Despite Saudi Crisis, US Increases Threats Against Iran

Though the U.S.-Saudi alliance may have been weakened because of the Khashoggi murder, both countries are still targeting Iran as new US sanctions are announced on Sunday, writes Marjorie Cohn of Truthout. 

By Marjorie Cohn
Truthout

The alleged torture, murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, widely believed to have been carried out on orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, may put a crimp in Donald Trump’s plans to escalate his aggression against Iran.

Saudi Arabia, the United States and Israel are unified in their hatred of Iran, albeit with different motives. Iran has been in the crosshairs of the United States since the 1979 Iranian Revolution overthrew the vicious, US-installed puppet Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi; indeed, in 2002, George W. Bush initiated Iran into his “axis of evil.” Saudi Arabia, home to the two holiest Muslim sites, sees Shiite Iran as a rival for regional hegemony. And Israel considers Iran an “existential threat.”

Trump administration officials and outside experts said that possible repercussions on an elaborate plan to squeeze the Iranians have dominated internal discussions about the fallout over what happened to Mr. Khashoggi,” David Sanger reported in The New York Times.

The allegations against the Saudi crown prince “have already had an effect” on Israel, “effectively freezing the push to build an international coalition against Iran’s regional influence, the top priority for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” Ben Hubbard and David Halbfinger, citing “analysts,” wrote in the Times.

White House officials are worried the mushrooming crisis with Saudi Arabia could “derail a showdown with Iran and jeopardize plans to enlist Saudi help to avoid disrupting the oil market.”

Trump Still Ramps It Up

Trump and Salman still going in same direction on Iran. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Following the dangerous and foolhardy withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — which pleased Israel and Saudi Arabia, the Trump administration is slated to announce on Sunday that companies doing business with Iran — including purchasing oil or making investments in the country — will be forbidden from doing business in the United States. The imposition of these punishing sanctions are intended to result in a full embargo of Iran’s oil. 

Trump will need Saudi military and political cooperation if, “as threatened,” Iran retaliates against his oil embargo by taking “reciprocal, physical action to halt Saudi and Gulf states’ oil exports via the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf and the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, at the mouth of the Red Sea,” Simon Tisdall noted in The Guardian. “If this crisis point is reached, escalating confrontations across the region cannot be ruled out.”

The Trump administration is relying on Saudi Arabia to pump extra oil once Iran is out of the market. But Congress is considering whether to punish Saudi Arabia for the Khashoggi case.

To penalize what the Saudis care about most – oil revenue – would be to undercut the Iran policy and send the price of gasoline and heating oil significantly higher, just as winter approaches,” Sanger noted.

Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, told the Times, “It’s a neat trick if you both sanction a country and partner with them at the same time,” adding, “it’s not easy to keep the focus on Iran’s behavior when the Saudis are doing terrible things to journalists and dissidents, and bombing children in Yemen.”

The Khashoggi murder has shone a spotlight on the commission of Saudi war crimes in Yemen, aided and abetted by the United States. In a New York Times opinion piece, Sen. Bernie Sanders called for ending US military support to Saudi Arabia. But Sanger cited administration sources as saying, “the issue of limiting American arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which Mr. Trump has said would threaten American jobs, pales in importance [to the plan to squeeze Iran].”

Meanwhile, Trump continues to rattle the sabers at Iran.

Taliban Targeted

Pompeo: US will ‘crush’ Iran. (US Government Photo)

On Oct. 23, the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, comprised of the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, designated nine individuals “associated with the Taliban,” some of whom have “Iranian sponsors.” A Bush-era executive order authorizes the Office of Foreign Assets Control to block the assets of anyone or any group designated as a terrorist.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the terrorism designations in a press release, stating that the United States is “targeting key Iranian sponsors providing financial and material support to the Taliban.” He added, “Iran’s support to the Taliban stands in stark violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions and epitomizes the regime’s utter disregard for fundamental international norms.”

In a May speech, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would “crush” Iran with new sanctions so severe that regime change could result.

Moreover, on Oct. 5, the White House released its long-awaited 25-page counterterrorism strategy, which calls Iran “the most prominent state sponsor of terrorism.” It pledges to fight Iran and “radical Islamist” militants to eliminate the terror threat against the United States.

In fact, Iran has not used aggressive military force against a hostile neighbor for more than 200 years. Curiously, the new U.S. counterterrorism strategy fails to identify Saudi Arabia, which is targeting civilians and killing thousands of them in Yemen (and backing extremists in Syria and elsewhere), as a terrorist threat.

Eric Margolis, a veteran war correspondent in the Middle East, reported in July that the Pentagon has prepared plans for an air attack on Iran:

The Pentagon has planned a high-intensity air war against Iran that Israel and the Saudis might very well join. The plan calls for over 2,300 air strikes against Iranian strategic targets: airfields and naval bases, arms and petroleum, oil and lubricant depots, telecommunication nodes, radar, factories, military headquarters, ports, water works, airports, missile bases and units of the Revolutionary Guards.

The National Coalition to Prevent an Iranian Nuclear Weapon, a group of more than 50 prominent foreign policy experts, released a statement saying, “The Trump Administration’s Iran strategy is to assert maximum economic, political and military pressure to change Iran’s behavior and threaten, if not cause, collapse of the regime.” That strategy, they added, “has left Iran the option of either capitulation or war.”

Many in Congress are worried that Trump may be gunning for Iran. They are trying to prevent him from mounting a preemptive strike.

Will Congress Stop an Attack?

Udall: Bill sponsor to prevent Iran without Congress okay. (Cannon AFB)

On Sept. 28, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), joined by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), introduced the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act of 2018. It would prohibit the United States from appropriating money that could lead to war with Iran unless Congress expressly approves. The legislation makes clear that a preemptive attack on Iran would be illegal under the War Powers Act and the US Constitution.

The Udall bill notes that “the International Atomic Energy Agency repeatedly verified that Iran has continued to comply with it nuclear-related obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.” US noncompliance with the JCPOA, the bill continues, “risks an unnecessary conflagration with Iran through the use of sanctions against both allies and adversaries in the region and throughout the world, absent a clear diplomatic path for resolving the crisis.” The bill quotes Trump’s tweet that Iran “[w]ill suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.”

Congress explicitly provided in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019, “Nothing in this Act may be construed to authorize the use of force against Iran or North Korea.”

In April, a bipartisan bill to replace the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Force (AUMF) was introduced in the Senate and is currently pending in the Foreign Relations Committee. The proposed bill would allow the president “to use all necessary and appropriate force” against Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia, al-Qaeda, ISIS (also known as Daesh), the Taliban and their “associated forces.” But by its terms, “associated forces” specifically excludes “a sovereign nation.” So, the new AUMF would not cover Iran.

That wouldn’t stop Trump from purporting to rely on the 2001 AUMF to attack Iran, however. Although specifically limited to those responsible for 9/11, Bush, Obama and Trump have all used it to justify at least 37 military operations, many of them unrelated to 9/11.

Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and an advisory board member of Veterans for Peace. The editor and contributor to The United States and Torture: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues, Cohn testified before Congress about the Bush interrogation policy.

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47 comments for “Despite Saudi Crisis, US Increases Threats Against Iran

  1. bardamu
    November 13, 2018 at 1:20 am

    The US government has armed and financed actions against the Yemeni civilian population for a good few years–actions by the Yemeni government, the Saudi government, US military and paramilitary personnel, and likely others as well, since many operations were not conducted publicly. At one point, the Yemeni government was taking credit for US drone strikes on its own population.

    With that in mind, Occam’s razor suggests that US government objections to Saudi violence against Yemen are for show, and that the sword rattling against Iran and direct violence in Yemen are two movements in a single orchestral presence, parts of a symphonic assault carried on with variations on a theme over decades.

    That does not leave much reason to imagine a crisis of conscience or an age of reason dawning in the District of Columbia. It also does not provide much reason to suppose that Congress will deny the US military or anyone else money or arms.

    • Hank
      November 14, 2018 at 11:23 am

      If an American Congress does NOT hold the military/CIA accountable for its actions, then why do we even have a Congress? It’s time someone started to enforce the American Constitution and punish those who were sworn to “uphold and defend” it but instead took a good long crap on it! Don’t hold your breath waiting for war criminals to investigate themselves!

  2. Don Bacon
    November 7, 2018 at 11:58 am

    The US is ramping up its economic aggression against the Iranian people, and Iran has responded in Afghanistan.
    from two news sources;

    The attack on the headquarters in Farah, close to the Iranian border, destroyed the first battalion’s base in the district of Poshti Koh. Sgt.Gholam Mohammad, the senior noncommissioned officer, said from a clinic where he had been taken with a minor head wound that, in addition to the 20 border force officers killed, 25 had been taken captive by the Taliban. Three others escaped.

    and

    According to Afghan and American high-ranking officials, there is evidence to prove Iran is providing Taliban insurgents with weapons, money, and training. In 2016, the former governor of Farah province Asif Nang also accused Iran of supporting and harboring Taliban fighters.

    • Hank
      November 14, 2018 at 11:30 am

      Oh my gosh, Iran providing aid to the enemy??!! Isn’t this what the USA does on a grand scale each and every day? Provide weapons and munitions to ruthless repressive dictatorships who could care less about “their people”? If someone wants a capsule about what’s going on, what HAS been going on, in the Middle East for many years now, here it is-

      The USA/Israel constantly accuses nations like Iran, labelling it the “foremost exporter of terrorism in the world” when any research by someone with at least half a brain shows the REALITY to be 180 degrees from what the USA wants Americans to believe. If Iran IS an “exporter” of terrorism, then where are the facts to prove this? From where I sit, it is Israel and the USA who are hell-bent on causing wars and divisions in the Middle East so it can be carved up for oil and whatever else they can steal from its rightful owners. If the USA administrations continue to ignore the will of pretty much the rest of the world, then it is the USA that can truly be considered a “racist” nation!

  3. Joe Tedesky
    November 6, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    Here’s something to think about; if the Democrats do take control of the House of Representatives and if the Dem’s proceed to implement impeachment proceedings will Trump declare war on Iran? If so this wouldn’t be the first time an American president wagged the dog’s tail.

    • O Society
      November 7, 2018 at 6:14 pm

      I don’t understand. Why would people think the Democrats want to impeach Trump? The narrative is not real.

      https://opensociet.org/2018/09/04/how-do-we-know-the-resistance-is-not-real/

      • Joe Tedesky
        November 7, 2018 at 11:49 pm

        Maybe for the trill of the ‘Political Theatre’. I’m not sure if reasoning runs the decisions made in DC. I hear what you are saying, and hopefully you are more right than I, but we are talking about our Nation’s capital and the critters who make things happen there and everywhere… just because they can.

        Thanks though O Society for you make a valid point. Don’t mind me I’m just throwing stuff out there. Joe

  4. November 6, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    This is tangential; I don’t know whether any of you who comment on CN note articles everywhere about earthquake activity increasing, Ring of Fire and volcanoes. Dutchsinse independently puts out reports. California had 39 events last 24 hours, southern CA showing muddy sinkhole increasing very fast, beginning of San Andreas fault at Salton Sea. I say this as politicians attempt to ignore this info, but they actually cannot. This little post says nearly nothing, this is big. Trump and company, Obama, etc know nothing of this.

  5. Mild - ly - Facetious
    November 6, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    https://consortiumnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Donald_and_Melania_Trump_arrive_to_the_Murabba_Palace_escorted_by_King_Salman_bin_Abdulaziz_Al_Saud_May_2017.jpg

    The question is, why isn’t Melania Required to wear a head scarf and Black Robe inside the Saudi Palace?

    The answer can only be ascribed to American Exceptionalism … ?

    What do Saudi women, whom are Strictly Controlled, think of Western uninhabited sexuality and freedom of expression???

    Why are Saudi men free to solicit “favors” from women world wide while
    enforcing strict restriction of freedom upon head clothed, and, beautiful Saudi women… ?

    Is jealous possessiveness a root of the tree of Saudi Wahabbism and ruthless guillotine-ish cutting-off-of-heads ???

    Does the Nationalist Mr Trump get to touch V J’s – with Monied impunity – and not pay a price???

    Whose World is this? — Who’s calling these shots as to who’s life has value??

    Is gender control a characteristic of Male Supremacy/Male Dominance ; a characteristic of brute force?

    If so, the peace seeking world is lost to Brute Animals like Trump and Saudi kings/princes.

    (Who shall deliver us from the body of this death… ?)

  6. Mild - ly - Facetious
    November 6, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Would I be a bit Fatuously Facetious in pointing out Mrs. Trump’s Western (& Somewhat Revealing) style of dress inside the Saudi Arabian Palace where Saudi women are required to be cloistered / covered head-to-toe? …is “cultural dominance” in play here… ? / / or are Trump and Saudi Kings, Princes’ and CIA Agents given free reign to beautiful women World Wide, with total impunity… ?

    https://consortiumnews.com/wpcontent/uploads/2018/11/Donald_and_Melania_Trump_arrive_to_the_Murabba_Palace_escorted_by_King_Salman_bin_Abdulaziz_Al_Saud_May_2017.jpg

  7. November 6, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    I think Europe needs a bold few to create a movement for a Declaration of Independence, that it will no longer suffer the economic oppression of a lawless bully that threatens the whole world. Even the lawless bully would benefit, recognizing that its victims will be better off but it, too, will be.

  8. November 6, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Fascinating article by a top-notch American attorney and board member of Veterans for Peace. In other words someone whose actual knowledge of Iran and of the Middle East is negligible. In conventional manner she describes everything as an American imperialist plot. American leftists, just like American rightists, are navel-gazers obssessed with their own country.

  9. mrtmbrnmn
    November 6, 2018 at 12:42 am

    Sad to say, your comments system is as bad as your new typeface. Are you intentionally trying to drive your followers/supporters away? What’s your alibi/explanation? Who are you paying too much to misadvise you on this?

    • Gen Dau
      November 6, 2018 at 8:33 pm

      Yes, this typeface is indeed terrible. It is so hard to read that it is painfully distracting and makes it hard to comprehend the fine articles I am reading. I cannot share articles written in this distractingly bad typeface because of the bad reactions I have gotten to sharing them. Please, Consortium News, don’t shoot yourself in the foot this way. We need your articles to be widely read!

    • Charlie B
      November 7, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      I have to agree about the type face. It’s distracting and heated to read, especially in my phone. It makes the site look chintzy and amateur, when in reality the site is offering some of the best commentary and reporting available. Please bring the visual design back to match the quality of the writing.

  10. Alex Lemas
    November 5, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    Read “The Iron Curtain Over America”, these Khazars have been at it since 1887, and are not about to quit.

    • Zhu
      November 7, 2018 at 2:34 am

      Khazars are long gone. We Americans are to blame for our own crimes & follies.

  11. mrtmbrnmn
    November 5, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    That Iran is the “world’s most prominent sponsor of terrorism” is in fact the world’s biggest lie. Right up there with: “Your check is in the mail!” and the one pertaining to a certain x-rated activity. It is totally appropriate that the repulsive and psychotic Saudi inbreds have created the Terrorist Targeting Financing Center, with their witches Coven of Gulf State make-believe “Monarchs”. They have been targeting which terrorists to finance for at least the past 30 years. It is waaay past time to take the Saudi out of Saudi Arabia. And as long as the US is the Saudis’ and Satanyahu’s barking mad lapdog there is no hope for a better Middle East / World.

  12. KiwiAntz
    November 5, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    America’s illogical & illegal behaviour towards Iran defies belief? America has put Iran on a pedestal as the sole sponsor of Terrorism but this claim doesn’t stack up under examination? Saudi Arabia & Israel are the main Terrorists Nations in the Middle East if you where to put their activities under the spotlight! Iran has never invaded any other Country or attacked anymore? Contrast that with Saudi Arabia & its. devious complicity in funding & supporting ISIS & ISIL Terrorists in Iraq, Libya, Syria & Yemen? What’s really sickening is America’s depraved Faustian deal to coverup the role of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks? 15 out of the 19 Terrorists who hyjacked the planes that killed 3 thousand Americans on 9/11 where Saudi’s! SAUDI’s! Not Iranians, Iraq’s or Syrians but SAUDI’s! Then Saudi’s we’re whisked out of the USA within days of the attacks, with the full help & support of the US Govt to disguise & shield them from public scrutiny? But hey, what’s the death of 3 thousand Americans or the death of Khashoggi matter when the US is prepared to allow the deaths & sacrifice its own citizens & others in order to preserve the selling of billions of dollars of arms sales to this disgraceful Regime! To quote Stalin, “the death of one person is a tragedy, the death of one million is a statistic” or America’s version of this would read “ The death of Khashoggi is a tragedy, the death of 3 thousand Americans on 9/11 is a statistic “? That’s how demented & morally bankrupt the American Empire is in its ridiculous Treatment against Iran!

    • Ryan Hill
      November 6, 2018 at 5:01 pm

      What about the US as the major sponsor of terrorism in the ME both directly and indirectly.

  13. November 5, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Because our international policies are often unlawful, the United States has done the unthinkable, it has simply proclaimed law between nations, between peoples no longer govern our actions. We are above the law. This does not preclude us from adhering to it and claiming we are doing something because of it, if it suits our aims. It is unthinkable that the United States would engage in carnage and destruction of the nation of Iran and its people but the article makes clear it could happen. It was unthinkable with Iraq but it happened.

    Check our news this evening. Any evening and where do you find anyone pleading for or demanding a return to principles we created in the UN charter, to intent of the Constitution to prevent things like this, none of that is being discussed in a serious way.

    It begins with a lie, the lie is repeated over and over again, and then ……..

    WMDs, violation of the nuclear agreement, greatest exporter of terror, lies of staggering proportions repeated over and over again until….

  14. Sam
    November 5, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    The U.S. is Israel’s mini-me.

  15. November 5, 2018 at 11:58 am

    I could not look at Pompass’s photo (good one, Skeptigal) without seeing a teenager in an adult body. Look at the puerile expression on his face! The same is true of Trump and Bolton. These people are (mis)leading the US. Nuttyahoo pulls these marionettes around by the strings, and what strings?

    Unfortunately, stupid decisions are made from the Dimocrat side. We are in unprecedented times. Here in Dumbamerica we have to rely on judgments from outside the “western” point of view to hold the world together. When have we seen times like these? Not in my lifetime of 75 years!

  16. Michael
    November 5, 2018 at 11:18 am

    This is a great article. Thank you.

    Our legacy of an oil empire and subsequent dealings are coming home to roost as the many contradictions are becoming so apparent to all. While in the past our elites have been successful in portraying us as the global foundation of “freedom”, the rise of the availability of multiple viewpoints independent of capital intensive printing presses and production studios via the internet. I’m not sure how long this will be allowed to continue.

    The other major contradiction in conjunction with free flowing information is the world’s short term dependence on oil, combined with a extreme consolidation of wealth allowing powerful parties to act without realizing the consequence of their actions.

    Inasmuch as the world needs to get off oil as quickly as possible to mitigate the worst consequences of our upcoming climate disaster, ie human extinction, as specified in the latest IPCC report (up to 45% reduction of CO2 in 12 years) the parties controlling the global game are playing a long term losing game.

    Unless SA can use it’s wealth to quickly redevelop itself as the solar capital of the Eurasia, it’s role will evaporate in the upcoming heat.

  17. Jeff Harrison
    November 5, 2018 at 10:30 am

    The United States is cruisin’ for a bruisin’. If the US does, in fact, attack Iran, it will ignite the entire Middle East. Iran will strike back at Israel and Saudi and any of our fleet assets in the Persian Gulf and at any and all oil traffic. How effective will their responses be? Who knows. They are armed with rockets and cruise missiles and aircraft and have a pretty good littoral navy. In any event, it would get ugly quickly and you can kiss $5/gal gas goodbye.

    • Joe Tedesky
      November 6, 2018 at 4:21 pm

      “We do not know what a war with Iran, or Russia, or China would look like or what the Iranians might do. An overconfident military and an inexperienced government in Washington will predictably predict a short war and speak of precision weapons and surgical strikes. The Navy will guarantee that it can keep the Straits open, and speak of its advanced technology. The expectation will be that there will be nothing unexpected. The White House will believe that Iran will lie there and be bombed without response. Russia? The nukes will fall on the European countries from which the attack came. Germany might ponder this carefully. ”

      https://fredoneverything.org/lets-have-a-war-with-russia-id-rather-be-ruled-by-autistic-hamsters/

      Read what Fred has to say he knows everything. Seriously the guy makes a lot of sense no matter what side of the aisle he’s coming from. If nothing else Fred leaves room for thought… remember that when we use to think? Well at least your still thinking Jeff. Joe

  18. vinnieoh
    November 5, 2018 at 10:15 am

    “That wouldn’t stop Trump from purporting to rely on the 2001 AUMF to attack Iran, however. Although specifically limited to those responsible for 9/11, Bush, Obama and Trump have all used it to justify at least 37 military operations, many of them unrelated to 9/11.”

    I’ll repeat what I said last week. The attack will come without discussion, debate, or the endorsement of the worthless US Congress. The ruthless murdering animal the US empire has become knows that all arguments are against it. Which is the very reason they will strike suddenly. Old Persia will be destroyed and “the exceptional nation” will be in lockdown, from sea to roiling sea.

  19. November 5, 2018 at 3:54 am

    It’s fairly clear by now that the manufactured “crisis” is a flanking strategy. US Deepstate and Saudi Deepstate are both unhappy with MBS and his reform moves. This “crisis” is aimed to destabilize MBS and restore the older factions in Saudi. The alliance between both Deepstates is unchanged.

  20. November 5, 2018 at 2:35 am

    I think the analysis misses key items.

    Israel’s opposition to Iran has really nothing to do with Netanyahu’s much-repeated and groundless “existential” blubbering.

    Israel hates Iran simply because it is the “natural” chief nation of the region, given its population the size of Germany’s and its oil wealth. The United States recognized Iran’s special destiny decades ago when it formed a close alliance with the Shah – really, another kind of carpetbagger in the region, if you will – and kept him supplied with powerful weapons. Ah, but the best laid plans….`

    Israel believes it is entitled to that position because of its backing by the United States, a backing that is close to being without limits, given the elaborate relationship between Washington’s politicians and the money and influence of the American Israel Lobby.

    There is a kind of vicious cycle established in Washington that is not easily disturbed: every time a Congressman rewards Israel with taxpayer money or resources, he or she personally is rewarded by the Lobby through campaign contributions, favorable press, and other benefits. It’s a kind of treadmill from which few American politicians are ready to step off. And besides, stepping off not only loses you your benefits, it risks those very resources being used directly against you by this best organized of all lobbying groups.

    Indeed, the Saudi efforts in recent years to “cuddle up” with Israel reflect accepting that same reality plus the fact that the Saudis felt they badly needed to work hard to appease Washington following 9/11.

    Regardless of the suggestions of some Washington politicians trying to make cheap points and deflect public attention away from big unanswered questions, it is clear that the Saudis didn’t “do” 9-11, but they looked bad for several reasons and felt extremely vulnerable. The “defender” of their oil wealth could easily have become its conqueror, and what a prize that would be compared to the wastes of Afghanistan.

    The Saudi Royal Family always has some sense of vulnerability anyway since they are really interlopers to the region, just as Israel is, going back only a decade or so before Israel’s artificial re-birth. They sit on a huge pile of wealth that really belongs to the people of the country, and like all immensely wealthy people, they are fearful of attack.

    Those facts provide some natural common causes with Israel which only in recent years are being exploited. Israel, too, sits on a form of great wealth in the region with its American connections and American/European billionaire dual-citizen investors. Israel’s leaders too are effectively interlopers, European-origin people, who only because of shared religious beliefs think they are entitled to what the ancient Hebrews owned for a while.

    And both these countries have “special” relationships with the United States, Saudi Arabia through the Petro-dollar and Israel through its immensely influential American Lobby. With the Saudis now “cuddling up” to Israel, it seems even more is at stake in view of America’s Neocon fantasies about a re-born Middle East.

    The conservative form of Islam largely adhered to in Saudi Arabia does not warmly embrace the newcomers in Israel, and the Saudi Royal Family used to make that clear for the sake of peace at home. The main Princes of Saudi Arabia are not religious the way its traditional citizens are. They are very worldly men, and none more so than the new Crown Prince who seems to have embraced the ethics of Al Capone.

    So, the Saudis have bent over backwards in recent years, and the momentum that way has only greatly increased under the bloody Crown Prince.

    Israel’s officialdom adores the Crown Prince, and when Israel adores something, Washington pretty much is obligated to do the same.

    However, the whole relationship is fraught with instabilities, and publicly-known acts like the brutal murder of Khashoggi only bring new potential instability. The Crown Prince has become something of a Tar Baby no one wants to hold. It isn’t clear that the West can continue to openly embrace this man, even though Netanyahu is busy privately lobbying hard for him.

    Sometimes, as when the bloody Shah was deposed in Iran, and despite his strong American support, things just don’t go the way imperial planners think they should.

  21. November 4, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Israel has nuclear weapons and the US says nothing. You don’t think Israelis pay the US to war with Iran, do you?

    http://opensociet.org/2018/11/04/the-lobby-massive-israeli-influence-on-american-politicians

  22. Joe Tedesky
    November 4, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    If the Europeans by even half or less support any U.S. led Iranian invasion then it’s all a scam. With the U.S. pulling out of the INF agreement with Russia you would think Europe to be very vulnerable to an all out nuclear catastrophe of the worst kind. Add the U.S. removal from the INF along with the U.S. pulling out of the JPCOA while leaving it’s European allies in the dust, is a matter left quite seriously unresolved. This among the many U.S. imposed sanctions which hurt not only the opposition of the U.S. but it includes it’s allies as well, is not reflective of a good U.S. strategy. The world is a tinderbox just waiting for someone too strike the match to blow up the whole planet. Is this global arsonist the role the U.S. is willing to play? It appears so.

    • Skeptigal
      November 4, 2018 at 7:39 pm

      I agree. The leadership of the US is dominated by sociopathic individuals. How else do you explain such insane policies and behaviour? When you have a collective mindset of individuals such as Pompass, with a smug smile on his face uttering pompous threats and Bolton, the Geppetto look-a-like, a deranged little man calling Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua a “Troika of Tyranny”, how can anything good come out of this government. The “Troika of Tyranny” should be Saudi Arabia, the US and its Mini-Me, Israel.

      • Joe Tedesky
        November 5, 2018 at 10:15 am

        I guess the good news is there are several Democrats petitioning for Constitutional restraint. With that I would not get my hopes up, as it isn’t as though we haven’t been here before. I swear our nation glorifies war as though war was a virtue. Why, one could almost say an American politician suggesting peaceful foreign policy methods is a traitor… oh wait that has been said before, but you get my point, right?

      • KiwiAntz
        November 6, 2018 at 4:35 am

        The American Empire is behaving like sociopaths because you are witnessing the death throes of a dying, unipolar Hegemon in a last gasp, powergrap for Global domination & influence that is slipping away like water, through their fingers? The arrogance, hubris & insane behaviour being acted out by the American Empire & it’s Leaders are confirmation that they can see the writing on the wall, that the end of Empire is within sight & the Imbecile in Chief, Donald Trump is accelerating this process via his Trade Wars & Economic Warfare use of sanctions that will backfire horribly on the US because Nations are now consolidating their efforts to destroy the US Dollar Tyranny & it’s weaponisation of the SWIFT System? China, Russia & others are coming up with alternative systems that will isolate the US which will end up as a backwater, has been, shadow of itself! When the full implementation of these new systems are inacted, it’s GAME OVER America!

    • Bob Van Noy
      November 5, 2018 at 9:12 am

      Again we have apparently, only this insightful forum to piece together the big picture in both Europe and the Mideast. What a shame for our vaunted American Diplomats and The Fourth Estate.

      Thank you CD for assembling learned writers like Marjorie Cohn to help us sift through this mess. How humiliating it is to watch this Nation stumble mindlessly through lying International Policy positions that simply diminish us all. Iran is not and never really has been, an enemy of ours. When will our government Ever get that right?

      Thanks Joe, I nominate you for Secretary Of State…

      • Joe Tedesky
        November 5, 2018 at 5:04 pm

        Bob if your endorsing me for Secretary of State all I have to ask you is, ‘what have I done to you to deserve such a fate’? Seriously Bob it’s great to hear from you old friend…. take care Joe

        • Bob Van Noy
          November 6, 2018 at 9:02 am

          You’ve demonstrated good sense over time, my friend, the very best indicator of wisdom…

    • dfnslblty
      November 5, 2018 at 9:47 am

      potus/et alia has no strategy – only reäctive tactics.
      Only the calm heads of Russia and China will prevent conflagration; and a revolutionary awakening by ~ not of ~ the citizens in the usa and Europe.

    • November 5, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      Joe – Excellent post. Unfortunately it seems your assessment is right on the money. The problem of course isn’t the danger posed by the “Islamic extremist” bogiemen we’ve been told are so dangerous. Instead the greatest danger is posed by the much more heavily armed and psychopathically dangerous “extremists” within our neocolonial, neoliberal Western societies led by the U.S. – with our blatantly illegal “full-spectrum dominance” and “Wolfowitz doctrine” and our “American exceptionalism” – (extremism) on full display – creating the “tinderbox” you speak of. It is a fine madness we have unleashed upon the world. One can only hope the Western europeans are rational enough to stand up to our insanity sooner rather than later because, as you point out, they are really at ground zero in our little hegemony game.

      • Joe Tedesky
        November 5, 2018 at 5:01 pm

        The reason I brought up Europe is because if Europe were to join in on making this a NATO attack on Iran then one can only wonder to how an Iranian War would workout for Europe. Would Europe fighting Russia in the Middle East bring the war closer to home for unprotected INF Europeans. I still think that Germany is the pivotal state, and one worth hinging all bets on when it comes to where the chips may lay. And what about the Europeans sticking to the JPCOA? I mean, what gives with that? So while we dwell upon Saudi Arabia should we look towards Europe as well? And to what exactly should we look too Europe for? Lastly ask yourself where will China be in all of this? Putting together this geopolitical puzzle could be frightening to say the least. So many players on such a small field, and the umpires are too late to call the game.

    • rosemerry
      November 5, 2018 at 5:05 pm

      You are right, and the NATO “exercises” off Norway are an example of how Europe is in thrall to the US, which is really what NATO is. What good is NATO to “defend” its members when the main force is the USA telling the rest that Russia is the enemy to be feared nearly 30 years after the fall of the USSR, supposedly the big communist danger? The Europeans, especially Germany, need to act together and independently of the USA to overcome the baleful influence of the international pariah state pretending to “lead the free world” by ignoring any normal rules and restraints.

      • Joe Tedesky
        November 5, 2018 at 5:22 pm

        Think about it rosemary if Europe should pivot away from the U.S. then what’s that leave the U.S. with? I mean is having Saudi Arabia who can’t even train a quality militia and Israel who actually isn’t what everyone thinks it is militarily, then putting all of our American eggs in that one basket an insane gamble by the greedy of this coalition? If you ask me it is. If Europe is smart it won’t wage anymore war in the Middle East, as instead Europe would do well to help finance the rebuilding of the Middle East. Then the Europeans could send the Middle East refugees back to their homelands where these poor dislocated souls could work to rebuilt what we in the West have broke for them.

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