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Parry writes: "Saudi Arabia likes to distinguish itself from the head-choppers of the Islamic State but the recent mass executions, including decapitating a top Shiite dissident, reveals the Saudi royals to be just better-dressed jihadists, while creating an opening for a U.S. realignment in the Mideast."

President Barack Obama, right, meets with King Salman of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House, on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Washington D.C. (photo: AP)
President Barack Obama, right, meets with King Salman of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House, on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Washington D.C. (photo: AP)

Saudi Game-Changing Head-Chopping

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

06 January 16


Saudi Arabia likes to distinguish itself from the head-choppers of the Islamic State but the recent mass executions, including decapitating a top Shiite dissident, reveals the Saudi royals to be just better-dressed jihadists, while creating an opening for a U.S. realignment in the Mideast, says Robert Parry.

or generations, U.S. officials have averted their eyes from Saudi Arabia’s grotesque monarchy – which oppresses women, spreads jihadism and slaughters dissidents – in a crude trade-off of Saudi oil for American weapons and U.S. security guarantees. It is a deal with the devil that may finally be coming due.

The increasingly undeniable reality is that the Saudis along with other oil sheikhs are the biggest backers of Al Qaeda and various terrorist groups – helping these killers as long as they spread their mayhem in other countries and not bother the spoiled playboys of the Persian Gulf.

President George W. Bush – and then President Barack Obama – may have suppressed the 28 pages of the congressional 9/11 report describing Saudi support for Al Qaeda and its hijackers but the cat is thoroughly out of the bag. Mealy-mouthed comments from the State Department spokesmen can no longer hide the grim truth that U.S. “allies” are really civilization’s enemies.

The big question that remains, however, is: Will Official Washington’s dominant neocon/liberal-interventionist claque continue to protect the Saudis who have built a regional alliance of convenience with Israel over their shared hatred of Iran?

Inside Official Washington’s bubble – where the neocons and liberal hawks hold sway – there is a determination to make the “designated villains,” the Iranians, the Syrian government, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Russians. This list of “villains” matches up quite well with Israeli and Saudi interests and thus endless demonization of these “villains” remains the order of the day.

But the Saudis – and indeed the Israelis – are showing what they’re really made of. Israel has removed its humanistic mask as it ruthlessly suppresses Palestinians and mounts periodic “grass mowing” operations, using high-tech munitions to slaughter thousands of nearly defenseless people in Gaza and the West Bank while no longer even pretending to want a peaceful resolution of the long-simmering conflict. Israel’s choice now seems to be apartheid or genocide.

Meanwhile, the Saudis – though long-hailed in Official Washington as “moderates” – are showing what a farcical description that has always been as the royals now supply U.S.-made TOW missiles and other sophisticated weapons to Sunni jihadists in Syria, fighting alongside Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

Using advanced U.S.-supplied warplanes, the Saudis also have been pulverizing poverty-stricken Yemen after exaggerating the level of Iranian support to the Houthis, who have been fighting both a Saudi-backed regime and Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate. Amid the Saudi-inflicted humanitarian crisis, Al Qaeda’s forces have expanded their territory.

And, at the start of the New Year, the Saudi monarchy butchered 47 prisoners, including prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr for his offense of criticizing the royals, or as the Saudis like to say – without a touch of irony – supporting “terrorism.” By chopping off Nimr’s head – as well as shooting and decapitating the others – the Saudis demonstrated that there is very little qualitative difference between them and the head-choppers of the Islamic State.

The Usual Suspects

Yes, the usual suspects in Official Washington have sought to muddle the blood-soaked picture by condemning angry Iranian protesters for ransacking the Saudi embassy in Tehran before the government security forces intervened. And there will surely be an escalation of condemnations of anyone who suggests normalizing relations with Iran.

But the issue for the neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks is whether they can continue to spin obviously false narratives about the nobility of these Middle East “allies,” including Israel. Is there a limit to what they can put over on the American people? At some point, will they risk losing whatever shreds of credibility that they still have? Or perhaps the calculation will be that public credibility is irrelevant, power and control are everything.

A similar choice must be made by politicians, including those running for the White House.

Some Republican candidates, most notably Sen. Marco Rubio, have gone all-in with the neocons, hoping to secure largesse from casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson and other staunch supporters of Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On the other hand, real-estate magnate Donald Trump has distanced himself from neocon orthodoxy, even welcoming Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict to fight the Islamic State, heresy in Official Washington.

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the most closely associated with the neocons and the liberal hawks – and she has dug in on the issue of their beloved “regime change” strategy, which she insists must be applied to Syria.

She appears to have learned nothing from her misguided support for the Iraq War, nor from her participation in overthrowing Muammar Gaddafi’s secular regime in Libya, both of which created vacuums that the Islamic State and other extremists filled. (British special forces are being deployed to Libya as part of an offensive to reclaim Libyan oil fields from the Islamic State.)

A Sanders Opportunity

The Saudi decision to chop off Sheikh Nimr’s head and slaughter 46 other people in one mass execution also puts Sen. Bernie Sanders on the spot over his glib call for the Saudis “to get their hands dirty” and intervene militarily across the region.

That may have been a clever talking point, calling on the rich Saudis to put some skin in the game, but it missed the point that – even before the Nimr execution – the Saudis’ hands were very dirty, indeed covered in blood.

For Sanders to see the Saudis as part of the solution to the Mideast chaos ignores the reality that they are a big part of the problem. Not only has Saudi Arabia funded the extreme, fundamentalist Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam – building mosques and schools around the Muslim world – but Al Qaeda and many other jihadist groups are, in essence, Saudi paramilitary forces dispatched to undermine governments on Riyadh’s hit list.

That has been the case since the 1980s when the Saudis – along with the Reagan administration – invested billions of dollars in support of the brutal mujahedeen in Afghanistan with the goal of overthrowing a secular, Soviet-backed government in Kabul.

Though the “regime change” worked – the secular leader Najibullah was castrated and his body hung from a light pole in Kabul – the eventual outcome was the emergence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, led by a Saudi scion, Osama bin Laden.

Though Sanders has resisted articulating a detailed foreign policy – instead seeking to turn questions back to his preferred topic of income inequality – the latest Saudi barbarism gives him a new chance to distinguish himself from front-runner Clinton. He could show courage and call for a realignment based on reality, not propaganda.

President Obama, too, has a final chance to refashion the outdated and counter-productive U.S. alliances in the Middle East. At least he could rebalance them to allow a pragmatic relationship with Iran and Russia to stabilize Syria and neutralize the Saudi-backed jihadists.

Standing Up, Not Bowing Down

Instead of being supplicants to Saudi riches and oil, the West could apply stern measures against the Saudi royals to compel their acquiescence to a real anti-terrorist coalition. If they don’t comply immediately, their assets could be frozen and seized; they could be barred from foreign travel; they could be isolated until they agreed to behave in a civilized manner, including setting aside ancient animosities between Sunni and Shiite Islam.

It seems the European public is beginning to move in this direction, in part, because the Saudi-led destabilization of Syria has dumped millions of desperate refugees on the European Union’s doorstep. If a new course isn’t taken, the E.U. itself might split apart.

But the power of the neocon/liberal-hawk establishment in Official Washington remains strong and has prevented the American people from achieving anything close to a full understanding of what is going on in the Middle East.

The ultimate barrier to an informed U.S. public may also be the enormous power of the Israel Lobby, which operates what amounts to a blacklist against anyone who dares criticize Israeli behavior and harbors hopes of ever holding a confirmable government position or – for that matter – a prominent job in the mainstream media.

It would be a test of true political courage and patriotism for some major politician or prominent pundit to finally take on these intimidating forces. That likely won’t happen, but Saudi Arabia’s latest head-choppings have created the possibility, finally, for a game-changing realignment.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here. your social media marketing partner


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+65 # Radscal 2016-01-06 19:09
Spot on, Mr. Parry.

And yes, this current mass-slaughter by the Royal Family Saud, would be the perfect time for Bernie to walk back his call for even more violence from these fanatics.

Along with the human rights disaster they're carrying out in Yemen, and the no longer so well hidden role they play in al Qaeda, ISIL and 9/11, the scale should have tipped for anyone with progressive values. Saudi Arabia is an enemy.
+45 # dbrize 2016-01-06 19:53
I sometimes wonder if the neoliberals and neoconservative s haven’t devised the whole “Obama is soft on terror” meme to provide him cover for the incredible expansion of the GWOT he has overseen.

There is no credible reason that US policy should support the Wahhabi loving tribal descendants of the House of Saud while creating an enemy of the region’s most historically cultured, intelligent nation, Iran.

Even today with all the phony CIA/Mossad conjured hate campaign in full force, in Iran Jews and Christians are free to worship and are protected by fatwa. Some work in low level government jobs. It’s not a picnic but try that in the House of Saud.

Obama ought to suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia yesterday and as David Stockman has noted, within six months the crown prince and relatives would be on their jets to relocation spots around the globe. And the US and rest of the world would be the better for it.
+23 # indian weaver 2016-01-06 20:57
Here is the article's line that is most relevant to me:

"Or perhaps the calculation will be that public credibility is irrelevant, power and control are everything."

That sounds fairly intractable to me. I believe it.
+12 # nice2bgreat 2016-01-06 22:36
Better get those inspectors in there and make sure those weapons have been destroyed.

We know they have them because we sold them to 'em.

Either they're with us or agin us.
+10 # C.H.Winslow 2016-01-06 23:51
It was also intractable during the later half of the 7th century CE. Uthman ibn al-Affan, the third Caliph, was of the rival clan to that of Muhammad, viz., the Banu Ummayah versus the Banu Hashim. He and his secretary, Marwan, did much of the gathering of writings and memorized quotes of the beautiful verses that comprise the Koran. Muhammad's enemy, while in Mecca, was none other than Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Banu Umayyah and father of the man who fought Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad's cousin and bosom companion (both in child and adulthood). This man, Mu'awiyah ibn Sufyan eventually was able to establish the Muslim Caliphate in Damascus and allow his son to inherit, quite contrary to Arabian practice, viz., Samuel's complaint about King Saul of the ancient Hebrews. Under this son, Yazid, the Imam Husayn (Ali's son) was martyred at Karbela. Old Marwan, Uthman's secretary, took over in Damascus, and it was his son, Abd al-Malik who killed off the last of the companions of the Prophet in Mecca, finalized the Koranic codex and consecrated Sunnism. So it was that the family of the enemy of Muhammad put its final stamp on political Islam, the orthodox pattern that is followed by 85% of today's Muslims. The Umayyad Caliphs were kings as are those of the House of Saud. Would Muslims rather be ruled by kings and sultans or clerics? Probably neither!
+7 # 2016-01-07 09:01
Thank you for this. We can learn a lot from history. Sadly we seldom bother.
+1 # C.H.Winslow 2016-01-08 13:16
Thank you for this. We can learn a lot from history. Sadly we seldom bother.

Thank you, Kando, I appreciate your comment. People pay most attention to the recent, but that will not work for the Middle East. Not that the conflict is about Ali and Mu'awiyyah; just that that war in the past provides an automatic base of support for current politicians to stand on in defending their power and ginning up the public for supporting whatever means they use to keep it.
+25 # janie1893 2016-01-07 01:01
President Obama does not have the power needed to put the Saudis and Netenyahu where they belong. There is too much money opposing him.
-19 # MidwestTom 2016-01-07 07:45
Remember that a Saudi Prince reportedly paid for Obama's rise from a 'C' student at Occidental College to Harvard, and beyond.

You do not bite the hand that feeds you.
+19 # bmiluski 2016-01-07 09:43
Oh for the love of God people absolutely amaze me. You spew garbage like that around but forget to mention that a cousin of Osama Bin Laden invested inn one of gwbush's failed oil companies. Why do you think ol Georgie walked hand in hand over the WH lawn with a Saudi prince.
We have an ACTUAL photo of that incident. What proof do you have?
+8 # bmiluski 2016-01-07 09:40
Thank you Janie...people seem to forget that the oil western oil cartel is hand in hand (Remember GWBush holding hands with Saudi Prince on the WH lawn.)with OPEC.
President Obama can only do so much against the likes of the Bushies, Kochies, etc. and their hold of the stock market.
That's why I have to smile every time I hear how Bernie will "change things". His hands will be tied just as tightly by the same cartels.
+18 # Farafalla 2016-01-07 01:27
The latest Iran-Saudi amplification of conflict means that Bernie is going to have to rethink his approach to the Middle East. I'm a huge Bernie supporter.

Long ago, Gen. Colin Powell (then Sec of State) said (as we moved on Afghanistan) that Iran was "arguably a democracy." It remains heresy to say that, but when compared to Saudi Arabia, Iran really does seem more democratic. As usual, our "friends" are despots and tyrants.
+14 # elkingo 2016-01-07 02:16
Great. We sell weapons to the Saudis who supply them to Al Qaeda to use on us. Nobody sees the Alice in Wonderland quality of this.
The Saudi regime is barbarous, and should be toppled as of yesterday. World socialism would accomplish that.
+4 # rhgreen 2016-01-07 07:42
Sure it would. But who is going to bell the cat?
+12 # bonehead3 2016-01-07 03:00
The absurd horror of the house of Saud could be the tipping point with the New Year's barbaric executions a catalyst for international condemnation! The President has a free hand now to speak up, criticize and condemn! The U.N. has not soundly condemned the Saudis for their inhumanity but condemn the Iranians for not securing the KSA consulate from the angry mobs! The whole, well-informed world knows of the neoliberal interventionist plans and the players that are sowing death and destruction! Will any true leader actually stand up and proclaim the truth? Even the last hopeful inspiring American candidate for President, Sen. Sanders, proclaims this "war on terror" needs to be fought continuously! When will someone say: If USA stops supporting the corrupted governments of the Middle East, that we already support, then the "holy war" will not be directed at the west! C'mon now! Beheadings, bombing sorties, forced displacement, home destructions of families related to "terrorists" are all hallmarks of dictators, fascists and their brainwashed masses!
+6 # Kootenay Coyote 2016-01-07 10:45
"The President has a free hand now to speak up, criticize and condemn!"

Right; yet a tiny bit difficult to take a superior moral stance in a nation where white cops fearlessly gun down black kids, no?
+14 # Shades of gray matter 2016-01-07 03:13
"Will Somebody please stand up?" I know of nothing preventing Americans from publicly protesting the beheadings, etc.
Wait. Americans are, like, too busy, like, sending out selfies to take a principled stand, the way Americans did in the sixties. Stand at intersections with signs, friends. Coordinate. Organize. Contribute. Or, just whine.
+7 # DrD 2016-01-07 06:54
We can at least speak up by signing this petition by Just Foreign Policy calling on Obama to condemn the Saudi action
-35 # ben Noweizer 2016-01-07 05:55
Parry lives on some fistful of dollars paid under a table! obviously Robert can go on reciting claptrap all day long with “Radscal “ standing by to give him his first thumb up no matter how distorted the reporting is !
Robert you should be ashamed of yourself deluding readers intentionally to make a living, I guess the Saudi Arabian judiciary system sentence some people as you describe “chop” heads to clean humanity from terrorist whether armed with weapons or rented their pen on their behalf like you.
+6 # Radscal 2016-01-07 14:31
The marriage of Wahhabism and Zionism is a fascinating spectacle.

Thanks for defending Islamic fanaticism for all to see. Now go collect your shekels.
+8 # 2016-01-07 08:45
Forget politics and ideology for a moment. As the then Saudi oil minister himself said in a 2000 interview, the oil era is about to end, and, like “the stone age did not end due to lack of stones”, neither will the oil age end due to lack of oil, much of which won’t be able to be sold. With crude oil prices tanking, it now seems the good sheik was onto something. Cool-headed, thoughtful people of different stripes seem to think so as well. For example:

Supporting the Saudi monarchs with weapons in return for access to their oil has always been a bad bargain. Now that excuse is evaporating. What an opportunity to reconsider this unholy alliance on grounds that it is simply, at all levels, a lousy investment!
+1 # lfeuille 2016-01-07 17:30
I don't think it is just about oil any longer. Saudi oil is just a small percentage of what we use today. We could easily make it up by reversing the just enacted lifting of the export ban. I think it has more to do with the fact that the political establishment is not ready for a rift with AIPAC and Israel.
+9 # Robbee 2016-01-07 09:48
except in a case of self-defense, no state has an excuse for taking a life - at its rotten core, lethal injection is no better than head-chopping - all states need to just say "no" to their practice of execution
-4 # wrknight 2016-01-07 09:51
Given our ability to extract shale oil and the vast reserves that we have, it would seem an opportune time to tell the Saudis to "shove it (you know where)"!

At the same time, we could be working harder on developing fusion and other energy alternatives. That oil won't last forever.
+7 # Buddha 2016-01-07 10:08
No. Fracking is like saying you'll change to opium to kick your heroin addiction. Massive investments in dispersed alternatives like solar are the appropriate bridge to high-energy nodal alternatives like fusion. We have millions of miles of highways and millions of residential/com mercial roof-tops we could be placing solar, at the same time dramatically boosting employment.
0 # wrknight 2016-01-07 10:39
Missed the point. We need to stop kissing Saudi asses just because we need their frickin' oil. Fracking is a long term environmental threat that we need to minimize, but the threat of another war in the middle east and potential conflict with Russia is immediate, and we need to act now to mitigate that threat. Extracting our shale oil now will free us of our dependence on Saudi oil and allow us to adopt a sane foreign policy toward the middle east.

Having said that, I agree wholeheartedly that fracking is bad shit and we need to focus our efforts on developing alternative energy sources.

As for fusion, you are right that exploiting solar and wind energy sources are good bridges to fusion. But my complaint is that we could have had fusion now if we had put the massive investment needed in it back in the 70's like we did the space program. But the fossil fuel industry ensured that we didn't.
+1 # lfeuille 2016-01-07 17:32
Yeah, but we are already doing it. We do not need the oil. This is about something else. I think it is Israel.
+10 # Buddha 2016-01-07 10:04
We don't need a "realignment" in the Middle East, we need a complete pullout from the region, coupled with a "Manhattan Project" scale to get the world completely off the Oil Economy. Then the Middle East will be completely defunded and can go back to using swords on each other.
-9 # janie1893 2016-01-07 14:48
Robbee--I agree that no nation should take a life but the Saudi way is cleaner, quicker and less painful than lethal injection.
+4 # dbrize 2016-01-07 16:10
Quoting janie1893:
Robbee--I agree that no nation should take a life but the Saudi way is cleaner, quicker and less painful than lethal injection.

Not necessarily.
+3 # bubbiesue 2016-01-07 23:30
What if the U.S. just stopped. I mean, really stopped providing weaponry to anybody in the now-inflamed zone of the Middle East? Could it hurt?
0 # C.H.Winslow 2016-01-08 13:48
As a political scientist, I do agree with Janie1893 that President Obama does not have the power to oppose the Saudis and Israelis directly, and it is never wise for a leader to take a path that will lead to his demise. A partnership between the Armenoid (Netanyahu) and the Mediterranean (Salman) would be a marriage made in heaven for the Middle East, but if Moses couldn't manage it 3,200 years ago (when he had his Levite clan murder the opposing clan) I doubt it could be managed now. The two do speak the same language, that of the tri-literal root, Salman/Solomon and Benjamin/Ibn-Ya min or Banu-Yamin.
0 # Dudu101 2016-01-08 16:39
Can you expand or give some links? Moses had Levite clan [tribe] murder which clan? Was the murder not total? Some survived as "Mediterranean" ? What is the "Armenoid"?
0 # C.H.Winslow 2016-01-11 20:12
I'll get back to you on this; have to look it up in Exodus to get the exact citation. Thanks for your interest.
0 # C.H.Winslow 2016-01-15 17:39
Sorry Dudu101 for being so tardy getting back to your inquiries. The passage in the Tanak I was referring to is Exodus 32: 25-29. Moses had just gotten off Mt. Sinai with the well known Ten Commandments, a later editor added many additional ones, and then there occurred the Maddov-like Ponzi scheme of taking off all the ladies golden trinkets and melting them down into a "golden calf" because people were wondering what had happened to Moses. My guess is that if all that gold were melted down into a single item, it would be easier to sell to the first caravan that came along. Moses was pissed, and so was JVE. The former asked for those who were on his side to join him, put on their swords, and go from tent to tent in the camp to slay all those not on his side, essentially those not of the Levite (family) clan. I was a bit breezy with this citation but do believe that the Armenoid round heads, descending into the region from the Northeast (vertical nomads) were contending against the original speakers of the Semitic language (s), the Mediterranean long heads. There are some amazing stories of how the cephalic indices of these two types, both sub races of the Caucasoids, still measure comparatively, even in small countries like Lebanon and Israel. Maronite Christians in Lebanon are predominantly round heads, width more than 70%of length, while Sunnis and Palestinians are more long heads. Ashkenazim predominantly round heads; Oriental Jews predominantly long heads.
0 # bigkahuna671 2016-01-13 19:33
Saudis are NOT our allies, they only wish to benefit themselves and to hell with everyone else. Don't forget how many of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudi and who funded the attacks, bin Laden and some members of the Saudi royal family.

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