Deciphering the Mideast Chaos

Exclusive: The tangle of conflicts in the Middle East is confusing to many Americans who lack some key facts, such as the transformational Israeli-Saudi alliance that is dragging the American people into a sectarian religious war dating back 1,300 years, as Robert Parry explains.

By Robert Parry

Few Americans seem to comprehend what is unfolding in the Middle East with the latest conflict involving Saudi airstrikes against the Houthi rebels who now control Yemen’s capital of Sanaa. In this swirl of regional wars, it’s often not clear where the U.S. government stands and how American interests are affected.

The reason for the confusion is simple: Many key pundits who get to explain what’s going on from the op-ed pages of the major U.S. newspapers and from the TV talk shows prefer that the American people don’t fully grasp what’s happening. Otherwise, the people might realize the dangers ahead and demand substantial changes in U.S. government policies.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then Saudi ambassador to the United States, meeting with President George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas, on Aug. 27, 2002. (White House photo)

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then Saudi ambassador to the United States, meeting with President George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas, on Aug. 27, 2002. (White House photo)

But a few basic points can help decipher the confusion: Perhaps the most important is that although it’s rarely acknowledged in the mainstream U.S. media Israel is now allied with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Persian Gulf states, which are, in turn, supporting Sunni militants in Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly, this Israel-Saudi bloc sustains Al-Qaeda and, to a somewhat lesser degree, the Islamic State.

The U.S. news media is loath to note these strange Israeli bedfellows, but there’s a twisted logic to the Israeli-Saudi connection. Both Israel and the Saudi bloc have identified Shiite-ruled Iran as their chief regional adversary and thus are supporting proxy wars against perceived Iranian allies in Syria and now Yemen. The Syrian government and the Houthi rebels in Yemen are led by adherents to offshoots of Shiite Islam, so they are the “enemy.”

The schism between Sunni and Shiite Islam dates back to 632, to the secession struggle after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. The dispute led to the Battle of Karbala where Hussein ibn Ali was captured and beheaded in 680, an event that gave rise to Shiite Islam as a rival to Sunni Islam, which today has both moderate and extremist forms with Saudi Arabia sponsoring the ultra-fundamentalist Wahhabism.

The extremist Wahhabism has inspired some of the most radical Sunni movements, including Al-Qaeda and now the Islamic State, along with their practice of suicide attacks as a form of martyrdom that has become a staple of these groups’ anti-Western jihad.

In other words, what has most outraged Americans has been the behavior of these Sunni extremists, from Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks to the Islamic State’s beheading of helpless hostages and religious minorities in Syria and elsewhere. And, the principal backer of this Sunni extremism has been Saudi Arabia where wealthy prince-playboys buy leniency for their licentious behavior from the religious ulema (or leaders) by financing the extreme Wahhabi teachings. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Secret Saudi Ties to Terrorism.”]

Confusing the American People

The West has had grievances with elements of the Shiite world, too, such as the seizure of U.S. Embassy hostages in Iran in 1979 and excessive violence by the Syrian military against opposition forces in 2011. But the most intense American anger has been provoked by the actions of Sunni fundamentalists involving mass murder of innocents.

Yet, over the years, the U.S. government has exploited the general lack of knowledge among Americans about the intricacies of Middle East religions and politics by funneling the anger against one group to rationalize actions against another.

For instance, in 2003, as revenge for the 9/11 slaughter of 3,000 Americans carried out primarily by Saudi extremists under the leadership of Saudi Osama bin Laden President George W. Bush shielded the Saudis from blame and ordered the invasion of Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein, a secular Sunni dictator who was a fierce opponent of Al-Qaeda and other religious fanatics.

Ironically, that war put Shiites in power in Baghdad, turned Iraq’s Sunnis into a persecuted minority, and created fertile ground for a particularly virulent strain of Al-Qaeda to take root under the leadership of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. That group became “Al-Qaeda in Iraq,” later morphing into “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” and finally into “the Islamic State,” with its own twisted branches reaching out across the Middle East and Africa to justify more provocative slaughter of Westerners and “non-believers.”

While on the surface, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Persian Gulf states repudiate this violent extremism, some of their oil-rich princes and intelligence services have provided covert support to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State to advance the cause of breaking the “Shiite crescent” from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus to Beirut.

In seeking to smash this “Shiite crescent,” these Sunni-ruled states have been joined by Israel, which has taken the position that Iran and its Shiite allies are more dangerous than the Sunni extremists, thus transforming Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State into the “lesser evils.”

This was the subtext of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress on March 3 that the U.S. government should shift its focus from fighting Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State to fighting Iran.

One of the hit lines of Netanyahu’s speech was when he told a cheering Congress that the United States should not collaborate with Iran just because it was the most effective counterforce to the bloodthirsty ISIS. Or as he put it, “So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.”

But Netanyahu was soft-pedaling his real message, which was that ISIS with its “butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube” was a minor annoyance compared to Iran, which he accused of “gobbling up the nations” of the Middle East. To the applause of Congress, he claimed “Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow.”

His choice of capitals was peculiar because Iran took none of those capitals by force and, indeed, was simply supporting the embattled government of Syria and was allied with elements of the government of Lebanon. As for Iraq, Iran’s allies were installed not by Iran but by President George W. Bush via the U.S. invasion. And, in Yemen, a long-festering sectarian conflict has led to the capture of Sanaa by Houthi rebels who deny that they are supported by Iran (although Iran may have provided some limited help).

Amid the wild and inchoate cheering by Republicans and many Democrats, Netanyahu continued: “We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.” But, in reality, there has been no “march of conquest.” There have been no images of Iranian armies on the march or a single case of Iranian forces crossing a border against the will of a government.

Cheering the Propaganda

Netanyahu’s oration was just another example of his skillful (but dishonest) propaganda and the groveling behavior of the U.S. Congress when in the presence of an Israeli leader.

Among the many facts that Netanyahu left out was Israel’s historically close ties to Iran even during the reign of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the 1980s when the Israelis served as a key Iranian arms supplier after the Saudi-backed Iraqi invasion of Iran. Only after that eight-year-long war ended and Iran’s treasury was depleted did Israel shift away from Iran and toward the oil-rich Saudis.

Regarding the Syrian civil war, senior Israelis have made clear they would prefer Sunni extremists to prevail over President Assad, who is an Alawite, a branch of Shiite Islam. Assad’s relatively secular government is seen as the protector of Shiites, Christians and other minorities who fear the vengeful brutality of the Sunni jihadists who now dominate the anti-Assad rebels.

In one of the most explicit expressions of Israel’s views, its Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post in September 2013 that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

And, if you might have thought that Oren had misspoken, he reiterated his position in June 2014 at an Aspen Institute conference. Then, speaking as a former ambassador, Oren said Israel would even prefer a victory by the Islamic State, which was massacring captured Iraqi soldiers and beheading Westerners, than the continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria.

“From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.

Israel’s preference has extended into a tacit alliance with Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in Syria, with which the Israelis have essentially a non-aggression pact, even caring for Nusra fighters in Israeli hospitals and mounting lethal air attacks against Lebanese and Iranian advisers to the Syrian military.

A Powerful Alliance

Over the past decade, the Israelis and the Saudis have built a powerful alliance, a relationship that has operated mostly behind the curtains. They combined their assets to create what amounted to a new superpower in the Middle East, one that could project its power mostly via the manipulation of U.S. policymakers and opinion leaders and thus deployment of the U.S. military.

Israel possesses extraordinary political and media influence inside the United States and Saudi Arabia wields its oil and financial resources to keep American officialdom in line. Together, the Israeli-Saudi bloc now controls virtually the entire Republican Party, which holds majorities in both chambers of Congress, and dominates most mainstream Democrats as well.

Reflecting the interests of the Israeli-Saudi bloc, American neocons have advocated U.S. bombing against both the Syrian and Iranian governments in pursuit of “regime change” in those two countries. Prominent neocons, such as John Bolton and Joshua Muravchik, have gone to the pages of the New York Times and Washington Post to openly advocate U.S. bombing campaigns against Iran. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Publishes Call to Bomb Iran.”]

But the problem with this Israeli-Saudi strategy for the American people is that the only viable military alternatives to the Assad government in Syria are Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the even more brutal Islamic State. So if Israel, Saudi Arabia and the neocons succeed in ousting Assad, the likely result would be the black flags of Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State flying over Damascus.

That would likely mean major atrocities, including executions of Christians and other religious minorities, as well as terrorist plots mounted against Europe and the United States. An Al-Qaeda or Islamic State conquest of Damascus would likely force any U.S. president to invade Syria at enormous costs in blood and treasure, albeit with little hope of achieving any long-term success.

Such a U.S. intervention might very well mean the end of the United States as a viable democratic society to the extent that one exists today. A full-scale transformation into a militaristic state would be required to sustain this open-ended conflict, channeling national wealth into endless warfare and requiring the repression of anti-war sentiments at home.

So, what is at stake for the American Republic is essentially existential, whether the constitutional structure that began in 1789 will continue or will disappear. Politicians, who say they love the Constitution but follow Netanyahu into this dead-end for the Republic, are speaking out of both sides of their mouths.

The only hope for the Republic would come from recalling the wisdom of America’s first presidents to avoid entangling foreign alliances when they drag the United States toward destruction.

[For more on Obama and the neocons, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons: The Anti-Realists.”]

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 barnesandnoble.com). 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.

image_pdfimage_print

36 comments for “Deciphering the Mideast Chaos

  1. fudmier
    March 31, 2015 at 1:42 am

    I think you missed the point..

    • Gregory Kruse
      March 31, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      …and the point is…

  2. Roberto
    March 31, 2015 at 2:35 am

    Fascism also gets a big push from weapon production big business profits and the illusion of employment prosperity. (Classic Nazi political success.) JFK’s space program was a better idea.

  3. Roberto
    March 31, 2015 at 2:36 am

    Fascism also gets a big push from weapon production big business profits and the illusion of employment prosperity. (Classic Nazi political success.) JFK’s space program was a better idea.

  4. Anthony Shaker
    March 31, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Thank you for a good piece. One important point I would like to make, though. I happen to be a specialist in Islamic Studies, and I hope you will consider avoiding descriptions and analyses in terms of “Sunni-Shi’a” divide and conflict.

    This is how Wahhabis and their ideological offshoots (ISIL, al-Qaeda and Syria’s Nusrah Front and Ahrar al-Sham, and the Islamic Front) define the universe. All these movements are new arrivals; they are certainly not part of any historical religion or “old religious conflict.” The Wahhabi Saudi monarchy was installed by the British. ISIL, al-Qaeda and the Nusrah Front are Saudi-Western-Israeli proxies, for which “Islam” and ideology are a mere formality. Islam in their case is but a weapon of war.

    This is light years away from the Islamic tradition, which is complex, wide and whose communities (including non-Muslim ones) are deeply interlinked. Such a tradition cannot be divided into “religious” sects except for foreign intelligence services and old-style British anthropologists. For decades, Wahhabis have been indoctrinating millions of Muslim youth around the world into precisely this sectarian narrative, using among other tools so-called “Islamic centers” (found all over the US and Europe).

    But that Wahhabi takfiris regard the Shi’a and everyone else as heretics, who may legally be killed and whose property and families can be seized, should not be your standar of measurement at all. In fact, neither Shi’a Muslims nor “Sunnis” (itself a misnomer) define the world in such a preposterous way.

    This is not just a historical issue (i.e., that in fact there is no such sharp divide) but also a logical one: That Nazis claimed to speak for the German people hardly implies they “were” the German people, any more than Joe McCarthy or Sen. Lindsey Graham and the Israel lobby wrapping themselves in the American flag “is” the American people; or self-crowned King Louis XIV “was” France when he uttered “Je suis l’état.”

    To our peril, we conveniently forget that Islam was the first global, multi-confessional civilization, stretching from one end of the world to the other. This was the civilization that paved the way to modernity through science, learning and a spiritual consciousness we still covet. Most of civilized humanity was under its aegis for 1,400 years until only recently. Islam is where humanity spent its vigorous youth. No “religious” wars then, except in the minds of western papal schismatics who equally hated their Byzantine and their Muslim neighbors.

    What the modern West has contributed to the Middle East, on the other hand, has been nothing short of catastrophic. Its primary goal remains to shape the entire region into ethno-religious enclaves with the “Jewish State” at the center. For countless decades, this has been the holy grail of our militarists and Zionists alike. This is not only based on a childish biblical narrative, but also demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of power and its uses in the real world.

    Face it, the West can’t continually market yourself to victory, as it has been doing for the last century and half with the rest of humanity. At some point reality is liable to fall on everyone’s head. I think we may finally be making contact with that reality, judging from events around the world today.

    • Hillary
      March 31, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Anthony Shaker thank you for your excellent post.
      Reminded me of President G.W.Bush’s dictum ” to fight terror & bring freedom to the world was NOT America’s gift to the world but God’s gift to humanity. “

    • Stefan
      March 31, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Good post Anthony.

      You mention many important historical patterns and facts that are crucial for people to study and understand if they have any hope or goal of understanding current events and/or the propaganda disseminating the media. Many laymen, journalists(dubious) on news outlets, and laymen on forums alike, tout the secterian divide incessantly. This is I believe largely a function of the propaganda emanating from the neocons and the israelis, a self-fulfilling prophecy that they aim to manufacture, so as to have it realise and intensify itself. When they cry crocodile tears and warn us about a secterian division, what they are really conveying to us is a state they would want the conflict to shapeshift into.

      If people want to know more about the historical patterns, ethnology and religious history of the region, the information is easily available to anyone today, and I urge people to find out more, before they judge the roots of the problems in the region, without actually knowing anything about it. Most people that pray for another global war on Iran, echo pretty much what the neocons tell them in their op-eds and in their warmongering drum-beats.

      I have spent years in the middle east, both Syria and Lebanon. In Syria, ALL minorities, were protected by the govt, and all were subject to the same laws. Most people know nothing about these regions, the culture, the religious history – yet they have suddenly become experts on Assad, Syria, Lebanon, Iran etc. in all things under the sun, be it politics, social or regigious conflicts and relations. Many of my friends from my period in Syria and Lebanon, tell me they could spend years with their colleagues, friends, neighbors, without even knowing or caring if they were muslim, christian, yazidi, kurdish or any other minority or majority.

      I urge anyone who comments on the “Regime”, “Assad”, the region and the conflict, and so on and so forth. Ask yourself, what is it that you really know rather than think you know. In the case of the latter, there is a very likely that you may have got most of that “information”(war propaganda) by a crazed neocon.

      If you don’t know much, put your conclusions on hold, and find out for yourself. Asking someone who is actually from the region, or have spent time there, is a very good source of information as well.

      Thank you Anthony for a very informative post.

    • Theodora Crawford
      March 31, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      Thank you for such a succinct and helpful translation of the chaos that is the media’s current attempt to cover the Middle East and one of the World’s great religions. Like Christianity, Islam has it’s hijackers. Perhaps education will help us reach detente and understanding; demonizing will not.

    • Trevor H.
      April 1, 2015 at 2:58 am

      Excellent post. Unfortunately, the masses do not think. They react to what they are told.

    • Trevor H.
      April 1, 2015 at 2:59 am

      Excellent post. Unfortunately, the masses do not think. They react to what they are told.

      • Trevor H.
        April 1, 2015 at 3:03 am

        Double post not done intentionally.

        • Fred
          April 1, 2015 at 7:34 am

          It was worth repeating.

    • Jay
      April 2, 2015 at 6:41 am

      Thanks for this response–I, too, teach Middle East Studies, and your reflections seem to me to be spot on. What I can say is that most Americans are unfortunately ignorant of the history of the region, so any clarification is useful. Unfortunately, too often we obfuscate the history of the area with simplistic blather.

    • Moi
      April 2, 2015 at 10:14 am

      Excellent post. Moreover, Islam/Muslims have no quarrel with Christianity or Judaism–Islam is closer to Judaism than is Christianity, and it is closer to Christianity than is Judaism.

    • Alan
      April 3, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      Insightful and your summations ring true. Often we lose sight that the ‘dark ages’ were alight with scientific, spiritual, religious, and artistic inroads into the awakening of humanity to its glorious future. In our current time, we should embrace all that is good from each culture in the world. The determinant of good, being love of another as one’s self. This being Easter is an appropriate time to so contemplate a bright future for humankind.

  5. Larry
    March 31, 2015 at 11:08 am

    I agree with Anthony on this: “What the modern West has contributed to the Middle East, on the other hand, has been nothing short of catastrophic. Its primary goal remains to shape the entire region into ethno-religious enclaves with the “Jewish State” at the center.” Where I disagree strongly is his assertion that ‘the West’ “demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of power and its uses in the real world”. In fact, this quoted statement is approximately opposite of reality. The Mideast has been dominated by ‘the West’ for 100 years, since the gradual and then sudden decline of the Ottoman Empire. You don’t attain that kind of power without knowing how to successfully use it in the real world. You might be confusing the western public’s and some western governmental confusion about the political layout of the land in the Mideast, but evenso they damned well knew how to divide, conquer, and maintain control, directly and indirectly.

    I think what is happening is western Great Power politics. You go in and blow up a country or a region, seemingly having contradictory roles, but destabilizing everyone in the region. Suddenly everyone’s at everyone else’s throat. A Great Power then weighs its preconceived notions and further applies its power in ways that support one side or another – or both – until depletion of regional resources is maximized. Then the dust settles and guess what? The Great Power retains that power, the regional deck is shuffled with the same overall outcome: The Great Power still runs the joint, possibly with diminished manipulative ability. However, the region is so destabilized and weakened that the Great Power requires less manipulative ability than previously to continue to derive what it wants from the region.

    All that being said, with whatever degree of accuracy you may or may not attribute to the argument, in this present case of seemingly mistakenly invading the wrong country and supposedly empowering one’s own enemy (Iran), I think a longer game is underway. I think the overall destabilization of the region has been the first stage of the strategy. The second stage of the strategy, now well underway, has been to draw Iran out of its stasis situation and exposing it to demands on itself greater than it can sustain. In other words, I think the U.S. is trying to do to Iran with Iraq what it did to Russia in Afghanistan – successfully tempting it to take on more than it can handle, eventually leaving it more ripe for implosion than at anytime since 1979. The Long Game, my friends, is very long and with perfect memory, and though that memory at times may indeed be somewhat delusional, it’s nevertheless effective and destructive.

    Of course, a Great Power will overextend itself in the process as well, but those guiding the Great Power strategy will profit enormously and maintain that wealth indefinitely, even as the Great Power nation itself can decay and crumble. But the Great Power, the U.S. in this case, like Rome, will not fall in a day and can do a lot more damage in its extended time.

    • Gregory Kruse
      March 31, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      I think this is a very realistic outlook and more far-sighted than most comments one runs across. I like the use of the term, Great Power, because it harkens back to previous empires that have come and gone. We have to think big to understand the “big thinkers”.

    • Anthony Shaker
      March 31, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      Larry, thanks for your intelligent reply. I am so glad that Dr. Pillar’s reflections have also thrown the issue of a “Sunna”/Shi’a divide into stark relief. It is extremely important because sectarianism is exactly how the Saudi-Israeli alliance has been bringing everything to a boil since the 1980s.

      My remark on the West’s “misunderstanding” of the use of power is actually a historical one. I apologize for my vagueness. I do agree with you on the observable consequences of the use of power, but not the source of that power. Let me quote to you what I said in my post (sorry, with a typo corrected!):

      “…the West can’t continually market itself to victory, as it has been doing for the last century and half with the rest of humanity. At some point reality is liable to fall on everyone’s head.”

      There is a big question as to how the West managed to seize control of the world’s resources and of other lands. The standard explanation is: technology, science and military superiority.

      Well, I don’t think anybody has lost as many battles as the British, even at the hands of “no technology” tribesmen in Afghanistan and the Sudan. Their long list of defeats go back to their wars on the Irish, Scots, the Americans, etc. Yet, they still managed to win most of those wars. Conquerors are conquerors because they have proven “stronger” in some sense than their opponents, true. But stronger in what sense?

      The answer I hint at above says “through basic marketing skills.” Before America ever became the land of the free and a refuge and hope for the Old World’s downtrodden, the western European powers had been manoeuvering themselves successfully into this very role after the French Enlightenment.

      The first thing that Napoleon, that wily son of the Enlightenment did, uttered on landing on Egyptian shores in the 18th century was how much he respected the local Muslim ulama’s love of learning and science, how the Qur’an itself encouraged Muslims to cultivate this love of knowledge, and that the French were the true Muslims! You will find the full quotated translation from the Arabic in Albert Hourani’s “Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age 1798-1939.” Napoleon knew well that Islamic civlization had invented practically all the sciences we know today, including the rudiments of computer calculus and algorithms.

      But soon, like a herd, Japan and Russia followed the same “westernizing” line of development begun by the Muslims, modernizing their armies with “Western” help, and building roads for cars, rails for trains, etc. But it was ideology, not armies, that conquered the world for the West–from laissez-faire captialism to Marxism-Leninism to Trotskyism to Maoism, etc.

      I don’t want to sound anti-Western from any tribal standpoint. I represent no one and we don’t need that. In my view, modern ideology is a blight on the human mind, but it points to a secret that serious scholars know. Namely, that Western power stands on nothing solid. Worse, our Western societies and economies survive on little more than their differing capacities to delude themseves and the rest of the world. If enough people think something is all right, then I suppose it has to be so.

      True, illusions like ideas can become a reality, but this is very short-range thinking. Whenever illusions lose their footing, reality usually returns with a vengeance.

      Military and even cultural supriority are not the only factors for dominance. The Ottomans were “the” superpower in Europe for a good spell. They were culturally and scientifically superior to their western European rivals combined. By the way, the 11th century medical works of Persian Ibn Sina, known to the Latin Scholastics as Avicenna, continued to be used in England until the early 19th century! But the Ottomans still managed to lose southeastern Europe to a host of tiny feudal states in the end.

      Having a silver tongue more than helps! It has become a requirement of our modern era. We live in a world of artificially induced consumption just to keep the economy running. I know I learned much of this back in the 1970s while studying sociology. But we’ve lost track of it because we are so far advanced in our marketing skills that we seem enslaved to it.

      Luckily we have “weapons” like Hollywood, NGs and Mrs. Bush to continue advancing the cause of our Western civilization.

    • Anthony Shaker
      March 31, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      Larry, thanks for your intelligent reply. I am so glad that Dr. Pillar’s reflections have also thrown the issue of a “Sunna”/Shi’a divide into stark relief. It is extremely important because sectarianism is exactly how the Saudi-Israeli alliance has been bringing everything to a boil since the 1980s.

      My remark on the West’s “misunderstanding” of the use of power is actually a historical one. I apologize for my vagueness. I do agree with you on the observable consequences of the use of power, but not the source of that power. Let me quote to you what I said in my post (sorry, with a typo corrected!):

      “…the West can’t continually market itself to victory, as it has been doing for the last century and half with the rest of humanity. At some point reality is liable to fall on everyone’s head.”

      There is a big question as to how the West managed to seize control of the world’s resources and of other lands. The standard explanation is: technology, science and military superiority.

      Well, I don’t think anybody has lost as many battles as the British, even at the hands of “no technology” tribesmen in Afghanistan and the Sudan. Their long list of defeats go back to their wars on the Irish, Scots, the Americans, etc. Yet, they still managed to win most of those wars. Conquerors are conquerors because they have proven “stronger” in some sense than their opponents, true. But stronger in what sense?

      The answer I hint at above says “through basic marketing skills.” Before America ever became the land of the free and a refuge and hope for the Old World’s downtrodden, the western European powers had been manoeuvering themselves successfully into this very role after the French Enlightenment.

      The first thing that Napoleon, that wily son of the Enlightenment did, uttered on landing on Egyptian shores in the 18th century was how much he respected the local Muslim ulama’s love of learning and science, how the Qur’an itself encouraged Muslims to cultivate this love of knowledge, and that the French were the true Muslims! You will find the full quotated translation from the Arabic in Albert Hourani’s “Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age 1798-1939.” Napoleon knew well that Islamic civlization had invented practically all the sciences we know today, including the rudiments of computer calculus and algorithms.

      But soon, like a herd, Japan and Russia followed the same “westernizing” line of development begun by the Muslims, modernizing their armies with “Western” help, and building roads for cars, rails for trains, etc. But it was ideology, not armies, that conquered the world for the West–from laissez-faire captialism to Marxism-Leninism to Trotskyism to Maoism, etc.

      I don’t want to sound anti-Western from any tribal standpoint. I represent no one and we don’t need that. In my view, modern ideology is a blight on the human mind, but it points to a secret that serious scholars know. Namely, that Western power stands on nothing solid. Worse, our Western societies and economies survive on little more than their differing capacities to delude themseves and the rest of the world. If enough people think something is all right, then I suppose it has to be so.

      True, illusions like ideas can become a reality, but this is very short-range thinking. Whenever illusions lose their footing, reality usually returns with a vengeance.

      Military and even cultural supriority are not the only factors for dominance. The Ottomans were “the” superpower in Europe for a good spell. They were culturally and scientifically superior to their western European rivals combined. By the way, the 11th century medical works of Persian Ibn Sina, known to the Latin Scholastics as Avicenna, continued to be used in England until the early 19th century! But the Ottomans still managed to lose southeastern Europe to a host of tiny feudal states in the end.

      Having a silver tongue more than helps! It has become a requirement of our modern era. We live in a world of artificially induced consumption just to keep the economy running. I know I learned much of this back in the 1970s while studying sociology. But we’ve lost track of it because we are so far advanced in our marketing skills that we seem enslaved to it.

      Luckily we have “weapons” like Hollywood, NGs and Mrs. Bush to continue advancing the cause of our Western civilization.

    • Abraham
      April 6, 2015 at 7:41 am

      I strongly agree with you

  6. Fred Jakobcic
    March 31, 2015 at 11:29 am

    The CIA, in 1953, was behind the overthrow of the democratically elected Iran government, which seems to me to be a good reason to hate and to overthrow the Shah, put i place after, through the machinations of the United States and in the minds of the Iranians, justification for breaking into the American embassy.

  7. LarryS
    March 31, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Is this the end-game? Genesis 15:18

    The Promised Land

  8. Julian
    March 31, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    I have doubts that simply allying itself with the Sunni fundamentalists in Saudi-Arabia will immunize Israel from the attacks of radical Sunni Muslims, who believe that Israel should be wiped off the map.
    “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” can work short term, but it has never proven to be a long term strategy. The alliance between the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union almost immediately disintegrated once the common enemy, Hitler/Nazi Germany, was defeated. Quarrels had only been temporarily put aside in an effort to defeat the enemy which everyone shared.

    Antijudaism runs deep in many radical Muslim groups and Saudi influence, while strong, aren’t strong enough to leash them perfectly.
    If Syria falls to the Sunni extremists, does Netanyahu honestly believe that the terrorists will simply put down their weapons and cease fighting? It is far more likely that they’ll continue doing what they do best: fight. This time against Israel.

    • Stefan
      March 31, 2015 at 5:57 pm

      Terrorist proxies are predictable, as long as they are supported, and unleashed upon what is perceived as enemies. Terror proxy mercenaries are dependent on funds, arms, logistics and financial support.

      There is no shortage of financial and military support from Israel, their ally al Saud and other Gulf States, as well as war hawks in USA, not the least in the CIA and the neocon infested deep state within the US.

      Neither is there any shortage of countries in the Middle East that Israel perceives as enemies, and that geopolitical status is very unlikely to change anytime soon.

      Terror proxies has never been a serious threat to Israel, and neither to the United States. On the contrary, they have served the war hawks quite well for decades. What is often referred to as “blowback” is likely just an euphemism for intended chaos.

      The real threat to Israel, is not the terrorists they – together with allies such as USA and al Saud – support today, the real threat as Israel sees it, is secular nation states, that have the capabilities of uniting peoples inside borders, organising a society and developing the economies.
      Such a nation state can organise a STANDING ARMY, and that is what frightens Israel, a viable political unity that creates a strong state.

      That is why it sees Iran as such a “threat”.

      There is no existential threat to Israel from Iran. What Israel is afraid of, is losing its regional dominance.

  9. Drew Hunkins
    March 31, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    This is a marvelous piece by Mr. Parry. Thanks for this.

  10. March 31, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Thank you Robert, for this article, putting some important light on the Israeli-Saudi-alliance.

    Now to my criticism: First, let me laud Anthony Shaker who made the important point that the sectarian division is a powerful propaganda ploy by the Israeli-Saudi-alliance. While the Israeli-Saudi-alliance does indeed portray the world in such sectarian terms, the Iranian led axis of resistance sees the conflict as a struggle of liberation from colonialism or neo-colonialism, and they work with any side together to achieve progress in this struggle, Shia in Iraq, Saudi Arabia & Bahrain, Sunnis as PIJ, Hamas, & Muslim Brotherhood, Zaidi in Yemen, Christians in Lebanon & Russia, Communists & Socialists in China & Latin America and so on.

    And, second: While Saudi Arabia propagates sectarian world views, it does not live up to them. It allies itself with Jewish Israel, Christian America, Yemeni Zaidis and so on. What that proves is that the Saudi government, many of whom are well-known for stories like drinking, partying etc and not behaving according to their own ideology when abroad or behind closed doors, at the heart of the matter, doesn’t believe in it’s own ideology, it just uses it as a propaganda ploy.

    And third and very important: popular support. It is indeed true that Iran vastly spread it’s influence in recent years. But in describibing the reasons for this you miss a major point. Popular support for closer cooperation with Iran is the main force driving this spread of Iran’s influence. Iraq’s government is not so close with Iran because Iran has set up a military occupation in Iraq, but because Iran-friendly Iraqi politicians repeatedly won democratic elections in Iraq – handing US-Saudi-Israeli-backed candidates sound defeats at the ballot boxes. And those elections were not organized by Iran, but by the US occupation forces. Similar is with Lebanon. Hezbollah there is strong because of it’s military might, but the ultimate strength of Hezbollah in Lebanon is popular support. The main reason for that Hezbollah sits in the Lebanese government is not it’s military might, but because it repeatedly won – together with it’s Christian allies – crucial elections there against US-Saudi-Israeli-backed candidates. And the same is basically true for Gaza, where Iranian-backed candidates from Hamas – to the horror of Israel and the West – won crucial elections. That the situation in Syria is different, is mainly because the Western-Saudi-Israeli backed opposition doesn’t want to participate in elections competing with Iranian-backed candidates, preferring to call competitive elections against Iranian-backed candidates scam-elections. And in Yemen, the Saudi-Israeli backed regime just didn’t hold any competitive elections to avoid defeat against Iranian-backed candidates.

    I think the fact that Iranian influence in the region is based on popular support and victories at ballot boxes is a major point you missed in your article.

  11. Dave Johnson
    March 31, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    The military is planning a major drill in the American Southwest this summer called Jade Helm. Many delusional right-wing “patriots” believe Jade Helm is designed to set up martial law in America and grab all the guns. The truth is far more sinister. According to Russian based Sputniknews Jade Helm is practice for an American invasion and occupation of Iran. Because Iran has 81 million people such an operation would be expensive in blood and treasure and last for years. Moreover an invasion of Iran would be seen by Russia and China as a threat to them. They are next on the hit list after Iran. An invasion pf Iran could quickly deteriorate into a global war.

  12. Peter Loeb
    April 1, 2015 at 5:49 am

    THE BITTER TRUTH….

    “It’s a bitter truth”: In a capatlist society, truth must be marketed like any other
    commodity.” —-Joyce Carol Oates

    Many advocates ( likeJoseph Massad in EI) have responded like a boxer who has been injured: He knows well the origin of his wild and inaccurate confusion as his legs continue to wobble. “Liberals” are blamed and strangely President Eisenhower is blamed as well.
    (Those in charge of foreign policy were the very same as under his predecessor, Truman.)

    This seems to get Democrats off the hook such as the US South’s racist “self-determination”
    of Woodrow Wilson, the militaristic and anti-communist NSC 68 of Harry Truman (April,
    1950), the bribery of Western Europe through the Marshall Plan, the failures of American
    so-called “free enterprise” in many other countries, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton etc. The rage is more than justified. The lack of understanding of US history and power and of settler colonialism (See Michael Prior CM, THE BIBLE AND COLONIALISM: A MORAL CRITIQUE) are missing in the hurt and anger before hitting the deck on wobbly legs…

    Robert Parry has a more balanced comprehension which informs his analysis.

    This proxy war for the US and Israel is being carried out complete with armed tankers, intelligence to fight the evil Iranians. And the equally evil Assad regime in Syria which carried out torture under contract with the American CIA’s “extraordinary renditions” program. So too did many of the so-called “allies” of the West such as Morocco, Egypt, and Jordan not to mention US prisons abroad such as Bagram in Afghanistan. But it is understood that such covert activities though known to all are never discussed in public discourse. Neither are the attacks and assassinations by drones (60 % are made in Israel and over 8oo Palestinians were killed just last summer).

    Many of us depend on Mr. Parry’s clear evaluations,

    —–Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA
    selfs

  13. Gepay
    April 1, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    I thank you for bringing out many facts that the MSM doesn’t care to mention. I imagine you go as far as you can and still maintain credibility. You weren’t afraid to bring the October surprise of the Reagan not yet administration out in the open. YOu don’t have a probelem disputing the Obama admin version of the downing of MH -17/. But when it comes to 9/11, I guess you just have to go along with the Bush administration version even though someone like Andreas Von Bulow who served as secretary of state in the German Federal Ministry of Defense and Minister for Research and Technology, both during the Chancellor Helmut Schmidt administration. He served for 25 years as an SPD member of the German parliament (1969-1994). In the late eighties and early nineties, he served on the parliamentary committee on intelligence services. This committee supervises German intelligence agencies and has access to classified information. Says:
    “The official story (of 911) is so farfetched and inadequate…there must be a different one.”
    I know it’s a Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole when one starts to look into it but isn’t this where the Saudi-Israeli alliance began. We know Bandar Bush’s wife sent money to the hijackers in California. The same ones who were shepherded around by an agent of Saudi Arabia, and later stayed with an FBI informant.
    The dancing Israelis were certainly aware of what was going on before it happened and Israeli agents were perfect for shepherding some of alleged hijackers around the US. The same people who would keep the iranian embassy hostages there much longer than necessary to get Reagan elected wouldn’t mind letting thousands of americans die in the towers in order to further their World Empire needs. and it did – it worked fabulously well – who gained Netanhayu when asked. what the attack meant for relations between the United States and Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister, replied: “It’s very good.”

    Then he edited himself: “Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.” but later, ” “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq.”
    We all know the national security complex gained immensely from being defeated as they say by a some guy in a cave in Tora Bora whose electronic communications had been monitored for years and organization was infiltrated by 2 0r more intellgence orgs. . And then a decade or so later his body can be thrown out to sea in great american triumph with a movie to come that says torture works.
    It is not as clear to me what Saudi Arabia gained by being a very junior partner in this false flag event.
    But I don’t think less of you for going along with this stupid story as you know what would happen to your credibility if you questioned the official story of 9/11 and there are so many other stories that need to be debunked or illuminated as you did do in the above article. The only thing is whenever you talk like you believe the official story as you did above you give credence to an obvious lie. ” there is the official story and then there is historical truth…”

    • dahoit
      April 2, 2015 at 11:12 am

      Yeah,the authors statement on OBL and 9-11;The FBI had no tangible evidence to tie OBL to 9-11.What is the authors evidence?And when they allegedly killed him,why would they not want interrogation on the web of Al CIAda?or is that self explanatory?

  14. Light Feather
    April 1, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Use indians to kill other indians. It worked for George Washington, Jackson, Jefferson and so on and on and on. These human males were GREAT in their lust for power and destruction over the land/resources and indians whom were in their way. They were antipatriotic to their country of origin (U.K) and king and traitors only to empower themselves to disregard all life as they saw fit. The only truth about them was their evil.

    • dahoit
      April 2, 2015 at 11:18 am

      And those Indians who killed other Indians for power,territory or vengeance,prior to the white man,were they evil?
      irrelevant finger pointing to diminish today’s criminals actions.

  15. Light Feather
    April 1, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Use indians to kill other indians. It worked for George Washington, Jackson, Jefferson and so on and on and on. These human males were GREAT in their lust for power and destruction over the land/resources and indians whom were in their way. They were antipatriotic to their country of origin (U.K) and king and traitors only to empower themselves to disregard all life as they saw fit. The only truth about them was their evil.

  16. traducteur
    April 3, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Hundreds of millions of dead and maimed and generations of children condemned to birth defects from depleted uranium won’t bother the Zionists any, as long as the victims are only goyim.

  17. Bruce Tanner
    April 8, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Robert, you write: “For instance, in 2003, as revenge for the 9/11 slaughter of 3,000 Americans – carried out primarily by Saudi extremists under the leadership of Saudi Osama bin Laden…”

    I’m rather surprised, at this late date, that you would express as fact the basic official, unproven “conspiracy theory” of the events of 9/11. PERHAPS this is what GW Bush may have believed, though I question even that, but surely you know better.

  18. jmills
    April 8, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Agree with Bruce! Unfortunately this whole article falls down because of this one premise. Everything changed after 9/11 and it wasn’t thanks to Osama. He even denied being involved at the beginning. No it is looking more and more likely that the Mossad was the guiding hand and of course they wouldn’t or couldn’t have acted alone without their partners the CIA.

Comments are closed.