07.12.2017 Author: Viktor Mikhin

Saudi Arabia in the Grip of the ‘Frenemy’


Over 40 countries joined the Islamic Military Alliance, the creation of which was announced with fanfare by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. This military alliance will become a ‘strong signal’ to terror organisations, which in recent years maintained activity on the territory of ‘our countries’, as the prince assured in Riyadh at the first meeting of defence ministers and experts on security of the alliance countries. According to the prince’s opinion, the most threat that is posed by the terrorists, is not only the death of innocent people, however damaging the reputation of the Islamic religion as well.

41 member countries of the newly created alliance are planning to unite their ‘military, political and financial’ efforts for the joint counter-stand to international terrorism. They are mainly Sunni Muslim countries which surround Saudi Arabia, and they will be part of the anti-terror coalition. There are some notable absentees, as Iran, Iraq, Syria and Qatar did not become part of the alliance.

We should remember that this is not the first attempt of Riyadh to knock a military bloc together out of several countries that would execute orders of the King of Saudi Arabia in full obedience. In the early 2010s, Saudi Arabia, with the active support of Washington, tried to unite the armies of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). The Americans called the combined military units of the Arab states as ‘Arab NATO’. The armies of other countries, such as Jordan and North Africa countries were to join this alliance of ‘regional security’ pushing back against Iran. The military source in Tehran reported at the time that they set about entering this plan since the military intervention in Libya, where several countries of the said region were in the war, notably Qatar. The crisis in Bahrain increased the anxiety, which threatened the existence of ‘American Salafism’ in the Gulf region.

Washington believed that a window of opportunity emerged to kill two birds with one stone, with the larger command in the GCC armies; firstly, their military demands would increase, and the USA would be able to sell them even more of their expensive armaments. Secondly, an army against Iran would be created, which would instigate a war between the Shias and the Sunnis and at the same time would dispense the military units of the Western countries of the necessity to deal with Iran directly. Thirdly, the Americans were intending, simultaneously with the withdrawal of troops from Iran and Afghanistan, to create new forms of their presence in the region. The fourth reason, the problem of ‘Arab Spring’ influence spreading to Arab countries in the Gulf which have strategical importance for the USA, would be solved. However, the plan of creation of ‘Arab NATO’ failed as fast as it appeared. Not everything is that good as in Europe and might not fit the turbulent Middle East.

However, in Riyadh, they continued to behave like a child with a new toy. In December 2015, it was announced about the creation of the so-called Arab Coalition when Saudi Arabia began the combatting of the rebels-Houthis in Yemen, and at the time 31 countries joined, including Qatar. However, this notorious coalition came to ought, as most of the countries knew on their participation in the coalition only when the list of its participants was published. The participation of Qatar Air Force and United Arab Emirates Air Force was negligible. That is where it all stopped.

And now, one can see the third attempt of creating this military alliance, this time combatting the international terrorism. One should note that this topic, started in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, when the American elite blew up the three buildings in New York in the attempt to justify their plans in the achievement of world supremacy, is quite tempting and topical. It is most appealing exactly for Saudi Arabia, at the time when the ISIS bandits and terrorists battered by the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria are faced with an urgent issue; where will they flee from Syria and where to lay another stepping stone? In the world press, there were reports that the American special forces soldiers, who were illegally deployed on the Syrian territory, have already saved and evacuated part of the ISIS leadership.

Now the terrorists are confronted with two short paths. The first one is through the desert region at the Iraq-Syria border to get across to Iraq and remain in the south, where one can easily get lost and where there is very scarce population, mainly Bedouins. The other option is to continue and move along the corridor of sandy terrains in the north of Saudi Arabia, when they can regroup, recuperate and with the aid of the USA, who repeatedly allegedly dropped the armaments for the terrorists from the war-craft, to replenish their supplies.

In Iraq, where the Shia are in power headed by Haider al-Abadi and the Iranian armed forces, terrorists are unlikely to feel secure. Neither the government of Iraq, nor Iran will tolerate the presence of the Sunnis from ISIS in the country. It is more realistic that the terrorists might leave for the deserts of Saudi Arabia, which is ultimately critical for Riyadh and quite attractive for Washington. Firstly, ‘The Merchant’, – the American President Donald Trump, will sell a vast amount of special armaments for the military engagement in the desert. Secondly, he will be able to press down the Crown Prince, who is constantly evading the American trap, and is trying to arrange friendly relations and contacts with the bitter enemy of the USA, namely Russia. At present, the Washington elite is screwing a face into a smile upon remembering the visit of the King of Saudi Arabia into Moscow and the agreements reached there. Thirdly, the Americans have not given up their plans yet to develop the production of light tight oil, in the way of which are included in the agreements between Mohammed bin Salman, whilst presiding in OPEC and Russia.

One can wonder whether the prince of Saudi Arabia will stay lucky for the third time in the creation of and most importantly in the functioning of the new coalition. As of now, he was out of luck on several occasions and is being characterised by failures, this can be specifically seen at the example of the Yemen crisis unleashed by the Prince himself. The representative of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in the Middle East and North Africa region, Gert Kappeler announced that about 11 million children in Yemen “are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance” and “one child, every 10 minutes in Yemen dies from diseases that can be prevented”. According to Kappeler, “since the beginning of operation, led by Saudi Arabia, of the international coalition against the Yemeni rebels, the Houthis, about 5 thousand children have been killed or seriously injured”.

And even the widely advertised campaign on the bribery control, during which from 200 princes and officials, approximately 100 billion dollars were wheedled out, did not lend éclat to them. In the society of Saudi Arabia, despondency and fear prevails – who will be arrested next? We should not forget that Saudi Arabia is a Middle Eastern country, where bribery, nepotism and the principle “you scratch my back, and I will scratch yours” exist for centuries. It would be enough to say that any foreign country, operating in the kingdom, is to give 50% of its equity capital to a Saudi Arabian, who, then, without working, will make quite a good money ‘harvest’. Is this a bribe as well? In this case, up to 60% of the adult population of the country are to be arrested.

By the way, as the world mass media report, the money ‘wheedled’ out of certain Saudi Arabians are unlikely to be diverted to the modernisation of the kingdom, and will rather be spent, by recruiting foreign troops, to provide the security of the country. Hence is the ambition of the Saudi Prince, who will any day now become the King, to form the new coalition and saturate it with the received ‘gratuitous’ money.

Victor Mikhin, a corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

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