Monday, August 18, 2014

The West's double game: Nurturing Petro-Islamic Terror for vested interests




Nauman Sadiq

The US first nurtured the Taliban. The Taliban devastated Afghanistan over a decade. Again came the US to 'fight' Taliban and completed the devastation. That was not enough: they moved to Iraq and devastated it. Then came Libya, Yemen, Syria and so on. Landscapes were flattened; blood flowed in the streets. Even the US proxies like Saudi Arabia became bold enough to send tanks to cull the unarmed protesters at neighborhood. One with a clear vision and working ears can see and hear all this.

Or does everybody? Do our dear mainstream media outlets let the information (that matters) to flow freely? Absolutely not. The era of apparent over-information has been so abjectly the hostage of distorted information--when it concerns to these issues of prime importance--that one feels like admiring the then USSR for its poorly executed media censorship. In a sense, we are blind and deaf with working eyes and ears.

In this mess, here I received this submission of an extremely well-articulated article from Sadiq from Pakistan. Besides stating the obvious from past, he relates how the latest series of tragedy from Iraq to Libya and Syria to Yemen is the continuation of the double game of The West. You may say the things will remain the same whether we decry these evil deeds or not; but in a world replete with absurdly distorted mass communication, there are people who have managed to keep their sanity intact and looking for real and informative materials. Here goes one. 

Western complicity in nurturing Islamic Extremism



The mainspring of Islamic extremism and militancy is not the democratic political Islam, because why would people turn to violence when they can exercise their choice to vote their rulers in and also to vote them out? The mainspring of Islamic militancy is the despotic political Islam of the Gulf variety. The Western powers are fully cognizant of the reality that the mainstream Muslim sentiment is firmly against the US intervention in the Middle Eastern affairs, especially after the end of Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when the US after defeating a staunch rival turned its guns against the Muslim world in order to further exploit their energy resources. 

In its July 2013 report [1] the European Parliament identified the Wahabi-Salafi roots of global terrorism, but the report conveniently absolved the Western powers of their culpability and chose to overlook the Western complicity in nurturing Islamic extremism and violent Jihadism all over the Islamic world during the Cold War against the erstwhile Soviet Union; and even today, in the Libyan Jihad against the Qaddafi regime in 2011; and the Syrian Jihad against the Alawi (Shia) Assad regime. This is the principal thesis of this write-up which I will discuss in detail in the following paragraphs.

In my previous write-up: The role of Saudi Arabia, as de facto Caliphs of Islam, in sponsoring Islamic extremism and violent Jihadism [2] I stated that an exponential growth in the phenomena of petro-Islamic extremism can directly be attributed to the generous funding of the Islamic charities and madrassahs all over the Islamic world by the Gulf countries after the 1973 oil embargo when the price of oil quadrupled and the Arab Sheikhs’ contribution to the spiritual ‘well-being’ of the Muslims increased proportionally.

Peaceful or not, Islam is only a religion just like any other religion whether it’s Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism. Instead of taking an ‘essentialist’ approach, which lays emphasis on ‘essences,’ we need to look at the evolution of social phenomena in its historical context. For instance: to assert that human beings are evil by ‘nature’ is an essentialist approach; it overlooks the role played by ‘nurture’ in grooming humans. Human beings are only ‘intelligent’ by nature, but they are neither good nor evil by nature; whatever they are, good or evil, is the outcome of their nurture or upbringing. Similarly, to pronounce that Islam is a retrogressive or violent religion is an ‘essentialist’ approach; it overlooks how Islam and the Quranic verses are interpreted by its followers depending on the subject's cultural context. The Western expat Muslim would interpret a Quranic verse in a liberal fashion; and urban-Pakistani Muslim would interpret the same verse differently; and a rural-tribal Muslim would find meaning in it which could be extreme. It is all about culture rather than religion or scriptures per se.

Moreover, I said that Islam is only a religion ‘just like any other religion.’ But certain reductive neo-liberals blame the religion, as an institution and ideology, for all that is wrong with the world. I have not read much history, I am only a humble student of international politics; that’s why I don’t know what the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition were all about? Although, I have a gut feeling that those were also political conflicts which are presented to us in a religious guise. However, I am certain that all the conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries were either nationalist (tribal) conflicts; or they had economics and power as their goals. Examples: First and Second World Wars; Korea and Vietnam wars; Afghanistan and Iraq wars; and Libya and Syria wars.

When the neo-liberals commit the fallacy of blaming religion for all our woes, I am not sure which ancient global order they conjure up in their minds, the Holy Roman Empire perhaps? Religion may have been a paramount factor in the ancient times, if at all, but the contemporary politics is all about economics and power: the Western corporations rule the world, and politics and diplomacy is all about protecting the trade and energy interests of the Corporate Empire.


Regardless, Islam as a religion isn’t different from other cosmopolitan religions in regards to any intrinsic feature and the only factor which differentiates Islam from other mainstream religions is the abundant energy resources in the Muslim-majority countries of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region; and the effect of those resources and the global players’ manipulation of the socio-political life of the inhabitants of those regions to exploit their resources culminated in the emergence of the phenomena of Petro-Islamic extremism and violent Takfiri-Jihadism. That being clear, our next task is to analyze the symbiotic relationship which exists between the illegitimate Gulf rulers and the neo-colonial powers.

However, before we get to the crux of the matter, let us first cursorily discuss that why is it impossible to bring about a major fundamental change: political, social or economic, on a national level under the existing international dispensation of justice? As we know, the so-called Western ‘liberal-democracies’ could be liberal, however they are anything but democracies; in fact the right term for the Western systems of government is a plutocracy. They are ruled by the super-rich corporations, whose wealth is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars, far more than the total GDPs of many developing nations; and the status of those multinational corporations as dominant players in their national and international politics gets an official imprimatur when the Western governments endorse the Congressional ‘lobbying’ practice of the so-called ‘special interest’ groups, which is a euphemism for ‘business interests.’

Moreover, since the Western governments are nothing but the mouthpieces of their business interests on the international political and economic forums, therefore any national or international entity which hinders or opposes the agenda of the aforesaid business interests is either coerced into accepting their demands or gets sidelined. Last year the Manmohan Singh’s government of India had certain objections to further opening up to the Western businesses; the Business Roundtable which is an informal congregation of major US businesses and which together holds a net wealth of $6 trillion (6000 billion) held a meeting with the representatives of the Indian government and made them an offer which they couldn’t refuse. The developing economies, like India, are always hungry for the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to grow further, and that investment comes from the Western corporations.

When the Business Roundtables or the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) form pressure groups and engage in ‘collective bargaining’ activities, the nascent and fragile developing economies don’t have a choice but to toe their line. State ‘sovereignty’ that the sovereign nation-states are at liberty to pursue an independent policy, especially an economic and trade policy, is a myth. Just like the ruling elites of the developing countries who have a stranglehold and a monopoly over domestic politics; similarly the neo-colonial powers and their multinational corporations control the international politics and the global economic order. Any state who dares to transgress becomes an international pariah like Castro’s Cuba, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe or North Korea; and more recently Iran, which has been cut off from the global economic system, because of its supposed nuclear aspirations. Good for Iran that it has one of the largest oil and gas resources, otherwise it would have been insolvent by now; such is the power of global financial system especially the banking sector, and the significance of petro-dollar because the global oil transactions are pegged in the US dollars all over the world, and all the major oil bourses are also located in the Western world.

There are countless such examples, which the so-called ‘objective and very credible’ Western corporate media, which by the way has the same business interests as their shareholders and members of the board of directors, omits to report in its daily dose of infotainment and arranged side shows like the so-called war on terror, which is ironically spawning more terrorists than it eliminates. What was the level of threat prior to the World Trade Center tragedy back in 2001 and what is the level of threat and the number of such terror groups now, 13 years later? It may not bother the Western audience or their policy-makers because only two such major terror incidents took place in the Western world after the WTC tragedy: the Madrid train bombings in 2004 and the July 2005 London bombings. While the suicide bombings and the improvised explosive device bombings is an everyday routine now in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, etc. as a direct outcome of the myopic and militaristic war on terror policy.

Regardless, there are countless such instances of corporate manipulation of the developing countries’ governmental decisions and policies in the remote corners of the world which the corporate media elides over, and if it didn’t get mentioned in the mainstream media the incident never took place, because the mass media is the organ of sense-perception of the public: the proverbial eyes and ears, whose malfunction generates a distorted picture of objective reality; the victim-blaming syndrome, the hallmark of the neo-liberals, being the most prevalent epidemic.

Last year (or the year before last) the Maliki Administration offered some oil and gas exploration and production contracts, but those were fixed-fee contracts which are more beneficial to the states where such resources are located, and not the far more lucrative production-sharing contracts which the Big Oil prefers. Here the reader must keep in mind that Iraq has the Persian Gulf’s third largest ‘proven’ oil reserves of 140 billion barrels, second only to Saudi Arabia’s 265 and Iran’s 150 billion barrels (while UAE and Kuwait have 100 billion barrels each.) The Western Big Oil didn’t pay much heed to the contracts and those were won by the Russian, Chinese and Indian companies, although the Big Oil does operates numerous oil fields in Southern Iraq, in and around Basra.

However, after that show of ‘audacity’ by the Maliki government the Big Oil and its collaborators in the Western governments and the corporate media put pro-Iran Maliki’s name in their bad books. The Big Oil including Exxon, Chevron, BP and Total won their production-sharing contracts in the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan (‘semi’ here is a meaningless adjective because for all practical purposes the pro-US Barzani’s Kurdistan is fully independent of the Iraqi control.) There is so much oil in the Iraqi Kurdistan and the extraction cost per barrel is so minimal that a petro-poet once wrote an ode about it: that the sweet crude seeps through the mountains in brooks and streams and gathers in pools in the low-lying valleys. On top of it, thanks to the US-sponsored Kurdish Peshmerga militia since the 90s, Iraqi Kurdistan is far more stable than the rest of Iraq, and the windfalls for the Big Oil are enormous.

Although, constitutionally the Iraqi central government is entitled to 83% of the oil sales proceeds and Kurdistan can only retain 17% (of total Iraqi oil sales including from Southern Iraq) but when the head-honcho is on your side, the laws can be bent to suit the interests of the Corporate Empire. Throughout the last year, Iraqi Kurdistan kept exporting its oil directly to the Turkish port of Ceyhan through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline and another pipeline, which will further reduce its dependence on the central government in the midstream oil sector, is in the offing.

This, then explains the reason why the US didn’t get even slightly perturbed when its ally in the Syrian Jihad: the Islamic State (ISIS) overran half of Iraq and threatened Baghdad. Well, you know, that’s too bad, shouldn’t have happened; send some advisors, a few surveillance drones and some choppers if you can spare some. But sir! ISIS, that fanatical bunch of lunatic terrorists, have overrun Saddam’s chemical weapons storage site: the al Muthanna complex [3], where in one of its underground bunkers some 2500 Sarin-filled rockets are stored? Oh! That’s too bad, shouldn’t have happened, but you know what? Those are very old rusty rockets; besides, ISIS didn’t gain access to the bunker yet, and I have a hunch that even if those boorish ISIS guys found those WMDs they don’t have the technical know-how to use them. [But sir! Your predecessor invaded Iraq in 2003 on the WMD pretext and you yourself were about to bomb Syria back in August last year on the same pretext?]

Moving on... Mr. President! The Iraqi ambassador to the UN has stated that ISIS has acquired 40 kgs of uranium compounds [4] from the Mosul University? Oh! that’s too bad, troubles come in battalions, but you know what? It’s not like those rag-tag ISIS guys have centrifuges operating in Raqqa (Syria) where they could enrich uranium to the weapons’ grade, so calm down and go get some coffee, you look pale. [But sir! What about that ‘dirty bomb’ hysteria back in the ‘Anthrax-Bentonite days’ [4-a] when we were looking for a pretext to invade Saddam’s Iraq; and what are these ‘nuclear negotiations’ with Iran supposed to accomplish?]

Moving on... Mr. President! It appears that ISIS may have set its eyes on Irbil where the evacuees from the US embassy in Baghdad have taken refuge in its US consulate and where we also have a secret CIA station [5] which is in the process of being further expanded and which is also the hub of Big Oil’s Northern Iraq operations; and who knows ISIS might make an attempt on the oil-rich Kirkuk governorate which the Kurds seized from the control of central Iraqi government when ISIS captured Mosul. Bang! There you go! Finally the laser-guided missiles and Hell-fires targeting ISIS’ positions: the formidable ‘frenemy’ with which the US has a love-hate relationship; after all it ‘liberated’ the whole of north-east Syria from the anti-US Assad regime’s control in Syria; but some lines must never be crossed no matter what; and those my friends, are the lines of the Corporate Empire’s trade and energy interests spanning the world but especially in the Persian Gulf, whose littoral states (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq and Iran) together hold 800 billion barrels [6] of world’s total of 1500 billion barrels of ‘proven’ oil reserves; and where 35,000 US Marines [7] are presently stationed in its air-craft carriers and in the leased military bases in Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Djibouti and Kurdish Iraq. [Let Emir Baghdadi make another move towards Don Barzani’s oil-rich enclave and the Tomahawks of the Libyan ‘humanitarian intervention-fame’ would obliterate ISIS from the face of the planet.]

Here let me confess that I am totally unaware of the relationship between the US and ISIS; I have no credible evidence which I can reproduce here to establish the fact that US supported ISIS in its Jihad against the Alawite Syrian regime. Presenting direct evidence: the eye witness accounts, is the job of the reporters; and only the mainstream media organizations have the kind of resources necessary to hire reporters and to send them to the war-zones. On the Web 2.0 and on the alternative news websites, the reader should only expect to find opinion-pieces; and those opinion-pieces, in turn, are only built upon the evidence as presented to us by the news agencies: like AP, AFP and Reuters. If those agencies deliberately try to hide facts and distort evidence then we must at least be willing to condone the rumor-mills of the conspiracy theorists.

The US may or may not have directly supported ISIS in its Jihad against the Assad regime; but the agenda of the US and ISIS converged on a single goal: the ouster of the anti-US and anti-Israel, and pro-Russia and pro-Iran Assad regime which is also a backer of Hezbollah militia in Lebanon which is an existential threat to Israel. If the US didn’t support ISIS, who did it support in Syria then? The Assad regime, obviously not. Perhaps, the Free Syria Army (FSA?) But that entity does not exists in Syria on the ground; name a single battle in which we hear the name FSA; or a single Syrian town which is under the effective control of FSA or where the latter elusive organization has a visible presence?

Aleppo, in the north-west, is under the control of Ahrar ul Sham and Tawheed Brigade; in the south we have al Nusra Front and the Saudi-backed Islamic Front whose strength is numbered between 50 to 60,000 and which is a confederation of numerous Jihadi outfits including members of al Nusra which is endorsed by Ayman al Zawahiri as the official franchise of al Qaeda in Syria. And the northern and eastern Syria, as we already know, is under the control of the Islamic State. In what way, the aforementioned Jihadi groups: Ahrar-ul-Sham, Tawheed Brigade and Islamic Font are different from ISIS? These are the names of the most frequently mentioned Jihadi groups operating in Syria even in the corporate media news. If the US does not support ISIS then which of these groups does the US government support? Well you know, the US government supports the ‘moderate rebels.’ But what are the names, identities and more importantly the achievements of those so-called ‘moderate Syrian Mujahideen?’ [Note: Turkish border regions are used as staging areas by the NATO-GCC alliance to train and arm the Syrian Mujahideen on the north-western front, around Aleppo. While the Southern front of the Syrian war has itssecret headquarter [8] in Amman, Jordan. And the north-eastern front, where ISIS operates, is too opaque even for a wild guess.]

The US’ collusion and conflicted relationship with the Islamic Jihadis in Syria and also in Libya in 2011, isn’t the only instance of its kind. It always leaves such pernicious relationships ‘deliberately ambiguous’ in order to fill the gaps in its self-serving diplomacy and hypocritical brand of politics. Throughout the 80s during the Cold War, it used them as proxies in its fight against the Soviets. The Cold War was a war between the Global Capitalist bloc and the Global Communist bloc for the global domination. The Communists used their proxies the Vietcongs to liberate Vietnam from the imperialist hegemony. The Global Capitalist bloc had no answer to the cleverly executed asymmetric warfare. The Communist bloc had a moral advantage over the Capitalist bloc: the mass appeal of the egalitarian and revolutionary Marxist and Maoist ideology. Using their “Working men and women of all the nations, unite!” rhetoric, the Communists could instigate an uprising anywhere in the world; but how would the Capitalists retaliate, through the ‘trickle-down effect’ and the American way of life rhetoric? The Western policy-makers faced quite a dilemma, but then their Machiavellian strategists, capitalizing on the regional grassroots religious sentiment, came up with an equally robust antidote: the Islamic Jihad.

I have discussed the unholy nexus between the monopoly-capitalists of the Western World and the Wahabi-Salafis of the Gulf petro-monarchies in my blog-post: Cold War and the Genesis of Terrorism [9]. Here is an excerpt:

[Excerpt] In this war (Afghan-Soviet war from 1979 to 1988) between the Global Capitalism and the Global Marxism; Saudi Arabia and the Gulf petro-monarchies took the side of the former; because the USSR and the Central Asian states produce more energy and consume less of it; thus they are net exporters of energy; while the Global Capitalist bloc is a net importer of energy. It suits the economic interests of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to maintain and strengthen a supplier-consumer relationship with the Capitalist bloc. Now the BRICS are equally hungry for the middle eastern energy but it’s a recent development; during the Cold War an alliance with the Western countries suited the material interests of GCC. Hence, the Communists were pronounced as Kafirs (heretics) and the Western capitalist bloc as Ahl-e-Kitaab (People of the Book) by the Salafi preachers of the GCC.

All the celebrity-terrorists whose names we now hear in the media every day were the products of the Soviet-Afghan war: like Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, the Haqqanis, the Taliban, the Hekmatyars, and even the Northern Alliance. But that war wasn’t limited only to Afghanistan; the NATO-GCC alliance of yore financed, trained and armed the Islamic Jihadis all over the region; we hear the names of Jihadis operating in the regions as far afield as Uzbekistan and North Caucasus. In his 1998 interview, the National Security Adviser to President Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, confessed that the President signed the directive for secret aid to the Afghan Mujahideen in July 1979 while the Soviet Army invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Here is a poignant excerpt from the interview [10]

[Excerpt] Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic Jihadis, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Despite the crass insensitivity, you got to give credit to Zbigniew Brzezinski that at least he had the guts to speak the unembellished truth. The hypocritical Obama-Kerry duo, on the other hand, say one thing in public and do the opposite on ground. However, keep in mind that the interview was recorded in 1998. After the WTC tragedy in 2001, no US policy-maker can now call a spade a spade. But actions speak louder than words. After the WTC tragedy, the Western powers made a volte-face from being pro-Jihad to anti-Jihad. On the new anti-Jihad pretext, they invaded Iraq in 2003; and the fact that Iraq holds one of the largest oil reserves, and also had an anti-US Saddam government, is beside the point. However, in 2011, in the wake of the Arab Spring, the Western powers once again made a volte-face from being anti-Jihad to pro-Jihad in Libya and Syria; and the fact that Libya has 48 billion barrels of ‘proven’ oil reserves, and an anti-US Qaddafi government, is once again irrelevant.

All these wars and recent conflicts aside, the unholy alliance between the Anglo-American policy-makers and the Wahabi-Salafis of the Gulf petro-monarchies is much older. The Brits stirred up trouble in Arabia by instigating the Sharifs of Mecca to rebel against the Ottoman rule during the First World War. After the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the British Empire backed King Abdul Aziz (Ibn-e-Saud) in his struggle against the Sharifs of Mecca; because the latter were demanding too much of a price for their loyalty: the unification of whole of Arabia under their suzerainty. King Abdul Aziz defeated the Sharifs and united his dominions into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932 with the support of the British. However, by then the tide of British Imperialism was subsiding; the Americans inherited the former possessions and the rights and liabilities of the British Empire.

During the Second World War, President Franklin D. Roosevelt held a meeting with King Abdul Aziz at Great Bitter Lake in the Suez canal, and laid the foundations of an enduring Anglo-Wahabi friendship which persists to this day, despite many ebbs and flows; and some testing times especially in the wake of 9/11 tragedy when 15 out of 19 hijackers of the 9/11 plot turned out to be Saudi citizens. But hey guys! When you are head-over-heels in love with somebody, you don’t find ‘minor’ faults in the object of your love. If you naively suggest that the US should turn against its most steadfast ally in the region which also produces 10 million barrels per day of oil (15% of the global total) over some ‘stirred up Moslems’ you must be an al Qaeda collaborator; those al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) lunatics are also ‘jealous’ of this mutually-beneficial symbiotic relationship.

Puns aside, in that Great Bitter Lake meeting, among other things it was decided to set up the United States Military Training Mission (USMTM) to Saudi Arabia to ‘train, advise and assist’ [11] the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces. Aside from USMTM, the US’ Vinnell Corporation, which is a private military company based in the US and a subsidiary of the Northrop Grumman, used over a thousand Vietnam war veterans to train and equip the 125,000 strong Saudi Arabian National Guards (SANG) which is not under the control of Saudi Ministry of Defense and acts as the Praetorian Guards of the House of Saud. The relationship which existed between ARAMCO and the House of Saud is no secret. Moreover, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Force, whose strength is numbered in tens of thousands, is also being trained and equipped by the US to guard the critical Saudi oil infrastructure along its eastern Persian Gulf coast where 90% Saudi oil reserves are located. Furthermore, the US has several air-bases and missile defense systems operating in the Persian Gulf monarchies and also a naval base in Bahrain.

The point I am trying to make is: that left to their own resources, the Persian Gulf petro-monarchies lack the manpower, the military technology and the moral authority to rule over the forcefully-suppressed and disenfranchised Arab masses; not only the Arab masses but also the South Asian and African immigrants. One-thirds of Saudi Arabian population is comprised of immigrants; 75% of the UAE’s population is also immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka; all the other Gulf monarchies also have a similar proportion of the immigrants; unlike the immigrants in the Western countries who hold the citizenship status, the Gulf immigrants have lived there for decades and sometimes for generations, and still they are regarded as unentitled ‘foreigners?’ If the elections are held today, based on the principle of universal suffrage, some Pakistani or Indian could become a prime minister of UAE, Qatar or Kuwait.

Ben Ali, Mubarak, Saleh and Qaddafi took a few months to fall; but without the Western support, the tin-pot Arab despots of the Gulf monarchies will fall like dominoes within days. The head-honcho of the Gulfies, Saudi Arabia, sent its own forces to save the Bahraini regime from falling. And what did the US do? Oh! You know, too bad, shouldn’t have happened, we totally condemn this gross violation. A pathetic complacency bordering on active complicity. The UAE emirates have hired the services of Xe Corporation, Academi (formerly Blackwater) and the Colombian mercenaries to protect the ruling faction from their Arab and non-Arab masses.

However, why do the neo-colonial powers support the Gulf monarchies; knowing fully well that they are the ones responsible for nurturing the Takfiri-Jihadi ideology all over the Islamic world; does that not run counter to their professed goal of eliminating Islamic terrorism? When you ask this question, you get two very different and mutually contradictory responses, depending on who you are talking to. If you ask this question from a Western policy-maker that why do you support the Gulf despots? He replies that it’s because we have vital strategic interests in the Middle East and North Africa region; by which he means abundant oil and natural gas reserves, and also the fact that the Arab Sheikhs have made substantial investments in the Western financial institutions. Thus the policy-makers’ defense is predicated on the grounds of their self-interest. But when you ask a slightly different question from their constituents: that what is the Western policy in the Middle East region? The constituents’ response is quite the opposite: he doesn’t thinks that the neo-colonial powers control the Middle East, or the world in general, for their trade and energy interests; he thinks that their intentions are more altruistic than selfish. He mistakenly believes in the concepts of humanitarian and liberal interventionism and the responsibility to protect.

Coming back to the question, why do the neo-colonial powers prop up the Middle Eastern dictators; and is it possible that in some future point in time they will withdraw their support? Not likely, at least not in the foreseeable future. The neo-colonial powers are so addicted to the scent of the black gold that they would rather fight the Arab tyrants’ wars for them against their regional rivals. Presently, there are two regional powers vying for dominance in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia and Iran. Syrian Jihad is basically a Sunni Jihad against the Shia Resistance axis. The Shia axis is comprised of Iran and Syria, latter has an Alawi (Shia) regime, even though the majority of Syria’s population is Sunni Muslims and the Alawis only constitute 12% of the population. Lebanon-based Hezbollah (Shia) is also an integral part of the Shia Resistance axis. And recently the Maliki government in Iraq, which also has a Shia majority, has also formed a tenuous alliance with Iran.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia has long-standing grievances against Iran’s meddling in the Middle Eastern affairs, especially the latter’s support to the Palestinian cause, the Houthis in Yemen, the Bahraini Shias and more importantly the significant and restive Shia minority in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia where 90% of Saudi oil reserves are located along the Persian Gulf coast. On top of that Saudi Arabia also has grievances against the US for toppling the Sunni Saddam regime in Iraq in 2003 which formed a bulwark against the Khomeini influence in the Middle East because of Saddam’s military prowess. In the wake of political movements for enfranchisement during the Arab Spring of 2011, Saudi Arabia took advantage of the opportunity and militarized the political movement in Syria with the help of its Sunni allies: the Gulf monarchies of Qatar, UAE, Kuwait and Jordan and Turkey (all Sunnis).

However, why did the Western powers prefer to join this Sunni alliance against the Shia Resistance axis? It’s because the Assad regime has a history of animosity towards the West; it also had close relationship with the erstwhile Soviet Union and it hosted a Russian naval facility at Tartus; its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah is the biggest threat to Israel’s regional security. On the other hand, all the aforementioned Sunni states have always been the steadfast allies of the West along with Israel; don’t get misled [12] by what they say in public, all the Sunni states along with the Western support are in the same boat in the Syrian Jihad as Israel.

Hypothetically speaking, had the Western powers not joined the ignoble Syrian Jihad which has claimed 170,000 lives so far, what could have been an appropriate course of action to coerce the Gulf monarchies, not to engage in fomenting trouble in Syria? This is a question of will, if there is will there are always numerous ways to deal with a problem. However, after what has happened in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria only a consumer of corporate media will prescribe a Western military intervention anywhere in the world. But if military intervention is off the table, is there a viable alternative to enforce justice and to coerce the states to follow the moral principles? Yes there is.

The crippling economic sanctions on Iran in the last two years may not have accomplished much, but they brought to the fore the enormous power which the Western financial institutions and the petro-dollar as a global reserve currency wields over the global financial system. We must bear in mind that the Iranian nuclear negotiations are less about Iran’s nuclear program and more about its ballistic missile program, which is a far bigger threat to the Gulf monarchies across the Persian Gulf. Despite the sanctions being unfair, Iran felt the heat so much that it remained engaged in the negotiations throughout the last two years, and the Iranian electorate voted the hardliner Ahmedinejad out and the reformist Hassan Rouhani won the last year’s elections. Such was the crippling effect of the sanctions that, had it not been for Iran’s enormous oil and gas reserves, and some Russian, Chinese and Turkish help in illicitly buying Iranian oil, it would have defaulted by now.

All I am trying to suggest is that there are ways to arm-twist the Gulf monarchies to implement democratic reforms and to refrain from sponsoring the Takfiri-Jihadi terror groups all over the Islamic world, provided that we have just and upright international arbiters. However, there is a caveat: Iran is only a single oil-rich state which has 150 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. On the other hand, the Persian Gulf monarchies are actually three oil-rich states: Saudi Arabia 265 billion barrels; and UAE and Kuwait with 100 billion barrels each; together this amounts to 465 billion barrels, almost one-thirds of the global proven oil reserves; and if we add Qatar to the equation, which isn’t oil-rich, but has substantial natural gas reserves, it must take a morally very very upright arbiter to sanction all of them.

Recently, some very upbeat rumors about the Shale Revolution are circulating the mainstream corporate media. However, the Shale revolution is primarily a natural gas revolution: it has increased the ‘probable-recoverable’ resources of natural gas by 30%. The ‘shale oil’ on the other hand, refers to two very different kinds of energy resource: one, the solid kerogen, substantial resources of kerogen have been found in the US’ Green River formations, but the cost of extracting liquid crude from solid kerogen is so high that it is economically unviable for at least another 100 years; two, the tight oil which is blocked by the shale, it is a viable energy resource, but the reserves are so limited, around 4 billion barrels [13] in Texas and North Dakota, that it will run out in a few years.

The Canadian oil sands and the Venezuelan heavy crude, environmentally polluting as they are, are economically viable; but compared to the Middle Eastern Arab crude, about which Pepe Escobar famously quipped during the Libyan ‘humanitarian’ intervention: Sweet Crude O’mine, is a class apart. More than the size of the reserves it is also about the per barrel extraction cost, which determines the profits of the oil companies. Moreover, the US produced 11 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in the first quarter of 2014; more than Saudi Arabia and Russia, each of which produces around 10 million bpd; but the US still imported 7.5 million bpd, more than the oil imports of France and Britain put together. More than the volume of oil production, the volume which an oil-producing country ‘exports,’ determines its place in the ‘hierarchy of petroleum.’ And the Gulf monarchies constitute the top tier of that pyramid.

Enough petro-chemistry for today, let us move back to politics. It is generally believed that political Islam is the precursor of Islamic extremism and Jihadism; however there are two distinct and separate types of political Islam: the despotic political Islam of the Gulf variety; and the democratic political Islam of the Turkish and the Muslim Brotherhood variety. The latter organization never ruled Egypt except for a brief one year stint, it would be unwise to draw any lessons from such a brief period of history. The Turkish variety of political Islam, the oft-quoted ‘Turkish model,’ is worth emulating all over the Islamic world. I understand that political Islam in all its forms and manifestations is an anathema to the liberals, but it is the ground reality of the Islamic world. The liberal dictatorships, no matter how benevolent they may be, have never worked in the past, and they will meet the same fate even in the future.

The mainspring of Islamic extremism and militancy isn’t the democratic political Islam, because why would people turn to violence when they can exercise their choice to vote their rulers in and also to vote them out? The mainspring of Islamic militancy is the despotic political Islam of the Gulf variety. The Western powers, omniscient as they are, are fully aware of this fact; then why do they choose to support the same forces, when their ostensible and professed goal is to eliminate extremism and militancy? It is because, since the time immemorial, it has been a firm policy-principle of the Western powers to promote ‘stability’ in the Middle East rather than democracy or representation. They are fully cognizant of the reality that the mainstream Muslim sentiment is firmly against the US intervention in the Middle Eastern affairs, especially after the end of Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when the US after defeating a staunch rival turned its guns against the Muslim world in order to further exploit their energy resources. Additionally, the US policy-makers also prefer to deal with small groups of Middle Eastern ‘strongmen’ rather than cultivating a complex and uncertain relationship on a popular level: certainly a myopic approach which is the hallmark of the so-called ‘pragmatic’ strategists.

Sources and links:



Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, blogger and imperial politics aficionado who blogs at http://naumansq.blogspot.com. Read more of his articles in this blog here. 

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