Riyadh in the risk zone
The Saudi Arabian authorities said they would like to help Syria ‘become democratic’ but the real motive behind such statement was simpler: to attack Iran`s key ally – Syria, weaken the Shia influence in the Middle East and delay a wave of public unrest in Saudi Arabia. The Guardian says that all signs of the upcoming Arab Spring in Saudi Arabia are evident: mass reprisals, corruption, mass arrests, and an increasing number of political prisoners. The Saudi Dynasty is afraid of losing Washington`s support amid the growing opposition and thus is trying to please the US, unaware that this is actually is the least reasonable thing to do now.
Saudi Arabia`s policy in the Middle East could cost it too much. Let`s take the occupation of Bahrain. Shia Muslims make up 75% of the country`s population. Angry about the lack of privileges they took to the streets to join a peaceful rally. The protesters were killed, with no response coming from the Washington (the U.S. runs a large military base on Bahrain island). Currently all administrative buildings in this tiny monarchy have Bahraini and Saudi Arabian flags fluttering above them. Two thousand troops of the Saudi Arabian army protect the Bahraini despots from people. Riyadh has long been thinking about uniting Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
This all reminds me of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1992 and the US ‘punishment’ which happened afterward. Ruled by Hussein at the time Iraq was an ally to the US. Actually, Washington tried to persuade Saddam to attack Kuwait and promised to pose no obstacles to this. Having lost a long and exhausting war with Iran, Baghdad was facing economic difficulties and needed a moral revenge. Kuwait`s army was weak and (taking into consideration that Baghdad owed Kuwait a huge sum), it was an ideal ‘target’. Now history seems to be repeating itself. The Saudi dynasty hoped for the Syrian regime to be overthrown but this has not happened. And now they focus on Bahrain.
The Arab Spring is very close to Saudi Arabia. The ruling family expected that the toppling of the Syrian regime would be a blow to Iran, thus allowing Er-Riyad take control of the region. There is no sign, however, that this will happen soon. The Obama administration has been distancing itself from the Saudi dynasty, while time is playing against the royal family. Probably, a day is near when the ‘international community’ will remind Riyadh of Bahrain`s ‘peaceful’ occupation.
Washington’s restrained position towards Saudi Arabia is quite telling. The US will by no means protect Riyadh in case of public unrest because the core idea of American politicians is to bring democracy to the Middle East. Plans of the US to ‘redraw’ the Middle East maps have been much spoken about recently. All US experts agree that Saudi Arabia should no longer be a single state!
An article by Cullen Murphy, “Lines in the Sand,” published in Vanity Fair in 2008 was based on a question asked of four Middle East experts: David Fromkin, Dennis Ross, Kenneth Pollack, and Daniel Byman. They all agreed that Saudi Arabia and Iraq should be divided. Iraq is practically divided into parts, while Saudi Arabia`s territorial integrity remains intact. Michael Davis and Ralph Peters carried out a kind of a research to conclude that Saudi Arabia can be divided into several states. Davis sees it as the way to stop Islamic extremism. When divided, Saudi Arabia will no longer enjoy monopoly on oil supplies. A quite reasonable remark, isn’t it?
In January of 2006 the governments of China and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement to cooperate in oil and gas industry. It resulted in Saudi Arabia becoming China`s major trade partner in the Middle East and North Africa. In late March China and Saudi Arabia agree on the construction of a giant oil factory in the Red Sea port town of Yanbu, which is scheduled to be commissioned by 2014. As of today, China`s share in S.Arabia`s oil imports is higher than that of the US. The Middle East is ranked only five among regions providing oil to the US. In the past decade the US has imported oil from Venezuela, Canada, the western Africa and Nigeria and Mexico. In addition to this, the US has boosted the development of its national oil and gas fields, trying to reduce its dependence on oil exporting countries. Oil from the Persian Gulf is now mostly exported to China and Europe. Obviously, the territorial re-division of Saudi Arabia could help the US have a stronger control of its strategic rivals.
Since China has become S. Arabia`s major trade partner, the question is whether Riyadh will continue trading its oil in US dollars or it will switch to yuans or euro? This would be a catastrophe for the US economy. In 1973 S. Arabia agreed to trade oil in US dollars in exchange for Washington`s protection in regional conflicts. The US also sold arms to S. Arabia. Riyadh was followed by other countries, and in 1975 all OPEC countries agreed to trade oil in US dollars.
As a result of this the US dollar was in a very high demand in the 1970s. A higher demand for oil led to a higher demand for US national currency. The money came to the Federal Reserve System and thus caused a global demand for dollar. At the same time, the US received oil almost for free: being a non-governmental organization, the FRS printed as many bank notes as necessary. So, if now S. Arabia decides that it will no longer trade oil in US dollars, other countries could do the same. Of course, the US will do everything possible not to let destroy this oil-dollar link.
A motive for attacking Saudi Arabia is ready. In March of 2012 two retired US senators said under oath in a New York court that the Saudi Arabian authorities could have been involved in the 9/11 attacks. Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, who co-chaired the 9/11 commission, said that classified FBI documents he had seen contradict the agency’s public pronouncement that there was no sinister link between the terrorists and a Saudi couple that mysteriously fled the U.S. just weeks before the terror attacks. Fifteen of the 19 terrorists were Saudi nationals, including Osama Bin Laden, who was officially named by the US government as a mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.
Those who share a version about a Saudi trace in the attacks also say that Saudi Arabian princes had repeatedly given money to some terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaeda. All these facts now can be used as a strong motive to attack S. Arabia.
Qatar is always there to help the US weaken Saudi Arabia`s influence in the Middle East. Qatar has already played its part in the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi and is now working hard to overthrow Bashar Assad. The Arab-language websites released a leaked conversation in which Qatari Emir Hamad Bin Khalifa makes unpleasant remarks about the Saudi dynasty, adding that the regime of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud will be overthrown by Qatar. Apart from this, the leaked audio footage also featured Qatari Emir saying that he was asked by the governments of the US and Great Britain to provide them a detailed report on the situation in S. Arabia they needed to prepare a scenario for toppling the ruling regime. “This is why Qatar has now enjoyed more privileges than Saudi Arabia, on its territory transferred to U.S. bases. We were able to gradually break the monopoly of the Saudi and impose their rule in the Arab region. We are actively working to deliver economic and political defeat of Riyadh and the people’s revolution there is close as never before”, the Emir said. Probably, there was not a phone conversation of the kind, and this was just a provocation, but there can be no doubts that gas-rich Qatar remains one of the sponsors of the Arab Spring.
Now the political situation in Saudi Arabia deserves much attention because chances are quite high for this country to face military intervention. Riyadh’s incautious policies could only bring this moment closer.