The Shi'a of Saudi Arabia, a day of Rage, contingency planning and Geopolitical implications....
Which brings us back to Turkey. It's perfectly feasible that Islam will be one of the building blocks of something entirely new, something no one today has a clue about, something that will resemble what was, in Europe, the separation between politics and religion. In the spirit of May 1968, perhaps we can even picture an Arab Banksy plastering a stencil across all Arab capitals: Imagination in Power!
A principle is a principle....
SPECIALLY one such as democracy which rests around the concept of EQUALITY. Your very arguments are stripping away all notions of equality when you use different logic and rationales for one people but not another.
I’ll repeat, I don’t care if the Bahrainis are Shia, Sunnis, Persian or Armenians. There is never an excuse for being ruled by an authoritarian regime who’s willing to open fire on its people. NEVER. FULL STOP.
This is why a Hezbollah like movement is so important. Hezbollah had the genius to legally and peacefully give the boot to the pro-Israeli regime of Lebanon without giving anybody a pretext for intervention... They skillfully used everybody for that: the Syrians, the dumb Yanks under Reagan, Bush & Obama. the French and even more so, the idiotically arrogant Israelis who did more than anybody else for the popularity of Hezbollah....
May God help the Shia in Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia get rid of their oppressors!
It is interesting that Al-Jewzeera of Qatar....is changing so much, so quick with the way how they are reporting the news....and daily deceptions.....
It is like they are being run by the CIA -Mossad.....which they are....wittingly or unwittingly for some...
The Shi'a of Saudi Arabia will one day declare that "this Friday"..... will be a "day of rage"....will enough Sunni Saudis join them...???
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another....
Again, Saudi Arabia is almost on par with Israel as truly a core element of the "axis of kindness" of the US Empire; they are a tag-team, really, and I very much doubt that Israel could outlast the Saudi regime by much. The Neocons (reloaded) who are running the Empire under Obama fully understand that and they are not going to let it go....
The really interesting question is: does the US Empire even have what it takes to maintain the House of Saud in power? I would say yes, but barely and the writing is on the wall for all of them: Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US Empire itself.... But remember, this is the Middle-East and these folks have a totally different understanding of time and they are smart enough to defeat an empire slowly, one tactical defeat at a time, until it all reaches a critical mass.....
But there is no reason to assume that the uprising will be strictly confined to the Shia corner of Saudi. There have been plenty of Sunni dissidents in Saudi and there is plenty of poverty in Sunni areas, which is particularly galling in such a wealthy country.
In the event of a Sunni uprising, the National Guard would be a less reliable tool....
All in all, though, ..... A Saudi revolution is much more of a long shot, than in Egypt, Tunisia, etc.
But...it is inevitable. The Saudi royal family will one day fall. If not this Friday, then, InSha 'Allah, another.
Now, Imagine if there were a Shia uprising in Saudi AFTER it is clear that Iran has both nukes and a delivery system.... Now their National Guard will have to be on a much shorter leash.
Of course, I know Iran isn't really pursuing nukes right now..... But boy, I sure do wish it would......
Sure, they are supposed to deter, but if deterrence fails, what do you do next? Because once you have used your nukes, your deterrent capability falls to zero, ....? You cannot scare somebody with a bullet you already fired. This is why to be effective nuclear weapons need to be part of a sophisticated and redundant nuclear and conventional escalatory capability..... Alas, Iran does not have that. Sure, they could fire some nukes towards US bases, but THEN WHAT? Then the entire military might of the USA would be crushing down on them, and everybody would have to agree that Uncle Sam this time has the right to use his big sticks (nuclear or not)....
No, the USSR and the USA are, I would argue, the only two countries on the planet who really have to "full enchilada" needed to be a credible nuclear force. So whatever else we can say about the US military, I can tell you that the US nuclear forces are extremely capable.... You do not want to fight the USA in a type of conflict it prepared for many decades..... Saddam tried that in a conventional sense, and I don't believe that Iran will try that in a nuclear sense - they are too smart for that.....
What you need to do to defeat the Yanks is impose a type of conflict they are NOT used to, they have NOT trained for, and in which they are at the most DIS-advantaged.... Iran did an absolutely brilliant job at defeating the USA in Iraq and it did that without firing a single shot. That is the kind of 'war' against the USA which can be won. Or what Hezbollah did to Israel.... You simply do not want to ever fight your enemy on his own turf - you cannot beat the Americans at the "American type of war". So the single biggest rule is this: impose the type of conflict which your enemy FEARS most.....
I would say that so far Iran has done a FANTASTIC job in the most difficult of circumstances. If the world had any brains left at all it would recognize the sheer genius of the Iranian low-key non-provocative and soft-power approach.
The issue of nuclear deterrence..... is a complex topic which is often misunderstood.....
"You beat the crap out of their air force only to come back to your base and see their officers playing pool in your mess".....
What this means is that no war can be won from the air. Moronic US and Israeli politicians and some of their Top Brass thought that is possible in 2006 over Lebanon...:)))), but competent USAF officers fully know that this is baloney. On the ground you can bet that Hezbollah and the Iranians would win anytime..... Remember, they already had a war like that: against Iraq and Lebanon in 2006..... And they sure learned the lessons of this war.
Also, there is the fact that Iranians are probably not going to engage the KSA Air Force in the air, but on the ground (missiles, special ops, etc.).....
Technology does not win wars: willpower does (unless the imbalance is truly huge). Again, the Iranians are very smart folks and they will never give the Saudis the kind of war the Saudis want - one pitting a low to mid tech Iranian air force to a high tech KSA air force. Nor will they deploy in a manner which will allow the KSA air force to make maximal use of its close air support capabilities....
But all of that is speculation for the time being.... The Saudis don't have the nerve to attack the Iranians and the Iranians have the brains not to attack Saudi Arabia....
And if the Shia in KSA are being slaughtered Iran will have many more options than conventional war, by the way. They could even use Iraqi Shia as proxies. Or use Yemen.... Or just fight a good propaganda war. The options are limitless and the Iranians and Hezbollah are very crafty....., in fact, Hezbollah can teach the Iranians a few lessons too....and they know it and gladly acknowledge that much time and again.....
Why did the Soviet Union Collapse? It went bankrupt due to low oil prices (....lessons for Russia today...)
According to Yegor Gaidar, who was the acting prime minister of Russia, minister of economy, and first deputy prime minister between 1991 and 1994.
"The timeline of the collapse of the Soviet Union can be traced to September 13, 1985. On this date, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the minister of oil of Saudi Arabia, declared that the monarchy had decided to alter its oil policy radically. The Saudis stopped protecting oil prices, and Saudi Arabia quickly regained its share in the world market. During the next six months, oil production in Saudi Arabia increased fourfold, while oil prices collapsed by approximately the same amount in real terms.
As a result, the Soviet Union lost approximately $20 billion per year, money without which the country simply could not survive. The Soviet leadership was confronted with a difficult decision on how to adjust. There were three options--or a combination of three options--available to the Soviet leadership.
First, dissolve the Eastern European empire and effectively stop barter trade in oil and gas with the Socialist bloc countries, and start charging hard currency for the hydrocarbons. This choice, however, involved convincing the Soviet leadership in 1985 to negate completely the results of World War II. In reality, the leader who proposed this idea at the CPSU Central Committee meeting at that time risked losing his position as general secretary.
Second, drastically reduce Soviet food imports by $20 billion, the amount the Soviet Union lost when oil prices collapsed. But in practical terms, this option meant the introduction of food rationing at rates similar to those used during World War II. The Soviet leadership understood the consequences: the Soviet system would not survive for even one month. This idea was never seriously discussed.
Third, implement radical cuts in the military-industrial complex. With this option, however, the Soviet leadership risked serious conflict with regional and industrial elites, since a large number of Soviet cities depended solely on the military-industrial complex. This choice was also never seriously considered.
Unable to realize any of the above solutions, the Soviet leadership decided to adopt a policy of effectively disregarding the problem in hopes that it would somehow wither away. Instead of implementing actual reforms, the Soviet Union started to borrow money from abroad while its international credit rating was still strong. It borrowed heavily from 1985 to 1988, but in 1989 the Soviet economy stalled completely...
The money was suddenly gone. The Soviet Union tried to create a consortium of 300 banks to provide a large loan for the Soviet Union in 1989, but was informed that only five of them would participate and, as a result, the loan would be twenty times smaller than needed. The Soviet Union then received a final warning from the Deutsche Bank and from its international partners that the funds would never come from commercial sources. Instead, if the Soviet Union urgently needed the money, it would have to start negotiations directly with Western governments about so-called politically motivated credits.
In 1985 the idea that the Soviet Union would begin bargaining for money in exchange for political concessions would have sounded absolutely preposterous to the Soviet leadership. In 1989 it became a reality, and Gorbachev understood the need for at least $100 billion from the West to prop up the oil-dependent Soviet economy.
The Geopolitics of Oil
Remember that oil price manipulations are a geopolitical tool or weapon that was successfully used by the USA (Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Reagan government) in an attempt to bankrupt the former Soviet Union in the 1970's and 1980's. It worked.
The book assembles a now well-documented chronology of how the US and its allies, including Saudi Arabia, pushed down oil prices dramatically in the 1980s, and kept them low for a decade. It was a concerted and stunningly successful effort to break the former Soviet Union by depriving it of desperately needed hard-currency income.
It then raises the question whether those same price-control levers have lately been pushed in the opposite direction to rein in another target: the oil-short Peoples Republic of China. Contrary to popular perceptions, media commentary and official explanations, the book methodically lays out the geopolitical logic and the market mechanisms behind the stunning 12-fold run-up of oil prices from 1998 to mid-2008. It also offers an explanation for the sudden price drop from almost $150/barrel to under $100 as Russia again flexed its muscle by invading Georgia.
This timely and unorthodox analysis offers a clear and compelling explanation for the huge and otherwise unjustified gyrations in oil and other commodity prices in recent years. It also contains unique viewpoints on the reasons behind the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the fall of Russian oil major Yukos. The book will appeal to a broad audience—from students and practitioners of geopolitics to hard-pressed consumers and energy producers wondering how long windfall prices can defy gravity.
UPDATE: Russia admits supporting Arab terrorists
While the USA and Saudi Arabia kept oil prices artificially low in the 1970’s after the spike and 80’s to bankrupt the Soviet Union, Russia tried to raise and spike oil prices by supporting Arab terrorists—Walter Derzko
“Excerpts from Politburo materials indicate that the head of the Committee for State Security (KGB), Yury Andropov, facilitated contacts between the KGB and the Arab terrorists, who sought assistance for terrorist attacks on oil fields in order to keep energy prices high.5 The general resolution was that the Soviet Union should support the Arab terrorists in this battle.6”
.......says Yegor Gaidar, who is director of the Institute for Economies in Transition in Moscow. Between 1991 and 1994, he was acting prime minister of Russia, minister of economy, and first deputy prime minister. Between 1993 and 2003, Gaidar was a founder and a co-chairman of the Russia’s Choice and the Union of Rightist Forces Parties, and a deputy of the State Duma. His most recent book, Gibel’ Imperii: Uroki dlya sovremennoi Rossii [The Collapse of an Empire: Lessons for Modern Russia], was published in 2006.
5. A note from Yury Andropov, the head of the Committee for State Security (KGB), to the general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev. “O konspirativnoy vstreche rezinenta KGB v Livane c V. Haddadom” [Regarding the Conspiratorial Meeting of a KGB Resident in Lebanon with V. Haddad.] April 23, 1974. No. 1071-A/OV.
6. A note from Yury Andropov, the head of the Committee for State Security (KGB), to the general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev. “O peredache V. Haddadu partii inostrannogo oruzhiya i boepripasov k nemu” [Regarding the Handover of a Consignment of Foreign-Made Weapons and Ammunition to V. Haddad]. May 16, 1975. No.1218-A/OV.
By Brian M Downing
World attention is rightly fixed on the fighting in Libya, but events in Saudi Arabia slated for Friday, March 11, might well take precedent. Young Saudis are mobilizing for "day of rage" demonstrations calling for political reforms but the regime has warned against any such gatherings. A confrontation with immense geopolitical and economic import is nearing. Capitals and bourses are watching anxiously. The outcome is of course unclear, but a look at the dramatis personae and possible developments might be attempted.
Demonstrations in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere have pitted educated young people eager for a say in their futures against aging if not decrepit regimes that denied them that say. It will be no different in Saudi Arabia where over half the population is under the age of 30. But the generational conflict will resonate with politics and intrigues within the large Saud family.
The Saudi government is directed by the descendants of Abdul Aziz bin Saud, the great warrior-king who conquered much of the Arabian Peninsula following the demise of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Since his death in 1953, his kingdom has been ruled by a line of sons, as practice calls for the crown to pass down to younger sons.
Only on the last son's death - there are still over 10 of them - is it to pass on to the next generation, though a council formed in 2006 will shape future successions. King Abdullah is 87, Crown Prince Sultan is perhaps four years younger - a situation reminiscent of the Soviet politburo a generation ago.
Discontent abounds within the ranks of the old warrior-king's grandchildren, many of whom bristle at being passed over for key positions in favor of their better connected but less capable cousins. Accordingly, public calls for change from Saudi youths will likely resonate with resentments within the younger princes - perhaps also within the princesses.
One of the younger men, Prince Bandar (the Crown Prince's son and former ambassador to the United States), dropped from sight a year ago - the result of a failed palace intrigue according to some reports. Whatever response to the demonstrations is being planned, the elders will have to bear in mind the thinking of their offspring and also the power their offspring hold thanks to the positions they have been granted in the state and in the military as well.
In the 1990s, the government constructed consultative bodies (Majlis-ash-Shura) in order to fend off pressures that emerged during the first Gulf War in 1991 from both modern reformers and Wahhabist traditionalists. These councils are non-elective; members are appointed by the king. Nor do they have legislative powers; they are consultative only. The councils nonetheless express the views of tribal elders, professional associations, and client-patron networks.
Historically, timid councils have sometimes tossed aside the subordinate role their creators envisioned and turned themselves into ambitious assemblies. Edward I convened the Model Parliament to do his bidding; they became a powerful and enduring institution. Louis XVI likely regretted convening an Estates-General as he climbed the scaffold. The Soviet duma helped thwart a military coup and bring down communism.
Amid these extraordinary times, Saudi council members may well take sides with reformers, either out of practical or ideological concerns - perhaps to the extent of demanding legislative powers and turning the country into a constitutional monarchy. History seems to be on their side.
Sunni and Shi'ite
Unlike events in Tunisia and Egypt, though as with events in Bahrain, the calls for change in Saudi Arabia have a Shi'ite versus Sunni dimension and so the centuries-old schism will shape the movement and perhaps distort the regime's perceptions of it. Saudi Arabia's 28 million people are approximately 10-15% Shi'ite. They complain of systematic prejudice against their faith and of discrimination in jobs and governmental favors. They are primarily found in the oil-producing Eastern province.
As problematic as sectarianism is, it is worsened if not poisoned by geopolitics. Iran and Saudi Arabia have long vied for primacy in the Persian Gulf. The contest was reasonably non-threatening under the shah but became volatile once he was ousted and a Shi'ite theocracy came to power.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called for Shi'ite uprisings but found very little response, though in 1979 Saudi suppression of Ashura mourning rites led to bloody riots in a few eastern towns. The Saudis supported Saddam Hussein's 1980 invasion of Iran and Saudi jets dueled with Iranian ones on more than one occasion. The Saudis play a key role in assembling a Sunni-Arab coalition aimed at countering Iran and pressing it to drop its nuclear weapons program.
Saudi leaders today almost certainly see events in Bahrain and impending ones in their own realm to be the work of Iran, especially its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Shi'ites do not need a foreign agent to apprise them of their plight or inspire hope of a better day, but the perception of the IRGC's hand will be a critical part of shaping the Saudi response and may cause some of Abdullah's advisers to recommend a firm response.
Options for repression
Three armed forces are available to the king. The national army is commanded by senior princes but has a large number of conscripts, whose willingness to come down hard on their countrymen is uncertain - uncertain both to foreign observers and to royal advisers as well. Friday would be an inopportune time to receive bad news on this regard so caution may be in order.
The national guard comprises a number of tribal levies. This is in some respects the institutional legacy of Abdul Aziz's tribal bands that conquered the land ninety years ago. The national guard is generally considered to be mainly a counterforce against any intrigue coming from the regular army. There are a few tribes who are hostile to the Saudi regime, but of course those forces are unlikely to be deployed.
Neither the army nor the national guard is built chiefly for internal security purposes; neither brought accolades during the first Gulf War or the uprising in Mecca in 1979.
The Interior Ministry maintains security troops. It is a professional force that performed remarkably well in quashing al-Qaeda-Arabian Peninsula over the past 10 years. Initial responses to terrorism were heavy-handed and counterproductive. The public resented the harsh methods and al-Qaeda throve on public resentments.
When less harsh methods were adopted in 1999, public support plummeted and al-Qaeda-Arabian Peninsula was effectively driven out of the realm and into the wastelands of Yemen. It might be significant that the shift away from harsh methods was done on the orders of Abdullah, the present-day king. He is ailing but perhaps still aware of the counterproductive nature of his predecessor's brutal methods.
Abdullah's defeat of domestic terrorism may be instructive in another regard. Al-Qaeda-Arabian Peninsula made the blunder of calling for insurrection against the House of Saud, which, at least back in 1999, was not widely loathed. That is likely still the case with most of the people as the government has been generous though not necessarily equitable with the petro-wealth.
An ill-advised crackdown, however, could easily and irreparably change that and make the transition to constitutional monarchy longer and more painful than it needs to be....
The decision to employ violence in this latest crackdown comes a day before Friday prayers, after which various Saudi opposition groups were planning to rally in the streets. Unrest has been simmering in the Saudi kingdom over the past couple weeks, with mostly Sunni youth, human rights activists and intellectuals in Riyadh and Jeddah campaigning for greater political freedoms, including the call for a constitutional monarchy. A so-called “Day of Rage” of protests across the country has been called for March 11 by Facebook groups Hanyn (Nostalgia) Revolution and the Free Youth Coalition following Friday prayers.
What is most critical to Saudi Arabia, however, is Shiite-driven unrest in the country’s Eastern Province. Shiite activists and clerics have become more vocal in recent weeks in expressing their dissent and have been attempting to dodge Saudi security forces. The Saudi regime has been cautious thus far, not wanting to inflame the protests with a violent crackdown but at the same time facing a growing need to demonstrate firm control.
Yet in watching Shiite unrest continue to simmer in the nearby island of Bahrain, the Saudi royals are growing increasingly concerned about the prospect of Shiite uprisings cascading throughout the Persian Gulf region, playing directly into the Iranian strategic interest of destabilizing its U.S.-allied Arab neighbors. By showing a willingness to use force early, the Saudi authorities are likely hoping they will be able to deter people from joining the protests, but such actions could just as easily embolden the protesters.
There is a strong potential for clashes to break out March 11 between Saudi security forces and protesters, particularly in the vital Eastern Province. Saudi authorities have taken tough security measures in the Shiite areas of the country by deploying about 15,000 national guardsmen to thwart the planned demonstrations by attempting to impose a curfew in critical areas. Energy speculators are already reacting to the heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf region, but unrest in cities like Qatif cuts directly to the source of the threat that is fueling market speculation: The major oil transit pipelines that supply the major oil port of Ras Tanura — the world’s largest, with a capacity of 5 million barrels per day — go directly through Qatif..... This is absolutely not surprising at all....given what I know first hand that SAUDIS in power in KSA treat their SHIA countrymen and women like dogs and rats for decades if not centuries with blatant in your face utter discrimination in jobs and various aspects of life....The worst is yet to come....With the actions of the Saudi forces...it's now inevitable for sure....
Prof Michel Chossudovsky- "Operation Libya": The US-NATO Attempted Coup d'Etat in Libya and the Battle for Oil
Although the symptoms are the same - unemployment, poverty, corruption, absence of freedom - the Arab revolt is actually diverse revolutions fought with diverse strategies. The crucial unifying theme is that Arab peoples are starting to build their own modernity. That, as Gilles Kepel was prescient to note, secures the victory of Islam as democracy over Islam as a "revolutionary" vanguard....
African dissent on no-fly zone counts
The Arab League's decision on Saturday to recommend imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya has given the fig-leaf of respectability needed for the West to approach the United Nations Security Council. Yet the playboy kings, sheikhs and sultans from the bleached Arabian deserts are not the real stakeholders in Libya's march to democracy. The African Union counts.
- M K Bhadrakumar (Mar 14, '11)
Mummies, models in the new Middle East
Egypt, previously a moribund land of "stability" and bosom buddy of whoever was in power in Washington, has been hurled into the Middle East's New Great Game. Possible models for transition range from Turkey's modern, Islamic ideal to Muslim-majority Indonesia's flourishing democracy and Latin America's path of total independence. Either way, it's enough to make Western diplomatic circles tremble.
- Pepe Escobar (Mar 14, '11)
When the Al Khalifa’s came to Bahrain in the 1700′s, surprise surprise they found a majority Shiite population. The ones causing the unrest are not of Persian ancestry but they are mostly indigenous Baharna.
“Shi’ism, which came to Bahrain in 1500, is the island’s dominant religion. Between two thirds and three quarters of the Shia population is native in origin, the remainder being of Iranian descent. This division is social as well as cultural. The Iranian Shia, known as Ajam, are well represented in the middle class professions and politically inactive. They see their relative privilege as contingent on the good will of the ruling Sunni al-Khalifas and are reluctant to jeopardize their position. Their native counterparts, known as Baharna, occupy the lowest strata of society”
for those interested in Saudi Arabia and the eastern province this is a great read by the crisis group.
“Saudi Arabia’s roughly two million Shiites represent between 10 and 15 per cent of the total population. Most live and work in the Eastern Province, which they dominate demographically and which is also home
to the largest oil fields and most expansive processing and refining facilities”
This is not 1979, boiling down the protests in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to foreign, Shiite, Iranian influence is silly, the Arab world is finally holding their despotic regimes responsible for the injustices they have laid upon their citizens for far too long....
In the inextricable Saudi/Washington nexus, democracy may be acceptable for Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, but it's a very bad idea for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other friendly Gulf dictatorships. The message of the Gulf kingdoms and sheikhdoms to Washington is unambiguous and effective; if we "fall", your strategic game is in pieces. Once more, "stability" trumps democracy. - Pepe Escobar (Mar 17, '11)