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Washington’s interest in the Syrian civil war is partly about ensuring Israel’s regional security and partly it is about doing the bidding of America’s regional Sunni allies: Turkey, Jordan and the Gulf Arab States.

Saudi Arabia, which has been vying for power as the leader of the Sunni bloc against the Shi’a-dominated Iran in the regional geopolitics, was staunchly against the invasion of Iraq by the Bush Administration in 2003.

The Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein constituted a Sunni Arab bulwark against the Iranian influence in the Arab World. But after Saddam was ousted from power in 2003 and subsequently when elections were held in Iraq which were swept by the Shi’a-dominated parties, Iraq has now been led by a Shi’a-majority government that has become a steadfast regional ally of Iran. Consequently, Iran’s sphere of influence now extends all the way from territorially-contiguous Iraq and Syria to Lebanon and the Mediterranean coast.

The Saudi royal family was resentful of Iranian encroachment on traditional Arab heartland. Therefore, when protests broke out against the Assad regime in Syria in the wake of Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, the Gulf Arab States along with their regional allies, Turkey and Jordan, and the Western patrons gradually militarized the protests to dismantle the Iranian resistance axis.

More to the point, the United States Defense Intelligence Agency’s declassified report [1] of 2012 clearly spelled out the imminent rise of a Salafist principality in northeastern Syria in the event of an outbreak of a civil war in Syria. Under pressure from the Zionist lobby in Washington, however, the Obama Administration deliberately suppressed the report and also overlooked the view in general that a proxy war in Syria will give birth to radical Islamic jihadists.

The hawks in Washington were fully aware of the consequences of their actions in Syria, but they kept pursuing the ill-fated policy of nurturing militants in the training camps located in the border regions of Turkey and Jordan to weaken the Baathist regime in Syria.

The single biggest threat to Israel’s regional security was posed by the Shi’a resistance axis, which is comprised of Iran, the Assad regime in Syria and their Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah. During the course of 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah fired hundreds of rockets into northern Israel; and Israel’s defense community realized for the first time the nature of threat that Hezbollah and its patrons, Iran and the Assad regime in Syria, posed to Israel’s regional security.

Those were only unguided rockets but it was a wakeup call for Israel’s military strategists that what will happen if Iran passed the guided missile technology to Hezbollah whose area of operations lies very close to the northern borders of Israel?

Regarding the Western interest in collaborating with the Gulf Arab States against their regional rivals, bear in mind that in April last year, the Saudi foreign minister threatened [2] that the Saudi kingdom would sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets if Congress passed a bill that would allow Americans to sue the Saudi government in the United States courts for its role in the September 11, 2001 terror attack.

Moreover, $750 billion is only the Saudi investment in the United States, if we add its investment in the Western Europe and the investments of UAE, Kuwait and Qatar in the Western economies, the sum total would amount to trillions of dollars of Gulf’s investments in North America and Western Europe.

Furthermore, in order to bring home the significance of Persian Gulf’s oil in the energy-starved industrialized world, here are a few rough stats from the OPEC data: Saudi Arabia has the world’s largest proven crude oil reserves of 265 billion barrels and its daily oil production exceeds 10 million barrels; Iran and Iraq, each, has 150 billion barrels reserves and has the capacity to produce 5 million barrels per day, each; while UAE and Kuwait, each, has 100 billion barrels reserves and produces 3 million barrels per day, each; thus, all the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, together, hold more than half of world’s 1500 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves.

Additionally, regarding the Western defense production industry’s sales of arms to the Gulf Arab States, a report [3] authored by William Hartung of the US-based Center for International Policy found that the Obama Administration had offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons, military equipment and training during its eight years tenure.

Similarly, the top items in Trump’s agenda for his maiden visit to Saudi Arabia in May were: first, he threw his weight behind the idea of Saudi-led “Arab NATO” to counter Iran’s influence in the region; and second, he announced an unprecedented arms package for Saudi Arabia. The package included between $98 billion and $128 billion in arms sales, and over a period of 10 years, total sales could reach $350 billion.

Therefore, keeping the economic dependence of the Western countries on the Gulf Arab States in mind during the times of global recession when most of manufacturing has been outsourced to China, it is unsurprising that when the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia decided to provide training and arms to Sunni Arab jihadists in the border regions of Turkey and Jordan against the Shi’a-dominated regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Obama Administration was left with no other choice but to toe the destructive policy of its regional Middle Eastern allies, despite the sectarian nature of the proxy war and its attendant consequences of breeding a new generation of Islamic jihadists who would become a long-term security risk not only to the Middle East but to the Western countries, as well.

Similarly, when King Abdullah’s successor, King Salman, decided to invade Yemen in March 2015, once again, the Obama Administration had to yield to the dictates of Saudi Arabia and UAE by fully coordinating the Gulf-led military campaign in Yemen not only by providing intelligence, planning and logistical support but also by selling billions of dollars’ worth of arms and ammunition to the Gulf Arab States during the conflict.

Regarding the Pax Americana which is the reality of the contemporary global political and economic order, according to a recent infographic [4] by the New York Times, 210,000 US military personnel are currently stationed all over the world; including 79,000 in Europe, 45,000 in Japan, 28,500 in South Korea and 36,000 in the Middle East (of which, 28,000 have been deployed in the Persian Gulf alone, including 11,000 in the sprawling Al-Udeid airbase in Qatar).

By comparison, the number of US troops in Afghanistan is only 12,000 which is regarded as an occupied country. Thus, the Gulf Arab principalities are not sovereign states, as such, but the virtual protectorates of corporate America.

In this reciprocal relationship, the US provides security to the ruling families of the Gulf Arab states by providing weapons and troops; and in return, the Gulf’s petro-sheikhs contribute substantial investments to the tune of trillions of dollars in the Western economies.

Sources and links:

[1] The United States Defense Intelligence Agency’s declassified report of 2012:

http://levantreport.com/2015/05/19/2012-defense-intelligence-agency-document-west-will-facilitate-rise-of-islamic-state-in-order-to-isolate-the-syrian-regime/

[2] Saudi Arabia Warns of Economic Fallout if Congress Passes 9/11 Bill:

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/16/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-warns-ofeconomic-fallout-if-congress-passes-9-11-bill.html?_r=0

[3] The Obama administration’s arms sales offers to Saudi top $115 billion:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-saudi-security-idUSKCN11D2JQ

[4] What the U.S. Gets for Defending Its Allies and Interests Abroad?

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/16/world/trump-military-role-treaties-allies-nato-asia-persian-gulf.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism.

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2 Comments

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    The US has always assisted the gulf royal families with finance so that it’s corporates could exploit oil resources and market the oil products to earn profits in selling the oil. The oil barons in turn, help the US politicians to come to power and help them. This has been an uninterrupted cycle for most part of the last century and now

  2. The six-year-old bloodshed in Syria has always been an ISRAELI PROJECT. The objective was to bring a violent anti-Iran regime change in Damascus before the US attack Iran on behalf of Israel.

    The failure of Netanyahu’s six-year-old regime change in Syria has put him in panic.

    On September 15, Amos Harel reported at Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that Netanyahu had demanded a “80km (50 miles) buffer but Russian let Iranian forces and Hizbullah fighters approach with 2 km Israeli border along the Golan Heights.”

    On September 8, Alastair Crooke, former British diplomat wrote: “Despite last-ditch efforts by Israel and its allies to salvage the regime change project in Syria, the looming defeat of the Western-backed jihadists marks a turning point in the modern Middle East.”

    Hizbullah has successfully blocked the Zionist dream of Eretz Yisrael (greater Israel). Since the 2006 defeat Israeli Generals have come to the conclusion that Hizbullah cannot be defeated by conventional warfare. Israel which possesses several hundred nuclear bombs, is afraid to use them against Hizbullah as the radiation would wipe out more than half of Israeli population. That’s why Netanyahu wants Washington and Saudi Wahhabis to do Israel’s dirty work.

    Hizbullah which is the product of Israeli invasion and occupation of South Lebanon in the 1980s, has inflicted military humiliations on Jewish army in Lebanon in 2000 and 2006 – and recently in Syria. Initially it began as a Shi’ite humanitarian group – but later it established an armed wing to fight Jewish occupation of Southern Lebanon. In 2005 Hizbullah entered country’s politics and currently lead the opposition group in the parliament. After its victory in the 2006 Israeli invasion, it has earned support from Lebanese Christians and Druze communities in addition to Sunni Hamas.

    Lebanon appeared on Zionist Jewish hit list in 1919, when the World Zionist Congress delegation at the Paris Peace Conference said the Lebanese Litani River, Golan Heights and Jordan Valley (West Bank), were essential for the necessary economic foundation of the new state for Jews. It must have the control of Arab rivers and headwaters.

    https://rehmat1.com/2017/09/17/hizbullah-fighters-in-syria-make-israel-nervous/