fought the Soviet Union," he said. "As for the great powers, our goal is to never go to war with China and Russia."

According to Hyten, such an event would "destroy the world and the global economy. It will be bad for everyone, and we have to ensure that we do not go down that path."

The US is in a difficult position now because it has been living easy off a Ponzi Scheme enabled by its domination of the global economy in the postwar years, and then the petrodollar in the more recent era.

That is no longer sustainable. The partners in that scheme, like the Saudi Kingdom, would like to get out from under this house of cards before it finally collapses in on itself.

I mentioned already in my #13 above that the Kingdom is likely to be granted dialog partner status in the SCO in the upcoming Dushanbe summit. The SCO already represents 45 percent of the world population and 23 percent of its landmass. This grouping by far outstrips the anachronistic G7 in its economic footprint.

Plus a raft of countries are lined up to join, including Israel, UAE and more than a dozen others.

Posted by: Gordog | Sep 15 2021 15:43 utc | 77

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

This is Putin putting MBS in the 'closer' position

Cost to Russia? Nothing. Putin gains influence over oil prices, becomes a buffer all rely on for peace - via SCO.

Putin's friends, especially China, the BRI, gain.

Of course the US threatened them over this!!

The EMPIRE has bark but Afghanistan shows it has no bite - IF you share the circle with Putin and Xi

Posted by: Les7 | Sep 15 2021 15:46 utc | 78

BM @ 75

Yes. Another problem with the USD as the reserve currency is the US policy of weaponizing it by using it with various sanctions. Also US Treasuries are losing their use as stores of value as they are backing so many worthless financial products.

Posted by: financial matters | Sep 15 2021 15:54 utc | 79

just some guesses:

1. very low oil prices due to the recent glut
2. the US has to deal with iran in a non-bomby way whether they or the saudis like it or not
3. maybe losses are being cut vis a vis syria and yemen?
4. it's hard to toe the "woke" line and maintain relations with cavemen wearing rolexes. the "optics" don't quite work.

plus MbS being a PoS. they're still cozy with the israelis and if anything was going to come from the 9/11 "revelations" we already knew about then we'd see prince bandar getting off a plane in shackles. they still have their ill-gotten gains invested in various US/western dumbness such as houses they don't live in and money pits like uber. they've always been drama queens who flip out at the most banal slight so i doubt this will last.

Posted by: the pair | Sep 15 2021 15:55 utc | 80

February 24, 2014
By L. Randall Wray

“I have no doubt that China would eventually be in a position where floating (her currency) would not only be desired, but it would be necessary.China will probably float long before it reaches such a position. China will become too wealthy, too developed, to avoid floating. She will stop net accumulating foreign currency reserves, and will probably begin to run current account deficits. She will gradually relax capital controls. She might never go full-bore Western-style “free market” but she will find it to her advantage to float in order to preserve domestic policy space.
If she did not, she could look forward to a quasi-colonial status, subordinate to the reserve currency issuer. China will not do that.”

Posted by: financial matters | Sep 15 2021 15:59 utc | 81

@ Gordog | Sep 15 2021 1:39 utc | 42... thanks... you force me to think this out more fully, lol! i think a lot of my hostility to the clown prince has to do with what a backward country ksa is... this isn't just the fault of there stone age ideology which they continue to practice, even if mbs is a perfect example of it... and for the record i am for others figuring out stuff for themselves.. as for obama - drones and all the hypocrisy - yes, i agree with you on all that... there is no country more hypocritical then the usa and obama's drone program is a perfect example of it.. the murder of kashoggi - cia rep as you note still ain't pretty... chopping off body parts is not something i would consider all that new age, not that i am just into new age! drone killings are probably not much better, or only when they are immediate... the whole concept of compassion is truly missing in both the usa foreign policy and ksa ideology... on that level - they are equal... the techniques are old verses new and a combo of both... all of it makes me sick... bottom line - you have a point about pillorying mbs but not obama... that doesn't make sense to me either... thanks for your ongoing comments!

Posted by: james | Sep 15 2021 16:00 utc | 82

@Posted by: vinnieoh | Sep 15 2021 15:26 utc | 76

Yep, a very logical outcome with the greatest terrorist nation holed up in "its" hemisphere. I do wonder though, as the comprador elites of South America may turn out to be extremely mercenary, especially given the advanced level of rot within the US itself. A successful China may be a much more appealing master than a crumbling and declining US. The future of Brazil will be a big tell, if Lula is allowed to become President and the elites allow him to deal much more with China, then things in SA could be changing.

Of course, the US would not take such changes well, and the Chinese will be careful about enraging the injured terrorist dog.

Posted by: Roger | Sep 15 2021 16:08 utc | 83

These clowns are 11th Century barbarians with 21st Century weapons.
They need to get back to around 1 million people, get on a camel, and start trading again.

Posted by: Duncan Idaho | Sep 15 2021 16:18 utc | 84

Saudi Arabia has always been the target of Israel next up after Iran. Whether Iran is attacked or makes a deal, the very next thing that will happen is Israel launching demands that the US regime change Saudi Arabia. It is not an if, only a when. And when is fast approaching no matter what happens with Iran, a problem that one way or another is now ripe for resolution.

Posted by: Mark Thomason | Sep 15 2021 16:19 utc | 85

See an interesting news from

"TEL AVIV: Saudi Arabia has reached out to Jerusalem about the possibility of procuring Israeli-made missile defense systems, at a time when the American systems the Kingdom has for so long relied upon have been removed, Breaking Defense has learned. "

Posted by: arata | Sep 15 2021 16:26 utc | 86

@ financial matters | Sep 15 2021 15:59 utc | 81 with the fixed versus float exchange rate quote from L. Randall Wray

Thanks for that

My current thought is that China will facilitate a floating alternative to the dollar that has a bunch of other countries hooked to it from the get go....that is the empire slayer we are waiting for....will it appear out of the coming SCO meeting?

The new finance order will not just have nations currency's but FOOD (as another barfly has made quite clear) and other natural resources as part of the breadbasket that makes up the "money" float....and energy will be part of the mix but not like now fixed to oil.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Sep 15 2021 16:27 utc | 87

There's another possibility.

Several years ago the U.S. stated that it was pivoting out of the M.E. and toward Asia.

Note that Biden isn't all that chummy with Israel. His and B. Obama's relations with Netanyahu were very poor, and Israel's politics hasn't changed much since Netanyahu's departure. I don't think the break with the Saudi's has anything to do with U.S. support for Israel.

I think, as many other commenters have noted already, that the wheels of geopolitics are turning, old alliances are ending, and new ones just beginning.

If, as many of us have commented, the U.S. has big issues to attend to at home, it might be time to attend to those issues.

On the domestic front here in the U.S. it is very apparent to me that there is no interest whatever in new wars.

I think the U.S. is turning inward, and I think that is the right decision.

Posted by: Tom Pfotzer | Sep 15 2021 16:27 utc | 88

Arhhh they need not worry!
The just need to ask the Russians: S400, S500, Iskander or even that big MTF Saitan. The might even get a packet of kaviar too just thrown in :)
American weapons are useless, trust me, I had to use their crap for many years, completely useless.
So the Saudis will get by, I think....

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Sep 15 2021 16:29 utc | 89

my impression has been that israel has long been just fine with the Sauds, they wouldn't want a regime change. so i don't think this is driven by israel, seems the saudis playing footsy with russia is more likely the point of contention.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Sep 15 2021 16:45 utc | 90

Les, Nr.7
Honestly I dont think V.Putin cares much!
The Americans have been sound asleep for the last 10 years, They were fully asleep when the Russians made a move...
Wake me when the Usaskies have got an Iskander or a Saitan,
Will not happen for another 5 years. :)
So the good ol' Ruskies put a lid on Amurican war aggression.

Posted by: DenLille Abe | Sep 15 2021 16:54 utc | 91

Gordog @77 & et al--

The currency issue is further along than many know as this brief SCO news item reveals:

"On 2 August 2021, SCO experts met for a second time to discuss the draft roadmap of the SCO member states for increasing the share of national currencies in mutual settlements (hereinafter the Roadmap).

"The National Bank of the Republic of Kazakhstan chaired the meeting attended by representatives of national (central) banks, relevant ministries and also agencies from the SCO countries.

"During the event, the participants discussed further measures to implement the initiative to develop mutual payments in national currencies and agree on the draft Roadmap. They also updated the group of experts that will continue working on the draft document. Work at the expert level will continue."

Do note the SCO has discussed and worked on this issue for three years now. Due to its complexity, I don't see anything major happening at this time aside from a pledge to increase the usage of national currencies to facilitate commerce. Getting a recognized Afghan government to participate would help given its traffic circle geographic position. IMO, I don't see the big move occurring until Afghanistan becomes a full member, which would be 2022 at earliest.

Furthermore, there's no news about additional applications for membership coming from SCO; so, all the chatter about this or that nation becoming a member of some sort is just chatter. I'd expect Belarus's status to be upgraded from Observer to full member along with Iran. These are the current "dialogue partners, namely the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, the Republic of Turkey, and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka."

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 15 2021 17:35 utc | 92

It's two things.

The Abraham accords. The US is demanding KSA sign up, throw the Palestinians under the bus and accept Israel as their masters. The other is China which KSA does far more trade with than the US these days and the US wants them to knock it off.

Posted by: BraveNewWorld | Sep 15 2021 17:48 utc | 93

The Saudis see the US as their bodyguard. An expensive bodyguard, but a very good one, the best. And nobody accepts that their bodyguard puts on airs and begins to tell them what to do. You tell your bodyguard what to do, not the other way round.

Posted by: Passerby | Sep 15 2021 17:51 utc | 94


>"Note that Biden isn't all that chummy with Israel. His and B. Obama's relations with Netanyahu were very poor, "

Obama and Netanyahu didn't see eye to eye. Biden did every thing he could to undermine Obama when it came to Israel. Biden knows the Israelis are full of sh.., but has always wanted to be seen as the saviour of Israel so has plugged his nose and done their bidding every chance he got.

Posted by: BraveNewWorld | Sep 15 2021 17:54 utc | 95

@Lysander: Nice to see you, here. I have noted with some sadness that you are no longer gracing the SST blog. Once-upon-a-time, that was a forum where old-school US/NATO intel personnel could freely share their experiences and insights. Clearly, that is no longer the case. I would honestly like to hear why you, personally, think that SST has transformed into the obvious CIA/NSA propaganda outlet it has become, today.

@b: I'd suggest that Pakistan is the key component in your consideration. While it has often been said that the Saudis "finance" Pakistan, the truth is that the Pakistanis police Arabia, and serve as its front-line officer corps. Pakistani officers are hired mercenaries, and while the US/uk has always presumed that Pakistan conforms to UK/us requirements, the current PM of Pakistan has undertaken a rather large movement away from the US/uk towards the SCO.

One could say this is a case of the tail wagging the dog, except that the Saudis are obviously a bunch of cowards, utterly incapable of leading the wars their "nobles" believe must be enforced. So it's rather more a case of the mercenaries--as during the Turkish era--taking control of the payment mechanisms and telling their so-called "leaders" that from now on, the mercs shall be calling the shots.

My take on all of this is that Pakistan is asserting its power, and telling the US to walk itself the f--k off. From now on, Russia, Iran, and China will be Pakistan's partners.

With Iran being the keystone: all of Central Asia was historically known as "Greater Iran." Both China and Russia have been frightened at the prospect of bringing Iran in because, historically, Persia has been hostile towards both China and Russia.

The f/uk/US/germs have successfully managed to unite those three powers in a defensive pact against NATO and its hanger-ons (Africom, Southcom, etc).

Posted by: Pacifica Advocate | Sep 15 2021 17:57 utc | 96

Lets look at the geopolitical calendar:

  • JCPOA talks likely to end soon (unsuccessfully)
  • NordStream2 deliveries begin this winter?
  • Turmoil in Lebanon comes to a head (Civil War?) - I'd guess within a year
  • Death of Queen Elizabeth by 2025
  • Death of King Salman by 2025
  • Trump (or Trump-supported candidate) becomes President in 2025
  • More pandemic variants coming

Please feel free to add to this list.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 15 2021 18:13 utc | 97

Karlof, I don't see why you feel a need to 'correct' my comments about the SCO.

The facts about which countries have applied to the SCO are easily found [for instance wikipedia] and are not 'chatter.'

For the record: Observer states right now are Iran, Belarus, Afghanistan and Mongolia. It has already been widely reported that Vladimir Putin himself phoned the new Iranian PM to let him know that the decision to admit Iran as a full member has been made, which requires a consensus among all full members. This is expected to be formalized in Dushanbe.

In addition to the observer members there are the dialog partner members which consist of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

In addition to that, countries that have already APPLIED for either observer status or dialog partner are Bangladesh, East Timor, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Maldives, Ukraine, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which is the topic of this discussion.

And since I am on the topic, I will add that Global Times has no less than three articles up today about the SCO.

Twenty years after its founding, the SCO has successfully ensured that Central Asia did not become another Middle East like some Western scholars predicted...SCO has played a significant role in boosting the region's security and economic development.

Other comments note that Afghanistan's observer status needs to be confirmed due to the change of government. This will depend on the members recognizing the Talib regime. I'm not sure how likely this is or isn't, but certainly the Afghanistan issue will be front and center in the Dushanbe discussions.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Dushanbe expected to focus on Afghanistan issue

SCO in unique position to address Afghan issue despite different concerns

Latest Afghan situation, US hegemony call for SCO's new role

Posted by: Gordog | Sep 15 2021 18:18 utc | 98

Maybe General Austin was denied a meeting with MBS because of the threats of a lawfare attack on KSA? Russia, China, SCO, and BRI could offer both security and economic prosperity. The Empire of Chaos has nothing. It can any longer provide to SA defense or economic security. Maybe MBS was made aware of US intentions to unleash civil suits, sanctions and a freeze and seize of all SA assets. The US would make the claim that SA was responsible for 9/11 and the attacks were planned and approved at highest level of the Kingdom. How much would the US ask for damages: tens of billions? hundreds of billions? a couple of trillion maybe?

Posted by: Michael Crockett | Sep 15 2021 18:18 utc | 99

Tom Pfotzer @Sep15 16:27 #88
BraveNewWorld @Sep15 17:54 #95

IMO the Obama-Netanyahu tiff was bullshit distancing.

Obama did things that benefited Israel at the cost of his own credibility. Especially Syria and allowing ISIS to rise. If you disagree, please explain how overthrowing Assad and stoking Muslim extremism benefits USA.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 15 2021 18:20 utc | 100

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